Our Work in Sustainable Tourism
Tourism, one of the world’s largest industries, employs more than 235 million people worldwide and generates some 9.2 percent of the global GDP. While tourism is a vital source of income for many developing countries, it can also result in pollution, deforestation, inefficient energy use and cultural exploitation.
The Rainforest Alliance offers training to tourism businesses -- including hotels and lodges -- that provides them with the tools and techniques they need to run efficiently and sustainably. Businesses that have completed our program and are interested in becoming certified can enter our certification auditing process and demonstrate compliance with our sustainable tourism standard to earn the right to use the Rainforest Alliance Verified™ mark on promotional materials.
As a traveler, how can you know you're having a positive impact on the places you visit? Through SustainableTrip.org and other tools, the Rainforest Alliance provides travelers, tour operators, and travel agents with a comprehensive listing of destinations that are not only beautiful, but also benefit communities, flora and fauna.
The Rainforest Alliance offers the following links to help you find sustainable travel services in Latin America and the Caribbean:
- Visit our SustainableTrip.org website to find sustainable hotels, tour operators, restaurants and car rental agencies.
- Looking for a sustainable tour operator? Choose a member of our Tour Operators Promoting Sustainable Tourism (TOPS) initiative.
- Find out which airlines have embraced sustainability.
- Learn more about how to be a sustainable traveler with our Green Your Travel tips.
Your best bet is to seek out businesses that are certified or verified by a reputable third party. You can also do your own due diligence -- see our Green Your Travel tips for 10 questions to ask before you book your travel.
Many sustainably managed lodges, hotels and Bed & Breakfasts also have very high standards for quality and luxury. They bring nature and culture within your reach, while still assuring a high level of comfort. SustainableTrip.org offers searching by amenities to help you find responsible tours and accommodations that meet the level of comfort and convenience you desire.
People of all interests, ages, incomes and backgrounds can travel responsibly, and there are plenty of family-friendly options.
The most comprehensive of the three terms, "sustainable tourism" addresses a wide range of issues -- including economic viability, socio-cultural sensitivity and environmental conservation. It actively aims to reduce the travel industry’s negative impacts on the environment and local communities, and its principles can be applied to large or small travel destinations of all types. While "sustainable tourism" can include urban centers and other culturally significant locations, "ecotourism" is a type of sustainable tourism that focuses specifically on rural and wilderness areas. And "nature tourism"? On its own, it provides very little specific information. Generally, it is applied to rural and wilderness destinations, but it does not necessarily offer travelers any guarantee of environmental or social responsibility. Learn more about the differences between these popular travel terms »
Though cars, buses, trains and planes have made leaps and bounds in terms of mitigating environmental impact, they still use gasoline and yes, often release harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Some have suggested that individuals should stop traveling altogether, but we don’t believe that’s a sustainable solution. Tourism is an important source of income for many communities located in extremely biodiverse and fragile areas. Individuals that once turned to poaching or clear-cutting to support themselves have realized that they can earn a better living by conserving their natural surroundings and promoting their homes as sustainable tourism destinations. Learn more »