Green Tourism scheme withdraws support for Rainforest Alliance

by Search Gate staff. Published Wed 09 Sep 2015 10:57
Tea plantation scandal hits Rainforest Alliance
Tea plantation scandal hits Rainforest Alliance

Green Tourism, the world's largest green independent environmental accreditation body for the hospitality industry, is to withdraw its support for products which carry the Rainforest Alliance’s frog symbol in the wake of the Indian tea plantation scandal.

The UK based international body, which has thousands of members and affiliates across Britain, Europe, North America, Africa and Australasia, will no longer give businesses credit towards their environmentally friendly assessments for using Rainforest Alliance certified products.

Independent assessors working with Green Tourism will now only count certifications by bodies such as the Forestry Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council, Fair Trade Foundation and organic food certification or local food initiatives, as being ethical and truly environmentally friendly.

The move follows an undercover report by the BBC which revealed very poor workers’ rights and estate plantation practices in a number of Rainforest Alliance accredited sites.

The investigation by Radio 4's File on Four and BBC News in Assam, north-east India, discovered tea plantation workers living in crumbling houses without proper sanitation.

Conditions among workers, including child labourers, on some of the estates supplying tea to household names such as PG Tips, Tetleys and Twinings were found to be so bad that families were malnourished and vulnerable to a range of deadly illnesses.

Jon Proctor, Chief Executive for Green Tourism, said: “We have decided to withdraw our recommendation and credit provided to hoteliers and tourism operators using Rainforest Alliance certified products until they can demonstrate significant improvements to their audit systems.

“We are seriously concerned by the state of the operations which have been given "ethical" labelling under the Rainforest Alliance and believe the organisation’s poor auditing practices have undermined much of the good work done by other eco labels.”

Green Tourism assessors grade businesses on 120 measures of good practice before granting a Bronze, Silver of Gold Award which is recognised the world over as symbol of good environmental practices.

Many of the world’s top hotels and visitor attractions, including the Ritz, the Savoy, London Zoo, Historic Scotland and Blenheim Palace are members of Green Tourism, along with leading international hotel chains such as Rezidor Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Q hotels, Jurys Inns and numerous independent self caterers and bed and breakfasts.

With over 2,300 independently certified businesses it is the most credible sustainable tourism label in the world.

"We hope that the Rainforest Alliance will invest in effective training and establishing robust systems to ensure their label can be trusted once again,” said Mr Proctor.

“We will keep a watching brief on this label with the aim of reinstating them once we can be sure that supporting the Rainforest Alliance achieves high standards in sustainability."

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