In just four years, TourCert has established independent training and certification structures for sustainable tourism in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica.
Not only local people, but also travellers and European companies benefit from the developments in the four countries. The project, financially supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), is a successful example for the promotion of sustainable travel offers and local value creation in Latin America.
In view of the worldwide increase in travel volumes and the associated effects on the population, economy and environment, a change of direction towards sustainable and fair tourism is indispensable. Particularly in the countries of the Latin American economic region, the local tourism industry can be sustainably improved through targeted assistance. “In concrete terms, this means fair working conditions and remuneration for employees, an increase in local added value and the protection of cultural heritage and ecosystems,” says Gottfried Traxler, ADA programme manager in charge, explaining the reasons for the support.
Beneficial tourism for all: Self-learning structures as a key for success
Through TourCert’s qualification programme, new jobs can be created for the local population in the long term and the negative effects of increasing tourism on local culture and the environment can be minimised. The central key in TourCert’s work is to sensitise and train local people to social and ecological problems. This ’empowerment’ approach ensures that structures develop independently.
TourCert Managing Director Marco Giraldo: “Within the framework of the project we were able to successfully adapt our TourCert system, which has already been tried and tested in Europe, to the local conditions in Latin America and establish independent structures in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica”.
The development of competence in the destination countries also benefits European tour operators: This improves the quality of tourism products and helps to meet the constantly rising customer expectations in terms of social and ecological aspects. TourCert-certified companies sensitise their customers to the respectful handling of local flora and fauna, promote cultural exchange, involve the local population in tourism activities and try to reduce transport routes wherever possible.
Project goals in Latin America were exceeded
Since the start of the project in 2015, 81 companies and destinations have been certified with the “TourCert Label” and 63 have been awarded the entry system “TourCert Check”. More than 300 people in the four countries were qualified as sustainability managers, consultants and auditors. Through the certification of four sustainable destinations with a total of 170 partner companies, the project achieved a very broad impact.
The success of the project shows how urgent and useful it is to implement a sustainability system in Latin American companies. In addition to the ecological impulses, social standards, such as local working conditions were particularly important innovation impulses.
“One of the cornerstones of Andean Lodges is the practice of responsible and sustainable tourism for the benefit of our partner communities. We chose TourCert certification because we believe we share the same philosophy in which tourism is an important tool for the sustainable development of people. TourCert has helped us to implement practical measures to protect the environment and the traditional culture of the Andean people,” says Franco Delgado of Andean Lodges.
Especially the destination approach developed by TourCert was a great achievement and exceeded all expectations. In addition, the local network with partner organisations, associations and political institutions had an impact. TourCert was able to agree a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador (MINTUR) and establish the TourCert system as a national certification system. There is also cooperation with the Colombian business association Asociación de Turismo Responsable (ACOTUR).
Outlook into a promising future
Although the TourCert Latina project has now come to an end, the interest and dynamics associated with the topic of sustainable tourism and the certification of TourCert in Latin America are not breaking off. The local community is very committed, certified local companies are already developing new products and establishing cooperation networks across countries and continents. Innovations and improvements do not only take place in operational processes. New topics such as the protection of biodiversity and the fight against poverty through community tourism are also included.
Prof. Dr. Dagmar Lund-Durlacher, Director of the Institute for Tourism and Service Management at the MODUL University in Vienna, evaluates the project very positively. “With the promotion of the project “TourCert Latina”, ADA has initiated an exemplary process of development partnership. Particularly impressive are the project’s various development-relevant impacts in terms of cooperation with companies, associations, rural communities, consulting partners and tourism ministries.”
Based on the successes achieved so far, the TourCert team and its local partners are highly motivated to introduce the system in other Latin American countries and thus contribute to making tourism fairer. Viva América Latina!
Further information about the project can be found here.