Assessment and reporting system

Forgot your password?

Certification procedure

Certification processAppeals ProcedureComplaints procedure


The Green Destinations Certification and Awards Programme has a documented Appeals Policy and Procedure for receiving, evaluating and making decisions about appeals made by clients against the certification decision. The procedure supports the process of evaluating and making decisions about certification and audits, and includes:

 1.       Appeals – definition

GD-CP considers an appeal a formal, written request by a Member that deals with formal reconsideration of a GD-CP certification decision, following receipt of their audit result or any further feedback provided regarding post-audit improvement evidence, made by GD-CP.

 2.       General conditions

All subscribed GD-CP Members have the right to appeal against any certification decision made by GD-CP.

GD-CP Members can make Appeals within 90 days after any certification decision made by GD-CP, following communication of the audit result and during the initial period granted for the submission of improvements, which is within 90 days of the communication.

GD-CP reserves the right to refuse any appeal which is not submitted within this timescale.

All appeals submitted under the GD-CP Appeals Procedure should be sent as follows (marking any letter or email subject line with 'Appeal'):

By post:                               

GD Certification Programme Coordinator
Rapenburg 8
2311 EV Leiden (Netherlands)

By e-mail:                    contact@greendestinations.org

It is not possible to make any appeals by telephone, fax or skype.

 

3.       Formal Communication

All communications with the appealing Member will be in writing and delivered to them at the e-mail address associated with the destination representative or official who has submitted the appeal. If another party is appealing on behalf of a GD-CP Member, communications may be sent to a different e-mail address provided it has been confirmed in writing by the GD-CP Member.

GD-CP will investigate appeals in a timely manner. Receipt of appeals will be acknowledged within five working days.  GD-CP will communicate the expected date to get back to the Member, and depending on the nature of the appeal, and the level of investigation needed by GD-CP, up to a maximum of 90 days

 

4.       The Appeals Panel

All appeals will be dealt with by an Appeals Panel that will be appointed by the Programme Manager and consist of a Senior Auditor and two members of the Advisory Board with sustainable tourism and certification experience. One of the members will be appointed as Chairperson of the Panel. For each appeal, the Programme Coordinator shall check that no member of the Panel has been involved in the certification decision that is subject to the appeal. If such is the case, that member will be replaced by another member of the Advisory Board for that particular appeal . The GD-CP Programme Coordinator will be Secretary to the Panel.

 

5.       Appeals Panel Evaluation

A meeting of the Appeals Panel will be held every two months either in person or via teleconference, unless there are no appeals to discuss.

The appealing Member shall provide full details of the objection and all supporting evidence in writing (documents, testimonies, photographs) to the Appeals Panel at least 5 full working days prior to the meeting of the Appeals Panel.

 

6.       Conduct of the Appeal Panel Evaluation

The Chairman of the Appeals Panel ensures that all necessary information has been gathered  and that the Panel reviews, in confidence:

  •          evidence and opinions provided by the appealing member
  •          evidence and opinions provided by GD-CP
  •          representations put by the two parties and after due consideration, initiates further questioning where required. Questions are submitted in writing to the appropriate party and timescales for response provided.

Following review and discussion, the Panel makes a decision on the appeal as soon as possible, but no later than 80 days after receipt of the appeal (GSTC criteria 11.2.2 and 11.2.4). When required, the Panel advises GD-CP in taking any necessary action to resolve issues arising (GSTC criteria 11.2.6) The Secretary of the Appeals Panel records the proceedings and the decision of the Panel.

 

7.       Notification of the Decision of the Panel

The Chairperson of the Panel notifies GD-CP and the appealing Member by e-mail of the decision made by the Panel within 7 working days from the date of the Panel’s decision (GSTC criteria 11.2.2 and 11.2.5).

 

8.       Redress

In the event of the Panel reaching a decision to revise the original decision made by GD-CP, redress is limited to the declaration by GD-CP of the revised decision in the same manner as the original decision was declared. There shall be no liability for loss or damage upon the original decision.

 

9.       Corrective Action

GD-CP will consider the findings of the Panel and take any appropriate corrective and preventive action as required to resolve issues arising and especially to ensure consistency and integrity of the Standard.

 

10.   Records 

Records of any Appeal will be retained by GD-CP for a minimum of three years. The details are captured on the Appeals Record and Action Tracker which contains a summary of each appeal received, how it is reviewed by the Appeals Panel and actions taken to resolve them.

 

11.   Confidentiality

All Appeals received will be dealt with confidentially and in accordance with the requirements of the EU legislation on data protection and the GD-CP Privacy Policy.


GD-CP has a documented Complaints Policy and Procedure for receiving, evaluating and making decisions about complaints against the CP or against a client. The procedure supports the process of evaluating and decision making about certification and audits, and includes:

 

1. Complaints – definition

A complaint is a formal written communication of dissatisfaction, other than appeal, by GD-CP Members, GD-CP Auditors, and other relevant stakeholders, relating to the activities of GD-CP certification staff, contractors, auditors, or Members holding a GD-CP certificate where a GD-CP response is expected. Examples of complaints include the way that the GD-CP service is delivered, particularly during the certification process. Alternatively, GD-CP may receive complaints from a tour operator, travel agent, or any other stakeholder active in a GD-CP Member destination.

 

 2. General conditions

All subscribed GD-CP Members, Auditors, and other relevant stakeholders, have the right to file complaints.

GD-CP reserves the right to declare any complaint, not submitted by a GD-CP Member, Auditor or relevant stakeholders, ineligible if the complaint is considered not relevant, and to notify the complainer of this decision. GD-CP will maintain a summary overview of complaints considered ineligible, and will report this to the Complaints Panel, taking its feedback into account in order to improve considerations regarding eligibility.

Unless declared eligible, all complaints are considered eligible, and subject to the Complaints Policy and Procedure.

 

All complaints submitted under the GD-CP Complaints Procedure should be sent as follows (marking any letter or email subject line with Complaint):

By post:                               

GD Certification Programme Coordinator
Rapenburg 8
2311 EV Leiden (Netherlands)

By e-mail:                    contact@greendestinations.org

Through an online response form in the Certification page in http://greendestinations.org.

It will not be possible to make any complaints by telephone, fax or skype.


4.  Formal Communication

All communications with the complaining party will be in writing and delivered to them at the e-mail address associated with the party who has submitted the complaint. If another party is complaining on behalf of a GD-CP Member, communications may be sent to a different e-mail address provided it has been confirmed in writing by the GD-CP Member.

GD-CP will investigate complaints in a timely manner. Receipt of complaints will be acknowledged within five working days.

GD-CP will draw the compliant to the attention of any client involved within ten working days 

GD-CP will communicate the expected date to get back to the complaining party, and depending on the nature of the complaint, and the level of investigation needed by GD-CP, up to a maximum of 90 days 

 

5. The Complaints Panel

All eligible complaints will be dealt with by a Complaints Panel that will be appointed by the Programme Manager and consist of a Senior Auditor and two members of the Advisory Board with sustainable tourism and certification experience. One of the members will be appointed as Chairperson of the Panel. For each complaint, the Programme Coordinator shall check that no member of the Panel has been involved in the certification decision that is subject to the complaint. If such is the case, that member will be replaced by another member of the Advisory Board for that particular complaint. The GD-CP Programme Coordinator will be Secretary to the Panel.

 

6. Complaints Panel Evaluation

A meeting of the Complaints Panel will be held every two months either in person or via teleconference (GSTC criteria 11.4.3), unless there are no complaints to discuss.

The complaining Party shall provide full details of the complaint and all supporting evidence in writing (documents, testimonies, photographs) to the Complaints Panel at least 5 full working days prior to the meeting of the Complaints Panel (GSTC criteria 11.4.3).

 

7. Conduct of the Complaint Panel Evaluation

The Chairman of the Complaints Panel ensures that all necessary information has been gathered and that the Panel reviews, in confidence:

  •          whether the complaint relates to the certification scheme;
  •          evidence and opinions provided by the complaining party;
  •          evidence and opinions provided by GD-CP;
  •          representations put by the two parties and after due consideration, initiates further questioning where required. Questions are submitted in writing to the appropriate party and timescales for response provided.

Following review and discussion, the Panel concludes whether the complaint relates to the certification scheme, makes a decision as soon as possible, but no later than 80 days after receipt of the complaint  and when required, advises GD-CP in taking any necessary action to resolve issues arising. The Secretary of the Complaints Panel records the proceedings and the decision of the Panel.


8. Notification of the Decision of the Panel

The Chairperson of the Panel notifies GD-CP, the complaining Party and any other client involved by e-mail of the decision made by the Panel, also confirming whether the complaint relates to the certification scheme , within 7 working days from the date of the Panel’s decision 


9. Redress

In the event of the Panel concluding decision that a decision or procedure of GD-CP should be revised, redress is limited to the declaration by GD-CP of the revised decision or procedure in the same manner as the original decision or procedure was communicated. There shall be no liability for loss or damage upon the original decision or procedure.


10. Corrective Action

GD-CP will consider the findings of the Panel and take any appropriate corrective and preventive action as required to resolve issues arising and especially to ensure consistency and integrity of the Standard


11. Records 

Records of any Complaint will be retained by GD-CP for a minimum of three years. The details are captured on the Complaints Record and Action Tracker which contains a summary of each eligible complaint received, how it is reviewed by the Complaints Panel and actions taken to resolve them.


12. Confidentiality

All complaints received will be dealt with confidentially and in accordance with the requirements of the EU legislation on data protection and the GD-CP Privacy Policy.


Members of the Green Destinations Certification Programme and pursuing Green Destinations Certification are subject to the following procedure.

Upon signing a Certification Agreement, applicant destinations receive login details for the GD Assessment & Reporting System, a manual to guide the applicant around the platform, and shall proceed through the following steps of the assessment and certification procedure.

1) Self- assessment

The destination coordinator completes the online Green Destinations Standard and Indicator reports. Assessment is done according to the reporting instructions and Guidance provided at each individual criterion or indicator, including the explanation of compliance and upload of supporting documentation. After the destination coordinator has completed all criteria and reviewable indicators, s/he notifies GD Secretariat and request a verification.

 

2) Technical check

 The Operating Organisation performs a technical check to see a) whether the self-assessment has been performed at sufficient detailed level to request verification; and b) to see whether the assessment has the potential of leading to an Award level.

If this is the case, the Verification procedure (3) starts within 10 working days after submission of the self-assessment.

If this is not the case, the destination shall be notified via e-mail within 10 working days after submission of the self-assessment, including details of any omissions.


The technical check shall also define whether the applicant’s information and evidence is likely to result in ‘Certified’ (100% compliance with GD Standard). If this is the case and the applicant has indicated upon registration to pursue ‘Certified’ status, a Verification and Audit procedure shall follow (5).

 

3) Verification of applications for ‘CERTIFIED’ level recognition

“Green Destinations Certified” status is the ultimate type of recognition and is awarded to destinations who comply with all mandatory Green Destinations Standard (policy) criteria.

In order to assure the independent nature of the Green Destinations Certified status, this status will only be assigned after an on-site audit by an independent 3rd party Auditor, ordered Green Destinations. This on-site audit will be repeated every 2nd year.

The audit shall be communicated by e-mail to the destinations at least 3 months prior to the planned audit performance, allowing both applicant and auditor to prepare for the audit.

“Certification” and associated license to use the ‘GSTC Certified’ logo can only be issued by Green Destinations as the Certification Body. Operating Organisations (Green Destinations license holders and ‘Representatives’) are not entitled to issue certification (the scope of Green Destinations’ GSTC ‘Approval’ status to issue Certification is not including outsourced certification activities).

 

A) Auditor Selection

The procedure to select and allocate auditors to applicant destinations is as follows:

  1.            Once the online checklist and obligatory documents are satisfactory, the Green Destinations identifies an auditor through the Auditor Allocation Process, who will conduct the audit and advises them to contact the Member to organise the audit. At this stage, the auditor is obliged to inform Green Destinations of any conflicts of interest.
  2.           No Member is permitted to select their own auditor. Green Destinations will select the auditor through the regular auditor allocation procedure.
  3.         Green Destinations reserves the right to appoint an auditor from its internal staff under exceptional circumstances, when it has not been possible to identify a third-party representative to complete an audit.
  4.         Green Destinations informs the Member about the name of the auditor, advising they will be in touch to organise the audit. The Member may raise an objection against the auditor selected or inform Green Destinations of any conflicts of interest.
  5.          If no conflicts of interest arise, the auditor and Member agree a date for the audit.
  6.         The auditor reviews the online checklist and obligatory documents in preparation for their onsite visit.
  7.       When auditing members with a language different from that Green Destinations’ recognised standards (English), Green Destinations will undertake the audit in that local language. The language of an auditor is a critical part of the audit allocation process.

 

B) Verification

Preparation

                i.     An online verification (Desk-audit) of the destination’s self-assessment, checked for completeness by Green Destinations, shall be performed by a Green Destinations registered auditor as preparation for the on-site audit.

         Based on the submitted online information and documentation, the auditor shall notify the Destination of any identified non compliances and request any explanation of unclear information.

         This allows the destination to prepare for the on-site audit and gather missing data.

On-site Audit

              ii.     At the beginning of the audit, the auditor begins with an opening meeting involving key stakeholders, including the sustainability manager, destination manager and other key members of staff.

             iii.     The auditor conducts the audit, which will include:

  •          review of key documents and records that is relevant to Green Destination compliance
  •          conduct confidential stakeholder interviews, as well as gather anecdotal evidence from stakeholders;
  •          visits to key areas and sites within the destination, such as attractions, nature areas,  public services (waste and waste water management sites); museums, visitor (information) centres, beaches, etc.

            iv.     The auditor ends the audit with a closing meeting with key staff is held in which:

  •          main findings of the audit (although not the outcome) area discussed, and it is explained hat that this exchange of information does not predetermine the outcome of the certification decision as the auditor is not taking the decision regarding the audit outcome.
  •          the member is given the opportunity to comment on any of the auditor’s outstanding concerns or on their observations obtained during the audit;
  •          it is outlined where the Member needs to make improvements;

              v.     If the auditor needs to contact an external stakeholder(s), they advise the member at the closing meeting.

 

After the audit

            vi.     If needed, the auditor advises the Operating Organisation that they will contact external stakeholders before they submit their audit report, which the Operating Organisation will confirm with the Member by email;

           vii.     The auditor completes the audit report within 14 days of the final audit date and submits it to the Operating Organisation. The report will explain where the Member meets or does not meet the requirements of the Green Destinations standard.

 

C) Issuing Certification

Based on the results from the Verification, the auditor issues an Audit report to the Operating Organisation, that will evaluate the auditor’s report and make a motivated Advice on the ‘Certified’ status to the Green Destinations Awards & Certification Committee. The Secretary of the Committee shall appoint a Committee Rapporteur, who will review the Verification report and the Advice, and may raise queries to the auditor on assessment details. A second Rapporteur will be appointed by the Operating Organisation. The Rapporteurs will take a final decision on behalf of CB. If the two Rapporteurs cannot come to an agreement within one month, the Secretary of the Committee will appoint a third Rapporteur.

 

In case of ‘Green Destinations Certified’ status, the Committee Rapporteurs have several options for their final verdict:

  1.       To grant unconditional certification

All criteria have been met. Non-essential corrections might be needed which will be evaluated during the next scheduled audit.

  1.       To postpone certification

There are (essential) non-conformities, but they could be corrected. The destination is enabled to correct certain elements within a defined time period. Once corrected they are checked by the Operating Organisation, and reported to the Secretary of the Committee. Based on compliance the Certification is provided.

  1.       To grant conditional certification

Certification is provided but the destination is requested to correct certain elements within a defined period of time (to be agreed beforehand with the destination). In case the corrections are not done the Operating Organisation may withdraw or suspend the Certified status.

  1.       Not to grant certification

The destination does not comply with the mandatory criteria and non-conformities are serious in nature or number. Compliance on the short term is not expected. The process is completed and the destination should request for a new certification if they wish to do so, or the destination can request to be issued a pre-certification Award based on its audited scores.

 

Verification of post-audit improvements

In case of B) Postponed Certification; or B) Conditional Certification; Green Destinations shall invite the Member to correct any non-conformity identified within a specified time period and to inform Green Destinations when this rectification has  been  completed. 

The review of post-audit improvements is done principally by the Secretariat, supported by the Certification Committee and involved auditor. If non-conformities are not corrected within the specified time frame, the destination will automatically invited for a re-audit.

Post-audit improvements’ guidelines shall effectively manage the verification process.

 

4) Award & Certification presentation and communication

Applicants that have been granted an Award or Certification status shall receive:

-          Certificate

-          Flag

-          Banner

The Certification document shall identify:

  •          The name and address of Green Destinations
  •          The name and address of the certified Destination. 
  •          The scope and services covered by the certification.
  •          The GSTC-Recognized Standard to which the services comply.
  •          A unique record number or code.
  •          The dates of granting and of expiry of the certification.

 

The successful applicant hall be consulted about the presentation of their Certificate and an Award Flag at a local, national or international Award ceremony. Award presentations can also take place at an appropriate tourism fair (e.g. Vakantiebeurs Utrecht, FITUR Madrid, ITB Berlin, WTM London).

Awarded Destinations can order extra flags and banners (at a cost basis), which can be displayed throughout the destination’s territory during a 24-months period, until renewal of the Award or Certification status is required.

 

Upon issuing the Award, the Destination shall be featured on at least the following channels:

  • -          Destination Page on the CB’s website, including a brief description of the destination and sustainability achievements and assessment results.
  • -          Map and Table of Green Destinations Ratings (www.greendestinations.info) and in the Travelife[1] database of Sustainable destinations used by Travelife Member Tour Operators and Travel Agents. An example of an affiliated OTA displaying GD Ratings is www.bookdifferent.com.

 

5) Award & Certification renewal

Green Destinations certification is valid for 3 years, but the first recertification shall take place within 2 years after the initial certification is granted. 18 Months after application the Awarded destination shall be encouraged to thoroughly update the information and evidence on the Green Destinations online platform. The assessment of the re-application shall follow the same procedure as outlined above and take into consideration the coherence between the improvements indicated in the previous one and the integration of the suggestions and the recommendations made by the Operating Organisation on behalf of the CB.

When a Member is due for re-verification, the Operating Organisation:

  •          Ensures that the Member’s membership is up-to-date, where they have paid their subscription and re-verification fee, following receipt of an invoice outlining these costs;
  •          Sends out a renewal email. All Members will receive a renewals email when their membership fees are due with sufficient time for a re-certification process to be carried out prior to the end of the current validity period.

Auditor selection process

In principle Green Destinations shall not allocate the same auditor to  for Award & Certification Renewal

Auditing and Certification process

For the re-verification Green Destinations will further follow the initial audit and certification process as described in step 3.

Obligation to inform

Awarded or Certified destinations are required to always keep an updated file of their status towards the mandatory criteria in the online system and to immediately notify the Operating Organisation in case it does not anymore comply with the certification standard on the basis on which it has been certified.

Extra ordinary audits

The Operating Organisation remains the right to conduct an audit more frequently in case serious doubts occur. The costs for such audit are with the Operating Organisation. In case however serious non-conformities are found which would result in the suspending the certificate, the destination is required to pay for the cost of such audit.

NB. The Green Destinations Indicators Database which contributes to the award level definition (e.g. the number of themes with a score of 8 out of 10) is a dynamic system with many scores based on the scaled performance of all destinations in the system. This means that if over time destinations are improving their performance, the scores of those destinations that are lagging behind may fall. This means that Awards are issued based on the score at the moment of assessment, and theoretically similar performance may result in a different score (and thus Award level) at the time of award renewal.

It is also important for applicants to realise that the Green Destinations Indicators Database is annually improved in order to better cover up-to-date considerations about sustainability and relevant criteria, and to increase harmonisation with collaborating schemes such as ETIS and GSTC.

 

[1] Travelife is a Certification Programme for Tour Operators and Hotels, and a GD Partner.

 

Page generated in 0.0386 seconds.