WTM Latin America announces 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.
4th Responsible Tourism Awards
The finalists who will receive the “Gold” and “Silver” Awards will be announced in March and the awards ceremony will take place during WTM Latin America, in April 2024. Be sure to apply and encourage those initiatives and projects that deserve to be awarded and can inspire everyone to promote the responsible tourism!
Explore the categories for 2024
Best initiatives for biodiversity conservation
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
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
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
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
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
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 2023 winners
Best solutions for plastic waste management
The Preserve Pipa Movement sought a solution to reduce the impact on the environment and launched a bottle with a 20% reduction in plastic in its composition.
In addition to the composition with less plastic, the bottle is also produced with 100% renewable energy, and the goal by 2026 is to reduce 40% plastic. In addition, more than 6 tons of recyclable waste were removed from the environment, destined for sale by recycling companies in the state of RN.
The judges say that raising issues like this in small destinations like Pipa is challenging and that this project shows that the solution is possible, and that it must start with achievable goals. They also state that this model is highly replicable in sun and beach destinations throughout Brazil and Latin America and should be closely observed for the next steps.
The Dona do meu Fluxo project, developed by Raízes, combines voluntourism with efficient solutions to the challenge of menstrual poverty, already benefiting 4500 women from all over the world with the distribution of menstrual cups, reducing waste generation by approximately 225 tons to date .
The judges say that voluntourism was an intelligent solution for this project and that it gives the possibility of raising the necessary attention to the subject. Furthermore, given so many worrying cases related to voluntourism around the world, Raízes gives us a good example of how to practice it effectively and with respect for the participating communities.
The company has a strong commitment to Carbon Neutrality.
The initiative's contribution to the environment comes from reducing waste in two ways: first, by carefully considering what to buy and second, through proper recycling. Much of the recycling, such as glass, plastic, metal, paper and organic waste, goes to community agents from the Bariloche Recyclers Association.
For the jurors, Wilderness Patagonia brings together a series of actions that allow them to affirm that they care for their destination for environmental conservation. Actions related to the use of plastic are replicable and show that taking responsibility for this issue often involves simple actions but with high local impact.
Best Meaningful Connections
La Moya is the Puruha indigenous community. There are 50 families who saw their culture and worldview as a way to increase their income by sharing knowledge in medicine, gastronomy, customs and traditions.
La Moya has invested in the development of a solidarity tourism activity with the active participation of all members of the community, traditions, culture, traditional clothing, working based on an intercultural perspective and always seeking the appropriate management of cultural heritage, with a principle of social equity in the distribution of its benefits.
This project, according to the judges, is a great representative of Latin American community tourism: it is built with and for the communities and has them as protagonists. The development model ensures that the relationship between hosts and their visitors promotes authentic stories and exchanges, a fact that seems simple but is becoming rare in recent times.
MOBILIZA SLZ is a movement that emerged to strengthen and celebrate the most beautiful and representative assets of São Luís: Culture, Tourism and the Creative Economy, through a plural and transformative network, based on an environment of exchange and connection of ideas and experiences.
In practice, it is a circuit with various events and actions, which can be live or online, bringing together creative minds and promoting a creative and cultural occupation of the city, resulting in 09 days of vibrant colors, musical echoes, spreading flavors and dazzle the eyes of those who live and visit the capital of Maranhão.
For the judges, this model of activity that promotes tourism for its own residents, showing other possibilities for places and cities to live, affirm that tourism is an efficient strategy for transforming destinations into better places to live and visit. It is highly replicable and promotes a feeling of belonging and pride for local residents, contributing more broadly to the destination's tourism promotion.
IPÊ created an innovative methodology for training courses in socio-environmental entrepreneurship that includes individualized mentoring, with the participation of volunteers from companies and a seed investment to strengthen or expand enterprises led by indigenous people and riverside dwellers in the Amazon region.
The community entrepreneurs involved added more value to their work, made management and communication more efficient and, consequently, obtained more revenue and maximized their impact.
This model of economic development that empowers local communities is fundamental for the inclusion of entrepreneurs in regions as remote, fragile and with diverse interests (and opposed to environmental conservation and sustainable development) as the Amazon. A case that, according to the jury, is essential to be replicated in other regions across the continent.
Quinti is an operator in Ecuador and the Galapagos that designs authentic experiences with local hosts and brings us a beautiful story with sensory experiences to raise awareness among travelers to have tools to help blind people with the participation of a blind facilitator. They currently have 8 experiences.
The model adopted by Quinti seems simple, but it requires courage to adopt. The topic of inclusion of people with disabilities still remains a taboo in tourism and Quinto did not refrain from taking his responsibilities on the subject. A case that deserves attention, recognition and replication from its peers in other Latin American destinations.
Best models for local shopping, crafts and food
The destination is taking into account Antioquia's tourist vocation: nature and cultural tourism, giving importance to the different actors in the value chain, such as tour operators, artisans, farmers, among others, together with municipal administrations, territories and local communities, work in an articulated way and join efforts based on the quality of service.
The jury highlights that the role of public authorities in the sustainable development of a destination is often lost on our continent. With the union of several local tourism actors, the Government of Antioquia collaborates to be a replicable model of this role of responsible promotion of local tourist activity as a strategy for socio-environmental development based on an economic activity.
The Testo Alto neighborhood, in Pomerode, Brazil, is known as Rota do Enxaimel, as it is the largest concentration of houses built using this technique outside of Europe (50 houses in 16 kilometers).
In June 2021, a group of businesspeople and local residents founded the Rota do Enxaimel Association, to leverage cultural richness in tourist activity, generating economic support so that families can continue preserving cultural and rural heritage and traditions.
With the work they developed in a year and a half, the number of visitors went from less than 20,000 to more than 150,000 visitors per year, an increase of more than 10 times.
This local collective reinforces the importance of associations in tourism and is an exemplary case of how our sector can be fundamental for the conservation of the cultural and historical heritage of a small destination, empowering people to decide about their own future.
Addressing climate change
In 2020, Say Hueque set out to become the first travel company in Argentina to neutralize CO2 emissions and soon realized they needed to go further.
In 2021, they began a partnership with Reforestarg, a local NGO working to restore damaged forests in Patagonia. Since then, they have donated a tree to everyone who traveled with the company and also participated in massive plantations.
In 2022, they decided to go much further by committing to plant 20,000 trees by August 1, 2023.
The judges affirm that Say Hueque demonstrates that it is assuming its responsibility with sustainable development and, in particular, with environmental conservation, at the same pace at which emergencies prove to be fundamental for the maintenance of tourist activity in the destinations in which it operates. By assuming responsibilities regarding climate change, it shows that the role of a tour operator goes beyond local issues and concerns the well-being of everyone in the short and medium term.
The Mato Grosso do Sul Tourism Foundation began the process of certifying Bonito as a carbon neutral destination.
The project was developed based on a protocol that allows measuring the environmental impact of a company's activities, products and services and the life cycle of its greenhouse gas emissions.
The initiative is aligned with the state of Mato Grosso do Sul's project to obtain, by 2030, Carbon Neutral certification, reducing as much as possible the emission of carbon dioxide, generated from the burning of fossil fuels and the breathing of living beings.
At this moment, this project aims to make Bonito the first ecotourism destination in the world certified as Carbon Neutral.
For the jury, taking on the carbon neutralization of an important destination like Bonito means taking on important challenges, especially in the long term. This challenge, included in a government plan to have the entire State carbon-neutral in the short term, sends a message to other governments and tourist destinations that the nature tourism activity requires help so that it continues to receive its visitors in the not too long future. distant.
Best solutions for promoting diversity and inclusion
At this coffee farm, visitors practice "Conscious Tourism", where in addition to learning about and interacting with the local culture, they have the opportunity to be co-protagonists and connect emotions centered on conservation, respect for traditions and the sustainable use of resources.
La Union has a program that focuses on hiring people with disabilities with exceptional skills, for example, guides in French, German and English. They also have staff as interpreters in Colombian sign language.
The inclusion of people with disabilities in the travel and tourism sector is an efficient way to promote debate and show the urgency still experienced today, throughout Latin America, regarding the importance of providing opportunities for this public. La Union Coffee Farm could simply be welcoming visitors to discover the famous Colombian coffee but it went further.
The BATUC Network, from Bahia, brings together quilombolas, indigenous people, family farmers, fishermen, riverside dwellers, pastors, agrarian reform settlers and urban collectives. The Network promotes its tourist activities as a way of promoting the generation of work and income and as an instrument of resistance and transformation in offering sustainable, responsible and regenerative tourism.
Currently, the BATUC Network is present in 7 of the state's 13 Tourist Zones and in 10 of the 27 Identity Territories, complementing Bahia's tourism offer by offering sustainable, responsible and supportive tourism, supported by agroecology, solidarity economy and popular education.
The BATUC Network is recognized throughout Brazil as a pioneer in efforts to promote justice for the black, quilombola and indigenous population through tourism. This successful model promotes community empowerment with the formation of a network established across a large territory and dialogues with the social emergencies that are so popular on the Latin American continent.
Founded at the end of 2016 by young black entrepreneurs, Diaspora.Black transformed the Brazilian tourism market, with the creation of a tourism and black culture marketplace with advertising services and accommodation reservations (shared houses, hostels, inns, hotels), itineraries, travel packages and online events (virtual tours, courses, workshops, lectures, workshop...) and also, with the sale of training and consultancy for the tourist trade.
For the judges, Diaspora.Black plays a very important role in the inclusion of the black population in Brazilian tourism – a country with the largest number of people of color in the world outside of Africa, but still placed on the margins of this economy. Giving protagonism to black people is a challenge taken up for some time by several local characters, but it was Diaspora.Black who, with their strategy of interlocution with the large market, with large technology companies such as Google and Meta, accelerated this process, enabling several other to monitor and promote their Afro-centered businesses throughout the country.
Best initiatives for nature conservation
Las Torres Patagonia, is a private property and protected area, located in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park (Chile).
Among the various conservation initiatives, the fact that Las Torres has achieved, for 3 consecutive years, the Ecological Outcome Verification granted by the Savory Institute stands out. It measures and analyzes ecosystem function based on holistic management, planned grazing and soil regeneration in Chilean Patagonia.
The enterprise is located in the rural area of Santo Antônio do Jardim – SP and promotes environmental education tourism, receiving free public schools and social projects, inclusion of people with visual impairments, waste management and reforestation projects.
For the jurors, the development of environmental recovery strategies combined with educational tourism is an important strategy for the future of conservation in Brazil. Simple and replicable initiatives need to be recognized for efforts and Toca do Kaynã implements something possible and replicable in its destination.
Wilderness Patagonia has always prioritized the provision of services in protected natural areas because it believes that in addition to carrying out an active tourist activity, tourists take with them specific knowledge about why and why National Parks are taken care of.
To connect tourists or visitors with the conservation values of the Argentine National Parks Administration, they promote environmental education in various ways and carry out environmental impact studies in partnership with the managing body of conservation units in Argentina where the minimum guidelines were generated to be able to develop tourist activities with the lowest degree of impact on nature.
Wilderness Patagonia's joint work with local environmental conservation agencies accelerates the often emergency solutions that a destination may have. By ensuring that actions between public and private authorities occur in harmony and with the same purpose, protected areas benefit, and with them, tourism and travelers.