Blog Archives

Sustainable Resorts – Benchmarks from Sustainable Riviera Maya

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Andaz Resort, Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

The first Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) National Forum in the Philippines was held in Boracay Island, just a days before it was declared a cesspool by the President and thereby ordered its closure for six months for “rehabilitation”. Even before the Conference, a lot of controversy arose why Boracay Island was chosen as the venue, as it is not exactly an example of sustainable tourism. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism (SST) and GSTC Philippines countered, the island at its then deplorable environmental state is the best graphic showcase to learn the lessons about flawed tourism development and how to avoid the pitfalls of unsustainable tourism practices.

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The First GSTC Philippines National Forum, March 2018, Boracay Island

Beatriz Barreal

Beatriz Barreal, Sustainable Riviera Maya

At the National Forum, Guest Experts all the way from Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico, came to share the lessons and good practices of resort developments and sustainable management of beach destinations.  Ms. Beatriz Barreal, CEO and Founder of Sustainable Riviera Maya, GSTC Country Representative and Trainer, the force behind the public-private stakeholders’ cooperation in the area and recently working towards México Sostenible, and

 

 

Arturo Amaya

Architect Arturo Amaya, Direccion Arquitectonica

 

 

Architect Arturo Amaya, of Dirección Arquitectonica SC, and original team member behind the development of Mayakoba, a group of sustainable resorts in Quintana Roo gave vivid insights on sustainable tourism development and stewardship in Playa del Carmen.

 

 

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Communing with nature, Grand Palladium Kantenah, Riviera Maya

 

 

SST President and CEO, Ms. Susan Santos de Cardenas herself shared the best practices of these sustainable resort- models as she visited and experienced first-hand, not only as a guest but also as a seasoned hotelier to verify the “back-of-the-house” operations of each and every accredited GSTC-complied, Sustainable Riviera Maya Ambassador.

 

The Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa considered environmental impacts throughout all phases of its construction and operations. Only thirteen percent (13%) of the 200-hectare property is built up. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of the terrain is used for habitat conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity. Among its GSTC complied standards: structures are low level in height designed to blend with their surroundings; recycled/captured water is 73% of the usage; energy efficient and low GHG emission; ecological solid waste management and recycling programs; sustainable purchasing– 97% of consumable products are locally produced; community empowerment and support programs.

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Grand Palladium Resort and Spa, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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Turtle Hatching Area – Guests are OFF limits!

The environment features a network of underground rivers that feed three cenotes and extensive mangrove forests that serve as important habitats for fish and wetland bird species. The four massive hotels educate their staff, guests and local community about ways to reduce their ecological impacts, with twice weekly programs respectively. Palladium is known for its commitment to helping the communities in which they have properties by sharing the area’s natural resources while simultaneously working to mitigate the impact of climate change and fortify the area’s resilience to natural disasters and resource conflicts. Sea turtle conservation is a priority as one of its beaches is a nesting ground for Green and Hawksbill turtle species, thus, the beach area is fenced off from the public between May and October annually. No, sir, they do no such downright unwitting activity as “turtle release” program!

Paradisus La Perla

Paradisus, Playa del Carmen, a model of sustainable efficiency.   On top of its development philosophy, is the advocacy that the resort was built following international regulations and agreements focused on environmental development. Special considerations in the design include biodiversity protection and restoration (coral reefs, dunes, mangroves and jungle), correct use of streams and a solid and dangerous residues urban management plan.

Paradisus SustainabilityOther good practices adhering to the GSTC standards include ecological impact relief and carbon footprint reduction, osmosis plant, water metering regulation and discharge control, sustainable hydro hotel certification, waste management and recycling, greenhouse gas inventory and emission reduction, flora and fauna inventory and endangered species conservation program, all Silver EarthCheck certified.

 

From its groundwork, Mayakoba was envisaged as a resort development with preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems at its core and one of the best examples of sustainability in the country. The integrated design of tourism infrastructure was to follow the contours of the existing topography, to enhance, not replace, the ecological make-up of the place. Architects, biologists, geologists and engineers worked to map out the master plan, that does not destruct, but even boost its environmental assets. As part of the original team that worked on the master development, Architect Arturo Amaya showed us during our inspection tour of the four properties, the epitome of resorts development that corresponds to the local community in a harmonious way.

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Architect Arturo Amaya, explained how the forest trees were saved and re-planted around Mayakoba and  man-made waterways are now habitats of coastal and marine biodiversity.

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Fauna flourish at Mayakoba’s conserved and protected flora.

From flora and fauna inventory and management, new species “migrated” and used the property’s natural resources as their habitat, and for 16 years, coastal and marine species are monitored and inventoried. Likewise, its integral management of solid, water and hazardous waste are carried out in accordance to the law and observed with a Waste Management Plan. Environmental, social and cultural outreach is performed not only for the staff but also all the guests and visitors. Mayakoba is certified by Rainforest Alliance and is a UNWTO Ulysses Awardee in Innovation of companies with sustainable and socially responsible development.

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GSTC CEO, Randy Durband, GM, Roi Ariel,  Philippines Country Representative and Trainer, Susan Santos de Cardenas and Chairman Luigi Cabrini.

Since 2010 to date, our Society for Sustainable Tourism have proposed to the Department of Tourism (DOT) and talked with three Department Secretaries about adopting the UNWTO – Global Sustainable Tourism criteria, to no avail. Recently, the newly appointed DOT Chief is pronouncing “sustainable tourism” as the norm for the country, however, we have yet to see if they are UNWTO comprehensive standards and not just green washing. No ifs and buts here. If the Department of Tourism, DENR, DILG and all the other government agencies concerned truly want to save Boracay for a longer time, and all the other Philippine tourist destinations for that matter, then it’s high time for the Philippine tourism industry, public and private stakeholders and developers to adopt and implement GSTC Standards not only for destinations but also for resorts, tour operators and businesses, like most of its ASEAN neighbors.

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SST President & CEO is GSTC Country Representative and Trainer.

 

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building, Educational programs and Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities; private stakeholders – resorts, hospitality, tour operators and businesses with Global Sustainable Tourism Council standards. Training programs and  solutions include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience. Waste water (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) Solutions as well as other green innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information and assistance, contact us.

 

How to Improve your Hotel or Tourism Business’ Sustainability Performance

Tailored Training Options for hotels, lodgings, resorts,  tour operators, MICE venues and companies – tourism and hospitality brands

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Divine and Right. Banyan Tree Mayakoba.

Based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council -GSTC Industry Criteria and guided by practical insights from leading sustainable tourism experts, the GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Program (STTP) offers tailored curriculum based on your company’s specific needs and goals, and help improve your company’s sustainability practices through tangible actions that fulfill the globally recognized standard of sustainability best practices.

GSTC Industry Criteria (GSTC-Industry)

 

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Paradisus Riviera Maya – La Perla and La Esmeralda: a model of eco efficiency and sustainability.

The GSTC Industry Criteria (GSTC-Industry) have been initially created for the accommodation and tour operation sectors, developed through analyses of 4,500 criteria and 60 certifications systems, and with the input of over 2,000 stakeholders. The latest edition of the GSTC-Industry (updated in 2016) includes separate indicators for hotels and for tour operators, and other sub-sectors can be created (e.g. cruise, MICE, aviation, etc.), enhancing the applicability of the standard to the entire tourism industry.

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Architect Arturo Amaya showing the architecture, nature and design, highlighting environmental conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico. 

The GSTC-Industry is a globally recognized set of sustainable tourism principles and performance indicators that can be used by tourism businesses to:

· Guide various sustainable business practices, from product development to supply chain management.

· Assist sustainability training and skills development efforts, helping improve employee sustainability performance.

· Communicate to customers and to the media about sustainable business practices more effectively.

GLOBAL AUTHORITY ON SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

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GSTC CEO, General Manager, Chairman and Trainers from the Philippines and South Korea.

The GSTC is a UN-endorsed independent organization recognized for our critical role as the global leader in providing guidance for the development and management of sustainability in tourism. Based on our extensive knowledge base, the GSTC STTP offers both global and regional perspectives to help your business achieve your sustainability action goals.

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At Rio Secreto, Riviera Maya multi-awarded natural reserve and ecotourism company. From left: #SustainableRivieraMaya CEO Ms. Beatriz Barreal, Society for Sustainable Tourism President & CEO Ms. Susan Santos de Cardenas and Ms. Kristel Arce, PR Manager of Rio Secreto.

FROM WORDS TO ACTIONS, TO LONG-TERM IMPACTS

The objective of the GSTC STTP is not to offer a one-time exercise of reviewing what should be done; rather, we will work with you towards tangible and meaningful goals, focusing on the long-term benefits of sustainable tourism policies and practices and assisting your business to successfully achieve sustainability performance goals over time.

OVERVIEW: TRAINING AND CERTIFICATES

The GSTC offers tailored training options to meet your organization’s specific needs and to accommodate various learning and capacity building requirements based on the desired training outcomes.

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 ONE OR HALF-DAY SEMINAR

A short small-group session focused on select best practice cases and key sustainable tourism approaches. 

Our half-day seminar is ideal for travel and tourism businesses seeking to better understand what it means to become a sustainable tourism destination. Recommended for managers and team leaders, the seminar covers:

  • Sustainable tourism practices for the sound business growth and development;
  • GSTC Industry Criteria as a framework for your company’s sustainability action plan;
  • Benefits of your sustainability actions – for your staff, stakeholders, and customers; and
  • Practical insights into sustainable tourism business best practices based on real-life examples and lessons.
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Grand Palladium Riviera Maya Hotels – award winning Earth Check certified and GSTC Sustainable Hotel Ambassador

3-DAY INTENSIVE CLASSROOM TRAINING

In-depth training on sustainable tourism standards and best practices, supporting your company’s sustainability strategy and action plan.

 Offered as a 3-day-long intensive and interactive training class, our onsite training sessions offer a unique opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the GSTC Industry Criteria and performance indicators. Incorporating case studies and best practice examples relevant to tourism businesses, the training class provides practical insights that will help you make informed decisions on how to implement sustainability actions, and establish viable plans and strategies for your company.

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Paradisus Riviera Maya – GSTC Sustainable Hotel member, Trip Advisor’s Eco Leader,  Earth Check Certified.

GSTC Expert Trainer 

SUSAN SANTOS DE CÁRDENAS – GSTC Country Representative, The Philippines / GSTC Trainer CEO and President, Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development- SSTDI

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Saying “hola” to the iguana, at the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya,  Sustainable Hotel Ambassador of Sustainable Riviera Maya.

See her bio in our Society Stewards Page.

Learn more about the STTP-Industry and our programs or how we can help your hotel/resort/lodging/tourism business implement sustainability best practices.

UNWTO has made it clear that with the predicted growth of tourism (1.8 billion international tourists in 2030), embracing sustainability is not an option, but a necessity. – Luigi Cabrini, Chair, GSTC

 

What does it take to become a sustainable tourism destination?

GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Program for Destinations – your journey towards sustainability

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The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Sustainable Tourism Training Program (STTP) offers customized solutions to your destination’s sustainable tourism development and management needs. Whether you’re working to build a foundation or seeking to take your sustainability impact to the next level, our team of international experts will provide the guidance, support and resources needed to achieve your destination’s training and capacity building goals.

About GSTC

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is the global expert in standards for sustainable tourism. Founded in 2008 through collaborative efforts by sustainability leaders from UNEP, UNWTO, the UN Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance, the GSTC is an independent not-for-profit organization (registered in the USA as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization) pursuing the goals of:

· Promoting sustainable tourism knowledge and practices;

· Facilitating the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles; and

· Building demand for sustainable travel

At the core of this work is the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, a framework to ensure the sustainability of tourism businesses and destinations across the globe.

GSTC Criteria for Destinations 

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Danjugan Island

To effectively implement sustainable destination practices and to guarantee long-term sustainability, a suitable balance must be established between the four pillars of sustainable tourism: Sustainable Management, Economic Benefits, Community Benefits and Environmental Benefits.

The GSTC Criteria for Destinations (GSTC-D) outline interdisciplinary, holistic and integrative approaches to these four key areas of sustainability objectives, and serve as a common language to promote sustainable tourism at the destination level. Designed as the global baseline standard for destinations, GSTC-D has been vetted and adopted by a number of destinations around the world.

Global Authority on Sustainable Tourism

The GSTC is a UN-endorsed independent organization playing a critical role as the global eader in providing guidance for the development and management of sustainability in tourism. Based on our extensive knowledge base, the GSTC STTP offers both global and regional perspectives relevant to the specific context of your destination’s sustainable tourism journey.

From Words to Actions, to Long-term Impacts 

TCI CB Series II- Green Leaders Forum, July 2013

The Coron Initiative – GSTC Standards Training for Destinations, soon in Coron!

The objective of the GSTC STTP is not to offer a one-time exercise of reviewing what should be done; rather, we will work with you towards tangible and meaningful goals, focusing on the long-term success of your destination’s sustainable tourism development and on-going management practices.

GSTC Expert Trainer 

Susan Santos de Cárdenas, Sustainability Guru Asia Pacific

Susan Santos de Cárdenas, President and CEO, Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. – SSTDI, GSTC Country Representative

Susan Santos Cárdenas specializes on sustainable tourism development and stewardship initiatives with Community Social Responsibility (CSR) at grassroots application. A savvy tourism professional and hotelier with more than 20 years’ experience managing sales, marketing, operations, events – M.I.C.E. and human resources development for start-ups and luxury hotel resorts, tour operators, travel agencies, lifestyle events and publications, in the Philippines, Singapore, Peru and Japan.

She had been a keynote speaker & resource person in capacity building and training workshops for sustainable tourism development to include Ecotourism, Community-based and Agri-tourism promotion. She was a consultant and adviser for Local Government Units (LGUs) in the Philippines. She is a founding board member of the Asian Ecotourism Network, Country Representative & Trainer of Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Learn more about the STTP on how we can help your destination or contact us for more details.

How Tour Operators Can Take Responsibility

As a link between tourists and service providers, tour operators and activity providers play a significant role in implementing sustainable practices.

Sustainable tourism is looking out for the economic, social and environmental influences – including the visitors, the economic sectors linked to the tourism industry and the host communities.

The question is Whose Responsibility Is It to Educate Travelers?

Tour operators and activity providers can influence their consumers, suppliers and the routes chosen (Tour Operators’ Initiative, 2003) in order to increase the awareness of the responsibilities each party involved should take on to achieve more sustainability in tourism.

When contributing to sustainable tourism, tour operators and activity providers should work to:

  • Make sure that the local community receives full benefits
  • Minimise the negative impacts on the environment
  • Educate tourists about their responsibility

Source: How Tour Operators Can Take Responsibility

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building, Educational programs and Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities; private stakeholders – resorts, hospitality, tour operators and businesses with Global Sustainable Tourism Council standards. Training programs and  solutions include Environmental Conservation and ComplianceGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience. Waste water (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) Solutions as well as other  are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.

For more information and assistance, contact us.

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Eco-Friendly Lodging: Green Tips for Hotels

Guest post by Bryn Huntpalmer of Modernize

From filling out paperwork to selecting vendors and managing staff, if you own a hotel, you are certainly busy. With so many elements to juggle, environmental friendliness can slip down the ladder of importance. It may seem daunting to address the term “eco-friendly” when it involves company-wide changes, so we at Modernize have a few tricks to maintain a greener environment without sacrificing your guests’ comfort and satisfaction.

Boost Your Energy Efficiency

Let’s face it; hotels require significant energy levels to function, from heating and cooling to laundering and powering electronics. Monitoring utility bills is the first step in making a change. Set a goal to reduce energy consumption and design an action plan.

One of the biggest users of energy is a hotel’s HVAC system. Go eco-friendly by upgrading to an adjustable, green system that will keep both you and your guests comfortable. Innovative HVAC systems are equipped with digital thermostats that guests can set, just like they would at home. The revolutionary “unoccupied” setting is the key to conserving energy. Smart systems can sense when a guest leaves the room, reset to a standard temperature, and then sense when the guest returns and readjust accordingly. This eliminates wasted energy when no one is even in the room to enjoy that cool blast or cozy heat.

You’ll love the lower utility bills, the raving reviews from guests and the clear consciousness of doing your part to protect the world we love.

 

Stock Your Kitchens with Organic Food

Food can be a decadent part of the hospitality industry, from buffets to room service, breakfast bars and restaurants. Improve the taste and quality of your cuisine by shopping for organic ingredients. Guests will appreciate how much you care and enjoy the deliciousness of your meals. It may seem like a small change, but supplying your business with organic food is actually better for the environment, too.

Organic gardens are more sustainable over time, and farmers don’t use harmful chemicals and nonrenewable energy sources to grow their crops. Agrochemicals, which are often used for non-organic produce, contribute to global warming and water contamination. Supporting organic farmers and local vendors will reduce these harmful effects.

If you are ready to make a huge change, you can even grow your own garden and pull herbs, produce and legumes right from your own backyard!

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Recycle and Reuse

Switch to green paper products crafted from recycled material to eliminate paper waste. Unbleached and recycled paper towels, coffee cups, plates and straws are a few of our favorite eco-friendly hospitality products.

Promote recycling in your hotel by training staff and setting up recycling bins in each guest room. Don’t forget to encourage eco-friendly practices by placing recycling bins in the lobby, gym, pool room and other common areas. Order supplies in bulk to cut down on the amount of packaging waste.

Reduce waste by reusing items and donating to the local community. When it’s time to update your hotel’s decor, donate unwanted furniture and linens instead of tossing them out. You can also donate wrapped, unopened groceries to local food banks, benefitting both the planet and your neighbors!

 

Best Practices for Eco-Friendly Hotels

Establishing green practices is a team effort, so train your staff to be on team Earth. Establish rules for turning lights off when exiting a room, unplugging unused electronics and reducing personal waste levels. Offer incentives for staff who are dedicated to eco-friendly practices, and applaud their efforts regularly.

When choosing vendors for supplies like toiletries, coffee and tea, support local, fair-trade businesses. Keep everything bright and shiny by switching to non-toxic cleaners to improve indoor and outdoor air quality, so that you and your guests can literally breathe easier.

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Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotels with Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Training programs include Environmental ConservationGood Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate change.  For Training information and assistance, contact us.

Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.

Sustainability meets splendor at the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Living culture at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba
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High in the Peruvian Andes, a verdant valley cuts a pathway between the imperial Inca city of Cusco and the dramatic peaks that protect the citadel of Machu Picchu. This is the Sacred Valley of the Inca, once the heartland of the Inca Empire and still shrouded in the mysteries of their great civilization. Perched on a slope overlooking the valley floor, Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba reflects the region’s Andean and Spanish-colonial influences, capturing the essence of a destination with many cultural layers.

Upon arrival at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, you might first be struck by the spectacular vistas—in a lodge where nearly every window shows a panoramic view of the Andes, it can be difficult to look away.  Each excursion provides cultural insights into the storied Sacred Valley—opportunities to uncover the secrets of the Inca and the vibrant traditions of their descendants. ~ National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.

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Bespoke Design, Owner’s Suite.Stay in a stunning countryside spanning 10 acres (4.05 has) at the property with 12 rooms including a three-room ‘Owners Suite’. Enjoy the panoramic views of the valley as well as the astounding Andes around you and be completely immersed in the overwhelming scenery. An additional 24 casitas will be opening the summer of 2015, offering a private and bespoke accommodation choice.

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For your comfort, relax at  exclusively designed custom made interiors and framed pre-Columbian textiles that accent the walls carefully picked by Denise Guislain-Koechlin, with help from her husband, Inkaterra’s founder and CEO Jose Koechlin.

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Earth to Plate Experience. With the Inca history being so deeply engrained in the local region, it is no surprise that the new Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba in the Sacred Valley of the Incas takes inspiration from this ancient civilisation with 10 acres of farmland, the new hacienda uses some of the same methods that the Incas used centuries ago. The property is surrounded by an organic plantation, where you can pick your own produce from quinoa and artichokes to Urubamba giant corn.  Guests are encouraged to get involved in the natural farming methods used to maintain the land, including ”tacllas” – a hand plough, pulled by an oxen.

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Crops such as Quinoa, Potato and Corn are resilient, ideal for the Peruvian climates thanks to how the Incas farmed them all those years ago.  At Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, they have recreated and solely use the traditional methods of the Incas to grow these crops.

Quinoa Flickr image courtesy of net_efekt http://bit.ly/1Jq0WVn

 They use tacllas, a foot plough, developed by traditional farmers to prepare the soil for planting by using human weight to turn up the ground.

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Oxen and llamas are also used on the farm and they also only use traditional oxen carts, instead of modern farming such as machinery and tractors to transport crops, thus it’s low impact and zero carbon emision.

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These farming methods have helped the lodge develop its exclusive ‘Earth to Plate’ concept, giving guests a completely unique taste and food experience.

Spotlight on Sustainability

The lodge works closely with the National Geographic-sponsored Inkaterra Asociación, a nonprofit organization that develops scientific, technological, and cultural research projects geared at managing and protecting the biodiversity and local communities of the Peruvian Andes. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba purchases produce from the association’s Andean Farm Project, which has gardens in the nearby town of Huayoccari. Here, cutting-edge agro-ecological techniques are applied to the growth of organic produce and medicinal plants. The cultivation techniques were carefully selected for their ease of replication, with the initiative’s long-term objective being to establish an agricultural training center for local farming communities. – National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.

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See this traditional farming at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba as part of your Inkaterra Experiences. Enjoy a range of in-house activities such as bird watching (over 30 species of birds on the grounds) and horseback riding. Excursions can also be taken to the surrounding areas to ensure you have a truly authentic Inkaterra holiday.

Why We Love This Lodge

Many visitors to Peru’s southern highlands treat the Sacred Valley as the road to Machu Picchu, and some bypass it altogether by boarding a train in Cusco bound for the legendary Inca citadel. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba invites guests to stay awhile and soak up the spirit of the valley—an enigmatic place where ancient fortresses mark Inca-Spanish battlegrounds, traditional weaving still lives on in hillside hamlets, and the majesty of the surrounding mountains inspires awe in onlookers.

The lodge helps tell a different part of the Inca story: one of life in the empire’s heartland. Guests can spend time in local farming communities and attend spiritual services to hear Quechua, the language of the Inca; walk through the surrounding hills to see evidence of Inca agriculture and architecture; and sit on the lodge terrace to gaze at the same celestial bodies that inspired the building of Inca temples. Here, traces of the empire are everywhere, and Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba strives to help guests discover them. ~ National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World

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Learn more about Peru by checking our blog posts Take a PERU DREAM TRIP  by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975 with 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay – any day departure. For more information and travel assistance about our Green Travel Exchange, contact us.

The Inkaterra Hacienda Urubama experience:

Sources: Inkaterra and National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World. Photo credits: Inkaterra blog.

Bird Watching, prime ecotourism activity in Coron

Bird Watching Training for Community Guides, a post TCI- CB Series activity co-organized by Society of Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. – SSTDI.

At the final and culminating Coron Initiative Capacity Building Series (TCI- CB Series IV) last March 2014, a presentation on Coron Bird Watching for Conservation and Ecotourism was conducted by Mr. Chin Fernandez, president of the The Wild Bird Society of Coron (or Birdwatch Coron). Mr. Fernandez is also the president of Calamianes Association of Tourism Establishments (CATE) and COO of Darayonan Lodge. Highlights of the presentation are as follows:

  • Birding must be promoted as an ecotourism activity in Coron. There is a growing trend among bird tour operators to practice sustainable and socially responsible ecotourism, while relying on local goods and services or supporting local conservation projects. Due to their accessibility and ubiquity, birds are a useful tool for environmental education and awareness on environmental issues. Birds easily transmit values on respect to nature and the fragility of ecosystems.
  • Bird watching is a hobby for enthusiasts, but it can be packaged targeting nature travelers in general who are into it as an alternative activity, since not all tourists may be fond of snorkeling/diving; or they may be both.
  • Bird watching can be an added value to spend one more day in Coron or some tourists may have an extra day, either for rest or for on any other possible activity for them. Bird watching may be introduced as it is a little challenging to see and detect birds in their natural habitat. However, once seen, tourists may be enthralled to witness the other wonders of nature.
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Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater, Tulbuan Coron, Palawan. Photo by AL3Photography/CoronGaleri.

  • A local group in Coron, called the The Wild Bird Society of Coron (or Birdwatch Coron for short),seeks to identify current and potential hobbyists in promoting the activity.
  • Adequate information campaign must however be conducted in collaboration with other bird watching and conservation groups as to the proper way of conducting the activity.
  • There is a move to declare by legislation, the Blue-headed Racquet-tail (an endemic parrot species), also locally known as “Kilit” to be a flagship species for Coron.
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Lesser Coucal at Sitio Banga, Coron Palawan. Photo by Al3Photography.

After Mr. Fernandez’s presentation, Mr. Alex Marcaida, from Palawan Sustainable Development Council (PSDC) the Workshop Facilitator had additional comments that bird watching is indeed an alternative activity to decrease pressure of tourist influx in water activities, or on a bigger scale, a tour package can be developed using the ridges to reef approach, wherein appreciation of nature may be on land and on water. He also lauded the movement of the Coron Birdwatching Society for the adoption and declaration of “Kilit” by the Sangguniang Bayan (Municipal Council) of Coron as its flagship species along with the underlying protection of the species and its habitat. Such movement may be adopted by other Palawan municipalities and incorporated into the Palawan Provincial Tourism Development Plan targeted for enactment on 2016. It is also beneficial that bird enthusiasts upload their photographs of birds online as a feedback system for identification and added information on its behavior, habitat, ecological/economic value and conservation measures.

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Coron Photo Expedition, Birding & Nature Adventure by Coron Galeri. Photo by Al3Photography.

For more information and travel assistance about our Birdwatching in Coron, visit our Green Travel Exchange and for your Green Hotels stay , send us a message.  Join our Society of Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. SSTDI- advocating green, eco-friendly and responsible travel. Promote your eco destination,  hotel, resort, lodging, restaurant, festival, event venue or hospitality services, spa or sports, transport, real estate development or any tourism-related enterprise espousing green or sustainable practices.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs  to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Coron, a GREEN sanctuary

 

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The following is a re-post from an article by Ms. Chit Juan, Social Enterpreneur & Sustainability advocate Managing Partner of Echo Store (see our related blog on green products & gift ideas), one of SSTDI-The Coron Initiative Resource Experts.  

CORON A green sanctuary

MANILA, Philippines – I remember Boracay in the early 1990s when it was lights out at 9 p.m., and you needed flashlights if you wanted to stroll along the shore after sunset, and resorts had ceiling fans and no air conditioning. Coron reminds me of such a time. And how I wish it would remain this way for a long time.

For daytrippers, you can dock your banca at Smith Beach where the boatmen from Al Linsangan’s cooperative will cook up a quick healthy lunch of grilled squid and local fish, and some pork too if you wish. The boatmen come to the beach complete with reusable plates and utensils so as not to litter the beach with disposable plastic utensils. And they encourage you to take as many pictures as you wish while they fix lunch.

After lunch, you board the boat to view Kayangan Lake, a steep 70-step climb in the forest where you are gifted with beautiful postcard views of the lakes of Coron. The island has many nooks and crannies, and snorkel spots like Twin Peaks, Siete Pecados, which responsible eco guides can lead you to. Beware that there are many tricycle drivers and boatmen posing as guides. There are about 40 licensed guides in Coron, and it would be more responsible to pay the proper fees for a proper guide. I wish that the local government is able to control the number of huts situated in the lake. The lake is actually best left to be managed by its original inhabitants, the Tagbanua, because they know how to preserve their environs.

You could also go by paddle boat (I do not know how long it would take to paddle from Coron town to the island though) so as not to disturb the animals that have the island as their natural habitat. Visitors should also not use insect repellents, lotions and other chemical products that could leech into the pristine waters, which are so clear you would surely be tempted to jump in.

To keep Coron as virgin as possible, a group of eco advocates have joined together to form the movement called The Coron Initiative. The movement seeks to teach tour guides to be eco guides, to teach resort owners how to buy green and serve green products, to teach boatmen how to preserve nature and to rally everyone to help save Coron from becoming another commercial destination.

A day trip may not be enough to see Coron island as it has many beaches and snorkel sites. A few more days are needed, too, to explore the rest of the Calamianes Islands – Culion, Linapacan, Coron and Busuanga – and that is just for a quickie view. Even Coron natives still have not explored all their neighboring isles.

What is important is to be a responsible tourist if we are to keep Coron and the rest of the islands pure and green. When we go on these trips, we should not expect city life and comfort. Rather, we should live as the natives do. We should all help in maintaining the peace and quiet of these islands. And of course, help in keeping it green and unadulterated.

There are eco advocates who have joined the movement and you may be better off seeing them on your visit to make sure you are with the green people:

Al Linsangan III is the community leader and head of Calamianes Culture Conservation Network Inc. He also operates responsible and eco-friendly green tours.

Hilbert Enriquez is a locavore and restaurant owner who infuses local flavor in his cuisine at Santino’s Grill.

Ivan Fernandez operates eco-friendly Coron Village Lodge and has adopted green ways like  using used cooking oil for their candles, retrofitting their lodges with eco-friendly materials, etc.

Rene Villegas shares his knowledge about Biology with the eco tour guides, promotes closed season fishing which is three days before and after the New Moon so we can save our favorite fish made into the famous lamayo danggit.

Eric Raymundo has volunteered his personal time to teach resort owners how to be energy efficient at the lowest price possible.

Caloy Libosada teaches tour guides how to be eco-friendly and how to appreciate birds and birdwatching as a tour possibility.

Chin Fernandez, another birdwatcher and Darayonan Lodge operator, promotes birdwatching tours.

PJ Aranador shares with resort developers how to be more efficient in using native materials while keeping the Tagbanua culture in their designs, rather than taking inspiration from Bali or other cultures.

Susan Santos de Cardenas is the moving force behind Sustainable Tourism initiative and has helped CCCNI find partners in the international community despite her being Japan-based.

And the chieftain himself of the Tagbanuas, Rodolfo, who joined our conference (The Green Leaders Forum last July 1 and 2, see related story) to get everyone on the same page while guiding The Coron Initiative members in respecting the ways and customs of the indigenous tribe.

There are many more advocates who can help preserve Coron and its sister islands and many more who can join the movement even while being a tourist or an investor. There are 688 more islands available for sale or investment and we wish developers would toe the line in keeping virgin islands like Coron the way they were when we found them. Let’s make it not just more fun in the Philippines, but greener too.

Take a green trip to Coron, Palawan, Philippines, site of The Coron Initiative– a UNEP APFED showcase program on Sustainable Tourism  Development & Stewardship, the Philippines’ first sustainable tourism program.  For more information and travel assistance please visit our Green Travel Exchange or contact us.   

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotels, destinations – LGUs, host communities,  private stakeholders and the grassroots and tour operators with Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Training programs for Destinations, Hotels, Tour Operators and Industry in general include Environmental ConservationGood Governance, Climate Resilience. The objective is to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate change. WASTE TO ENERGY solutions are now offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.

World Travel and Tourism Council Report: Disaster Recovery Lessons from Japan and elsewhere

Coron_Green Reconstruction

Sustainability Guru Asia Pacific was honored to be part of the invite-only World Travel & Tourism Council -WTTC- Global Summit Japan in Sendai & Tokyo. Summit reports started with the Tourism for Tomorrow 2012 Awards & Winners. The following is a re-post from the WTTC 2012 News & updates starting with the First Session in Sendai, Japan.

Disaster Recovery Lessons from Japan- keynote by Norifumi Idee-Japan Tourism Agency

“We are here to hear what we have learnt from the crisis,” said Mr Takamatsu, CEO, Japan Tourism Marketing Company, and session moderator. “The objective of this session is to look at the best ways to manage a crisis with case studies from Japan, but also other countries and the Travel & Tourism industry,” he added.

WTTC Sendai:Disaster Recovery Lessons Moderator Mr. Masako Takamatsu

Given the events of the last decade – from America on September 11 2001 to Japan on 11 March 2011, dealing with the unusual is increasingly becoming business as usual in the Travel & Tourism industry.

According to the Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report published by Impact Forecasting, 2011 was one of the most active years on record in terms of instances of natural catastrophes, so there has never been a more pressing time to consider crisis management and disaster recovery.

WTTC Global Summit Disaster Recovery Lessons from Japan

Japan has learnt a lot since March 2011, Mr Idee, Commissioner, Japan Tourism Agency (JTA), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism told delegates. “I can tell you that [after the earthquake and tsunami], the government immediately took measures to ensure that the region was safe from radiation and that there was total security regarding food safety.

We have also undertaken a wide range of measures to try encourage a recovery in demand, using high-profile visitors like Lady Gaga to help us in our promotions. And we are grateful to UNWTO and the United Nations generally for issuing reassurances to the world that Japan is open for business. I would like to express my gratitude to them for these measures.

We were delighted to see that WTTC’s latest report suggests that Japan’s Travel & Tourism recovery will be better than expected, with the percentage drop in inbound tourism in 2012 projected to be down in single digits over Japan’s peak tourism year in 2010”.

“Destination Tohoku” campaigns in foreign countries such as the United States help, and we are focusing on the travel trade – tour operator and travel agents – to communicate our messages. But we are promoting domestic as well as inbound tourism.

Disaster Lessons from Japan Railway - infrastructure and transport sector

Mr Ogata, Vice Chairman,  East Japan Railway Company told the Summit that in 50 years of operating the Shinkansen (Japanese “bullet-train”) there had never been an associated fatal casualty. JR East is the largest railway company in Japan – with 4,700 miles of network and 17 million passengers a day on 13,000 trains. Its top priority is safety.

Many lessons from past experiences of earthquakes, e.g. the use of reinforced pillarsearly earthquake detection systems, seismometers, preventing trains from large-scale deviations, plus the education and training of its staff have secured a dramatic decrease in accidents. But in addition to taking countermeasures, it is essential to utilise innovative risk assessments. As a result, on 11 March 2011, there were no customer fatalities or injuries – though because of aftershocks, it took 50 days to restore full operation.

There were lots of lessons learned: e.g. even more early detection systems needed – plus better evacuation systems, and a strengthening of electrification masts.

Bert van Walbeek, Chairman of PATA’s Rapid Recovery Taskforce, and Managing Director, The Winning Edge gave the Summit “Five Points in Five Minutes”:

• Educate and train all stakeholders • Accept joint responsibility

• Respect and understand ‘Mother Nature’

• Co-operate on travel advisories

• We all need to work together to address the problem, in terms of crisis management and prevention.

UNWTO Risk and Crisis Management Coordinator Dirk Glaesser

Dirk Glaesser, Coordinator, Risk and Crisis Management, UNWTO reminded the Summit that whilst crises do occur, it’s the way we prepare for them and manage them that is critical. UNWTO works not just through United Nations systems but also through TERN – the Tourism Emergency Research Network, which groups together public and private sector organisations and associations involved in tourism. “The whole purpose of TERN is sharing knowledge and best practice, and communicating between partner organisations/associations and the outside world, through media,.

It’s all about planning and preparedness,” said Glaesser, “the importance of correct assumptions and strategic contingency planning.”

WTTC Sendai Summit Disaster Recovery Panel Discussion

In the Panel Discussion which followed, Raymond N Bickson, Managing Director & CEO, Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, said: “ Whether natural disaster or terrorist attack or other man-made disasters, including health concerns like H1N1 and bird flu, the crisis management tools are all very similar across the board. What helps recovery is the public and private sectors working together – plus India has its own national chapter of WTTC and this has helped us enormously.”

Robert Laurence Noddin, CEO and Representative in Japan, AIU Insurance Company, Japan Branch, told the story of the Japanese crisis from the insurance industry standpoint: “ We had to overcome or deal with three major issues: impact on transportation, getting support to customers and staff; and the availability of data and how to usecontroland communicate it. The sheer scale of the disaster meant that there was huge damage, so we needed to call on an unprecedented number of support staff to assess the damages”.

The Summit then listened attentively to the story as told by Mrs. Noriko Abe, the “Okami” of Minami-Sanriku Hotel Kanyo.  Her story was a wonderful example of a member of the Travel & Tourism industry taking the initiative to help the community – in the aftermath some people had no accommodation, no food, no clothes. How to help them? “We had to help them. There was total confusion and incomprehension as to why this had happened to them. We offered support to 600 citizens – we started a school inside the hotel. Without help, we risked some of the younger Japanese leaving the community to go and live elsewhere. Or even committing suicide out of desperation, especially young mothers. Soour help in fact was a way of rebuilding the community and giving people a reason for living”. On the basis of this closing presentation, the first session of the first day of the Sendai Forum drew the conclusion thatTourism is not often seen as the cement of community solidarity, but it should be. It’s something very human, and can really help when crises strike.

WTTC Global Summit Japan 2012

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.- SSTDI  supports the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Environment Initiative. SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

Inkaterra – Sustainable Tourism and Conservation since 1975

Watch the Inkaterra trailer: 

 

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In 1975, a Peruvian company called Inkaterra opened a lodge for scientists who came to study Peru’s rainforest, long before eco-tourism was trendy. Inkaterra’s proud legacy of conservation, social responsibility and geo tourism has created an international model, recognized by the World Bank and the United Nations, by providing the sophisticated international traveler with a luxurious, gracious and authentic exposure coupled with social responsibility initiatives for over 30 years now.

 

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica Canopy Walk – a learning experience about the Amazon Rainforest, its flora and fauna.

Inkaterra through its NGO Inkaterra Foundation (Inka Terra Asociacion –ITA) carried out ecological endeavors at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, on the Tambopata National Reserve in Peru’s Southern Amazon rainforest and at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel, in the Machu Picchu National Reserve in the Southern Andes. ITA was founded to conserve the environment, ecosystems, cultural and archaeologicalnatural resources, Peru’s cultural identity and apply sustainable development.

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Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica – where ecological research and conservation started.

Through ITA, Inkaterra’s ongoing programs include Research, such as sponsoring international scientists and local experts who conduct ecosystem studies, biodiversity, flora and fauna inventory andconservation status, etc.  This has resulted in the identification of 372 species and the discovery of 8 new species in the Machu Picchu cloud forest, as well as several publications and field guides.

Inkaterra is included in the Harvard Business Case Study for Sustainable Tourism

Inkaterra is included in the Harvard Business Case Study for Sustainable Tourism

Inkaterra Conservation Projects include the Inkaterra Canopy & Anaconda Walk at Reserva Amazonica, with constant monitoring of wildlife assessments and endangered eco systems, as well as the Rolin Island Fauna Rescue Center and the Butterfly House in Puerto Maldonado. Likewise, the Spectacled Bear Rescue Project in Machu Picchu provides vital support for protection of the endangered Andean bear species. Natural corridors and carbon fixing along the Madre de Dios River of the Southern Amazon rainforest and the Andean cloud forest in Machu Picchu are carried out in a total of 17,000 hectares of reforestation projects.

 

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Travel+Leisure Global Vision Awards Winner

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Travel+Leisure Global Vision Awards Winner

Environmental and eco best practices include evaluating surrounding landscapes, flora, fauna, water, air, sounds and solid waste.Infrastructure was constructed in keeping with the local nature in both Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica’s Ese-Eja styled cabañas and Inkaterra Machu Picchu Andean casitasQuality assurance along with ecological safety measures are ensured with the proper use of water resources,water waste management, air quality maintenance through proper utilization of gas stoves, non usage of aerosols and ground keeping in general. All Inkaterra eco-excursions such as Bird watching, Orchid Trail, Nature Walks, among others, are led by highly trained, knowledgeable and conscientious expert eco guides-interpreters.

Tea making ITMP

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel guests taking part in Organic Tea picking and process their own tea bags.

Cooperative projects with the local community includes the Gamitana Farm, a comprehensive model farmhouse for self-generating eco-agri business. It also operates Concepcion, a community house restored for volunteers, local and international researchers and a national volunteerand education program.

Inkaterra, multi-awarded, globally acclaimed by travel & tourism events and publications worldwide.

Inkaterra, multi-awarded, globally acclaimed by travel & tourism events and publications worldwide.

In April 2007, Inkaterra became Peru’s first carbon-neutral travel organization by integrating renewable energy onsite, and offsetting emissions from all of its accommodation and tour related activities, including fuel use and electricity generation.  Inkaterra acknowledges that all travel generates unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions that affect global warming.  Inkaterra actively educates their clients and guests to do so as well with the opportunity to of a carbon neutral accommodations in the Andes and the Amazon, which offer a wonderful experience for the conscientious traveler. 

Inkaterra World Travel & Tourism Council, Tourism for Tomorrow Award Winner in Conservation, 2012.

Inkaterra World Travel & Tourism Council, Tourism for Tomorrow Award Winner in Conservation, 2012.

Take a PERU DREAM TRIP  by Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco Pioneer and Conservation Leader since 1975; 100% Carbon Neutral travel and stay, any day departure.

For more information and travel assistance on sustainable trips and Green Hotels stay, check our Green Travel Exchange or contact us.

Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation Disaster Preparedness and ManagementWaste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us. 

 

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