RCL wants tour operators with a sustainable ‘seal of approval’

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Marketplace muscle is the key to pulling off one of Royal Caribbean’s most ambitious environmental sustainability goals.

As part of the 5-year global partnership announced early last year with World Wildlife Fund to help insure the long-term health of the oceans, RCL gave itself four years – by the end of 2020 – to see 1,000 of its destination tours come from operators certified as environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable practitioners.

To reach this goal, RCL has endorsed the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), co-founded by the United Nations and regarded by WWF as the leading standard for global sustainable tourism.

“The GSTC’s standards are the minimum recommended practices for a tourism business to maximize their positive impact and minimize the negative impacts on the communities in which they operate,” explains Kathleen Pessolano, GSTC destinations program director.

“Royal Caribbean is using its purchasing power to drive responsible practice in the industry and that’s why this is so impactful. Tour operators who want to supply tours to Royal Caribbean are going to need to meet this leading standard that Royal Caribbean has prioritized. And Royal Caribbean is devising ways to ensure small operators have access to this program.”

And, Pessolano adds, “It’s the first large-scale initiative to rise to this level of commitment for sustainable sourcing.”

Taking WWF’s recommendation of GSTC also simplified processes for RCL and promises to do the same for consumers, says Stephanie DeMars, RCL corporate responsibility specialist.

With hundreds of eco-certifying bodies of various types to choose from worldwide, such a clear choice was not easy to make, DeMars says. “Thanks to WWF’s guidance through our partnership and the strength of the GSTC standards, RCL is assured that a high, consistent standard will be required of its tour operators.

While prospective tour operators will be brought up to speed on RCL’s certification requirements, in part by information now included in the cruiseline’s requests for proposals, another educational aspect is aimed at guests.