Rainforest Alliance and Gap Adventures Join Forces to Promote Responsible Tourism

December 4, 2009

Canadian tour operator Gap Adventures and the nongovernmental organization Planeterra, founded by Gap Adventures, recently signed an agreement with the Rainforest Alliance to promote businesses in Costa Rica that are practicing sustainable tourism.

Gap Adventures has agreed to promote to its customers those Costa Rican tourism businesses that have achieved a Tourism Sustainability Certificate awarded by ICT (the Costa Rican Tourism Board) or that are part of the Rainforest Alliance's Sustainable Tourism program. By taking this step, Gap joins 40 other international tour operators in Europe and North America that are working with the Rainforest Alliance.

"This agreement with Gap Adventures is very important as the company is one of the largest tour operators in North America, and it will help us increase the number of travelers who will become aware of Costa Rica's conservation efforts," said Cristina Suhr, Marketing Manager for the Rainforest Alliance. "It will also increase business opportunities for those hotels that are truly committed to achieving sustainability."

As part of this collaboration, Gap Adventures guarantees that at least half of the businesses included in its tourism packages to Costa Rica are working toward sustainability goals. In addition, Gap will contact tourists upon their return from vacation to find out about their adventures and urge them to share their experiences with family and friends and motivate their loved ones to take similar trips. The information obtained from tourists will be forwarded to the Rainforest Alliance.

The Gap Adventures Web site will soon feature a statement about its commitment to sustainability as well as stories and testimonials from clients who have visited sustainable tourism businesses in Costa Rica.

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"As we continue to grow, it is increasingly important to work with the Rainforest Alliance to keep the focus on our original goal of offering innovative ways of showing people a sustainable world," explained Bruce Poon Tip, CEO of Gap Adventures. "It is even more relevant to continuously assess how we can do things better. Working with the Rainforest Alliance is a big step in that direction."

As part of the agreement, the Rainforest Alliance will provide the tour operator with contacts for all of its colleagues in Costa Rica who have signed commitments to sustainability as well as a list of certified tourism businesses or those that are implementing good sustainable management practices. In addition, the Rainforest Alliance will periodically organize trips to Costa Rica for representatives from Gap Adventures so that they can familiarize themselves with new destinations and businesses that might become part of future travel packages the company offers.

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