Green your supply chain

Imagine a world where direct competitors from the private sector come together to help conserve threatened landscapes and provide sustainable livelihoods for the local communities where they work—all while improving their bottom line.

This is the vision we share with the forward-thinking entrepreneurs who participate in our Green Supply Chain initiative. By working with the Rainforest Alliance, these tour operators are influencing industry standards to become more responsible and helping to mitigate the destructive impacts of tourism on natural and cultural treasures. At the same time, they are fortifying the financial sustainability of their own operations.

What is the green supply chain initiative?

The Rainforest Alliance launched this initiative in 2011 to bring together tour operators who wish to contribute to a greener economy. We work with these businesses to develop and implement responsible sourcing programs.

Tour operators that participate in this initiative are committed to improving the sustainability of their own practices, as well as the sustainability of their suppliers in various tourism destinations. The result: sustainability ripples down the supply chain. Hotels are inspired to operate responsibly, participating tour operators are motivated to promote sustainable tourism businesses and consumers are encouraged to visit eco-friendly destinations.

Participation Pays Off

The tour operators that participate in the initiative receive benefits that include:

  • Increased credibility for their sustainability claims through the use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified™ mark
  • Access to an inventory of credible sustainable tourism suppliers in preferred destinations (updated every six months)
  • Promotion of their sustainability commitments on Rainforest Alliance social media platforms
  • Collaborative marketing opportunities through advertisements, social media, travel shows, press trips and e-marketing
  • Training in improved management practices
  • Access to tools and training materials for management, staff and suppliers
  • Strengthened relationships with local and international affiliated operators
  • Presence on the Company Commitments section on the Rainforest Alliance website and mentions at conferences and at special events

Steps to Sustainability

The first step to joining the Green Supply Chain initiative is signing a cooperative agreement with the Rainforest Alliance. The agreement symbolizes a tour operator’s commitment to conserving biodiversity and reducing the negative impacts of tourism.

In addition, tour operators commit to:

  • Ensuring that during the first year of participation, at least 30 percent of their suppliers in key destinations are certified sustainable. That percentage must increase in subsequent years
  • Keeping the Rainforest Alliance informed on their progress toward achieving sustainability goals
  • Supporting the work of this initiative by making an annual gift to the Rainforest Alliance, based on a sliding scale
  • Agreeing to give priority to hotels and lodges that adopt best practices for sustainability in tour packages offered to international tourism wholesalers or travelers
  • Attaining Rainforest Alliance tourism certification (only for inbound tour operators)
  • Actively participating in activities that will contribute to the growth of this initiative

Allies for Change

The Green Supply Chain initiative also facilitates formal relationships between member tour operators and other civil society organizations and/or the public sector, as well as increased access to funding or tools to help advance sustainable tourism.

Case Study

An analysis of 114 tour operators working with the Rainforest Alliance over the past four years shows how their commercial relationships were enhanced and the sustainability of their supply chain was improved as a result of their their commitment to support a greener supply chain:

  • The quantity of sustainable suppliers contracted grew by 38% for inbound operators and by 14% for outbound operators
  • The total number of outbound operators that include sustainable tourism products in their itineraries increased by 41%
  • Outbound operators increased the number of inbound operators they work with in the region by 100%
  • The number of travelers that stated that sustainably managed tourism businesses are a priority when booking their trips grew by 8% for inbound operators and by 2% for outbound operators, showing that demand for sustainable tourism products is steadily increasing
  • 76% of the outbound tour operators interviewed feel that sustainability is an important marketing tool and include it in their marketing strategy
  • Inbound tour operators reported an additional 1,211 jobs generated, which represents a 65% increase with respect to 2008 numbers, demonstrating a direct positive impact on local economic development

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