Latin American Escapes

Latin American Escapes

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Making a Difference

 

Links | Responsible Travel | Foundations | Certifications | How You Can Help

 

Latin American Escapes actively supports conservation and sustainable tourism in all parts of the world. We contribute to many international environmental organizations that focus on issues in Latin America--such as Rainforest Alliance , Conservation International, Wildaid, and the Galapagos Conservancy -- as well as to local conservation organizations in our own home state.

 

We realize our planet is a very fragile place, and it is everyone’s responsibility to protect its biodiversity and natural resources. We are also conscious of the impact tourism can have on a community. We strongly embrace every aspect of responsible travel, and encourage our travelers to learn about and support this very important travel movement.

 

Responsible Travel

  • Generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the wellbeing of host communities, improves conditions and access to the industry.
  • Involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances.
  • Makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, to the maintenance of the world’s diversity.
  • Provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local culture, social and environmental issues.
  • Minimizes negative economic, environmental and social impacts.
  • Is culturally sensitive, engenders respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.

 

Latin American Escapes is involved in several environmentally and socially responsible projects. A couple of examples:

 

Rainforest AllianceLatin American Escapes and the Rainforest Alliance have teamed up to promote tourism operations that are recognized by the Rainforest Alliance as having achieved minimum sustainability requirements -- either by becoming certified or by participating in the Rainforest Alliance’s Sustainable Tourism Program.
 

The Rainforest Alliance provides tourism entrepreneurs and community-based businesses in Latin America with the tools and training they need to become more environmentally and socially sound, and to gain access to and be more competitive in the marketplace, while contributing to the conservation of the local culture and nature.
By booking a trip with a verified sustainable business, you can do your part to ensure you are bringing positive benefits to the local ecosystems and communities that you will visit.


 

As past president of this organization, our founder & president, Peggy Newfield, facilitated grants to the Recycling Center on the island of Santa Cruz run by the Fundacion Galápagos Ecuador. She also coordinated funding to a joint project with Rainforest Alliance and Conservation International that promotes sustainable tourism and conservation in the Galápagos Islands through a series of training workshops for local tourism providers on best management practices.

 

Latin American Escapes donates a percentage of our profits annually towards these and other important projects in the Galápagos Islands. More information on our Galápagos Commitment can be found here.

 

Foundations
Latin American Escapes is directly involved in several foundations in Latin America. In addition, many of our local offices have created their own projects designed to promote the well being of their local communities, and promote sustainable tourism practices. These diverse projects involve environmental education, medical care, funding libraries, maintaining recycling projects, training local residents as guides, hotel & restaurant workers, and implementation of best management practices for small businesses related to the tourism industry. We applaud their efforts, and encourage you to learn more about their efforts during your travels.

 

Certifications
We encourage all of our local offices and partners to pursue environmental social certifications and workshops to lessen the impact our clients have on the planet. We are very proud of the company philosophy and dedication required to achieve and maintain these distinguished designations! A few of the examples:

Smart Voyager Certified In Galapagos, we work with many boats and hotels that are Smart Voyager Certified. The SmartVoyager program is a joint initiative of the Rainforest Alliance and the Corporation for Conservation and Development (CCD), an Ecuadorian conservation group. It was designed to give a "green seal of approval" to tour boats and hotels that tread lightly on this vibrant but fragile ecosystem, and offers eco-minded tourists a way of visiting the Galapagos Islands without damaging the world-famous park. Smart Voyager’s standards were designed in collaboration with scientists, conservation experts and tour operators, and cover a host of environmental and social concerns. Smart Voyager ensures that the tour boats and hotels it represents are doing the utmost to minimize their environmental and social impact.

 

Most all boats we recommend to our travelers in the Galapagos Islands are either already "Smart Voyage" certified, or are in the process of becoming certified.

 

International Organization for Standardization ISO Certification.—ISO is the International Organization for Standardization. We have several partners who have been conferred with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications. By taking this path, they have proven their commitment to internationally accepted sustainable environmental and management practices, and helped to set higher standards for their local tourism community.
ISO 9000 is concerned with "quality management". This means what the organization does to enhance customer satisfaction by meeting customer and applicable regulatory requirements and continually to improve its performance in this regard. ISO 14000 is primarily concerned with "environmental management". This means what the organization does to minimize harmful effects on the environment caused by its activities, and continually improving its environmental performance to achieve at least as much, if not more, in helping organizations to meet their environmental challenges.

 

  • Our office in Peru, which has been working with local communities through their trekking and other adventure programs for over 30 years, received their ISO 14001 certification in 2005. "Through our ISO 14001 we have managed to reduce the generation of solid waste by 50%, substitute traditional cleaning products by biodegradable products, reducing our impact on water courses and the environment. We have also managed to educate and influence our field staff and their communities to improve their quality of life by enhancing their interaction with their own environment. Our work in this area has also caused other operators to improve their environmental performance since it implied improving their standards to be able to compete."
  • One of our preferred Galapagos partners, Metropolitan Touring, also recently achieved both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 status. During their certification ceremony in July 2006, they were noted as having "complied with state-of-the-art operations involving tourist vessels, based on the active and decided participation of its staff, exhibiting clear commitment and conviction by top management, vessel owners and more especially so by staff members who are convinced that efficiency and effectiveness of processes, along with environmental respect and conservation are at the core of success."

 

 Costa Rica Institute of TourismIn Costa Rica, our local office received the Certification of Sustainable Tourism (CST) awarded by the Costa Rica Institute of Tourism in September 2006. The CST program seeks the promotion of sustainable development by benefiting the local communities through tourism, minimizing the impact to our natural environment and preserving our cultural heritage.

Getting the certificate involved a very meticulous process in which they were evaluated in several aspects relating to daily practices of field and office staff. They are one of only seven Tour Operators in the entire country to successfully complete the process and receive the certification.

 

How You Can Help

  • Support conservation organizations
    There are many, many worthwhile organizations and projects that can use either your physical and/or financial help! Volunteering at a local wildlife center can have as much impact as donating funds to rainforest conservation. Whether you decide to donate your resources to a local organization, or one involved in global issues, you are making a difference!
  • These organizations usually have excellent newsletters you can sign-up to receive electronically, so you can stay informed of all the current environmental news. A few of the organizations we support & recommend:
    Rainforest Alliance
    Conservation International
    Wildaid
    The International Ecotourism Society
    Galapagos Conservancy

 

  • Become more informed
    In addition to the newsletters from the organizations above, there are several informative organizations that can provide you with worldwide conservation details, and ideas of how to become involved. A few of our recommendations:
    Sustainable Travel International Sustainable Travel International –- Offers ideas to help travelers and travel-related companies protect the environmental, socio-cultural and economic needs of the places they visit, and the planet at large.
  • Galapagos Conservancy -— will keep you informed of all the latest developments in the Galapagos islands.
  • Take Action
    Thirty easy tips of changes you can take in your everyday life that can have an effect on your immediate surrounding, and on places as far away as Antarctica.
  • Carbon Offset
    We all emit carbon dioxide emissions when we drive, fly, use electricity, or generate waste. Solution - now you can actually invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that reduce carbon emissions. So on the one hand, you produce, and on the other, you reduce. Calculate the carbon emissions of your air travel, car, house, or lodging—or donate as a gift!

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