Guide to Sustainability Accreditations for Tourism Businesses – Tourism Collective

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Becoming a Sustainable Tourism Accredited business is one of the best ways to communicate to the ever-growing conscious traveller that your business is the right one to book.

Holding a Sustainability Accreditation or Certification can be a badge of honour which builds trust and reputation and is a contributing factor to your businesses success.

It’s safe to say there are quite a few eco-accreditations out there with varying degrees of difficulty and costs.

The below guide gives an overview to the world of Sustainability Accreditations for tourism businesses, to help you answer the question of which ones should your business apply for.

So why consider becoming Eco Accredited?

With sustainability being such a buzz word, competition is hot. Your business having an eco-accreditation which is displayed prominently on your channels, might make all the difference when the consumer is making the ultimate choice of who to book with.

Becoming certified can help set your business on the path to becoming a truly sustainable tourism operator, guiding you to implement structures and policies to support this, as well as being extremely marketable to your audience.

Media outlets are looking for stories in the sustainability space, travel wholesalers are increasingly looking to contract products which have sustainability credentials so ultimately having the right accreditation can put your business towards the front of the queue for attracting positive PR and travel buyers.

Please note there are other eco accreditations out there in addition to the ones below, we have just selected some of the key ones available to the tourism industry.

Tourism Specific Accreditations

Ecotourism Australia (EA) Certification

Accreditation Type

Verifying procedure where you’ll need to provide evidence to EA of your business sustainability planning.

Who can apply

Australian tour operators, accommodations, attractions, and destinations, with a focus on natural areas.


  • The world’s first national ecotourism certification program
  • Non-government and not-for-profit organisation
  • Recognised globally. for industry standards as the peak body for sustainable and nature-based tourism by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
  • Multiple certification programs to choose depending on your needs and business type
  • Once certified your business also gets a free listing in the Green Travel Guide which is EA’s online search engine which consumers can use when planning a trip to find eco-tourism operators.

Cost ($AUD)

Annual fee depends on your annual turnover. From $610 up to $2000.


  • An external audit will be conducted within the first 12 months and then every three years thereafter.
  • The onus is on you to make progress as a sustainable tourism business after you have verified.

Further information

Becoming certified with Ecotourism Australia (The Worlds First National ecotourism certification program) is the most recognised way of being accredited for tourism providers in Australia.

The benefits of becoming certified can cut costs, reduce expenditure, save you money, improve your organisation’s image and help you establish closer connections with your local tourism and protected area management organisations.

Ecotourism Australia have added other programs designed for all sectors of the tourism industry including Sustainable Tourism Certification, Climate Action Certification, Respecting Our Culture Certification, and Eco Guide Certification.

The certification process is detailed, and the criteria is best-practice standard, although it’s more or less possible for most operators to achieve certification in one of their programs.

In 2022, Ecotourism Australia in partnership with Tourism Australia also recently launched the Strive 4 Sustainability Scorecard is a pathway program for any tourism business to start their sustainability journey.


Sustainable Tourism Accredited Business 

Accreditation Type

Verifying procedure where you’ll need to provide evidence to AITC of your business sustainable practices.

Who can apply

  • Australian tour operators, accommodations, attractions, and destinations, with a focus on natural areas.


  • Part of program by national tourism industry council
  • Included as part of membership with some state tourism councils
  • Once accredited, businesses can display the Sustainable Tourism Accredited Business Logo
  • For members of some state industry councils you receive a discount of up to $250 off first-year registration for Quality Tourism Framework
  • For some states the accreditation is aligned with the tourism awards meaning you are eligible to enter the Sustainable tourism category

Cost ($AUD)

Annual fee from $300 (for business with 1-3 FTE’s)


  • A more basic application process for operators to complete so you will have to take additional measures to become a truly Sustainable Tourism business.
  • The onus is on you to make progress as a sustainable tourism business after you have verified.


The AITC (Australian Tourism Industry Council) have developed the Quality Tourism Framework for operators to become accredited through each states tourism industry council.

A business first needs to become Quality Tourism Accredited to apply to be Sustainable Tourism Accredited too.

The Quality Tourism Framework requires businesses to meet specific criteria ensuring they are committed to exceeding customer expectations with great customer service and the highest standards of business practice.

Sustainable Tourism Accreditation asks that businesses to demonstrate delivering experiences that exceed customer expectations but also have sound sustainability practices.

There is also an EcoStar Accreditation which can be obtained for operators that can demonstrate a level of environmental management over and above the requirements of the Quality Tourism Framework.



Accreditation Type

Certification procedure

Who can apply

  • Tourism businesses, hotels, destinations, governments, developers and building designers, terrestrial and marine parks, and events.


  • Globally recognised certification
  • Join a community of other leading ecotourism brands across the world
  • More recognisable accreditation to international travellers, media and trade

Cost ($AUD)

EarthCheck Certified costs from $6600 annually (there are types of EarthCheck certifications for smaller businesses and ecotourism operators for a lower fee).


  • There are multiple types of EarthCheck certification to suit different parts of the tourism industry. This includes: EarthCheck Certified, EarthCheck Sustainable Destinations, EarthCheck Evaluate (for SME’s), EarthCheck ECO.
  • One of the pricier tourism certification programs which may not be accessible for all tourism businesses.


Since 1987, EarthCheck has been the world’s leading scientific benchmarking certification and advisory group for sustainable travel and tourism.

A rigorous science-backed, people focused certification process that helps travel and tourism business showcase their commitment to a sustainability pathway, and enhance incredible tourism experiences through consulting, training and software solutions.

Certification gives businesses tools to measure impact and make business decisions that save money, resources, and the planet.


SKAL International

Accreditation Type

Membership based

Who can apply

All sectors of the tourism industry


  • Affiliated member of the UNWTO.
  • The only international group uniting all branches of the travel and tourism industry.
  • Be part of the SKAL club (one located in every state) and connect with a community of eco operators with several networking events organised throughout the year.
  • Eligible to enter the SKAL awards held each year
  • Multiple membership benefits.

Cost ($AUD)

Annual membership fee currently $290.


  • SKAL is just a membership rather than an accreditation or certification so there isn’t as much support for your business to put sustainable practices and protocols into place.


SKAL is a professional organisation of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship and uniting all sectors of the industry with 311 SKAL clubs across 85 countries.

Although not specifically for Sustainable Tourism operators, for the last 21 years, SKAL has recognised best practices in Sustainable and Responsible Tourism around the world and run the Sustainable Tourism Awards annually.


Tourism Declares Climate Emergency

Type accreditation

Declaration on website

Who can apply 

  • All sectors of the tourism industry


  • Become a signatory to the greater good with declaration
  • You are making a commitment

Cost ($AUD)



  • You will need to submit a climate action plan within 12 months of signing.
  • As Tourism Declares is volunteer run, communication is limited.
  • This is not an accreditation or membership but is a way of making a commitment to sustainable tourism.


Tourism Declares Climate Emergency was launched in 2020 forming prior to COP 26 in Glasgow.

Tourism Declares is a call to action to the tourism industry to sign the Glasgow Declaration of Climate Action in Tourism and become a signatory to support the global commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and reach Net zero as soon as possible before 2050.

As a signatory you are committing to aligning your business with five shared pathways (measure, decarbonise, regenerate, collaborate, finance) to ensure climate action is consistent across all of tourism.

Not tourism specific accreditations

B-Corporation Certification

Accreditation Type

Certification process which takes 12+ months.

Who can apply 

  • Businesses from most industries


  • Becoming a B-Corp you are meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
  • Be part of a global movement and join a community of inspirational sustainable brands and social entrepreneurs.
  • There are not many tourism operator B-Corps currently in Australia so your business will really stand out if you become one.

Cost ($AUD)  

Tiered depending on business revenue. The submission fee starts at $250 with annual certification fees from $1000. 


  • Every 3 years you will have to recertify to keep your B Corp status.
  • The certification process is arduous and a lot of work but really fulfilling.
  • B Corp are soon to be introducing new standards for certification meaning businesses will have to meet more specific performance requirements.


If you’re looking to be set apart from the competition in your Sustainability Practices and accreditations, gaining B-Corp status is one of the best ways of going about it.

Standing for beneficial corporations, B-Corps are businesses that benefit, people, communities and the planet. In other words, purpose driven businesses that are a force for good.

Some of the most inspirational sustainable brands in the world are B-Corps such as outdoor apparel brand Patagonia whose owner recently transferred the entire ownership of the company to charity.

There are almost 6000 B-Corps in the world (at time of writing 2023) across 85 countries and 158 industries with about 10% of the worlds B-Corps being Australian businesses. However, there are only a handful of tourism B-Corps in Australia which might be an indication of how challenging it is to achieve.

To become a Certified B-Corp your business is meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

More and more consumers are seeking out B-Corps to shop with, book with, and do business with. The process to become a B-Corp is long and rigorous but well worth it and you will be leading the way if you embark on the journey!


1% For The Planet

Accreditation type


Who can apply 

  • Any business from any industry that commits to donating 1% of the revenue to environmental partners.

What’s good about it

  • Be part of a global movement and join a community of inspirational sustainable brands and social entrepreneurs.
  • The 1% for the planet logo is widely recognised so beneficial to display on your channels.
  • You can choose from a wide range of environmental partners to donate to.

Cost ($AUD)



  • 1% is membership based so there is no certification process.
  • You will need to register your donations on the 1% For The Planet Website.
  • You will need to donate 1% of your revenue regardless of whether you were profitable.
  • You can only donate to charities and not for profits that are registered as a partner on the 1% for The Planet website.


1% For The Planet is a nice and simple way businesses can make a commitment and show they are a conscious operator.

1% for the Planet is a global movement inspiring business to support environmental solutions through annual memberships and everyday actions.

Businesses that are members have made the commitment to donate at least 1% of their revenue to environmental causes every year. There are some inspirational sustainable brands that are members and the overall objective is easy to understand and pure.

1% For The Planet also advise on giving strategies, certify donations and amplify the impact of their network through their channels


Over to you

There is no right or wrong when choosing which accreditations, certifications or memberships to go for, but some will have a better chance of elevating your business to the highest levels of sustainable business practice.

If there are brands that inspire you or have an aligned ethos (in the tourism industry or elsewhere), have a look at what accreditations or certifications they have, this may help you narrow it down, as there are many others available.

It probably doesn’t make business or financial sense to go for all of the above, but it is worthwhile to be aligned and accredited/certified with a select few to ensure your business has the policies and practices in place and is known, trusted and recognised.

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