Today’s blog in the Rainforest Alliance Week series is taking a look at tourism.
Many of us will have travelled abroad on holiday this summer, spending time playing on a beach or trekking through forests, staying in hotels or camping, eating in local restaurants and buying souvenirs.
Whilst such holidays and activities provide a vital source of income for many developing counties, tourism can also cause pollution, deforestation, inefficient energy use and cultural exploitation.
This is why we at the Rainforest Alliance are committed to working with both tourism businesses and travellers to promote sustainability and the need to consider both the environment and the people who depend on it for their livelihoods.
Our sustainable tourism programme has been going for more than 10 years. We help tourism professionals improve the sustainability of their businesses based on the principles of the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. Initiatives include implementing ecosystem and water conservation measures, reducing energy use, supporting local economies, hiring from within the community and reducing costs.
Businesses and projects that have achieved significant and measurable sustainability milestones can also be awarded a verification mark. Hotels and tour operators that meet Rainforest Alliance sustainable tourism requirements, which follow the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, can also earn the right to display the verification mark on brochures or advertisements.
For the savvy traveller, we have our sustainabletrip.org website, which is an online database of hotels, tour operators, and other businesses (such as restaurants) in Latin America and the Caribbean that have been certified by a sustainable tourism certification programme, verified by the Rainforest Alliance, or recommended as being sustainable by a reputable organisation.
Travellers and tourism entrepreneurs who want to find out more about how tourism can benefit local communities, respect cultural diversity and contribute to conservation can take a tour of our virtual SmartLodge. SmartLodge is an interactive hotel room packed with practical advice on the simple steps that tourism companies and travellers can take to advance toward sustainability.