Rainforest Alliance Announces a New Global Platform of Tour Operators Committed to Sustainable Tourism

September 28, 2011

With assistance from inbound and outbound tour-operating agencies in Latin America, the United States and Europe, the Rainforest Alliance has launched Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability (TOPS), a specialized global platform of tour operators dedicated to promoting and supporting sustainable tourism in their respective markets. The international conservation organization made the announcement today in Antigua, Guatemala -- a recognition of yesterday's World Tourism Day.

"TOPS was designed to work in conjunction with tour operators to help transform the business practices of tourism companies and motive tourists to support these efforts," says Ronald Sanabria, the Rainforest Alliance's vice president of sustainable tourism. "The long-term aim is to help the industry become socially and environmentally responsible as well as profitable, encouraging tourism practices that protect ecosystems and improve the lives of individuals and communities."

TOPS participants will have access to updated and verified information on sustainable suppliers, discounts on the Rainforest Alliance’s verification services (this applies only to inbound operators) and training and business-generating opportunities as well as the chance to establish business relationships and engage in promotional activities in European and North American markets by participating in fairs, press meetings and familiarization (FAM) trips.

"We have established agreements that allow these tour operators to receive special rates for their participation in promotional events and tourism fairs," states Cristina Suhr, the Rainforest Alliance's international marketing manager for sustainable tourism.

By unifying the individual efforts of these businesses, TOPS will allow them to have a greater impact on social and conservation projects in the Latin American destinations where they work.

To participate in TOPS, interested inbound tour operators must apply for Rainforest Alliance verification of their businesses, comply with at least 50 percent of the program’s established requirements and commit to reaching a minimum of 70 percent compliance by the following year. Outbound operators must sign a memorandum of understanding with the Rainforest Alliance; at least 30 percent of their suppliers must be sustainable and that figure must increase to a minimum of 50 percent by the following year.

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