Antigua, Guatemala – With assistance from inbound and outbound tour operators in Latin America, the United States and Europe, the Rainforest Alliance has launched Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability (TOPS), a global network of tour operators dedicated to promoting and supporting sustainable tourism in their respective markets. The Rainforest Alliance, an international conservation organization, made the announcement today in Antigua, Guatemala, in recognition of yesterday’s World Tourism Day.
“TOPS is designed to help transform the business practices of tourism companies and motivate tourists to support these efforts,” said Ronald Sanabria, vice president of sustainable tourism at the Rainforest Alliance. “The long-term aim is to help the industry become socially and environmentally responsible as well as profitable, encouraging tourism practices that protect ecosystems and improve the lives of individuals and communities.”
Network tour operators will have access to regularly updated information on sustainable suppliers, discounts on the Rainforest Alliance’s verification services (this applies only to inbound operators) and training and other business development opportunities. Through fairs, press events and familiarization (FAM) trips, network members will also have frequent opportunities.to establish business relationships and engage in promotional activities in European and North America.
“We have established agreements that allow TOPS members to receive special rates for their participation in promotional events and tourism fairs,” commented Cristina Suhr, international marketing manager for sustainable tourism at the Rainforest Alliance.
By unifying the individual efforts of its network members, TOPS will allow them to have a greater impact on social and conservation projects in the Latin American destinations where they work.
To become a TOPS member, interested inbound tour operators must apply for Rainforest Alliance verification of their businesses, comply with at least 50 percent of the program’s established requirements and commit to reaching a minimum of 70 percent compliance by the following year. Outbound operators must sign a memorandum of understanding with the Rainforest Alliance; at least 30 percent of their suppliers must be sustainable and that figure must increase to a minimum of 50 percent by the following year.
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