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LATA Responsible Tourism Awards – winners announced at LATA Expo

LATA Responsible Tourism Awards

The winners of the LATA Responsible Tourism Awards were announced during the LATA Expo Gala Dinner last night. These form the Latin American element of the Sabre Global Responsible Tourism Awards, with the winners automatically entered into the global awards to be announced in November.

Following the success of the LATA Sustainability Travel Programme, introduced for members in 2022, LATA is thrilled to be working alongside Dr Harold Goodwin to host the Latin American element of the Sabre Global Responsible Tourism Awards. Whilst the awards are open to all, it’s fantastic to see so many members being recognised for their achievements and dedication to working towards a more sustainable tourism industry.

The awards were overseen by Dr Goodwin, co-founder of The Responsible Tourism Partnership and judged by Anne-Kathrin Zschiegner, Director of The Long Run, Chris Haslam, Chief Travel Writer at The Sunday Times, Edgar Weggelaar, CEO of Queer Destinations, Maria Emilia Correa, Co-Founder & Senior Strategist at Sistema B, and Megan Parkinson, Head of Sustainability at LATA.

Dr Goodwin commented “The quality of entries has really stood out to me this year, which is testament to the hard work being done across Latin America to ensure that tourism is done in a responsible way, enabling the benefits to be felt throughout the supply chain.

With the winners split between UK-based operators, and those based across Latin America, it was a privilege to announce the winners and recognise their successes to a full house of industry professionals.

Further details on the winners of the LATA Responsible Tourism Awards can be seen here

The LATA Responsible Tourism Awards 2024 winners are: 

Making Travel Inclusive

Gold – Huasquila Amazon Lodge

Silver – Sama Sama International

Awarding the gold award to Huasquila Amazon Lodge, the judges were impressed with the commitment demonstrated to ensuring that guests with disabilities can enjoy the cultural and nature-based experiences both in its own lodges and with their service providers such as kayak operators. The judges gave the silver award to Sama Sama International to recognise the efforts of the team to make the tourism industry more inclusive of marginalised and disadvantaged communities

Championing Cultural Diversity

Gold – Tortuga Lodge and Gardens, Costa Rica

Silver – Art Hotels, Ecuador

One to Watch – Journey Mexico

Awarding the gold award, the judges commented on the success of how Tortuga Lodge has used a conservation fee to support community, conservation and cultural projects, noting it could be easily replicable on a wider scale. From one solo calypso player remaining in Tortuguero in 2022, in 2024 42 local children were learning to play their traditional music, with the fee paying salaries, funding equipment and uniforms.

Art Hotels in Ecuador received the silver award to recognise the Micro Entrepreneurs Programme, which works with local producers such artisan weavers, traditional cooks and sculptors. Art Hotels assist them with training in financial management and marketing, working with them to develop products that attract high-end clientele, and provides a space for them to sell their products.

The one to watch award was given to Journey Mexico for introducing a Responsible Tourism fee, which will help promote the identity, recognition, and preservation of the Maya culture whilst working towards eradicating poverty and the social marginalisation of the Mayan communities.

Nature Positive

Gold – Crees Manu, Peru

Silver – Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador

One to Watch – Explorandes

The judges awarded CREES the gold award for its holistic approach to demonstrating that through business, communities can find economically viable alternatives through responsible management of natural resources. This is then shared with clients through educational tourism.

Mashpi Lodge was awarded silver to recognise the positive impact the lodge has made on the region, with over 100 jobs created in two decades – 80% of which are filled by locals – and the indirect impact on the wider supply chain. The judges were impressed that the inclusion and empowerment of the local community is central to its conservation mission.

Explorandes was recognised as one to watch by the judges for its work with the Misquiyao community who saw the risk of overtourism on the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu and created an opportunity to do things differently. Creating alternative trails with the community, Explorandes pays a per-person camping fee to help generate income for the Misquiyao community.

Combating Climate Change

Gold – Explore!

Explore! was awarded Gold in the Combatting Climate Change to recognise the extent of the measurements they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint. The judges were impressed that they were using a baseline of pre-Covid passenger levels and this year reported a 7.2% reduction in intensity of carbon emissions across their trips.

Increasing Local Sourcing – Creating Shared Value

Gold – Pura Aventura

Silver – Metropolitan Touring

One to Watch – Chilcabamba Mountain Lodge and Limatours

Impressing the judges for their policy of working directly with micro-enterprises and small-scale owner-hosted hotels, Pura Aventura received Gold for Increasing Local Sourcing. In 2023, Pura Aventura worked with 500 different suppliers, of which 85% of the top 100 are micro-enterprises. Using mostly small and microlocal businesses and individuals ensures that more tourist income remains with the local community.

Metropolitan Touring was awarded silver to recognise the work of Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel to increase local purchasing, which reduces the carbon emissions generated by imports and develops a more diverse local economy.

Two entrants received the one to watch award. Chilcabamba Mountain Lodge impressed with the example they provided of how local economies benefit when guests stay longer because of a broader programme offering. Limatours’ project to empower indigenous women from rural villages outside Cusco impressed the judges with the effort to increase income opportunities whilst preserving their rich cultural heritage.

Employing and Upskilling Local Communities

Gold – Wilderness Explorers and Latin Trails

One to Watch – Andean Lodges

The gold was awarded to both Wilderness Explorers and Latin Trails. The judges recognised the value of Wilderness Explorer’s approach to working with indigenous communities in Guyana, who work with, rather than for, the operator. Their approach of community empowerment ensures they benefit from additional livelihood opportunities and visitors benefit reciprocally from more authentic experiences.

The judges were impressed with Latin Trails’ community project, which works with 40 families to give additional income sources by providing gastronomy, artisan, music and awareness experiences to their guests. They are also working with an upmarket restaurant to provide training for young culinary talent from rural communities in Ecuador’s poorest areas, offering full board and a full scholarship.

Andean Trails was awarded the ‘one to watch’ as the judges were impressed by the wide range of ways in which the company 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.

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