The tourism industry is flooded with claims of “ecotourism” “green travel” and “climate friendly vacations;” however, the disappointing truth is that frequently these claims are not backed up by any real or substantial actions.
Sustainable Tourism is defined by Agenda 21, a sustainable development program run by the United Nations as, “Tourism that meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future. It provides economically viable and environmentally sound alternatives to destructive practices such as clearcutting of forest lands.” Sustainable tourism has the potential to improve the lives of local residents and to provide incentives for conservation of wildlands, waterways, and cultural resources.
Detour and the Rainforest Alliance
Detour was founded to promote environmentally and socially responsible local tour operators, and to change the adventure travel industry by encouraging all tour operators and travel providers to become more sustainable.
One of the best ways to ensure that tourism has a positive impact is to promote sustainable locally owned and operated travel companies, ensuring that the local communities gain economic benefits from foreign tourists. Detour’s partnership with the Rainforest Alliance makes it easier for travelers to choose locally operated sustainable trips, thus making a positive impact while experiencing a fantastic trip.
Detour is proud to say that we have made a public commitment to improving the well-being of the ecosystems and communities in which we work – and we’re able to prove it. Detour has been working with the international conservation organization, the Rainforest Alliance, since 2007, and is a founding member of an international community of tour operators that have said “yes” to sustainability. This means that we have signed a legally binding agreement with the Rainforest Alliance, committing to:
* Encouraging our suppliers (the lodges, restaurants, and other businesses we work with in the destinations where we send our guests) to become verified or certified, either by the Rainforest Alliance or another third party program that is duly recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council
* Giving priority to certified or verified hotels and lodges in tour packages offered to international tourism wholesalers or travelers
* Ensuring that during the first year, at least 30% of our suppliers in key destinations are verified or certified, with increasing percentages in subsequent years.
* Making a charitable contribution to support the ongoing work of the Rainforest Alliance: to conserve biodiversity and promote the rights and well-being of workers, their families and communities
* Participating in elections and annual meetings of the community of Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability, to share experiences and work together to find ways to make the tourism industry more sustainable
Tour operators hold a role of great responsibility and influence within the tourism industry, since we help connect the travelers with the destinations they will visit and the companies and people with whom they will interact and support. With over 900 million people traveling each year, it has become increasingly important to ensure that the businesses that travelers visit are helping, not harming, the environment and host communities, so that these same destinations retain their natural and cultural treasures for future generations to enjoy while allowing the current generation of people and wildlife to prosper.
By choosing Detour you can feel confident that we are directly contributing to the protection of wildlife habitat, quality employment for workers, and cleaner air and water. For more information on our work in sustainability, please visit the Rainforest Alliance’s website, www.rainforest-alliance.org/TOPS.