Moving Towards Sustainable Tourism in the Coast of Oaxaca

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Viviana Vasquez

In a world where the promotion of sustainable tourism has become an undeniable necessity to safeguard the natural and cultural richness of our destinations, the Oaxacan Coast emerges as a living example of how this vision is beginning to take tangible form. This transformation process, nurtured by the harmonious collaboration of diverse organizations and key actors, has reached a crucial milestone on August 16, 2023. This extraordinary event, orchestrated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and starring Elfego López Peña, has acted as the catalyst that ignites the spark of cooperation and innovation in pursuit of truly sustainable tourism.

From its earliest moments, the welcome to this gathering made it clear that its hallmark would be inclusiveness and collaboration. WWF, an institution renowned for its tireless commitment to environmental preservation, assumed the leadership of this event, setting the stage that would guide the conversations to come. Thalia Coria and Vicente Ferreyra, representing the Sustentur team, outlined with exceptional clarity the objectives and direction of the session, setting the precise course for the discussions and dialogues to follow.

Experience sharing and partnership building for tourism and biodiversity

The opening of the event became a canvas for presentations that showcased the wide diversity of actors engaged in this noble mission. From the emblematic figures of the private sector to the tireless representatives of the community sphere, the amalgam of perspectives enriched the flow of dialogues and debates throughout the day.

Among the moments that emerged as authentic peaks of relevance was the outstanding presentation by the Huatulco Green Team, whose presentation shed light on their experiences in the pursuit of the coveted Earthcheck certification. This instance not only offered a deep insight into the processes, achievements and challenges inherent in obtaining a sustainable certification, but also triggered a series of questions and answers that generated an enriching and enlightening discussion.

The focus on the private sector continued to flourish in a panel that brought together invaluable protagonists, such as the Huatulco Airport (ASUR), the Huatulco Hotel and Motel Association and PROHOTUR. In this segment, the stage was filled with tangible examples of best practices and in-depth analysis of contemporary challenges. This fruitful collaboration between these entities powerfully underscored the importance of the private sector taking a leading role in the tireless promotion of sustainable tourism.

The Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels of Puerto Escondido also took the floor with the presentation of its sustainability guide, currently in the process of being disseminated among its members. This initiative not only illustrates a growing awareness of the imperative need to incorporate a sustainable perspective in the sector, but also demonstrates a firm commitment to concrete action.

The intervention of the community sector materialized with the presentation of Costa Magia, an organization that enthusiastically shared its community vision and expressed its determination to forge strategic alliances with the private sector to promote sustainability. This active participation emerging from the community highlights, with flashes of vitality, the importance of adopting a comprehensive and collective approach that integrates all stakeholders in this journey towards sustainable tourism.

The culmination of the day was drawn with Huatulco's tourism board taking the stage to unfold the meticulously designed activities for ATMEX, extending open arms to the participants from Puerto Escondido, encouraging them to join in this common cause. The atmosphere was imbued with a vibrant energy when a space for exchange was opened up at work tables, a blank canvas where both sides could draw lines of collaboration along specific thematic lines. This essential step towards long-term collaboration outlined a future where partnerships will intertwine as the foundation for a future of responsible tourism in harmony with the environment.

The fruits of these tireless efforts emerge in every corner. The persevering commitment of organizations such as Sustentur and La Mano del Mono, backed by the strong alliance with WWF Mexico in the Kuxatur project, has propelled the Oaxaca Coast firmly into a sustainable tourism destination. From the very core of the community of practice and learning, to the breadth of the best practices platform, to the pragmatism of the implementation manual and the symphony of alliances woven among diverse actors, the path to a future of responsible tourism in complete harmony with nature has been solidly forged.

Each step taken and each alliance forged weaves a fabric that, like threads of a unique weave, brings the region of Oaxaca closer to a future where its rich biodiversity and cultural essence flourish undiminished. A call resounds on the horizon, an invitation that shines in every word: join us in this initiative, woven with the hope of true and lasting change. Together, we can chart the path to sustainable tourism that treasures and preserves what makes the Oaxacan Coast an unparalleled jewel in the vast canvas of our world.