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The sustainable tourism mission of Rainforest Alliance
Recently, the Rainforest Alliance introduced its stricter Rainforest Alliance Verified ™ seal to delineate, for ecotourism purposes, tourism enterprises and projects that meet criteria developed by the Rainforest Alliance or by other aligned organizations.
So, why is the seal so important? When Rainforest Alliance opened its doors in 1987, people were largely “unaware that 50 acres of rainforest were disappearing every minute (resulting in) two dozen species going extinct every day.”
Consequently, a group of concerned scientists and environmentalists decided to start a global discussion about how to “work with people whose livelihoods depend on the land (in order to) help them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood, and host travelers.”
What began as a small conference has grown into an international mission that has helped change the way some global food, cocoa, coffee, tea, cosmetic, and paper corporations collect raw materials for their products. Additionally, the Rainforest Alliance sustainable tourism program has been assisting small and medium-sized businesses based in Latin America as they proceed through the sustainable tourism certification process.
“Since there are more than 100 existing sustainable tourism certification initiatives worldwide, the Rainforest Alliance decided that it would be more productive to support local certification programs, help increase their international recognition, establish regional networks of certification programs to share resources and information, and create standards for certification criteria (worldwide).”
Rainforest Alliance’s involvement in the tourism industry is changing Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GTSC), sustainable tourism operations, and travel habits. Specifically, Rainforest Alliance provides:
- sustainable tourism training to tour operators seeking certification,
- educational materials to travelers including the SustainableTrip.org website to differentiate sustainable tourism operations and free elementary and middle school curricula about Latin American flora and fauna,
- support to other regional and international certification programs, and
- motivation to providers throughout the entire tourism supply chain to adopt sustainable business practices
Acting more as an endorser than certifier of sustainable tourism, the Rainforest Alliance also works internationally to create partnerships with travel agents so that newly certified tour operators have an immediate audience of potential customers.
Learn more about the Rainforest Alliance sustainable tourism program.