We live in nonlinear times with uncertain futures. The 21st century society is confronted with new challenges and how we act upon them today, will affect the course of the planet and the livelihoods of future generations. Today’s businesses’ should be a clear reflection on how we are planning to confront the global challenges. A business of this century should operate under the idiosyncrasy of the needs of the current world, questioning its externalities and promoting the good practices of its supply chain and suppliers.
For these companies, the benefits are no longer measured only on profits, but in what or who is being impacted in a positive way. To get to this point in a systemic way, organized and adapted to the rhythm of growth and activity of a small company, it is not an easy task. For this reason, at Totonal Viajes we decided to start the journey joining a certification program in sustainable tourism for tour operators.
How does certification for tour operators work?
Almost three years ago we began this journey to be the only inbound tour operator in Mexico certified in sustainable tourism by Rainforest Alliance and Travelife. This soon became a milestone in our business operations and it was indeed achieved thanks to a thorough teamwork and support by our supply chain.
To obtain the certificate, it is necessary to work on a series of indicators under three main categories: economic, socio-cultural and environmental. Each main indicator, in turn, is divided into other secondary indicators (or more specific actions), which, after their completion, will determine if the company has obtained the main indicator. It should be noted that these indicators are subsequently evaluated by an external auditor, a qualified member of the Rainforest Alliance. F
ollowing this, we are detailing a set of three actions that we are carrying out in each main indicator to help us achieve this process, which can be quite complex initially:
Environmental scope: beach cleanings
Plastic is a compound that our planet cannot digest. However, it is a material that is filling our oceans and affecting our marine life and ecosystems. It is true that it is a global and complex problem, but at Totonal Viajes we think that by acting locally, we can sow the seeds to achieve global changes. This is how we have started to organize beach cleanups in our local community, involving travelers, local businesses, employees and residents.
Our purpose is to raise the greatest awareness, we carry out this action with a local tourism agency that shares our same values ??and an international start-up called My Green Trip, focused on transforming each traveler into an ambassador of the planet through the collection of forgotten garbage in nature.
Social scope: support for local communities
Something we have focused on since our very beginning, it has been to work together with local communities that have a tourism project underway. Why? Because are our local hosts who make our travelers live truly unique and differentiated experiences away from the stereotypes of traditional marketing associated with the destination Mexico.
We understand that communities must be able to reach the potential traveler by their own means to ensure their economic sustainability. They can not depend solely on us, or on other intermediaries, since we believe to be contributing to their disempowerment and economic dependence of external companies.
During our inspection visits to the community projects, we identify those challenges in which we can support them by providing simple training, appropriate to their needs and offering subsequent support to resolve their doubts in the medium to long term. We have carried out training in aspects of digital marketing, communication in social networks, workshops of marketing platforms and their management through mobile Apps, as well as workshops on ecological cleaning products.
Economic scope: fair and advanced payment to suppliers
This is an aspect related to the dilemma that surrounds the fact that sustainable tourism is more expensive than conventional tourism. Wrapped in a capitalist system where short-term profit prevails, it is not surprising that in many cases rural communities must adapt their prices, reducing their profit, to compete with the margins of their intermediaries.
At Totonal Viajes we do not seek to maximize our benefit at the expense of reducing the one of our suppliers. Therefore, we work under a fair trade price policy with our community projects and offer an advance payment, usually 30 days prior to the arrival of the client. This is how we build trust with our providers and ensure that they have sufficient financial means to face our required services upon the arrival of our clients.
If you are interested in knowing more about the values on which we base our relationship with the communities, we invite you to read this article that explains our code of conduct with rural communities.
At Totonal Viajes, we do not understand the obtaintion of this certification as a means to an end in our work towards sustainable tourism, but as the starting point of a process for constant improvement. Improvement where collaborations, creativity, innovation and eagerness to involve our supply chain and local community plays a key role for business improvement, in which each member of the team is a fundamental part.