On September 27 we
celebrate the 2013 World Tourism Day (WTD) under the theme “Tourism and Water:
Protecting our Common Future”, which the World Tourism Organization (WTO) has
chosen to underscore tourism´s responsibility and commitment in ensuring a
sustainable water future.
availability and quality play a key role in the quality of life of humans. And
tourism also depends on this resource in many ways, be it for consumption of
visitors or as part of the attractions offered to travelers.
tourism has a minor share in world water consumption, compared to other
industries such as agriculture and mining, it nevertheless contributes to the
problem. For example, the hotel sector requires water for cooking, laundering,
human consumption (drinks, showers, etc.), filling pools and irrigating gardens
or golf courses, among other uses.
to the WTO, since more than one thousand million people travel each year
worldwide, tourism can be an important channel for raising awareness and
changing behaviors, helping reduce issues of availability and quality of water
resources and offering effective solutions aimed at achieving greater
sustainability for water in the future.
related outstanding initiatives have already been set up by the tourism sector.
For example, the British non-governmental organization Tourism Concern has a campaign on water equity in tourism,
which promotes principles among governments, industry and society at large. The
Just a Drop
foundation relies on donations from tourism companies to fund clean water projects throughout the world.
who have not yet taken any water-saving measures may start by taking baby
steps. It is not necessary to do everything at once.
Here are some good tips:
unnecessary water consumption in cleaning and cooking
pipes and fittings to avoid leaks which cause loss of water
Use recycled water from showers, washing machines and toilets or rain water to
your hosts to contribute to reducing water consumption through information
marks the celebration of the 2012 World Tourism Day (WTD) under the theme “Tourism
& Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development”, with the aim of
highlighting tourism’s role in a brighter energy future; a future in which the
world’s entire population has access to modern, efficient and affordable energy
this blog, we have highlighted several initiative or issues related to energy
sustainability in tourism. One outstanding example is the construction of the first
sustainable Visitor Center in a protected area in Chile, in the Soncor Sector (Chaxa
Lagoon) of the Los Flamencos National Reserve in the Atacama Salt Flat. The
project included the architectural design and construction of the Visitor
Center, incorporating techniques such as reuse
of grey water and electricity generation through solar panels and wind mills.
we’ve provided useful tips for tourists to reduce their carbon footprint
through measures such as saving unnecessary energy expenditure when they’re not
at home, avoiding disposable batteries and choosing day flights which use less
fuel and emit fewer amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
We celebrate this World Tourism Day inviting
everyone to contribute to a greater sustainability in the industry!
It was a
great honor for me to be able to deliver, precisely on the day of Chile’s
Independence, a presentation on the experience of contributing to developing ecotourism at the Chaxa Lagoon, in
Los Flamencos National Reserve in the Atacama Salt Flat. The project, which we developed
for CONAF Antofagasta and the Lickan-Antay Indigenous Community of Toconao with
the Torres Asociados Limitada consultancy firm, consisted of building the first
sustainable Visitor Center in a protected area in Chile and implementing a set
of bilingual materials to interpret the natural and cultural values of the
interest of attendees in learning about this experience gave me great
satisfaction because it was that project which made me realize that I wanted to
dedicate my life to ecotourism and motivated me, first, to study a masters in
the topic and, later on, to set up my own inbound responsible tourism company
–Southern Cone Journeys- with my sister, Paula.
International Ecotourism Society has been promoting ecotourism for over a
decade and working to ensure that tourism activity generates benefits for both
the host communities and the environment of the destinations where it operates.
This version of the Conference was attended by representatives from such
diverse countries as Argentina, Botswana, Canada, Ecuador, Guyana, India,
Italy, Japan, Kenya and the United States, to name a few. All of us analyzed
issues such as how to fund sustainability initiatives, development and
empowerment of local communities, the role of ecotourism in promoting the
conservation of endangered species and the unique opportunity of the travel
industry to contribute to eradicate poverty.
The Celebration of Cultures party, the closing
event of the Conference, was the highlight since it allowed attendees to share
with the rest some aspects of their culture, such as music and typical outfits,
and it emphasized the importance and the great potential of tourism to unite
people from so many different countries around a common goal: A better quality
of life for all.
example, some fire fighting brigades from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and
Australia, came to provide assistance in controlling the emergency. Other
people, in turn, raised their voices through the social networks demanding
greater responsibility in tourism and support for the reforestation of
Patagonia. Response was quick and in this entry we highlight two initiatives
that bring hope for Torres del Paine National Park.
Rotem Zinger and the “Black to Green” Campaign
Rotem Zinger? The Israeli tourist who caused the last fire in the Park. To
avoid extending the trial against him, in February 2012 Zinger settled with the
Puerto Natales Court a payment of 10 thousand United States dollars in
compensation for the damages resulting from his actions and he will have to
work as a volunteer between one and two years for the international
non-governmental organization Keren Kayemet LeIsrael –which specializes in
reforestation and has an office in Chile- taking over the role of coordinating
the campaign “Torres del Paine, from Black to Green”.
is to raise funds to reproduce at least 50,000 plants of native forest species
in greenhouses in Puerto Natales that are owned by the National Forestry
Corporation (CONAF) –government agency that manages protected areas in Chile-
in order to use them in the reforestation of the National Park. Zinger is
forced to promote the initiative through different media, particularly among
the Jewish community in Chile and its website, replicating the campaign carried
out in 2011 to reforest Mount Carmel in Israel. In addition, he will need to
present progress reports every three months to CONAF.
public opinion in Chile did not initially believe he would see this campaign
through, something has already been done. On April 22 the initiative was
officially launched with a call to the Chilean Jewish community in to continue
showing its loyalty to Chile and Israel by supporting this effort to bring back
the green to Torres del Paine.
are being received in the following account:
Keren Kayemet Leisrael FNJ Chile
Corriente Nº 3331692
Let’s Reforest Patagonia
beginning of May, a campaign called “Let’s Reforest Patagonia” was launched by
several governmental institutions and non-governmental environmental
organizations. This original initiative seeks to organize citizens to donate 1
million native trees that will be planted in the Torres del Paine and Laguna
San Rafael national parks and in the Lago Carlota and Cerro Castillo national
reserves during 2012.
this work? For each US $4.00, people making donations will be able to have a
tree under their name in Patagonia. A grid is displayed on the website with
green trees and burnt trees. To make a donation, a person must click on a burnt
tree. Once the transaction has been made, the person receives a certificate
with the coordinates of the place where the tree will be planted.
the campaign has obtained funds to reforest more than 67,000,000 trees,
according to the website’s counter. Therefore, there’s still time to help
restore the beautiful Chilean Patagonia.
As I mentioned in my previous post, when we first saw the long questionnaire we needed to fill out we were a bit overwhelmed, but the STEP platform is very friendly and the exercise was great because it allowed us to clearly identify what we are doing right and what aspects we can still improve on.
What types of elements are assessed? The first set of criteria focuses on the company’s clarity on its business. For example, if it has a documented business plan that includes a mission statement, business goals, product offerings, operational budgets, and management structure. You may ask: “What does this have to do with sustainability?” Actually, a lot, as a company’s capacity to stay in the market is one of the three elements of the triple bottom line, which consists of economic, environmental and social sustainability. The questionnaire also asks if the company has a Sustainability Policy and Action Plan, monitoring its performance and impacts, and demonstrating continual improvement.
The company’s efforts to promote sustainability principles are also evaluated. These include: Communicating to guests a “do-no-harm” code of conduct which relates to responsible travel and socio-cultural sensitivity; interpretation programs that are locally relevant and are delivered accurately by competent, knowledgeable employees; and encouraging a positive interaction between the company’s clients and the local community.
Specific criteria related to environmental sustainability cover aspects such as waste management and recycling activities, reduction of energy and water consumption, efforts to prevent air, water, noise and visual pollution, and conservation actions, among other variables. The social aspects of sustainability measured in the questionnaire include whether or not the company has a fair labor policy, clear guidelines regarding its supply chain purchases to increase the amount of locally-sourced, recycled, fair trade, and/or eco-friendly products, and a policy and plan to ensure its clients and employees are always briefed on socially and culturally appropriate behavior to minimize their negative impacts.
The most interesting feature of the self-assessment is that is fosters an incremental long-term approach, allowing companies to begin with the simpler actions and progressively take on more complex initiatives depending on their available time and resources. To that end, the questionnaire identifies different levels of compliance for each criterion, such as Required/Baseline, Intermediate, Advanced, and Industry Leader.
How did we do? We were pleased to find out that we comply with all of the Baseline requirements for aspects that are applicable to our business and we are at an Intermediate and Advanced level on several fronts, particularly in terms of our business plan, our promotion of sustainability principles and our guidelines regarding supply chain purchases. Indeed, there are still many things we can improve in our operations and we will strive to reach an Industry Leader status in the next couple of years.
In the meantime, we will apply for Step 2 in order to obtain the Bronze (Baseline) certification by submitting the Required Policies and Documentation for review by an STI-Accredited Assessor. Stay tuned for our next post on how we move forward in this process!
you’re still not convinced that the tourism industry can actively help save our
planet, you’ll be surprised by the initiatives we’re covering in this week’s
blog in anticipation to this year’s Earth
Day celebration, on April 22nd. From recycling to hands-on conservation projects,
tourism companies and not-for-profit organizations across the world are
contributing to conserve the environment for future generations. Hopefully, you
will be inspired to play a part!
Just a Drop
know that 1.4 million children die every year from diarrhea because of unsafe
drinking water and inadequate sanitation? That is 4,000 children per day. “I
started to think about how I could encourage businesses in the travel and
tourism industry to give back to the places in which they operated – thus
improving the lives of children and their families,” says Fiona Jeffery, who
launched Just a Drop in 1998 at the World Travel Market
(WTM), in London.
named the charity ‘Just a Drop’ to reinforce that it only takes a small amount
of money to help prevent the unnecessary loss of life that occurs many
developing countries due to the lack of safe, clean water. Until now, Just a
Drop has funded projects in more than 25 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin
America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East,
providing water and sanitation to marginalized communities.
ensure sustainability of the projects, the organization works with beneficiary
communities from start to finish, building local capacity and directly linking funders
to specific projects in the field, so they can see very clearly the difference
their support has made.
Fiona is also the Chair of the WTM, where she has promoted the celebration of World Responsible Tourism Day (WRTD) since 2007, stressing the unique opportunity
the tourism industry has in helping reduce poverty and conserve natural and
cultural resources throughout the planet. “We have the means and the
responsibility to help the local communities of the places that we visit,” she
Clean the World
ever wondered what happens with the bits of bar soap you leave behind in hotels
when traveling? Well, Shawn Seipler and Paul Till did. They were shocked to
find out how many bars of soaps are thrown away and how much they could help prevent
millions of deaths caused by hygiene-related illnesses every day. So, they
created the Florida-based Clean the World Foundation in 2009.
they do? They collect, sort and process discarded soap, shampoo, conditioner
and lotion product donations from participating hospitality partners and hygiene
products from manufacturers. They recycle these product donations at the
facilities in Orlando, Florida, and then deliver these recycled products to
domestic homeless shelters and impoverished countries suffering from high death
rates due to acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease.
now, Clean the World has put over 9.5 million soap bars and 200,000 pounds of
shampoo and conditioner back into human use, while eliminating over 600 tons of
waste. Check out their video to learn more!
Saving Turtles and More
tourism businesses are undertaking initiatives to conserve wildlife throughout
the world. In Mexico, for example, several eco-resorts have successfully
developed marine turtle conservation programs –some of them since the mid-1990s-
in which guests, staff and local community volunteers help move turtle eggs to
a protected area on the beach and then release hatchlings to find their way to
the State of Queensland, in Australia, tourism companies with permits to
operate in public protected areas collaborate with local authorities to monitor
the environmental conditions of the places they visit. Among other things, they
record visitor numbers, campfire facilities, road kills, number of species and
feeding sites and any disturbance they encounter during their trips. This helps
park authorities to act quickly in case of any emergency and keep updated
information on the sites.
are just a few examples, among many others carried out in other places. Are you
feeling inspired? I bet you are! So, get out there and find out what you can do
to save our beautiful planet and leave it even better for the next generations.