Travel Agencies /Tour Operators

The performance indicators presented here are designed to guide travel agencies in meeting sustainability criteria. It is recommended that all criteria be applied to the greatest extent possible. There may be circumstances in which a criterion is not applicable to a specific tourism product, given local regulatory, environmental, social, economic or cultural conditions.

Criteria and indicators

1 - Internal planning and effective sustainability management

A Responsible Tourism Policy should be established that expresses the commitment to sustainable tourism, and the means for its fulfillment should be put in place. In this regard, constant knowledge of the applicable legal and regulatory requirements, the design of an Action Plan within the framework of the policy and an awareness-training plan are required.

  • Participate in the planning and management of sustainable tourism in destinations.
  • Agency staff should be involved in the development and implementation of the sustainability management system and receive regular orientation and training on their roles and responsibilities in its implementation.
  • Communicate sustainability policy, actions and performance to stakeholders, including customers. Take into account the capacity and integrity of the natural and cultural environment. Providing information and interpretation of the natural environment, local culture and cultural heritage, as well as an explanation of appropriate behavior when visiting natural areas, living cultures and cultural heritage sites.
  • Assess customer satisfaction, including sustainability aspects, in order to take corrective actions.
  • Do not promise more than you deliver: Develop promotional materials and marketing communications in an accurate and transparent manner.
  • Use locally appropriate and sustainable practices and materials.

2 - Gender perspective

Formulate an action plan for gender equality in tourism.

  • Ensure support for gender equality and commit to following the Women’s Empowerment Principles for the tourism sector through training, mentoring, incubation and access to finance.
  • Establishing high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
  • Treat all women and men fairly at work; respect and uphold human rights and non-discrimination.
  • Promoting education, training and professional development of women
  • Implement practices that empower women in the areas of business development, supply chain and marketing.
  • Promote equality through initiatives and awareness-raising in the communities.
  • Measure and report to the public on progress in terms of gender equality.

3 - Maximize the social and economic benefits for the local community.

Actively support initiatives for local infrastructure and community social development. Including education, training, health and sanitation, and projects that address the impacts of climate change.

  • Local residents have equal opportunity for employment and advancement, without discrimination based on gender, race, religion, disability or any other basis. Respecting the labor rights of employees and a safe working environment
  • Give priority to local and fair trade suppliers when available and of sufficient quality. Supporting local entrepreneurs in the development and sale of sustainable products and services that are based on the nature, history and culture of the area.
  • Implement a policy against commercial, sexual or any other form of exploitation or harassment, particularly of children, adolescents, women, minorities and other vulnerable groups.
  • The activities proposed by the agencies must not jeopardize the provision of basic services, such as food, water, energy, health care or sanitation, to neighboring communities.

4 - Enhancing cultural heritage

In order to minimize adverse impacts and maximize local benefits and visitor satisfaction.

  • Contribute to the protection, preservation and enhancement of local properties, sites and traditions of historical, archaeological, cultural and spiritual importance.
  • It incorporates authentic elements of traditional and contemporary local culture in the itineraries and proposals, always respecting the local communities.
  • Not contribute to the commercialization or exhibition of historical and archaeological artifacts, except as permitted by local and international laws.

5 - Reducing negative impacts on the environment

  • Contribute to the conservation of natural resources, favoring suppliers of environmentally sustainable products, including food, beverages, construction materials, among others. Minimize overall energy and water consumption, thus increasing the use of renewable energies.
  • Implement practices to minimize pollution from noise, light, erosion, ozone depleting substances and air, water and soil contaminants. Identifying significant greenhouse gas emissions from all sources controlled by the agency in order to minimize or avoid them. If this is not possible, encourage the offsetting of emissions.
  • Actively encourage the use of cleaner and more efficient transportation alternatives. Effectively treat wastewater. Reduce, reuse or recycle waste so that it has no adverse effect on the local population or the environment. And minimize the use of harmful substances.
  • Conserving biodiversity, ecosystems and landscapes. Special attention should be paid to natural protected areas and areas of high biodiversity value, as well as wildlife and animal welfare. Manage and promote visits to natural sites in order to minimize adverse impacts and maximize visitor satisfaction.