The Mexico Tourism Board (Consejo de Promoción
Turística de México) has united with the Global
Sustainable Tourism Council Alliance (GSTC), a coalition of more
than 40 organizations and companies that work together to reach a
common definition of sustainable tourism and to promote the adoption
of its universal principles. It was created by the Rainforest
Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the
United Nations Foundation and the World Tourism Organization
(UNWTO), with the goal of developing a common understanding of what
this type of tourism means to travelers. With more than 18 million
hectares of surface that are ecologic reserves, and a country with
one of the richest natural offers in our planet, sustainable tourism
has become a priority for Mexico.
The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria were presented in
the World Conservation Congress, in October 2008. These criteria
represent the minimal sustainability principles to which a tourist
company should aspire in order to protect and preserve the world's
natural and cultural resources, with the time to guarantee that
tourism fulfills its potential as a tool to mitigate poverty.
In an effort to reach a common understanding of sustainable tourism, the alliance is developing a set of basic criteria organized around the four pillars of this activity:
- Effective planning for sustainability.
- Maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community.
- Reducing negative impacts on cultural heritage.
- Reducing negative impacts on environmental heritage.
The GSTC Alliance is made up of members of the tourist
industry, including agencies, tourism operators, hotels and
government entities. Some of its members are: Adventure Travel and
Trade Association; American Society of Travel Agents; Audubon
International; Belize Tourism Board; Blackstone Valley Tourism
Council; Center for Responsible Travel; Consorcio Cooperativo Red
Ecoturística Nacional; Destination Ventures; Earthcheck; European
Centre for Eco- and Agro- Tourism; Eco and Sustainable Tourism
Israel; EcoSustainAbility; Ecotourism Australia; ECOTRANS; Enclave
Rising, LLC; Fairmont Hotels & Resorts; Federación Colombiana de
Ecoparques; Fundación Plan 21; GAP Adventures/Planeterra; Green
Globe Certification; Green Seal; HM Designs; Hostelling
International; Instituto de Turismo Responsable; InterContinental
Barclay New York; Mexico Tourism Board; Nordic World Heritage
Foundation; Our Native Village; Pacific Asia Tourism Pty Ltd;
Pronatura Sur, A.C.; The Rainforest Alliance; Rara Avis Rainforest
Lodge & Reserve; Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd; and, Sabre Holdings.
The alliance includes partners all over the world and is currently active in Africa, America, the Middle East, the Middle West and Asia. More than 170 cities have adopted these criteria. www.gstcouncil.org
This international organization promotes sustainable tourism in
Mexico through training and technical assistance in environmental
management for tourist companies that want to be more competitive at
the global scope. Those that fulfill Rainforest Alliance's standards
qualify to obtain the seal of approval, which is recognized by
businesses and consumers in America, Europe and Asia.
They also collaborate with farmers and forest producers through the development of practices that protect water, soils, wildlife habitats and forest ecosystems. The objective is to protect local resources and attract a growing number of travelers that are increasingly responsible. www.rainforest-alliance.org
The World Wildlife Fund (wwf) works in priority eco-regions in
Mexico for conservation of areas that are attractive to travelers,
such as the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, in Michoacán, and
Cozumel&rsquos coral reef, the second largest and most biodiverse in
In Oaxaca, they have developed ecotourism projects in the towns of Santa Catarina Ixtepeji, Ixtlan de Juarez, Finca Monte Carlo and Santiago Comaltepec; the last one offers seven paths to observe the scenic beauty, wild flora and some specimens of pheasant and tigrillo (small feline).
In the Gulf of California, the WWF carries out an intensive campaign in favor of conservation of the vaquita (small endemic porpoise): it reorients the fishing activity towards the use of non-damaging technologies and fosters other economic activities, such as tourism.
In the area of Mexican forests, it promotes programs for protection of species such as sacred fir, pine and live oak. It also carries out activities of animal trafficking combat and prevention, for species such as turtles, serpents and foxes. www.wwf.org.mx
The Nature Conservancy
Since 1951, it carries out actions for conservation of glaciers,
coral reefs and natural reserves in the world. Just in Latin America
and the Caribbean, it has protected more than 33 million hectares,
in addition to having helped develop a biological registry of more
than 50 thousand species and ecological communities.
In Mexico, it collaborates in the protection of the marine lion in the Gulf of California. In the Mesoamerican Reef, it has set up a vigilance network for species that lay eggs and mate in the area. In the Southeast of Mexico, it helps preserve mangroves and applies techniques to avoid soil erosion. In the Sonoran Desert, it operates a farm that teaches peasants about cultivation techniques, and it also works tirelessly in the conservation of endemic natural species in Chiapas.
Actions performed by The Nature Conservancy for the classification of the Northern Río Bravo stand out, as a natural monument and protected area where black bears, bighorn sheep, and puma inhabit. This huge bi-national complex connects Maderas del Carmen, Ocampo and the Santa Elena Canyon, in Mexico, with the Big Bend National Park, the Big Bend Ranch State Park, Black Gap Wildlife Management Area and Río Grande Wild and Scenic River, in Texas. www.nature.org