Which Are the Best Sustainability Courses for Tourism Professionals?

Published 08/01/2020
Sustainability courses for tourism professionals

Sustainability courses for tourism professionals

Interest in sustainable tourism has increased significantly during 2019, putting pressure on tourism businesses and destinations to live up to growing expectations by minimizing negative impact and maximizing benefits for the natural environment, communities, visitors and staff.

What courses can tourism professionals choose to deepen their knowledge about sustainability?

We asked our panel of sustainable tourism specialists, which we convene around four times per year. Below the answers (highlighted respondents are part of our list of recommended consultants or speakers).

Our key takeaways:

  • The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is the most widely recognized institution for offering sustainability courses for tourism professionals.
  • Many universities now offer sustainability courses as part of tourism- or business-focused bachelor or master degrees. Among those, Leeds Beckett University’s MSc in Responsible Tourism Management is the most recognized.
  • Many organizations offer online modules and courses on topics which are relevant for tourism professionals, including Harvard Business School.

Albert Salman


The leading course is no doubt GSTC-STTP. To become a sustainable tourism professional, you should consider one of their many academic courses.

The Green Destinations Partnership is preparing courses for tourist destination managers, to be offered in 2020.

Dagmar Lund-Durlacher


There are so many courses and webinars available.

Of course I have to mention our Modul University Vienna’s MBA in International Tourism Management, with a specialization in sustainable management and governance.

Also, we just finished an ERASMUS+ project, the TRIANGLE Knowledge Alliance with training courses and resources to be used by practitioners.

Jonathon Day Placemark SolutionsJonathon Day

Interview | Speaker profile

I am heartened that many traditional undergraduate and graduate programs are integrating sustainability in their curriculum. At Purdue, my sustainable tourism course has quickly become one of the more popular electives for students.

GSTC has expanded its training and webinar offerings.

Kelly Bricker, sustainable tourism expert panel memberKelly Bricker

InterviewSpeaker profile

The GSTC, mentioned earlier, has training programs to address the sustainable tourism criteria and their application.

I would also check with your local educational institutions. For example, at the University of Utah we offer an online certificate in hospitality and tourism which includes sustainability as applied to the hospitality and tourism industry for professionals. I would imagine other institutions are doing similar activities.

I would also consider joining groups, like the Tourism and Protected Area Specialists Group, which addresses parks and protected areas and sustainable tourism – there are educational webinars and other resources for professionals engaged in tourism and natural resource management.

Kirsi Hyvaerinen

Kirsi Hyvaerinen

InterviewSpeaker profile

In addition to the ones already listed, I would add the M.A. of Sustainable Tourism Management (in German) at Eberswalde University near Berlin, Germany.

Masaru Takayama


A good online sustainable tourism training program is offered by GSTC. Trainingaid.org also is worth checking.

Natalia Naranjo


There are training courses and webinars offered by the GSTC, online courses offered by Latin American organizations, like Fondo Verde, and others lead by local universities or international organizations supported by UNWTO or UNEP.

Peter Richards


I was very happy with Leeds Beckett University’s MSc in Responsible Tourism Management.

Philippe Moreau


One course I’d recommend is the Harvard Business School’s online course on sustainable business strategy.

Raj Gyawali, sustainable tourism expert panel memberRaj Gyawali

InterviewSpeaker profile

Sustainability is so vast that really it’s difficult to pinpoint courses that can be followed. The obvious choices will be a master’s degree in sustainability or responsible tourism – but deeper knowledge on the environment, job creation, ethical business, social enterprise, and social work – can all contribute to a better understanding of sustainability. The best way to learn is of course on the job.

Vicky Smith

Vicky Smith

InterviewSpeaker profile

MSc Responsible Tourism Management at Leeds Beckett University in the UK

MSc in Sustainable Development at Surrey University, UK

Vik Nair


Apart from the many universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in sustainable tourism, tourism professionals can also strengthen their knowledge by attending various online webinars and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). For example:

Introduction to Sustainable Tourism in Business

Issued by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Open University of Mauritius, the MOOC aims to introduce participants to Sustainable Development Goals and discusses issues related to sustainable development in business.

Sustainable Tourism: Society & Environmental Aspects

This MOOC from Wageningen University in Netherlands, focuses on how to view tourism as a complex social and environmental phenomenon. The programme gives practitioners the macro perspective of the global sustainability business.

Online courses from the Sustainability Academy

Some of the online courses that will be excellent for practitioners include

  • Corporate Sustainability
  • Sustainability Reporting
  • Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Performance for Investors & Sustainability Professionals
  • Carbon Reduction Strategy
  • Corporate Carbon Footprint Reduction

GSTC’s Sustainable Tourism Online Courses

Built on the framework of the GSTC Criteria, the global baseline standards for sustainability in travel and tourism, the course will participants achieve tangible actions that fulfill the globally recognized standard of sustainability best practices.

More about the sustainable tourism expert panel here – including previous sessions and answers to some of the most pressing issues linked to making tourism more sustainable.

You want to ask the panel a question? Get in touch!