Verification Services for Tourism Businesses

Tourism businesses working with us to adopt best management practices may be eligible to use the Rainforest Alliance Verified mark.

The Rainforest Alliance works with hotels, inbound and outbound tour operators and other tourism businesses to help them improve their environmental, social and economic practices. Our standard for tourism operations has been recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). Through training and technical assistance, we teach them how to operate sustainably and verify their progress toward this goal. Those enterprises that meet our requirements are eligible to receive promotional benefits, including the use of the Rainforest Alliance Verified™ mark.

Sustainable tourism services include:

  • Training Modules -- Through one-day seminars and multi-day workshops, we provide the knowledge and tools to manage a tourism business sustainably.
  • Technical Assistance -- Our qualified assessors help businesses create a sustainable management plan tailored to each specific company’s needs.
  • Verification Visits -- An assessor makes an on-site visit to evaluate a business’s adoption of sustainability practices and help its managers understand what they are doing well and which areas need improvement.
  • Marketing Benefits -- Businesses that fulfill certain requirements are eligible to receive promotional benefits, including use of the Rainforest Alliance Verified mark, representation at local and international trade shows and inclusion in promotional Web sites and printed materials.

Training sessions and audits cover topics such as clean technologies, waste management and recycling, carbon offsets, biodiversity conservation, cultural preservation, gender equality, administration and planning, service quality and green marketing. All of our tools and modules meet Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.

Find out about upcoming workshops and seminars in your area by contacting sustainabletourism@ra.org.

Review the Rainforest Alliance Verification Standard for Tourism Services [PDF, 224KB].

Learn More

Why should I get verified?

By adopting sustainable practices and becoming Rainforest Alliance Verified, a tourism business can:

  • Ensure the future of its water and energy sources and protect the natural and cultural treasures that draw visitors to the destination.
  • Cut costs by saving energy, using less water and reducing staff turnover.
  • Give its guests a more authentic and memorable experience and earn customer support and loyalty by demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.
  • Receive marketing and promotional benefits from the Rainforest Alliance.
  • Improve its competitiveness and reach international markets, which are increasingly demanding sustainable services.
  • Prepare for certification by a member of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas or (in the future) a program accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
How can I get verified?

In order to become Rainforest Alliance Verified, a tourism business must:

  • Be legally established for a minimum of one year and follow all of the laws of the country in which it operates.
  • Have a valid, signed verification agreement with the Rainforest Alliance.
  • Receive a verification visit and meet at least 50 percent of the Rainforest Alliance’s best management practices.
  • Undergo a verification visit every 12 months and continue to meet at least half of the criteria.

Depending on where the business operates, there may be funds available to subsidize the cost of the verification, either partially or fully. For information about fees, please contact racert.mesoamerica@ra.org.

What is the difference between verification and certification?

Like certification, verification is an important way to evaluate a business' commitment to sustainability and measure its progress. It is also used to determine which businesses deserve greater recognition and exposure in the marketplace. However, verification differs from certification in several ways:

  • Verification is a tool to help businesses by offering concrete recommendations designed to improve their performance.
  • Verification is an important step on the way to becoming certified. Rainforest Alliance encourages businesses to apply for certifications that are accredited by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
  • Businesses that are already certified can enter our verification program in order to improve their sustainability performance.
  • In countries where no certification program exists, verification offers businesses a benchmark -- which helps them determine where they stand in terms of their sustainability performance -- and demonstrates their achievements to others.
How does the Rainforest Alliance decide which certification programs to recognize?

Rainforest Alliance recognizes certification programs whose sustainability standards are aligned with the global sustainable tourism criteria and that are recognized and accredited by the GSTC and comply with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

Why doesn't the Rainforest Alliance certify tourism businesses?

There are over a hundred certification programs already in operation. Instead of creating yet another one, we decided to focus our efforts on expanding the supply of sustainable businesses through training and increasing the demand for these services by educating consumers about the importance of their travel choices.

We also believe it is important to have an international standard for certification programs, as a way of helping certified businesses increase their credibility and making it easier for consumers and governments to identify which businesses are living up to their sustainability claims. Toward this end, the Rainforest Alliance -- along with the United Nations Foundation, the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN World Tourism Organization and hundreds of other organizations -- supports the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), which will "certify the certifiers" and makes sure that they measure up to internationally defined standards.

 

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