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LATA Responsible Tourism Awards 2024

The Gold winners in the LATA Responsible Tourism Awards are automatically entered into the Global Responsible TourismAwards sponsored by Sabre 

Making Travel Inclusive

Gold: Huasquila Amazon Lodge                 Ecuador
https://huasquila.com/

Since 2007 Huasquila has been working to make its lodges accessible to all and to enable guests with disabilities to enjoy the cultural and nature-based experiences offered in this private nature reserve. Huasquila now has seven fully accessible bungalows and accessible pathways throughout its infrastructure. The staff are trained to accommodate people with different disabilities and to enable them to participate with the other guests in the experiences offered to all guests by using a specially adapted wheelchair. They have trained other service providers, like rafting and kayak operators, to enable people with disabilities to participate.

Silver: Trans Stories Brasilia                        Brazil
www.samasamainternational.org

Jayni Gudka established Sama Sama International to make the tourism industry more inclusive of marginalised and disadvantaged communities and their stories. Based on the understanding that “people make places,” Trans Stories builds on the experience Jayni has gained from her work as CEO at Unseen Tours, a social enterprise that provides opportunities for people affected by homelessness to curate and lead walking tours of London. Trans Stories walking tours provide an alternative lens through which tourists and locals can see the city of Brasilia,  providing an opportunity for people to hear the stories and experiences of Trans women, challenge their own prejudices, and uncover the hidden secrets that are not on the popular tourist trails of the city. The judges recognised how innovative this approach is and how it contributes to the aspiration that tourism broadens the mind.

Employing and Upskilling Local Communities


Gold: Wilderness Explorers                        Guyana
https://wilderness-explorers.com/

The judges recognised the value of their approach to working with indigenous communities in Guyana. Indigenous communities work with, rather than for, Wilderness Explorers. Their approach focuses on the empowerment of indigenous communities, creating socio-economic benefits and additional livelihoods, thus ensuring that tourism does not replace traditional livelihoods. The communities are enriched with additional livelihood opportunities; the tourists benefit from richer, more authentic experiences. Wilderness Explorers provides immersive experiences that enhance the visitor’s experience and foster cultural awareness and pride in the communities, including interactive culinary, heritage and music tours, wildlife-friendly experiences, and access to citizen science projects. Wilderness Explorers seeks to ensure that “Guyana’s new-found wealth is tied not only to oil but to its natural riches of forests, water, minerals and incredible biodiversity, and the country has now become an important global player in energy security, food security, climate security, conservation and sustainable tourism.”

Gold: Latin Trails                                              Ecuador
https://latintrails.com/
https://illaexperiencehotel.com/

The ILLA Experience Hotel offers luxury in the San Marcos neighbourhood of downtown Quito. ILLA works through its NESTS project run by Latin Trails,  with 40 different families from San Marcos, providing them with additional livelihood opportunities, and their guests have gastronomy, artisan, music, mixology, wellness, and awareness experiences. NESTS is working with the ILLA restaurant to provide training for young culinary talent from rural communities from Ecuador's poorest areas. The offering includes a full board and a full scholarship with chef Juan Carlos Donoso to learn to manage a luxury restaurant. Young talent is chosen in partnership with the elders and leaders of each community. They then return to their community and share the skills they have learnt.

One to Watch:  Andean Lodges                 Peru
https://andeanlodges.com/

The judges were impressed by the wide range of ways in which Andean Trails addresses the inclusion agenda in human rights, labour conditions, respect for the environment, fair trade, and a commitment to protecting traditional cultural identity and values. They also promote respect for the culture of the local communities. The judges would like to see a further application with more detail on the impact of their work.

 

What are you doing about Climate Change?

Gold: Explore                                                     Global
www.explore.co.uk

Explore clearly states on their website, “We’ve calculated and published the carbon footprint of EVERY one of our trips—because you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” They have worked with the independent carbon consultancy ecollective to measure the carbon footprint of all their trips, which include over 1800 accommodation providers, transport, activities and excursions, meals, and guides, and they used their average group size from 2018/19, pre-Covid. They have included their offices and staff and  omitted all travel to the start of the Explore trip and additional meals and excursions. In February 2024, they were able to report a 7.2% reduction in intensity (per person, per night) carbon emissions across their trips.  They have an ambitious target of a 50% reduction by 2030 and net zero before 2050. On the website, the average carbon footprint per person is clearly stated, empowering consumers.

 

Championing Cultural Diversity

 

Gold: Tortuga Lodge and Gardens                            Costa Rica
www.tortugalodge.com

In 2022, there was only one man left who could play calypso in Tortuguero. Calypsonian Caribbean music was not being taught or played often, and it was in danger of being lost. In 2024, 42 children were learning to play their traditional music. The Tortuga Lodge is one of five Böëna Wilderness Lodges, which has a Conservation Fee used to support community, conservation and cultural projects. That fee pays the teacher's salaries, and funds, music equipment, uniforms and transport for teaching and presentations. The judges were very impressed by this initiative, which they consider to be highly replicable. Who will follow?

Silver: Art Hotels                                              Ecuador
https://arthotelsecuador.com/

The Art Hotels Micro Entrepreneurs programme works with local people who are experts in what they do, from weaving using ancestral Looms to recycling copper and immortalising it in art, from preserving local species with their communities to teaching guests the importance of ancestral knowledge in cooking. The Art Hotels assist them with training in financial management and marketing, working with them to develop products that attract high-end clientele. The Micro Enterprises can then sell their products to Art Hotels guests and others at a fair price point. The Micro Enterprises are “the safe keepers of culture and traditions that are in danger of getting lost, just because it is not an economically sustainable way of life and younger generations do not see it as their path.”

One to Watch:  Journey Mexico                 Mexico
http://www.journeymexico.com

Journey Mexico has partnered closely with the Hacienda Mundo Maya Foundation in the Yucatan Peninsula to strengthen the capacities and skills of the Mayan communities, helping to promote the identity, recognition, and preservation of Maya culture whilst working towards eradicating poverty and the social marginalisation of the communities by rescuing traditional Mayan medicine and herbalism, strengthening the health of families, improving access to primary care and education and improving housing and infrastructure. The judges were interested in their Responsible Tourism Fee and would like to see the initiative again with more detail on the impact.

Nature Positive:

Gold: CREES                                                        Peru
www.crees-manu.org/

CREES offers a range of tours and volunteering opportunities as both internships and learning experiences. Operating in the Manu Biosphere Reserve CREES works to “promote sustainable alternatives that respect human rights, intergenerational rights, biodiversity rights, and the rights of its species to ensure long-term sustainable economic development.” This a broad and holistic agenda seeking to demonstrate through business that the community can find economically viable alternatives through the responsible management of natural resources. This is then shared with their clients through educational tourism; They have reduced greenhouse gas emissions, conserved over 600 hectares of forest in the buffer zone of Manu National Park and works with educational programmes to benefit the local people and conserve biodiversity.

Silver: Mashpi Lodges                                    Ecuador
www.mashpilodge.com

Mashpi Lodge sits in 2,900 ha of the Chocó and Tropical Andes ecoregions. Former loggers and hunters were employed as the reserve's first rangers transitioning from forest exploiters to protectors. Over two decades, over 100 jobs have been created by the hotel, with approximately 80% filled by locals. Indirectly, dozens more livelihoods have been supported, ranging from food providers to freelance guides and field assistants.. 19 new species have been identified.  Inclusion and empowerment of local communities is central to their conservation mission. Through the Fundación Futuro, they support agroecological practices, education, and community governance, empowering local communities to thrive in harmony with their natural surroundings.

One to Watch:  Explorandes                                       Peru
http://www.explorandes.com

Aware of the effects of over-tourism and poor land-use planning on the classic Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, the Misquiyaco community decided to transform risk into an opportunity to do things correctly and approached Explorandes to work with them. The community has successfully registered their land with the Ministry of Environment and the National Protected Area Service as a private conservation area. Explorandes has, with the local community, explored several trails and valleys to establish a professional trekking route. Explorandes pays an entrance and camping fee per guest to support the forest's protection and per-person camping fees to help the community generate income. In the process, Explorandes has trained community members to work as support staff on treks, creating jobs and career paths for local people. A government and tourism development plan for the protected area is being developed. Since 2022; over 160 people have made the trek and paid their fees. The judges were excited to hear about this development and hope to see an entry again in a couple of years when the initiative has bedded in, and the plan has been finalised.

Increasing local sourcing- Creating shared value.

Gold: Pura Aventura                                                       Global
https://pura-aventura.com/

Pura works directly with micro-enterprises and small-scale owner-hosted hotels and experiences generally in less visited areas. This enables Pura to provide unique experiences for its guests, providing a richer guest–host cultural exchange. 90% of their suppliers are micro or small enterprises, individual guides, single properties offering excursions, local crafts, local experiences, transfers and small local eateries. In 2023 Pura worked with 500 different suppliers, amongst them 62 in Costa Rica, 57 in Chile and 49 in Argentina. Amongst their top twenty suppliers, 55% are micro-enterprises. Of their top 50 suppliers, 78% are micro-enterprises, rising to 85% of their top 100 partners. Using mostly small and microlocal businesses and individuals ensures that more tourist income remains with the local community.

Silver: Metropolitan Touring                                       Ecuador
https://www.metropolitan-touring.com/

Working with Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, Metropolitan Tourism is increasing local purchasing, reducing the carbon emissions resulting from imports and developing a more diversified local economy. They prioritise suppliers who adhere to environmentally friendly agricultural practices. As they state clearly in their entry. “By sourcing 40% of our food and beverage locally, we support the livelihoods of farmers, fishermen, and entrepreneurs who play a vital role in the region's economy. We believe that acknowledging their efforts and showcasing their products is essential for fostering economic resilience and cultural pride in the Galapagos Islands. …. In 2023, our local purchases totalled $845,000 USD, reflecting a robust engagement with 41 local suppliers. These suppliers provide a diverse range of goods, including nonperishable foods, beverages (soft and alcoholic), meats & sausages, fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, and seafood & fish.”

 

One to Watch:  Chilcabamba Mountain Lodge    Ecuador
https://chilcabamba.com/

In 2015, the lodge supported one full-time employee. It now has 7 permanent employees and 3 temporary staff depending on the season. In 2015, the lodge offered acclimatisation hikes; it has developed its programme of activities to attract a broader market and now offers 15 different activities provided by 13 neighbours. This has resulted in a 373% increase in farm experience activity revenue since 2019, a 419% increase in horseback riding revenue and a 1,296% increase in hiking revenue, positively impacting community incomes. The judges were impressed by this example of the local economic benefits that result from extended length of stay: increased employment and activities around the accommodation. We hope to see a further application with more detail on the creation of shared-value in a year or two.

One to Watch:  Lima Tours                           Peru
https://www.limatours.com.pe/

Lima Tours is empowering female Indigenous artisans from rural villages in the Ollantaytambo district of Peru near Cusco. They provide training to enhance weaving techniques, and entrepreneurial skills, individual and cooperative, to increase their income opportunities while preserving their rich cultural heritage and fostering socio-economic inclusion.  The project, funded through grants, partnerships, and private sector contributions, has provided technical support, training programs, business plan development, and the creation of exhibition and sales spaces; the judges hope to see a further application in a year or two with details of the impacts of this replicable initiative.

© 2024 The Responsible Tourism Partnership 
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