RESPONSIBLE TOURISM SOCIETY OF INDIA (RTSOI) WHY SHOULD TOUR OPERATORS GET CERTIFIED BY RTSOI?
August 06, 2023
The Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) is a pioneering organization committed to promoting responsible and sustainable tourism practices throughout the country. A focus on environmental, social, and cultural aspects, RTSOI plays a significant role in shaping the tourism industry in India. This article explores the purpose and significance of RTSOI, highlighting why every tour operator should consider being certified by this esteemed organization and apply for the RTSOI Self Certification Tool.
WHAT IS RTSOI?
The Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) is a non-profit organization established with the aim of fostering responsible tourism in India. It serves as a platform for various stakeholders in the tourism industry, including tour operators, travellers, local communities, and government bodies, to collaborate and work towards sustainable development in the tourism sector. RTSOI encourages tourism practices that respect the environment, preserve cultural heritage, and benefit local communities.
WHY SHOULD EVERY TOUR OPERATOR BE CERTIFIED BY RTSOI?
Certification by RTSOI provides tour operators with numerous benefits and advantages, including:
CREDIBILITY AND TRUST: Being certified by RTSOI, tour operators gain credibility and demonstrate their commitment to responsible tourism practices. This certification assures travellers that their chosen operator adheres to ethical guidelines and contributes positively to local communities and the environment.
MARKETING ADVANTAGE: RTSOI certification serves as a valuable marketing tool for tour operators. It differentiates them from competitors and appeals to responsible travellers who seek authentic and sustainable travel experiences. Being recognized by RTSOI enhances a tour operator's reputation and attracts a growing segment of conscious tourists.
ACCESS TO RESOURCES AND SUPPORT: Certified tour operators gain access to a network of like-minded professionals and experts in the field of responsible tourism. RTSOI offers guidance, training, and resources to assist operators in adopting sustainable practices, improving their operations, and staying updated with industry trends and best practices.
POSITIVE IMPACT ON LOCAL COMMUNITIES: RTSOI emphasizes the importance of local community engagement and benefits. By being certified, tour operators contribute to the socio-economic development of local communities through responsible tourism initiatives. This fosters a positive relationship between the tourism industry and local residents, leading to long-term mutual benefits.
RTSOI SELF-CERTIFICATION TOOLS
Guidance to Self-Assessment of Sustainability Performance and Development of Sustainability Initiatives for Travel Service Providers
How can you get the RTSOI Self Audit Certificate for your establishment?
You will get the Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) Self Audit Certificate for your establishment by following these few simple steps:-
Register with RTSOI and take the self-assessment on the link provided.
Send an email with the following information to email@example.com
Are you a member of RTSOI:
You will receive a revert with a self-declaration form and link to Deposit the Certification Fee of Rs. 4,500/- per certification.
Sign the self-declaration form, enclose the payment transfer details and email to firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE RTSOI CERTIFICATE:
The RTSOI Self Audit Certificate is valid for a period of 3 years from the date of award.
Once the certification has been issued, the establishment is required to retake the self-audit internally to measure improvement in their sustainability index as compared to the previous years. If the establishment has improved before the end of three years, they can reapply again with proof of improvement to move to the next certification level.
Establishments will be better positioned to go for a STCI (Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India) certification once they achieve the Champion level.
RTSOI SELF-CERTIFICATION TOOL
TARGET GROUP AND OBJECTIVES
The RTSOI believes that it is the responsibility of every tourism business owner/manager to make their businesses sustainable, based on environmental, socio-cultural and economic parameters.
The Responsible & Sustainability Self-Certification Tool is designed for Tourism Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). The objective of the Tool is to help tourism MSME determine their performance across the key areas of responsible and sustainable tourism. It focuses on the establishment's internal policies and practices. It showcases existing practices that support responsible and sustainable tourism and highlights where improvement is needed.
The Tool is based on the commonly understood parameters of Sustainable & Responsible Tourism as practiced by RTSOI and accepted as the Standard by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India (GoI) viz the Sustainable Tourism Criteria of India (STCI)
These criteria provide common understanding of what “sustainable and responsible tourism” means and represent the minimal requirements that any tourism establishment should inspire to meet. The Self-Certification Tool is structured around the following five sections:
1. Sustainability planning and sustainable management
2. Maximizing social and economic benefits to local communities
3. Maximizing sustainable tourism benefits for cultural heritage
4. Reducing negative impacts on the environment
5. How to become a responsible traveller
The table below shall help you rate yourself
|4||Highly engaged (75% and above)||Comprehensive and part of the stated Establishment policy.|
|3||To a large extent (50-75%)||Solid progress is made in implementing this task|
|2||To a small extent (25-50%)||Initial conceptual and planning work related to this task has just started|
|1||None (Less than 25%)||Implementation of this task has not been started yet|
|0||Not applicable||This task is not related to my operations|
Self-Assessment of Sustainability Performance
The Self-Certification Tool may be used both as part of the Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) certification, and in the context of real-life operations of tourism MSME.
The RTSOI foresees carrying out self-assessment of responsible & sustainable performance as a first step towards certification. It aims to help users reflect on sustainability of their respective businesses, identify areas of underperformance, and focus on the exploration of potential solutions for improvement. The Self-Certification Tool could be used at any time by any tourism stakeholder for evaluating its sustainability performance and planning potential improvements in its accommodation establishment.
The Self-assessment involves the following steps:
1. Read the criteria and indicators in the Self-Certification Tool carefully.
2. Answer the questions by choosing the most appropriate metric – the degree to which your establishment complies with each indicator.
3. Think about the evidence you have available to support your responses. Evidence may include any document/photograph which proves your compliance with the indicator.
4. If the self-assessment results show that your establishment has underperformed in certain areas then you could engage with RTSOI to get ideas on possible improvement on the sustainability performance of your establishment.
5. Set priorities and plan improvement.
6. Develop an action plan with objectives, activities, budget, schedule and responsibilities.
7. Undertake the second self-assessment after taking actions to see how you have managed to improve your sustainability performance.
IMPORTANCE OF RTSOI CERTIFICATE:
Benefits of STCI to the Tourism Industry
Tourism Industry (Hotels/Accommodation and Tour Operators) undergoing pilot testing will gain early experience in the implementation of STCI scheme.
An early access to use of the Logos and mark of sustainability for marketing activities.
Industry can assist STCI standard development committee to better adapt standards to their respective industry’s systems, needs and management practices.
If any Tourism business can comply with the more than 75% requirements of the STCI standard, it may result in issue of the provisional- certificate permitting use of scheme logo for promotional activities. However, note that certificate issuance will be subject to approval from the standard development committee and no major change in the criteria and indicators.
It ensures improved industry’s environmental, social, and economic performance – by protecting and safeguarding the environment, respecting local culture and communities and managing tourism operations as per sustainability management plan.
It provides various tangible and intangible benefits to: Businesses (business reputation, brand value etc.), consumers, governments, environment and local communities.
It helps to distinguish genuine claims and check “green washing”.
Certification provides tourists with environmentally and socially responsible choices while increasing public awareness about responsible business practices.
Certified businesses tend to offer better quality service.
RTSOI plays a pivotal role in promoting responsible tourism practices in India. The organization's significance lies in the following areas:
1. ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
RTSOI encourages tour operators to minimize their environmental footprint by adopting eco-friendly practices. This includes promoting waste management, energy conservation, reducing carbon emissions, and protecting biodiversity. By advocating for sustainable tourism, RTSOI contributes to the preservation of India's natural resources and ecologically sensitive areas.
2. CULTURAL PRESERVATION
RTSOI recognizes the importance of preserving India's rich cultural heritage. Certified tour operators are encouraged to promote cultural sensitivity, respect local customs and traditions, and engage in activities that support cultural preservation. By doing so, RTSOI helps protect and celebrate the diverse cultural identities of India's communities.
3. SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
RTSOI believes in the principle of tourism benefiting local communities. The organization encourages tour operators to engage in community-based tourism initiatives that provide economic opportunities to local residents, support local businesses, and preserve traditional livelihoods. This approach ensures that tourism becomes a catalyst for inclusive growth and poverty reduction.
4. EDUCATION AND AWARENESS
RTSOI actively engages in educational programs and awareness campaigns to promote responsible tourism practices among travellers, tour operators, and other stakeholders. By disseminating knowledge and information, RTSOI aims to create a more informed and conscious tourism community that understands the importance of responsible travel and its positive impacts.
The Responsible Tourism Society of India (RTSOI) plays a vital role in promoting responsible tourism practices across India. Through its certification program, RTSOI provides tour operators with the tools, resources, and guidance necessary to adopt sustainable practices. Being certified by RTSOI, tour operators not only gain a competitive edge but also contribute to environmental conservation, cultural preservation, and socio-economic development. The efforts of RTSOI are instrumental in shaping the tourism industry towards a more sustainable and responsible future.