Nicaraguan Embassy & Private Tour Operators Announce Sustainable Tourism Programme

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Coinciding with the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, Nicaragua’s public and private tourism sectors announced their commitment to sustainability at World Travel Market. Her Excellency Guisell Morales-Echaverry, The Ambassador of Nicaragua, introduced a presentation by four of the country’s private tour companies.

-Voted “Sustainable and Responsible Tourism Destination of 2017” in the U.K. by LATA
-1st October 2018 - Iberia will start thrice-weekly flights
-2nd fastest growing destination in the American continent, 8th in the world

Coinciding with the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, Nicaragua’s public and private tourism sectors announced their commitment to sustainability at World Travel Market.

Her Excellency Guisell Morales-Echaverry, The Ambassador of Nicaragua, introduced a presentation by four of the country’s private tour companies. Ricardo Carioni, Head of Country Promotion, outlined Nicaragua’s collaboration with a public programme for sustainable tourism, which has resulted in a significant increase in the number of sustainable travellers over recent years.

Three out of the only four Rainforest Alliance Certified Tour Operators in Nicaragua - Careli Tours, Solentiname Tours, Vapues Tours, plus Detour Travel, recounted their personal journeys to sustainability with initiatives including: recycling, school education programmes, working with cooperatives, artisans and local families and protecting endangered species.

All four companies are members of TOPS (Tour Operators Promoting Sustainability) in Nicaragua. The organisation was founded by Immanuel Zerger, President of TOPS Nicaragua, in 2012 with a mission to promote green activities and CSR actions both environmentally and socially. In addition to six core members, TOPS supports smaller Nicaraguan tour operators to increase their knowledge and proactivity in tourism sustainability. They help develop good practices and train professionals involved in tour operation: guides, transport contractors, local community leaders and providers of food, handicraft, guiding, lodging and suppliers.

TOPS Nicaragua also cooperates actively with local communities all over the country in promoting local heritage, the consumption of local food and handicrafts and hiring local people as guides and assistants.

UNICEF reports that Nicaragua has a population of 5.1 million people, with 53% of the population under 18 years of age. Through education children can help to protect and nurture the environment, and also influence their families and communities. In response, Careli Tours created the Eco-Schools project, together with Fondo Natura, an annual environmental and educational program. Axel Melchior, General Manager Careli Tours reported, “A month ago 300 children from two participating schools planted a tree in their school yards, while we taught them about the importance of conservation and climate change.”

Jan Jorg Stirk CEO & Founder Vapues Tours pioneered taking groups of travellers to live alongside rural communities in Nicaragua. “Rather than being traditional tourists, they can participate in the community´s daily activities, which in turn allow them to experience the real Nicaragua. The travellers report that what they get out these trips is a unique and unforgettable life experience.”

In addition, Vapues presents an annual "Sustainability Education" program with staff, providers and clients, as well as the immediate community. “For example, each year we go to a local primary school and engage in recreational activities combined with environmental and climate change awareness workshops.” Stirk commented.

Immanuel Zerger, CEO & Founder, Solentiname Tours - Discover Nicaragua created the "Nicaragua Tourism Map - Traveling Sustainably“ featuring protected areas, private natural reserves, sustainable accommodation and 29 "Points of Life". Each "Point of Life" offers participation in tourism development to cooperatives, artisans and local families; often socially excluded, with low income and single mothers. “This is our way of involving the local community directly into the tourism chain.” Added Zerger.

This year Solentiname suggested staff become "Guardians of Biodiversity". Each one will take personal responsibility for caring and protecting an endangered species from the exceptional biodiversity of Nicaragua. In addition the company intends to plant 1,000 trees in a year to contribute to the production of oxygen and to mitigate climate change.

Laurent Richardier. CEO & Founder of Detour Viajes settled in Nicaragua 26 years ago. He is a French agronomist who decided to travel to Nicaragua in the 1990s while the country was recovering from a Civil War. Upon his arrival in the country, he began working with an NGO that sought to restore the local economy of the Juigalpa area, Chontales.

Nicaragua was awarded the Sustainable and Responsible Tourism Destination of 2017 in the U.K. by LATA”. The country is the 2nd fastest growing destination in the entire American continent, 8th in the world. In total there were 1.5 million visitors in 2016, (with 16,923 coming from the UK) and a current 28.4% growth rate in 2017. It has also been classified as the safest country for visitors in Central America and the second safest in Latin America.

From the 1st October 2018, Iberia will start thrice-weekly flights to Managua from Madrid.

ENDS

FURTHER INFORMATION: TINA MORGAN tmpr(at)newsworthy.co.uk

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