14 - 16 April 2025
São Paulo, Brasil

4th Responsible Tourism Awards

WTM Latin America announced the 2024 edition of its responsible tourism awards - an initiative that promotes the most inspiring stories from the travel and tourism industry to promote sustainable development on our continent. There are 6 new categories that address essential topics for environmental conservation, diversity and inclusion, fair economic development and promotion of relationships between tourists and their travel destination.

Explore the categories for 2024

Best initiatives for biodiversity conservation

Supporter of this category:

We live in a unique moment in the history of Latin America. 94% of wildlife species populations in the region are in decline. As a society and tourism sector, we need to reverse this trend, because without biodiversity there is no tourism.

Fortunately, there are leading companies that are transforming paradigms on how to do tourism, integrating biodiversity conservation and restoration actions into their business models. This benefits the entire value chain and the community that supports it, positively impacting soils, forests, freshwater capture, climate adaptation, among others.

We are one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, and the new global commitment is to effectively conserve 30% of the planet by 2030. To achieve this goal, we need to create alliances to give visibility to private and social sector initiatives. Tourism has the potential to impact millions of visitors seeking these experiences and learning from thousands of local communities deeply connected with their nature.

Recognition for Responsible Tourism in the “Biodiversity Conservation” category seeks companies, destinations, communities or organized groups that are leading this transformation, placing wildlife conservation at the center of their value proposition.

Best initiatives to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in tourism

Supporter of this category:

The need to promote inclusion in the travel and tourism industry is more urgent than ever.

Inclusive travel ensures that everyone feels welcome, included and can have an appropriate experience in a destination. This promotes belonging and empowers people.

We look for companies and destinations that are eagerly working to ensure that inclusion has a more prominent place in the future of tourism, making access to tourism experiences and industry benefits increasingly fair and equitable.

Best initiatives to promote socioeconomic impact and peacebuilding through tourism

Supporter of this category:

Tourism has experienced continuous expansion and diversification, becoming one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world, providing numerous benefits for the economy and employment in destinations.

In societies that have experienced recent conflicts, tourism, in addition to being a source of income for local communities, has become a banner of peace and transformation in the territories.

We look for companies, administrations and civil society organizations that are actively working to build peace by boosting local economies, generating development opportunities in communities as protagonists of tourist activity in destinations.

Best networking initiatives to promote responsible tourism in destinations

Supporter of this category:

Cooperation and public-private collaboration between agents in the tourism sector are fundamental to achieving success in the planning and management of sustainable tourist destinations.

It is crucial to take advantage of synergies and strengthen partnerships in the tourist destination, involving communities, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, scientists and various local productive sectors to create innovative tourism programs.

We look for inspiring initiatives that have contributed to the articulation of different actors in the creation or strengthening of sustainable tourism destinations.

Best initiatives for Indigenous tourism and/or Traditional Communities

Supporter of this category:

The cultural richness of our original and traditional Latin American peoples are among our major tourist interests in the region. More than that, it is these communities that carry out some of the most representative experiences of the diversity of our continent, our incredible biodiversity and our important history of constitution.

Its authentic traditions, crafts, cuisine and cultural practices offer a unique and enriching experience to tourists, promoting the preservation and appreciation of local historical heritage.

Furthermore, when the travel and tourism market incorporates the active participation of these communities, their products and services, it provides direct economic benefits, strengthening local economies and encouraging environmental preservation. Recognizing and respecting the ancestral knowledge of these people is essential to guarantee responsible and inclusive tourism, which celebrates and preserves the cultural authenticity of Latin America.

We are looking for stories that can be inspiring and a source of replication models for building inclusive and diverse tourism in Latin America.

Best initiatives for climate change mitigation

Supporter of this category:

The results of climate change can manifest themselves in many ways, and the tourism industry is exceptionally vulnerable to them. Each year, the impact becomes more evident and, for many, more devastating.

Droughts, floods, wildfires and extreme weather wreak havoc on communities and businesses in destinations around the world. These events are no longer unusual or isolated incidents.

We are looking for companies and destinations that actively contribute to the decarbonization of tourism operations, explore innovative ways to protect themselves against climate threats and positively influence awareness among local communities and visitors.

The 2024 winners

Best initiatives for biodiversity conservation

ASOCIACION DE GUIAS DE TURISMO COMUNITARIO EXPLORANDO EL VALLE is a Guatemalan organization made up of young indigenous people who work with community tourism to promote biodiversity conservation and the economic development of the communities.

The projects carried out by the association have generated tangible short-term benefits, such as the creation of businesses and improved living conditions, as well as laying the foundations for long-term sustainable development. This is reflected in the organization's ongoing commitment to capacity building, innovation and community participation in all its activities.

Fundación Agua e Tierra works to conserve sea turtles and biodiversity, as well to strengthen sustainable community development processes in Panama.

Eco-Ruta Tortuga is a community and regenerative rural tourism circuit led by local organizations that promote sustainability, empowerment and innovation. It is located in Mariato, in the province of Veraguas, Panama.

Rainforest Expeditions has incorporated into their expeditions to the Peruvian Amazon immersive experiences where guests become citizen scientists in Tambopata, Peru.

Through the Wired Amazon program developed by Rainforest Expeditions in their 3 ecolodges in, guests have the opportunity to become citizen scientists and broaden the impact of their experience on the conservation of biodiversity of species in the forests of Tambopata National Reserve in Madre de Dios, Peru. 

Jericoacoara National Park is located in the state of Ceará and receives more than 1 million visitors a year, making it the third most visited park in Brazil.

In order to stop the practice of capturing seahorses, make the tour more attractive and ensure the community's economic activity, the ICMBIio team designed a learning path for the tour guides which included courses in associations, environmental education, ecology of mangrove fauna and flora, environmental interpretation and guiding visitors in natural areas.

Best initiatives to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in tourism

Mama Uma Travel is a regenerative tourism operator in Ecuador that seeks to promote family and women's travel through trekking, creating transforming experiences in the country's communities and protected areas, with deep learning and unique cultural experiences.

The company offers mother clients with children the opportunity to reach destinations that are very rarely visited, providing all the logistics for meetings to take place in rural areas with a broad nature and an awareness of love and peace.

Mujeres a la Cumbre is a Chilean company focused on offering different products to bring women closer to the mountains, facilitating unique and lived experiences with the purpose of empowering them, recognizing their achievements and opening the doors to a space for conversation between peers.

One of the purposes is social promotion and community tourism, seeking to work with local women guides and porters. These are women who have decided to work in historically male-dominated environments. Our intention is to collaborate with their empowerment and qualification as mountain guides.

San Luis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site Mexican city with nearly one million inhabitants.

The capital city began to offer inclusive tourist experiences, designed so that everyone can enjoy them. These are experiences that can be lived simultaneously by a person without disabilities or with motor, visual, hearing, intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, as well as by persons using guide dogs and/or persons with accessibility needs, through the elimination of all types of barriers, with a universal design, accessibility by type of disability and reasonable adjustments; emphasizing the presence of skilled personnel and accessible security protocols.

The Cataratas Group has implemented a number of solutions to promote diversity and inclusion in their work environment. This included the establishment of the "Coloring the Ideas" program and the Plural Committee, as well as the development of specific programs for vulnerable groups such as the MAE and Maternar. They also invested in professional development initiatives, such as the ProtagonistAS and Empodera Mulher, and organized meetings and lived experiences, such as the Meeting with Diversity and the T.E.R.R.A.

Best initiatives to promote socioeconomic impact and peacebuilding through tourism

APATA is a sustainable Colombian ecotourism company founded in 2017 with the purpose of contributing to peace-building by strengthening tourism and hiking initiatives in Colombia.

 In order to establish new precedents in the Colombian countryside, Apata has identified in tourism a visibility tool  that confronts and breaks down stigmatization, facilitates the creation of opportunities and empowers local communities to lead environmentally and economically sustainable projects. 

Impulse Travel works to bring about a significant impact in promoting fair, peaceful and inclusive societies in Colombia. They use the power of tourism to drive the wheels of social transformation.

Impulse realized that community-based social projects fail due to lack of resources and visibility. At the same time, we also note that today’s travelers are increasingly looking for experiences that, in addition to being fun, are authentic and leave a positive impact.

Therefore, Impulse created the category of HEART experiences, where they connect travelers with projects through a structure in which experiences become a way to generate resources and, especially, transform stories.

Colombia, with over sixty routes across the country and 14 years of experience.

The business mentoring program, planned and carried out by Manakin Nature Tours in cooperation and partnership with Invemar, was developed over 8 months, with monthly training that totaled more than 400 hours of strengthening, delivered by 11 coaches specialized in different areas, all in conjunction with the selected projects of the stilt communities.

 Along the process, more than 100 million Colombian pesos (about 25 thousand USD) were invested in logistics and support to some enterprises in participating in fairs and business rounds to promote the destination.

Favela Santa Marta Tour is a tour company that offers a unique and authentic experience in the famous Favela Santa Marta, located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The tours are led by guides and drivers who know the community and its history well, offering visitors a unique experience.

Pedala Favela was created to tackle problems of mobility and access to leisure in Favela Santa Marta. The project encourages residents to adopt the bicycle as a sustainable means of transportation, giving them more freedom to move around the community.

Cine Pipoca Santa Marta is also a relevant initiative that seeks to bring entertainment and culture to the community's children. The project promotes movie sessions, using mobile projection equipment to show films. These sessions were fun and thought-provoking, stimulating culture and bringing access to the cinema to 200 children in sessions at the Samba school's court.

Best networking initiatives to promote responsible tourism in destinations

The Atlantic Forest Great Reserve is a voluntary initiative that brings together various actors who, together, promote regional development actions focused on nature tourism within the world's largest Atlantic Forest remnant.

In December 2018, a network of supporters was created, called the Great Atlantic Forest Reserve Portal Network, where each actor, by signing a Charter of Principles, has the opportunity to build this great nature destination together. In order to meet the challenge of involving the most diverse actors, the initiative uses the Collective Impact methodology, a strategic approach to cross-sector collaboration, which is appropriate for complex scenarios where individual initiatives are important but insufficient to achieve the desired objectives.

The Travolution Foundation is an independent organization that has been promoting community nature tourism initiatives in Latin America for 12 years.

Currently, the Travolution Foundation has branches in Argentina, Colombia and Chile, forming a team of interdisciplinary specialists with an emphasis on territorial management, who offer training and capacity-building solutions for product development and tourism marketing in community-based organizations and entrepreneurs in the business.

The Camino del Mayab, the first Long Distance Trail in Mexico, is a regional sustainable development project linking 14 Mayan communities. Located in Yucatán, in the Haciendas e Cenotes area, it offers visitors an experience to explore the jungle and the rich Mayan culture over more than 100 km.

The communities collaborate to offer a variety of tourist services and cultural activities, with the aim of creating jobs, conserving natural areas, promoting sustainable mobility and environmental education, as well as promoting gender equity.

Best initiatives for Indigenous tourism and/or Traditional Communities

Budi Lafken Mapu is a family business dedicated to tourism experiences in the coastal region of Araucanía, Chile. Since 2007, led by Yesica Huenten, they have promoted cultural, Mapuche, community and rural tourism.

The company stands out for its tourist circuits with an identity, designed to immerse visitors in the authenticity of indigenous tourism, particularly transmitting the history and beauty of the Mapuche people. With each circuit, Budi Lafken Mapu invites tourists to explore, learn and appreciate the culture and nature of the place, thus consolidating their position as a leader in Lafkenche tourism in the region.

The Institute offers a higher technical course in Tourism with a specialization in Indigenous Community Tourism, designed from the Guarani culture and worldview for indigenous students. There are currently 16 students taking the first year of this course and 19 have enrolled so far to start the first year.

This encourages the appreciation of the Guarani cultural heritage, allows for more effective conservation of the territory's biodiversity and helps combat poverty through insertion into the world of knowledge and work as professional technicians.

Guyana comprises 87% of intact forest and approximately 250 small indigenous communities in a huge area of land that encompasses the coastal plain, rainforests and savannas in some of the most biologically diverse areas in the world.

Promoting sustainable development in the backcountry and in vulnerable areas is one of the main priority outcomes of Guyana's Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) for 2023, and sustainability is a way of life in Guyana.

Since its initial four pilot communities, the LCDS has been steadily implemented in 17 more indigenous communities. 

Rota da Liberdade is a Cultural and Tourist Program for Mapping the African Diaspora in the State of São Paulo, developed through Afrotourism itineraries, Cultural Production, Mentoring in the Development of Sites of Memory of the African Diaspora, with an emphasis on Traditional Black Quilombola Communities.

The Freedom Route stands out for its innovation in transforming itself into a tourism project that is an interlocutor between communities, bringing a methodology for exchanging experiences and strengthening communities, as well as acting as an interlocutor with the public authorities and building positive narrative practices about themselves.

Rutas Ancestrales Araucarias is a Chilean tour operator associated with the Mapuche Tourism Network of Curarrehue, in the Araucanía Region. They design and implement routes to enhance the territory's Biocultural Heritage through activities offered by the local community itself.

Currently, the Network is made up of 20 families from the community, offering 6 different routes lasting 1, 2 or more days. On each route, visitors can get to know Kurarewe and the local culture through their own inhabitants.

Best initiatives for climate change mitigation

Say Hueque Journeys grew out of personal journeys, dreams and a deep passion for exploration. As a travel agency based in Argentina, it specializes in creating unique experiences in both Argentina and Chile, connecting travelers seamlessly with the richness of nature and local cultures.

Since 2020, we have been planting with a purpose: we have committed to planting 10 trees for each of our travelers, with the goal of planting 100,000 native trees in Patagonia by August 1, 2024. In addition, it is a carbon-positive company, implementing green office practices, plastic-free travels and an approach focused on local economies.

The Tauá Group excels in tourism and hospitality, providing unique experiences in strategically positioned resorts guided by excellence, innovation and a commitment to sustainability.

The group designed the Decarbonization Program, a comprehensive approach made up of three fundamental pillars: inventories, a footprint calculator and a mitigation plan.

Currently, 100% of emissions, corresponding to 82,000 kg CO2 in 2023, are offset showing remarkable progress in the quest for sustainability. Certificates are issued to validate these offsets, both for corporate emissions and those made by guests. 

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