Vaya Adventures and the Rainforest AllianceAs of 2013, Vaya Adventures is working with the Rainforest Alliance as a member of TOPS (Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability), a Rainforest Alliance initiative that allows organizations like Vaya to collaborate in support of sustainable tourism. By joining TOPS, we’ve committed to conserving biodiversity and reducing tourism’s negative impacts by improving not only our own sustainability practices, but also those of the local suppliers with whom we work. We strive to choose local operators who share our vision of sustainable tourism, thus incentivizing good practices and ensuring that responsible operators are rewarded for their efforts with increased business. The travel and tourism industry holds the potential to support the conservation of natural resources and the well-being of communities. That’s why Vaya believes it is imperative to ensure that our operation is minimizing negative impacts and making a positive contribution.
What’s the idea?Tour operators hold a role of great responsibility and influence within the tourism industry, connecting travelers with the destinations they will visit and the companies they will support. With over 900 million people travelling each year, it has become increasingly important to ensure that travelers are helping, not harming, the environment and host communities. The tourism industry is flooded with claims of “ecotourism,” “green travel,” and “climate-friendly vacations,” but the disappointing truth is that these claims often are not backed up by any real or substantial actions. What does the Rainforest Alliance do?The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and promote the rights and well-being of workers, their families and communities. The organization strives to define and encourage sustainable tourism practices, holding organizations accountable to certain standards. Essentially, the Rainforest Alliance puts pressure on the entire supply chain to improve their environmental practices. Companies affiliated with the Rainforest Alliance sign a legally binding agreement committing to certain actions, such as encouraging the businesses we work with to be verified by the Rainforest Alliance or another recognized third party program; giving priority to verified hotels and lodges in our destinations; ensuring that at least 30% of suppliers in key destinations are verified, and increasing that percentage every year; making charitable contributions to support the ongoing work of the Rainforest Alliance; and participating in annual meetings to share experiences and work together to find ways to make the tourism industry more sustainable.