January 29, 2010
Consistent with its strategy to strengthen Ecuador’s positioning as a leading country in terms of managing and practicing an overall Sustainable Tourism model, the Ministry of Tourism sponsored a project to “Increase Competitiveness in Tourism Services”. This project featured a series of workshops focused particularly on how to consolidate a model of Good Practices and Certifications for all tour services suppliers and also for the officials of the public entities, including the Ministry itself.
The purpose of these Workshops is to enhance the value chain for sustainable tourism, through the implementation of a series of techniques and many simple measures, most of them of low cost, which contribute to reduce the negative environmental impacts that may originate from tourism establishments, activities and individuals. The idea is to create awareness among the suppliers and the visitors and, with that and the compliance with measures, rules, regulations and service standards, not only ensure the quality of the travel products, but also the protection of the environment in a long term alliance which benefits the travel industry as well as nature, the environment and the cultures around the activities.
In the first phase of the project, several workshops were staged on several provinces of the central Andean Region; the northern Pacific coast and several locations in the Amazon Region. 81 enterprises, mainly medium and small operations and local communities, participated on the workshops, aimed at broadening the base of actors and tourism related service suppliers all around Ecuador, including some of the most remote and less developed area. The intention is to create a nationwide model which can be recognized as a characteristic of the entire country’s travel trade and continue to recognize Ecuador as a pioneer case of making tourism an efficient and valuable allied of conservation, along with social, cultural and environmental responsibility.
The talks and conferences were provided by experts of the Rainforest Alliance, a prestigious NGO with nine years of experience in developing technical tools and methodologies for an efficient management and accomplishment of a real sustainable tourism. The project includes technical assistance to the local communities and enterprises, in order to facilitate their access to the global markets with high environmental standards and recognized certifications.
The project is also an activity contemplated on Ecuador’s National Tourism Development Plan 2020, a long term strategy which aims to convert the Tourism activities into a State Policy, which will engage facilitation, incentives, quality services, competitiveness, professional training and all the elements that will effectively contribute to make Tourism a Strategic social and economic activity for the country’s present and future.
The initial stage of the project also concentrated mainly on areas near the Patrimonial and Heritage Sites of Ecuador as well as the newly developed Routes and Corridors with which Ecuador continues to expand its already rich and varied offer of tour products, enhanced by the seals and certifications which attest the compliance with the Best and Most Responsible Tourism practices. With these actions, Ecuador continues to innovate and lead a process which gives priority to quality and respect for the environment, a cause which is increasingly well seen by the international travel markets, within a global trend to support the preservation of nature and tread lightly while providing tourists with unique voyage experiences.