For Immediate Release

Press Release

Digital travel platform Agoda, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have partnered  to provide sustainability trainings for hoteliers across Asia, which will strengthen the sustainability transformation and foster green growth within the region’s hotel industry, with models that have the potential for global application.

The Sustainable Tourism Development Initiative builds on the success of Agoda’s ongoing partnership with the GSTC, which has provided sustainability education for hundreds of hoteliers to date across India, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand to support the industry to meet the rising consumer demand for more sustainable accommodation options. This partnership with USAID, through the US-Supporting Economic Growth in Asia (US-SEGA) activity, expands the training scope and geographic coverage to additional markets in South and Southeast Asia.

  • Expansion of existing instructor-led hotel sustainability training at five destinations across the region in India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, and the Philippines, will equip hoteliers with the necessary tools and knowledge to enhance their sustainability practices.
  • Development of a self-paced digital hotel sustainability training platform, which will offer localized, interactive learning modules, supplementary study materials, and quizzes that address the distinct sustainability challenges across the region. Covering different aspects of the GSTC Hotel Criteria, the global standard for sustainability in travel and tourism, the platform will provide an introduction to sustainability and sustainable tourism, insights into global trends and industry best practices, and practical tools on applying these learnings. The learning materials on the platform will be available in English and regional languages.
  • Establishment of a sustainability scholarship fund for select hotels across the region, particularly hotels that are small, medium, and women-owned enterprises, to receive further training and obtain third-party sustainability certifications recognized by GSTC.

Omri Morgenshtern, CEO of Agoda, said, “It is our responsibility to raise awareness about sustainability among both our consumers and accommodation partners and are thrilled to support the industry in developing the knowledge and working towards third-party certifications. Partnering with USAID will help elevate and scale our projects which combine Agoda’s extensive supply network with GSTC’s world-leading technical expertise on sustainability to reach even more markets across Asia.”

USAID India Mission Director Veena Reddy, stated, “USAID believes it is critical to work in collaboration with the private sector to drive sustainable development progress, including mitigating climate change. Tourism, when sustainable, provides an important pathway for inclusive economic growth and preservation of cultural heritage, and can be a valuable tool for environmental conservation. We are proud to launch this regional partnership with Agoda and GSTC in India to support, particularly as they overcome the economic setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability of small and medium enterprises to participate in a more sustainable economy.”

Speaking of the benefits of this initiative, Randy Durband, CEO of GSTC, shared, “The knowledge and skills acquired from these trainings serve as a crucial step for hoteliers to obtain credible third-party sustainability certifications for their properties and effectively navigate the process with a thorough understanding of the GSTC Hotel Criteria. They will also have the opportunity to enhance their professional credentials and marketability in the hospitality industry, opening doors to career advancement opportunities in the future.”

The fifth iteration of the instructor-led hotel sustainability training organized by Agoda and GSTC, and the first in partnership with USAID, will be held in Jaipur, India on March 28-29, 2024. This training has the support of the  Rajasthan Department of Tourism, and is expected to garner up to 60 participants.

The interactive two-day training session will be held in all five countries and will allow hoteliers to learn from GSTC trainers and guest speakers to gain an in-depth understanding of the GSTC Industry Criteria and assess their current performance to establish better short-, medium-, and long-term sustainability goals. Participants who complete the training will receive a certificate of attendance from the GSTC, along with eligibility to sit for an optional exam to receive the GSTC Professional Certificate in Sustainable Tourism – both of which contribute to meeting the Staff Engagement Criterion A4 of the GSTC Industry Criteria for Hotels, which requires staff to hold certificates and qualifications in relevant disciplines and skills.

Through this partnership, Agoda, GSTC, and USAID aim to not only train individual hoteliers on sustainable hotel management, but catalyze knowledge sharing on sustainable management practices across the industry, and will create a network of sustainability professionals in the local hotel industry.

(left to right): Dr. Bryan Byrne, USAID/India Development Partnerships and Innovations Office, Director; Mr. Omri Morgenshtern, CEO, Agoda; Mr. CB Ramkumar, Vice Chair, GSTC.
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