SARASOTA, FLORIDA – The Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism (FL SEE) recently recognized several Sarasota-Manatee area ecotour operators for achieving the highest levels of certification for outstanding business practices. This brings the total number of certified operators in the Sarasota-Manatee region to six, more than any other region in Florida.
FL SEE strives to encourage awareness and stewardship of Florida’s natural resources and heritage by offering a voluntary certification program to local tour operators. To become certified, FL SEE Associate members must complete a self-assessment, interview and anonymous evaluations of their tours or programs by FL SEE trained assessors. Successful candidates demonstrate their commitment to using best practices for ecological sustainability, natural area management and quality ecotourism experiences.
Sustainable travel has been in the spotlight recently both on a local and an international scale. The United Nations declared 2017 to be the International Year for Sustainable Tourism, setting goals to promote the benefits of tourism, like economic growth, resource efficiency, social inclusiveness, and cultural understanding, while minimizing its contributions to climate change.
As a way to compliment the larger international effort, FL SEE provides a forum to recognize operators for their positive impact on the local environmental and community. This branding also helps travelers easily identify and select the “tried and tested” ecotour providers, thus facilitating the travel planning process.
‘As ecotourism grows in our region, more guides and attractions recognize that visitors are demanding more. They know that sustainable ecotourism certification makes their business stand-out to potential customers who want all of the adventure of going off the beaten path while minimizing their ecological impact,” said Jennifer Shafer Executive Director of Science & Environment Council of Southwest Florida and ((ecko)) Tours.
FL SEE certified Ecotour Providers can achieve certification at one of four levels based on their completed certification checklist and assessment. The Sarasota-Manatee area has two of only four Platinum certified operators in the State.
FL SEE commends the following Certified Ecotour providers for their dedication to ensuring quality experiences in the natural environment for visitors to the Sarasota-Manatee region.
Around the Bend Nature Tours Platinum Certification
Biotica Ecotours Platinum Certification
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast Gold Certification
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium Gold Certification
Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Gold Certification
Save Our Seabirds Gold Certification