>> CST Levels

To measure and locate these different levels, the CST program provides a "sustainability levels" system on a scale of 0 to 5, in which each number indicates the firm's relative position in terms of sustainability. This scheme provides a way to classify tourist firms in terms of "levels " in a system that is very similar to the hotels' commercial categorization through the well-known stars system.

If the first category level is achieved (level 1), this means that the firm has taken the first steps within the sustainability process. Higher levels correspond to higher stages, each stage being more advanced than the previous one in the specific evaluation process, culminating at 5, which means that the company is considered to be outstanding in terms of sustainability.

The following table shows the correlation between the levels and percentages attained:

% attained
< 20
> 95

In terms of sustainability, the degree of fulfillment that each level signifies should be concomitant with the different aspects mentioned. For example, to achieve a level 3 category, it is necessary to complete at least 60% of the established conditions for the four areas evaluated.

The level assigned to any firm will always be the lowest level achieved in any of the fields. It is expected that this policy will encourage the firms to advance towards the model of sustainability by giving the same level of consideration and importance to each of the four areas evaluated. Although the program has been designed for all types of companies in the tourism industry, the first stage will include only the lodging companies. Within this group, the program will generate a clear differentiation between the hotels according to the level achieved.

The CST system is designed to include a series of incentives that will increase in benefits for each company, in direct proportion to its increased rating. This means that as the rating increases, more and better benefits will be received; international and national publicity, and promotion, specifically designed for CST; training for its personnel; priority participation in various world tourism fairs and events, etc.

2. Evaluation questionnaire
In order to evaluate the level of sustainability of a tourist sector business, the following Evaluation Questionnaire was developed exclusively for the CST program.

How the CST System Operates

The hotels' evaluation of sustainability involves the analysis of four general areas:

· Physical-biological environment

· Hotel facilities (internal environmental management practices)

· Customers

· Socio-economic environment

These four general areas are divided in general descriptors that represent sources of positive/negative impacts generated by hotel activities. For each general descriptor a set of categorization questions was designed to evaluate hotel performance

List of Descriptors by Areas
A. Physical-biological environment
1. Policies and programs
2. Emissions and wastes
3. Gardens
4. Natural areas
5. Protection of Flora and fauna
B. Hotel facilities
6. Policy formulation
7. Water consumption
8. Energy consumption
9. General supplies consumption - Food and beverages - Cleaning and cosmetic supplies
10. Waste management - Organic waste - Inorganic waste - Final destiny
11. Employee training
C. Customers
12. Communication and involvement
13. Room conditioning (management).
14. Management of guest groups
15. Customer feedback measurement
D. Socio-economic environment
16. Direct economic benefits for local communities
17. Non-direct economic benefits for local communities
18. Contribution to local cultural promotion
19. Contribution to public health
20. Infrastructure and security

Levels of sustainability
To classify a hotel the CST uses six sustainability levels that go from zero to five (This is similar to the traditional 'star' categorization used for hotels). The sustainability level assigned to a hotel depends on its percentage of compliance with the standards established by the categorization questionnaires.

Level of sustainability
Minimum percentage of compliance for all four general areas
< 20
> 94

Categorization Questionnaire

The categorization questionnaire is divided into four general areas (see above) and 20 descriptors for a total of 153 questions. Each question evaluates a specific standard or condition with which a hotel need comply (Yes = compliance; No = non-compliance). The questions are weighted by their relevance on a scale of 1 to 3 (3 = most important).

4.4 The hotel has a private reserve.

(does not apply)

Final scoring
The final score for each of the four general areas is obtained as follows:

The smallest final score determines the sustainability category obtained by a hotel.

Please also visit the following pages of this site related to the CST evaluation system:

· Evaluation Questionnaire

· Evaluation Guidelines

· Online Self-Evaluation

· For further information visit us in our Web site at www.turismo-sostenible.co.cr

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