"Sustainable tourism -Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities" (via UNWTO)
Anyone who has visited Cancun or the Riviera Maya on more than one occasion has certainly noted the massive growth of the region and the rapid development of new hotels, condos, entertainment parks and housing. In my ten plus years of living here, I've witnessed huge changes in my little piece of paradise. Each time I see a new building going up, it makes me a little sad to wonder what effect it will have on the future of the Mexican Caribbean's environment and communities. Many companies like to throw around the terms "eco-friendly" or "sustainable" in their marketing, so it is always a pleasure to witness real dedication to these important matters and not just the use of the words for publicity.
Press conference Xelha Park
In my work in social media in Cancun, I have had the good fortune to collaborate frequently with Xperiencias Xcaret in all of their attractions (Xcaret Park, XelHa Park, Xplor, Xoximilco). Spending time at each of them and meeting their teams of environmentalists and community outreach specialists, I can say without hesitation that this is a company that is walking the walk of sustainability and responsible tourism. My opinion is one thing of course, but what sets the organization apart is the world-wide recognition it is receiving for its dedication to sustainability.
EarthCheck Gold Award
This past weekend, I was invited to XelHa on World Water Day to celebrate the park's latest award, the EarthCheck Gold certification. XelHa is the first theme park in the world to receive this distinction, a great honour and highly deserved. What is EarthCheck you say?
From the Xelha blog:
"For starters, EarthCheck is a international certification program for tourism businesses to promote best environmental and social practices that specifically evaluates ten lines of action:
-greenhouse gas emissions
-social and cultural issues
-administrative land use planning
-protection of air quality and noise control
-solid waste management
-storage of substances harmful to the environment"
Xelha Park meets and exceeds the standards of EarthCheck in each of these categories, going above and beyond to ensure the future of the ecosystems and the community. For the "eco-conscious" traveler, this means you can rest assured that a visit to Xelha will not only provide you with a fabulous encounter in paradise, but that you are supporting an organization that truly cares about being responsible to the planet. Muchas felicidades, big congratulations to the team at Xelha!
Please take a moment for a virtual trip to paradise by watching this video, it's magnificent! For more photos of my day at Xelha (of course I enjoyed the park after the press conference!), please see the Xelha Flickr set.