Jorge Vallina
Sustainability and Tourism Director
Formagrupo

 

Building alliances for eco-aware and responsible tourism

Tourism is the leading global industry, growing at rates of more than 4% a year. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, in 2015 there were nearly 1.2 billion international tourist arrivals, a figure which is expected to continue to grow in 2016 and the coming years.

It is evident that tourism activity has major positive impacts and drives the economy in many parts of the world, in terms of generating wealth and creating jobs. However, tourism also exerts a lot of pressure on the consumption of natural resources, ecosystems and biodiversity, and is in addition the cause of more than 5% of the emissions that trigger climate changes with the potential to alter the planet. No less striking are the impacts on social structures in the communities that have opted for tourism as a driver for development and for relieving poverty, in particular in emerging countries.

At Formagrupo we firmly believe that meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires commitments and solid alliances to be built between governments, the private sector and civil society to increase the ability to respond to all these local and global problems, which are complex and multidimensional.

Public-private collaboration between the different players involved in developing tourism is essential to achieve more eco­aware, responsible and inclusive tourism: a more sustainable hospitality industry based on one single vision of the future, built on shared principles and values to achieve common goals.

The building of regional, national or international alliances promotes the exchange of knowledge, positive experiences and technical training, increasing technological innovation and eco­efficiency, while facilitating mobility of financial resources towards investments to the benefit of sustainability in tourism.

With this vision, over the past decade our company has striven to find and establish public-private cooperation alliances with governments and very different business and third-sector associations not only in Spain but also with a clear focus on different countries in Latin America. There, tourism is a pivotal element in the commitment to sustainable development that improves the well-being and quality of life of people through conserving and valuing their cultural and natural diversity and richness.

Formagrupo belongs to and actively participates in a number of multi-sectoral organizations where sustainability is part of the agenda and different initiatives. In the specific case of Latin America we have close ties and alliances for the development of cooperation projects on responsible tourism with important national associations from the tourism, hotel and catering sector, universities, NGOs and different regional governments in countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic. In addition, we have actively participated in recent years in public-private missions to create and strengthen alliances with the tourism sector in other countries, such as Cuba, Nicaragua and Panama.

This determination to create and consolidate networks for collaboration and alliances to boost training and the dissemination of social responsibility in tourism, with a primary focus on micro-enterprises and the entrepreneurs of the hospitality industry, has enabled us to undertake successful projects and participate in academic and business forums in different countries, where we share our knowledge and experiences as a contribution to more sustainable tourism.

Some examples of this are the implementation of the “Hoteles+Verdes” (“Greener Hotels)Certification and Training Programme in association with the Argentinean Tourist Hotels Association, under the auspices of Ministry of Tourism and regional governments; training in sustainable tourism and tourism quality for micro-enterprises and entrepreneurs from different departments of Colombia still experiencing conflict situations, in collaboration with the country’s Confederation of Tourism Companies; and, more recently, participation in a sustainable tourism training programme with Chile’s National Tourism Service in the Bío Bío Region, a region with areas where tourism still leads to socio-environmental conflicts with the indigenous population.

This and other examples that we could mention show that the tourism sector, due to its cross­cutting nature, can and must play a fundamental role in Goal 17 of the 2030 Agenda, and that alliances between different actors always contribute to generating positive changes and capacities in communities and creating shared value for Sustainable Development, for a better planet.

SDG talks
Formagrupo – The Ostelea School of Tourism & Hospitality

Good practices
Formagrupo