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CSTO Certification

In 2017, SYTA partnered with the Center for Student Travel Safety (CSTS) to undertake an industry changing initiative to improve overall safety and risk management practices throughout the student and youth travel industry.

The Certified Student Travel Organization (CSTO) is intended to educate the student and youth travel industry on the administration of safety and risk management standards for student and youth travel.

Increasingly, school administrators, educators, procurement officers and parents are seeking ways to evaluate and select student travel companies that meet industry standards and provide them with ways to understand the products and services they are buying from their student and youth travel providers.

SYTA and the Center worked with members, allied organizations, industry, educators and government to develop standards that are actionable and attainable by student and youth travel companies and their staff.

CSTO Standards at a Glance

This is an overview of the standards that need to be met in order to earn certification status as a Certificated Student Travel Organization. Detailed information will soon be available at my.syta.org.

Mandatory Standards
Minimum Student & Revenue
Background check, Organization’s Principals
Consumer Protection Education
Business License and Mailing Address
Laws, Regulations and Licensing
Organization Insurance
Code of Ethics
Crisis Response Plan and Training
Crisis Response Simulation Training
Elective Training (minimum of 16 must be met)
Non-Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Training
Child Abuse Prevention Plan
Seat Belt Usage
FMCSA Safety Briefing
Motorcoach Facility and Equipment Assessment
Tour Satisfaction Survey
Family Assistance and Support
Emergency Evacuation Briefing
Accommodation Property Assessment
Health Information Management
American Disability Act (ADA) Specialist
Health Information Portability and Accountability Act Specialist
Dining Facility Assessment
Staff Background Checks
Swimming Safety
First Aid, CPR and AED Training
Incident Reporting and Response Procedure
Annual Incident Analysis
Lost Tour Participant Protocol
Advice for Teacher Leaders
Attraction and Venue Best Practices
Security Organization Assessment

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the certification program only for tour operators, group travel planners, travel agents and receptive operators?

Yes. The CSTO is based on these organizations who facilitate safety and risk management practices with the support of their supplier partners.

How is the CSTO certification different from the CSTP certification?

The CSTO certification program is for organizations (tour operators, group travel planners, travel agents and receptive operators). The CSTP program is for individual professionals, including suppliers, in the industry. The CSTP program will be redesigned to reflect the standards in the organization certification program.

How does an organization achieve certification?

An organization seeking certification will demonstrate compliance with 9 mandatory standards and at least 16 elective standards. The 9 mandatory standards include the STYA membership requirements for active members. There are 21 elective standards to choose from and the organization must meet at least 16 of the elective standards that best fit the needs of their company.

Once an organization is certified, do they need to do it again?

Yes. Certified travel organizations must re-certify every three years, following the same application process as the initial certification.

Is there a cost to become a Certified Student Travel Organization (CSTO)?

Yes. There is a one-time application fee ($250 for members and $500 for non-members) and a certification fee ($2500) that includes the information, tools and resources needed to become certified and the certification onsite visit.

How does an organization receive training on certification requirements?

SYTA will provide education and resources to help organizations through the certification process. An online workshop is required prior to applying for certification. This workshop will walk you through the certification process.

If I sell my company, is the CSTO certification transferrable to the new owner?

Yes. As long as the company follows the certification requirements, and completes the annual self-assessment and third year recertification is required.

If I have multiple incorporated entities, do I have to complete a certification for each?

Yes. If these entities operate as individual companies with their own insurance, and a separate set of safety and risk management procedures from the parent company. Please contact the center for additional information at [email protected].

Can non-members become certified travel organizations?

Yes. Non-members will pay non-member rates for the education, resources and training provided by SYTA to its members.

Contact [email protected] for additional information on certification.

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