Partnership to Create New Opportunities for Sustainable Tourism Companies in Costa Rica
TORONTO – Costa Rican hotel owners and managers who are committed to eco-tourism and sustainability now have a new way to offer and promote their adventure travel services thanks to an agreement recently signed by the international conservation group Rainforest Alliance, North American tour operator Gap Adventures and the nonprofit voluntourism organization Planeterra.
Gap Adventures and Planeterra will now promote to its customers those Costa Rican tourism businesses that have either achieved a Tourism Sustainability Certificate awarded by ICT (the Costa Rican Tourism Board) or that are part of the Rainforest Alliance’s Sustainable Tourism program. With this agreement, Gap Adventures and Planeterra join 40 other international tour operators in Europe and North America that are now working with the Rainforest Alliance.
Founded in 2003 by Gap Adventures, Planeterra is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable community development through travel. It has been charged with coordinating the implementation of new and existing Gap Adventures sustainability initiatives, including this significant step toward formalizing the program designed to further ‘green’ the Gap Adventures supply chain, including hotels and local suppliers used on Gap Adventures trips.
“This agreement with Gap Adventures and Planeterra will have a major impact, as Gap Adventures is considered to be the largest independent adventure travel company in the world. It will help us increase the number of travelers who will become aware of Costa Rica’s conservation efforts. It will also increase business opportunities for those hotels that are truly committed to achieving sustainability,” said Cristina Suhr, Marketing Manager for the Rainforest Alliance.
As part of this partnership, Gap Adventures and Planeterra guarantee that at least half of the businesses included in their tourism packages to Costa Rica are working toward sustainability goals. In addition, the two companies will survey tour guests upon their return from vacation to evaluate their overall experience. The information obtained will be analyzed and then forwarded to the Rainforest Alliance.
The Gap Adventures website will soon feature a statement about its commitment to sustainability as well as stories and testimonials from clients who have visited sustainable tourism businesses in Costa Rica.
“As we continue to grow, it is increasingly important to work with the Rainforest Alliance to keep the focus on our original goal of offering innovative ways of showing people a sustainable world. It is even more relevant to continuously assess how we can do things better. Working with the Rainforest Alliance is a big step in that direction,” explained Bruce Poon Tip, CEO of Gap Adventures.
As part of the agreement, the Rainforest Alliance will provide the tour operator with contacts for all of its colleagues in Costa Rica who have signed commitments to sustainability as well as a list of certified tourism businesses or those that are implementing good sustainable management practices. In addition, the Rainforest Alliance will periodically organize research trips to Costa Rica for trip development representatives from Gap Adventures and Planeterra so that they can familiarize themselves with new destinations and businesses that might become part of future travel packages and community voluntourism projects the companies offer.