There seem to be two schools of thought in regards to achieving greater sustainability. One is based on a behavioural change to tackle societal and environmental challenges. More precisely in managing resources with moderation, restraint, and constraint (e.g. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra). The other approach focuses on developing and implementing technologies to drive change. Here, the premise is that greater sustainability can be achieved if green technology is developed and deployed rapidly. With this in mind and considering the various sustainability challenges as hotels enter this new decade, what are the three (3) technologies to implement in 2020?"
Nowadays, ecotourism is globally perceived as one of the most resourceful industries to attain sustainable development. There is greater awareness on conserving natural resources and cultural patrimony, through tourism endeavors where profitability meets responsibility. Additionally, ecotourism reduces migration and safeguards local cultures by creating green jobs in remote areas.
The hospitality industry in Peru is shifting its mindset towards sustainable, eco-conscious practices. Inkaterra has contributed to this accomplishment, illustrated in the following trends:
1). A replicable model for waste management: Our industry is more aware of its carbon footprint and other forms of pollution it generates, such as single-use plastics. As designers of travel experiences where a destination's natural and cultural values are showcased, it is our duty to fulfill a pledge towards sustainability whilst empowering travelers and local communities to take part in conservation efforts. In that sense, Inkaterra pursued a strategic partnership with the Machu Picchu Town Hall and Peruvian beverage multinational AJE Group, to turn Machu Picchu into a replicable model on sustainability.
'Sustainable Machu Picchu' saved one of the New Seven Wonders of the World from its inclusion in UNESCO's Patrimony at Risk list. First came the donation of a compacting machine to process 14 tons of plastic waste each day. In 2018, Machu Picchu became the world's first destination to collect and process almost all it's waste cooking oil to produce biodiesel and petrochemical-free glycerin, avoiding on a monthly basis the spillage of 2000 liters of waste cooking oil to the Vilcanota River. Now, a pyrolysis plant decomposes organic waste through high temperatures to produce Bio-char, a nutrient-rich soil amendment used for local high-mountain agriculture and forest restoration with native flora (in alliance with SERNANP).
2). Travel experiences inspired by research and conservation: Travelers are seeking authenticity and learning opportunities. Travel must provide an enriching experience with respect to culture and nature. We are more aware than ever on hospitality's impact over communities and nature, and we are committed to their conservation through sustainable practices. There is also a trend towards niche markets – from gastronomy to birding, for instance. Aiming to innovate our industry, we must design travel experiences inspired by fact-based storytelling. In that sense, Inkaterra's activities are thoroughly inspired by our conservation endeavors in each destination.
In a recent article, the New York Times highlights science applied to expand ecotourism efforts. An approach Inkaterra pioneered in Peru since 1975, where scientific research is produced as a basis for conservation, education and the wellbeing of local communities. Since 1978, Inkaterra sponsors flora and fauna inventories to measure tourism's impact over areas of influence. To date, 903 bird species (equivalent to Costa Rica's total bird diversity), 365 ant species (world record sponsored by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson), 313 butterfly species, 372 native orchid species, and over 100 mammal species have been inventoried within hotel grounds and surroundings. 29 new species to science were found at Inkaterra environs.
“Some hotels, lodges, and resorts have taken similar steps as Inkaterra, hiring scientists to conduct serious academic inquiry while also offering nature tours, workshops, and classes for guests,” stresses NYT collaborator Abby Ellin. Two outcomes are the Inkaterra Canopy Center for outdoor training and academic courses in Madre de Dios, as well as the GreenLab, the first DNA analysis lab in the Amazon creek.