At a tourism conference in Panama last week, I got chance to catch up with the Rainforest Alliance and hear about its latest news.
Federico Solano described a new scheme called Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability, or TOPS, for both local Latin American tourism companies and those sending customers from the UK and other countries.
After bringing together travel companies that have made a commitment to sustainable practices, the Alliance hopes to launch a group-wide marketing campaign, creating one of the world’s first networks of green-certified operators.
Twelve UK holiday companies already have contracts with the Rainforest Alliance in place, committing them to using accommodation and cruise companies that operate in a sustainable way. These include The Adventure Company, Exodus, Explore, Hands Up Holidays and Imaginative Traveller. Federico said UK companies have been among the most supportive of the Alliance’s work, and that he hopes they will all sign up to the TOPS platform.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the new TOPS project progresses, and hope to see lots more of the Rainforest Alliance on the UK travel trade circuit. Perhaps a UK consumer travel show, featuring only Rainforest Alliance partners, could be something for the not-too-distant future…
I got chance to meet a Rainforest Alliance-certified operator just yesterday. Costa Rican Horizontes Tours, which specialises in nature tours, has been working alongside the Rainforest Alliance for several years. Rodolfo Alvarez explained how the company uses certified hotels as much as possible, and how it has introduced volunteering projects, home-stays and tree-planting options to help its customers interact more with nature and with Costa Rica’s people. I won two nights at a Costa Rican yoga retreat so I hope I may get chance to go and explore the country’s wildlife for myself sometime soon!