The Tuscan city starts a process towards a more sustainable tourism.


  • Local development
  • Municipality of Siena
  • Italy
  • 2022

The city of Siena has decided to start a process to become the first Italian city of art to obtain an international certification for sustainable tourism. With this project, Siena has set ambitious goals in terms of sustainability, aiming to improve the organisation of the tourism chain from an environmental point of view. In this context, Etifor will accompany the Tuscan city on its way to achieving Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) certification.

The GSTC is an international body set up by the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations World Tourism Organization to promote sustainability and social responsibility in the tourism sector.

The problem

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important element in tourism. For the European tourist, the environment is the third most important reason for travelling and the first factor in loyalty. Today, it is no longer sufficient to offer high quality services if they are not paired with sustainability and attention to the environment. However, to be competitive and credible sustainability must be certified. In this sense, the GSTC certification offers a common language for the definition of sustainability standards applicable to the whole tourism system, from destinations to tour operators. Therefore, this globally recognised certification represents an important tool for all destinations aiming to improve their sustainability and the quality of their tourism offer.

The project

The GSTC criteria provide an assessment framework that considers all spheres of sustainability and not just the environmental one, including economic, social and governance aspects. Consequently, destinations wishing to be certified must demonstrate compliance with four different categories: sustainable management and governance, socio-economic sustainability, cultural sustainability, and environmental sustainability. Therefore, obtaining the GSTC certification implies a series of necessary activities to be prepared for the audit by the certification body. To facilitate this process, Etifor will introduce an integrated system of communication and participation actions, with a multidisciplinary approach that maximises stakeholder involvement through consolidated participatory techniques. The accompanying service is divided into four phases: start-up and constitution of the working group, participation and involvement of stakeholders, data collection and processing, and preparation of documentation for the audit.

Our contribution

Etifor will accompany the municipality of Siena towards the achievement of the GSTC certification. The main activities foreseen by the accompanying service are:

  • Participation and involvement of stakeholders.
  • Pre-assessment and accompaniment to the audit.
  • Communication strategy and tools.