Often I have colleagues and students asking for practical examples and practices of sustainable tourism, Nicaragua was awarded the Sustainable and Responsible Tourism Destination of 2017 in the U.K. by LATA. During World Travel Market in London I attended the presentation of this interesting and beautiful country explaining it efforts to become a sustainable tourism destination.
Her Excellency Guisell Morales-Echaverry, The Ambassador of Nicaragua,introduced a presentation by four of the country’s private tour companies. Ricardo Carioni, Head of Country Promotion, outlined Nicaragua’s collaboration with a public programme for sustainable tourism, which has resulted in a significant increase in the number of sustainable travellers over recent years
Four Tour Operators in Nicaragua – Careli Tours, Solentiname Tours, Vapues Tours, Detour Travel recounted their personal journeys to sustainability. Their experience is in my opinion very relevant and positive that I wanted to share it as good examples of sustainable tourism practice and development for destination.
All four companies are members of TOPS (Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability) in Nicaragua. The organisation was founded in 2012 as a Rainforest Alliance initiative, with a mission to promote green activities and CSR actions both environmentally and socially. There are currently 6 members: Careli Tours, Solentiname Tours, Vapues Tours, Detour Travel, Oro Travel & Nicaragua’s Best Guides .
The organisation help develop good practices and train professionals involved in tour operation: guides, transport contractors, local community leaders and providers of food, handicraft, guiding, lodging and suppliers. It also represents the country internationally presenting tour operators best practices and sustainability success stories to a global audience.
Careli Tours created in 2007 the Eco-Schools project, together with Hotel Plaza Colón y Fondo Natura, an annual environmental and educational program. Since the program started, they have managed to provide environmental education to 2,500 children with an impact on 10,000 people. Axel Melchior, General Manager.
Jan Jorg Strik CEO & Founder, Vapues Tours pioneered taking groups of travellers to live alongside rural communities in Nicaragua. “Rather than being traditional tourists, they can participate in the community´s daily activities, which in turn allow them to experience the real Nicaragua. The travellers report that what they get out these trips is a unique and unforgettable life experience.” Vapues presents an annual “Sustainability Education” program with staff, providers and clients, as well as the immediate community.
Immanuel Zerger, CEO & Founder, Solentiname Tours – Discover Nicaragua created the “Nicaragua Tourism Map – Traveling Sustainably“ featuring protected areas, private natural reserves, sustainable accommodation and 29 “Points of Life”. Each “Point of Life” offers participation in tourism development to cooperatives, artisans and local families; often socially excluded, with low income and single mothers.
Laurent Richardier, CEO & Founder of Detour Viajes, is creating on-going training programs with local communities on issues such as waste management, climate change, customer service or biodiversity conservation. “The goal is to have community-based tourism suppliers aligned with the sustainability values of our company, but also to train them in terms of market access so that they can reach potential clients by themselves, without having to depend on third parties,” added Laurent.
The training program started with a pilot group of only 3 communities, but it is being replicated across the country, hoping to involve a total of 14 community-based tourism projects in the near future. This initiative is fully funded by Detour Viajes, with help of the community projects that support the costs related to accommodation and food.
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