Making sustainable tourism development measurable
There are more than 150 certification systems for sustainability in tourism worldwide with many different certification approaches and different quality and credibility claims of systems. Due to the diverse and small-scale approaches, the economic and social impact of the certified companies and organisations on sustainable development cannot be assessed. With our project “Collaborative Online Audit System”, we are therefore dedicating ourselves since December 2019, with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO, to the development of an industry-wide uniform standard for audits, validated on the basis of international guidelines, in order to make the impacts of certified companies in tourism verifiable and comparable.
The project is being implemented by a joint initiative of TourCert with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the Austrian Ecolabel, Green Star Hotel and other international certification organisations, financially supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO.
Together, we seek to give impulses for the strengthening of cooperation models between certification bodies and contribute to harmonising and increasing the transparency and credibility of the certification systems.The project follows a collaborative and partnership-based approach.
Our vision and guiding principles
- As a highly ambitious community, we aim to provide quality leadership through digitised audit standards towards measurable impact in the transformation of tourism – particularly in relation to the SDGs
- We want to make audits more effective and enable impact measurement and monitoring, while increasing the efficiency of audit processes
- We want to strengthen cooperation between certification bodies and promote digitalisation, innovation and collaborative thinking in order to significantly increase the number of certified tourism businesses and destinations
- We want to increase the credibility of certifications through independent verification
- We want to generate higher participation, raise awareness and increase visibility while preserving the full identity and individuality of each member
Step by Step
In the pilot group of GSTC, Austrian Eco-label, Green Star Hotel and TourCert, the basic elements and requirements of the audit system were discussed. The audit system describes all processes, standards and procedures of an auditing and certification process. It provides templates and process descriptions and guides all parties involved (certification body, certified company, auditor, certification committee) through an efficient workflow. The audit system should be a digital process manual and illustrate the complete audit procedure as well as enable the standard-compliant performance of audits according to ISEAL, the ISO 17065 and ISO 19011 standards and the GSTC Accreditation Manual.
Based on the results of the conceptual design work, the technical transfer of the audit system into an online tool – the Auditmanager – takes place. The entire audit process can be managed on the Auditmanager platform. As an online tool, the Auditmanager simplifies and professionalises external audits – regardless of whether they are on-site or remote audits. The audit system is accessible to all certification bodies and enables them to conduct efficient and effective audit procedures based on accreditation standards.
International Working Group
For the further conceptualisation process and the identification of essential, sensible and feasible accreditation requirements, the 2021 project group will be expanded in a collaborative approach to other international certification organisations. In doing so, the working group will build on the previous developments by the project partners. Identified mandatory requirements should increase the quality and efficiency of the audits, reduce process costs and focus on impact and performance along the supply chains.
Independent Audit Office
Together with core stakeholders from the international working group, the establishment of a joint Audit Office is planned. As an independent board, the Audit Office will coordinate audit processes in accordance with international accreditation standards. The Audit Office will be developed in collaboration with its member organisations, which will be exclusively certification bodies, national authorities, standard owners and related schemes.
Think and act collaboratively!
Are you interested in further information on the project or would you like to get in touch with us? We look forward to receiving your enquiry.