As part of World Tourism Day (Sept 27), Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has announced that 1,400 sustainable tours – from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean and beyond – are now available for booking. Offered by certified sustainable tour operators, these special tours are available across Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s (RCL) family of brands — including Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara — and include unique experiences around the world, from kayaking along Mallorca’s west coast to an underground Mayan River Cenote in Cozumel and grape harvesting at Pizzorno Winery in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The initiative began as part of the company’s 2020 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) target to offer guests 1,000 tours provided by operators certified to the UN-created Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) standard. By reaching and surpassing the goal nearly one year ahead of schedule, RCL is underscoring its commitment to operate sustainably and provide its guests with responsible options while ashore.
“Our guests are eager to explore and discover new cultures and places, and we want to do our part to ensure those destinations continue to thrive,” said Roberta Jacoby, Managing Director, Global Tour Operations, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Achieving this goal was a truly collaborative process with our motivated tour operators and with the dedicated team at Global Sustainable Tourism Council.”
Engaging with its portfolio of global independent tour operators was a key part of the program. Together with GSTC, RCL’s Global Tour Operations team conducted informational sessions to educate its tour operators of the company’s commitment, the importance of certification and sustainable operations, and the process to become certified by any of GSTC’s accredited certification bodies.
GSTC standards, known as the GSTC Criteria, are organized around four main themes: effective sustainability planning, maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community, enhancing cultural heritage, and reducing negative impacts to the environment.
“The scale and scope of Royal Caribbean Cruises’ commitment to sustainable shore excursions and accomplishments to date are unprecedented,” says Jim Sano, Vice President for Conservation Travel, WWF. “This initiative not only helps advance WWF’s conservation mission, it elevates the sustainability bar for the entire travel industry.”
The team worked with GSTC-accredited certifier Travelife to provide access to training materials and reporting tools to help tour operators gain GSTC certification. Tour operators also had access to webinars and seminars at industry trade shows and are entitled to recognition on RCL brand websites and tour collateral.
"GSTC commends Royal Caribbean for taking these important steps encouraging tour operators to adopt--and seek GSTC accredited certification for--sustainable tourism practices,” stated Randy Durband, Chief Executive Officer of GSTC. “Royal Caribbean's efforts to boost the global supply of certified sustainable shore excursions is a watershed moment for the cruise industry. Having almost 1,400 tours in Royal Caribbean's portfolio is an important milestone, and we congratulate them for their ongoing efforts."
In 2016, RCL announced a partnership with WWF to take its sustainability performance to the next level. This partnership set ambitious sustainability targets in three key areas: emissions reduction, sustainable food supply and destination stewardship. This effort takes the company beyond its self-contained operations and supports sustainable travel and livelihoods at RCL destinations.