In 2000 begon de Rainforest Alliance met het helpen transformeren van de toeristische sector. Deze sector biedt werk aan meer dan 235 miljoen mensen wereldwijd en genereert 9,2 procent van het mondiale BBP. Tegelijk kan het ook onherstelbare schade veroorzaken aan lokale landschappen en culturen.
15 jaar later, zijn we er trots op dat we grote stappen in de richting van ons doel hebben gemaakt: onze gecertificeerde bedrijven beschermen niet alleen 22.000 hectare land in meer dan tien landen, ook steunen we natuurbescherming in 2,2 miljoen hectare beschermd gebied en hebben we 11.000 mensen in twaalf landen opgeleid over duurzaamheid in de toerismesector. Allemaal werkzaam in ’s werelds meest waardevolle ecosystemen, schitterende landschappen en bedreigde culturen.
Onze inspanningen variëren van het ondersteunen van de lancering van internationale duurzame toerismeorganisaties, zoals de Global Sustainable Tourism Council, het certificeren van grote hotels, zoals aan de Mexicaanse Riviera Maya, tot het helpen van inheemse gemeenschappen in het Amazonegebied, Mexico’s Sian Ka’an Biosphere om een aanbod voor reizigers te creëren die willen leren over hun lokale cultuur.
We willen dan ook een virtueel glas heffen op alle mensen die zo belangrijk zijn geweest de afgelopen vijftien jaar in ons toerismeprogramma:
Carolina Tobar Gándara served as technical coordinator for Mesoamerica, sustainable tourism, from 2006 to 2011. Today she’s the general manager of Inmobiliaria Volker in Germany. “In my experience, the Rainforest Alliance’s greatest legacy in the world of sustainable tourism has been opening a space in tourism—which is accustomed to serving the masses, to getting high rates of return and to ignoring the negative consequences of overusing resources—for sustainability. Although the work was one of ‘the ant planting the seed’, it reached countless people and companies, and I am sure that the organization is responsible in part for the high level of awareness on this issue that exists today in tourism.”
Christian Alfredo Mera, delegate of the Ecuadorian Ecotourism Association, was a partner in the implementation of projects in best practices for sustainable tourism (financed by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF)), and an auditor in best practices for sustainable tourism in Ecuador from 2008 to 2011. Today he’s the undersecretary of tourism development of the ministry of tourism for Ecuador. “In Ecuador, the incorporation of tools for best sustainable tourism practices has contributed to the development of a different tourism, creating awareness in tourism companies and travelers about service provision that is framed in criteria for quality and sustainability. Based on this, it has motivated a restructuring of tourism products, transforming the economic and social structures, ensuring conservation and a more equitable sharing of the benefits of tourism.”
Damaris Chaves Garita served as the Rainforest Alliance’s director of projects, sustainable tourism from 2004 to 2012. Today she works as an international consultant, associated with Planet for People and Agua Grande S.A. Costa Rica. “It is a pleasure to work with an organization that allows you to fulfill your responsibilities as a citizen of the world, to protect natural and cultural heritage while helping people achieve better living conditions. The ‘spirit of the frog’—the principles, mission and vision of the Rainforest Alliance—have become my own personal values.”
Danilo Valerio served as national coordinator in Nicaragua from 2008 to 2009, then as an auditor and trainer from 2009 to 2013. Today he’s an independent consultant in conservation and sustainable tourism in Nicaragua. “The Rainforest Alliance sustainable tourism program is a milestone in Nicaragua that clearly marked a before and after. For the entrepreneurs, it meant a change of mentality, understanding the demand of international markets and a better approach for this. It strengthened the tourism destinations, even though it was focused on companies; the impact was regional, easily observable in Granada, León, Managua, Isla de Ometepe, and San Juan del Sur, among others. The goals of the program were unequalled and surpassed, thanks to the demand of the entrepreneurs, mainly hoteliers and tour operators.”
Denia Del Valle Barrera served as coordinator and later as manager for Mesoamerica, sustainable tourism, from 2002 to 2011. Now she is the permanent technical secretary for Organización Mundo Maya and coordinator of international projects for CERTIFICA Consulting in Guatemala. “Although I already had many years of experience in traditional tourism, (working with the Rainforest Alliance) made me more sensitive to environmental issues and also more responsible in my personal practices. Its global criteria for sustainable tourism are a benchmark, an international common language for sustainable tourism.”
Esteban Ericksen Murillo served as assistant and then associate of sustainable tourism from 2009 to 2011. He’s currently the principal architect at Vivicon Construcción, Costa Rica. “The experience at RA created a greater awareness in me about the importance of working for the environment and sustainable development. It taught me to value the small achievements that together grow into a major goal, and it sensitized me to conservation and development issues where we can all contribute our little grain of sand, from within the companies or from outside as clients of those that want to strive to do things well.”
Federico Solano worked as marketing associate then value chain manager in sustainable tourism from 20014 to 2014. He’s now the director of marketing for Horizontes Nature Tours in Costa Rica. “Rainforest Alliance has been a pioneer in uniting public and private sectors in many countries of the region to work hand in hand for sustainable tourism. This has driven hundreds of tourism entrepreneurs and professionals to opt for sustainability as a way of doing business to contribute to the improvement of tourism destinations with sensitive ecosystems and communities in need.”
Jessica Webb served as manager of communications for sustainable tourism and of development for Latin America from 2005 to 2012. Today she’s a specialist in civil society for Global Forest Watch, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC. “Even though the tourism industry can have strong impacts (positive or negative) on the environment and poverty in developing countries, it’s not very common to find a sustainable tourism program within such an influential conservation organization. It seems to me to be very innovative and enlightened on the part of Rainforest Alliance to have included it as a central part of the organizational strategy.”
Luz Aida Ochoa Maravi served as coordinator for sustainable tourism in Peru from 2007 to 2015. “My time with the Rainforest Alliance changed my personal and professional vision and mission. Now I’m an apostle for sustainable tourism, preaching and practicing its principles.”
Marianela González Oviedo served as technical assistant, sustainable tourism, from 2010 to 2012. Today she is coordinator of environmental and social compliance, Globeleq Mesoamerica Energy, Costa Rica. “Working at the Rainforest Alliance was very enriching, because it also allowed me to work in a multicultural environment that day by day opened a window onto the world for me.”
Ronald Sanabria, current head of sustainable tourism, has been with the Rainforest Alliance since 1998. “It has been a wonderful journey with challenges and many satisfactions. I want to thank the Rainforest Alliance leadership for believing we could make a difference in conservation and development through sustainable tourism, the more than 50 funders that have supported our work over the years and the many local and international partners, consultants and tourism businesses that have rolled up their sleeves to make sustainable tourism happen on the ground. Our collective achievements would not have been possible without the dedication of the many colleagues who passed through our organization, some of whom share their stories below.”
Sandra Jiménez served as communication associate, sustainable tourism, from 2003 to 2005. Today she teaches Spanish at Marin Montessori School in San Rafael, California. “As an educator, I have managed to transfer knowledge about environmental conservation and best sustainable practices. My behavior as a responsible consumer of goods is undoubtedly the result of what I learned during the time I collaborated with this organization. The sensitivity I acquired in this regard at Rainforest Alliance has helped me to apply valuable concepts about the principles of sustainability in different realms of my academic activity.”
Thomas Enderlin served as marketing coordinator for North America, sustainable tourism, from 2009 to 2012. He is now the founder and president of Release Fly Travel, Costa Rica. “Not only have I been able to launch my own global tour operator from what I learned while working with the Rainforest Alliance, I’ve also been able to implement the right types of business practices to ensure my company has a positive impact on the communities and ecosystems in which we operate. I also met my wife through mutual colleagues at the Rainforest Alliance, so I’ve also been extremely blessed on a personal level.”
Vanessa Poisson served as marketing coordinator for Europe, sustainable tourism, in 2009. Today she is adviser for sustainable acquisitions, SNFC, in Paris, France. “Working with travel agencies and tour operators in Europe, I realized the contribution of the Rainforest Alliance in sensitizing and supporting these businesses to develop a sustainable tourism strategy with their suppliers (inbound tour operators and accommodations). Its greatest legacy has also been to support local businesses, giving them the tools and training for sustainable management. This way, Rainforest Alliance has contributed to transforming the entire chain of tourism suppliers and it has helped transform the industry.”
Verónica Muñoz Bernal served as technical liaison for South America and later as manager for sustainable tourism in Ecuador from 2005 to 2015. “My time with the Rainforest Alliance has been the experience of a lifetime—I’ve learned more than I could have ever possibly dreamed. I’ll always carry the little green frog in my heart and I know I’ll always carry the principles and values I learned during these wonderful years. I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful people and with a unique philosophy. It’s been an experience that has allowed me to grow enormously as a human being.”