Trailblazers Talk about Sustainable Tourism

In 2008, Condé Nast Traveler, a top travel magazine with a readership of 3.2 million, identified ten individuals around the world as the “Sustainable Tourism Watchdogs” as part of an article on pioneers in the tourism industry. The Rainforest Alliance’s vice president of sustainable tourism, Ronald Sanabria, was one of them. In celebration of the Rainforest Alliance tourism program’s 10th anniversary, he asked his fellow trail blazers to join him in reflecting on the evolution and increasing significance of a sustainably managed tourism industry and the role that the Rainforest Alliance has played in it. Here’s what they had to say:

Without doubt, the work of Rainforest Alliance’s sustainable tourism programme is one of the most impressive I have ever come across.  It combines visionary passion for a healthy environment together with a rights’ agenda in a pragmatic and meaningful way.  Not only has Costa Rica benefited, but the whole global tourism industry.

~Tricia Barnett
Director
Tourism Concern

Tourism Watchdogs

Sustainable tourism has the ability to provide practical solutions for serious challenges we face today. I know of no other form of development which only limits appear to be creativity…the opportunities are endless.

The Rainforest Alliance is an anchor for conservation efforts, continually learning from past projects and new challenges faced with increasing populations, increasing demands on our natural environment.  The organization brings stakeholders together, engages expertise from communities, business, and science to support capacity building, biodiversity conservation, ultimately designing new opportunities for creative collaboration—we need a multifaceted approach to the complex problems faced today and most certainly in the future.

~Kelly Bricker
Chair of the Board
Global Sustainable Tourism Council

If we could make all tourism more sustainable then we could save resources equivalent to the consumption of a big industrialised country and create jobs for local people in much need. Isn’t it worth it to try? Even if we make part of tourism sustainable the signal to other sectors and the benefits to nature and people will be more than enough to justify our efforts.

~Stefanos Fotiou
Regional Coordinator, Resource Efficiency
United Nations Environment Programme

Whoever contributes to halting the loss of biodiversity maintains the opportunities for the local communities to offer unique nature-based products and services and to give good reasons to visit their places. This is more and more understood thanks to the persevering efforts of the Rainforest Alliance and many other NGOs worldwide.

~Herbert Hamele
President
Ecotrans

It is an honor to have the Rainforest Alliance as a founding member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Their direct input and guidance in creating the GSTC Criteria was critical to the success of our program. The Rainforest Alliance has been a thought-leader in the world of sustainability for many years and having their expertise focused on sustainable travel brings a measured, authentic and positive voice to our industry.

Traveler Trailblazers

~Erika Harms
Executive Director
Global Sustainable Tourism Council

Tourism is one of the world’s largest, yet most undervalued industries on earth.  Entire communities, ecosystems and even countries depend on it.  Yet as the Asian saying goes, 'Tourism is like fire: you can cook your dinner on it, but if you are not careful it will burn your house down,' and there is an extremely fine line between creating positive and negative impacts of tourism.  Having collaborated for years with the Rainforest Alliance in their mission to support conservation and poverty reduction through sustainable tourism development, I can say that they are a global leader in advancing the positive impacts of true sustainable tourism.

~Peter Davis Krahenbuhl
President, Co-founder
Sustainable Travel International

The Rainforest Alliance, under Ronald's able leadership, has been in the forefront of carrying out significant on- the-ground tourism studies and training; producing attractive, user-friendly publications and web portals; and achieving real victories, especially in the field of sustainable certification. We wouldn't have come as far as we have over the last decade without the Rainforest Alliance's leadership!

~Martha Honey
Director
Center for Responsible Travel

Ten years ago the notion that tourism can and should deliver tangible benefits to the people whose land, heritage and natural resources form the basis of 'the world's largest industry', was still a fairly novel one. The Rainforest Alliance has shown real leadership in making both the business and development case for sustainable tourism, with a consistent and exemplary understanding of the need to work in concert with others. Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) is proud to count the Rainforest Alliance and its sustainable tourism team amongst our network of friends and colleagues, and we look forward to a closer working relationship in the next decade.

~Jennifer Seif
Executive Director
Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa