The Iberostar Group has teamed up with Planeterra, an impact-driven non-profit using tourism to uplift communities, to launch a community tourism program in destinations where the Spanish chain has hotels.
The partnership is geared towards promoting social and economic development in local communities, and to protecting ecosystems, Iberostar said in a press release on Wednesday (Sept. 6).
Through the partnership, Iberostar and Planeterra, which was created by G Adventures’ Founder Bruce Poon Tip in 2003, have set ambitious goals: to provide more than 955,000 potential travellers with community tourism experiences, involve 35 communities, improve more than 13,000 lives and implement 36 projects in the coming years.
The initiative has already been piloted in Mexico and the Dominican Republic where Iberostar has 18 hotels and resorts, and Iberostar Group has plans to extend the project to all regions where Iberostar hotels are present by 2030.
According to Alejandro Borrás, head of the Iberostar Foundation, "as part of our commitment to generate a positive impact on the lives of people and their environment through responsible tourism, it is essential to support and involve local communities, making them active participants and thus contribute to improving the living conditions of the people who are part of them.”
“In this way, the alliance with Planeterra allows us to contribute to their empowerment and integrate them into the value chain of the tourism sector."
Jamie Sweeting, president of Planeterra, called the partnership a “shining example that inspires the entire travel and hospitality industry.”
"While major hotel chains have yet to embrace the integration of local communities, this project stands out for its true impact,” Sweeting stated. “With the potential to replicate the model across 16 countries and 100 hotel properties, Iberostar has the power to transform countless communities. Just imagine the extraordinary positive impact that could be achieved if other hotel chains were to follow and adopt this transformative approach."
Cenote conservation in Mexico
Conservation of cenotes in the Caribbean Iberostar has launched its first community tourism project in Mexico, where it operates 11 hotels located in Cancun, Cozumel, Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit. The project takes place in Chemuyil, in Quintana Roo.
It is facilitated through the Bejil-Ha Riviera Maya cooperative society, which was originally established by seven locals committed to conserving over 50 cenotes in the area, as well as protecting the native flora and fauna of the Yucatan Peninsula.
This initiative, which was developed in close proximity to the hotels, benefits more than 30 local families and promotes awareness and conservation of the territory.
It does so by offering exclusive itineraries, away from the typical tourist routes, and invites guests to explore the community and its natural surroundings under the guidance of knowledgeable local guides, Iberostar says.
Excursions include bike rides, visits to the cenotes, and a local gastronomy experience.
Crafts & cocoa processing in the Dominican Republic
To integrate community tourism experiences in the hotel sector, Iberostar and Planeterra have developed a model to promote actions both inside and outside its resorts.
One example is the Iberostar Costa Dorada hotel in the Dominican Republic, which has been hosting two associations at its premises to offer resort guests a weekly immersive tourism experience with the local community.
Within the hotel, guests have the opportunity to learn about the process of growing cocoa and making chocolate thanks to the Chocal cooperative – driven by thirty local women from Altamira, Puerto Plata – whose project helps more than 200 farmers and their families.
Also, through the artisans of the Petrified Wood Association (Asoartep), from the town of Imbert and Puerto Plata, hotel guests will be able to witness, interact with and learn about the local wood carving techniques, an activity that benefits more than 250 families in the community.
Thanks to these initiatives, Iberostar guests can purchase products and handicrafts from the local communities where Iberostar operates, “which are usually outside the conventional tourist circuits,” Iberostar says.
“This in turn raises awareness among visitors regarding the protection, conservation, and promotion of the local economy,” the company said.