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Right Whale Route: Responsible and Sustainable Tourism

“Right Whale Route – RWR”: The idea is to strengthen the high quality tourist seacoast circuit as an instrument for a comprehensive administration and sustainable development of local communes.
The goal is to reach the comprehensive and ecosystemic conservation, where the right whale is used as a flagship species because of its power for social mobilization to attract visitors during low season. It’s also a goal to develop responsible and sustainable tourism by extending it to the whole Reserva de Biósfera Bañados del Este (MAB – UNESCO). In this way it’s exalted the landscape, biological, and historical-cultural diversity; it is taken advantage of idle infrastructures, and it’s given working opportunities to seacoast towns. The process has three phases: participation in course-workshop, written commitment and implementation of Good Environmental Practices – GEP. It’s hoped to revert massive summer tourism in our coast, the growth of seaside resorts and productive activities that affect these fragile areas through a sustainable productive alternative from the economic, social-cultural and environmental point of view.

Your idea

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State/Province

Postal/Zip Code

Country

Uruguay

Year innovation began

2002

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Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourism management and impact on the destination

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Conservation/Preservation organization

Plot your innovation within the Mosaic of Solutions

Main barrier addressed

Lack of local input

Main insight addressed

Develop community assets

Geographic location

Name Your Project

Right Whale Route: Responsible and Sustainable Tourism

Describe Your Idea

“Right Whale Route – RWR”: The idea is to strengthen the high quality tourist seacoast circuit as an instrument for a comprehensive administration and sustainable development of local communes.
The goal is to reach the comprehensive and ecosystemic conservation, where the right whale is used as a flagship species because of its power for social mobilization to attract visitors during low season. It’s also a goal to develop responsible and sustainable tourism by extending it to the whole Reserva de Biósfera Bañados del Este (MAB – UNESCO). In this way it’s exalted the landscape, biological, and historical-cultural diversity; it is taken advantage of idle infrastructures, and it’s given working opportunities to seacoast towns. The process has three phases: participation in course-workshop, written commitment and implementation of Good Environmental Practices – GEP. It’s hoped to revert massive summer tourism in our coast, the growth of seaside resorts and productive activities that affect these fragile areas through a sustainable productive alternative from the economic, social-cultural and environmental point of view.

Innovation

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What is the goal of your innovation?

The idea is to strengthen the high quality tourist seacoast circuit of the “Right Whale Route – RWR” as an instrument for a comprehensive administration and sustainable development of local communes.

How does your approach support or embody geotourism?

The goal is to reach the comprehensive and ecosystemic conservation, where the right whale is used as a flagship species because of its power for social mobilization to attract visitors during low season. It’s also a goal to develop responsible and sustainable tourism by extending it to the whole Reserva de Biósfera Bañados del Este (MAB – UNESCO). In this way it’s exalted the landscape, biological, and historical-cultural diversity; it is taken advantage of idle infrastructures, and it’s given working opportunities to seacoast towns. Many of them, as the famous Punta del Este, were born because of their sea resources (whale and sea lion hunting) and their histories are almost unknown (in the Gorriti island was established the biggest whale factory in the region during the 18th Century). The whale is also an “umbrella” species to carry out educational and conservational programs about other sea species less known (birds, turtles, sea lions, etc.). Many organizations promote the cultural celebrations of the “Seventh Whale Week” (exhibitions, plays, concerts, contests) and allegoric parades that commemorate the declaration of the Right Whale National Day.

Describe your approach in detail. How is it innovative?

Whales promote an approach to the sea, to its biological and cultural diversity, and to issues related to seacoast conservation. The tourist sustainable product RIGHT WHALE ROUTE and its conceptual basis –established in an agreement signed between government, companies and the OCC–, its working plan of social nets, and the participative qualification and active incorporation of local communities are innovative aspects in themselves. The process to the qualification and integration associated to the RWR product has three phases: participation in the training workshop, written commitment (agreement to the TRAC –Turismo Responsable de Avistaje de Cetáceos), and gradual implementation of the Good Environmental Practices.

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

It has been essential to join other actors the concretion of the Agreement for the Development of Responsible and Sustainable Tourism with emphasis on whales watching. The business and marketing program is essential for the implementation of the certification plan during the initial, the operative and consolidating phases. To ensure success, many tourism organizations (public and private) and the CSOs are joining for the application of the certification to guarantee credibility and effective implementation of good environmental, social, and economic practices. Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Tourism should promote (in Europe, for example) this product and to do so it is necessary to train public staff.

Impact

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In one sentence describe what kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

To promote the development, seacoast conservation and improvement of the life quality in seacoast communes.

Describe the degree of success of your approach to date. Clearly define how you measure quantitative and qualitative impact in terms of how your approach contributes to the sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How does your approach minimize negative impacts? 200 words or less

These are some quantitative and qualitative aspects obtained with this model, including educational, national and international environmental politics aspects:
• Education and environmental awareness in seacoast schools: more than 5,000 children, including parents, teachers and headmasters.
• To capture strong interest at local and national government level: 5 ministerial declarations of interest.
• Incorporation of the Right Whale as part of the own identity of the seacoast communities.
• First Workshop of Responsible Tourism of Cetacean Watching (2003, Maldonado) with the participation of specialists from Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay.
• 6 celebrations of the “Whale Week” and allegoric parades in the seacoast communities (more than 8,000 people) and the parliamentarian declaration of the Right Whale National Day (first Friday of October).
• Participation as a CSO in the Environmental Working Sub-Group – SGT6 MERCOSUR, 2000, 2004, 2007, obtaining the consideration of the proposal of MERCOSUR SANCTURAY for Cetaceans.
• Decree 261/02 that regulates on board cetacean watching in Uruguay (distances and procedures) and demands mandatory training courses.
• Campaign for the return of Uruguay to the International Whale Commission since 2003 (10,000 citizens’ signatures). It was achieved in November 2007 and it had a worldwide repercussion. Uruguay will be present in the 60th IWC in Chile.
• To capture the presence of the actress Natalia Oreiro, invited by the OCC as campaign sponsor (with the support of Greenpeace International). Repercussion of the national and international media.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

It is stimulated that the key actors of tourism (CSOs, private sector, tourists, tourism students, guides) execute good practices and behavior codes (efficient use of resources), including aspects of social and economic responsibility. On the other hand, the guides of the RWR are always locals, volunteers or paid. They have a very good training and good knowledge of the place from different points of view (ecosystemic and comprehensive focus). In the same manner, the RWR includes in its circuit entrepreneurships where people are strongly linked with the visitors through organized discussions, alternatives excursions and services according to responsible tourism.

Describe how your innovation helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area’s cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues. How do you motivate them to act responsibly in their future travel decisions?

This touristic product RWR is being established outside the season (when the right whale appears), when the town people are receptive and eager of tourists and the seacoast area is more representative in its nature. This sustainable tourism approach promotes the implementation of protected sea areas and coincides with the celebration of the Right Whale Week and the allegoric parades during the Right Whale National Day. The businessman that follows the Good Environmental Practices – GEP receives the distinctive qualification stamp “Right Whale Route”. In this way, the visitor comes along to this qualified places, deepens its environmental education so he/she can transfer it to its everyday life.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your innovation, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

Inside workshops it’s built a participative process (business – civil society – state tripod) as a net of committed key actors on environmental administration, which is essential for the high quality product of Right Whale Route – RWR. There are facilities and financing for the improvement of infrastructures and appropriate technologies (renewable energy), taxes reduction and facilities to obtain ecologic and biotechnologic products. The definitive integration of each company/organization is formalized once it’s defined the grade of capacity to apply the Good Environmental Practices that include the incorporation of at least 35 strategies of the Good Practices Manual (water, energy, residues, etc.) revised and updated once a year.

This Entry is about (Issues)

Sustainability

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Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? What is the potential demand for your innovation?

It’s sustainable in a long-term. However in its initial and operative phases (between 3 and 5 years) needs external financing (loans or donations). It’s foreseen that this income gradually constitute just a minimum percentage to be substituted by membership fees charged for the certification, audits, additional services (technical assistance, courses, workshops, consulting) and other products (sale of environmental products to improve the sustainability, eco-shops, etc.). Tourists recognize that certification means that regulations and procedures that ensure a minimum impact are applied, which increases the benefits for the local economy and culture.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

Local municipalities and Departments (Maldonado and Rocha), Promotion Leagues (Punta del Este and La Paloma), private companies, local and national media, and public and private schools collaborate in many ways. In the same way the government has contributed with brochures, season launches and the RWR. The General Army Command through the Naval Command offers support with ships. The International Fund for Animal Welfare – IFAW (2002-2006, USD 46,000); AVINA Foundation (2005-2008, USD 25,000); PADI Foundation (2004, USD 2,500); Rufford (2007-2008, USD 9,500) and the Small Donations Program SDP of the UNDP (GEF), USD 15,000. The director of the OCC is in charge of all administration matters and the only one full-time paid. We count with professionals on communication, graphic design, biology, sociology, environmental law, accountancy, assistance, and systems. Most of them are volunteers and in some cases they are hired and they are part-time paid.

What is your plan to expand your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

As a marketing strategy it’s foreseen a personalized promotion in European countries with collaboration of Embassies and Consulates. The media offers permanent services. The communication plan of the OCC includes electronic newsletters, dispatches, and websites (www.ballenafranca.org, www.occ.org.uy). At a regional level and as an Ashoka fellow and member of AVINA and secretary of RED CETACEOS, I participate in many events of regional nets (Chile, Argentina, and Brazil) and international too (Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru).

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

The barriers are the technical capacity of permanent staff in different areas for the execution of the business plan and environmental management. In the same manner, the improvement of the infrastructures that we have and means of transportation that ensure permanent connection for monitoring, audits and workshops. Other barrier is the lack of common vision and capacity for interorganizational work in the public and private sector. A comprehensive administration has been difficult to perform in same cases because of personal interests that must not prevail over general interests. This is a challenge that was not reach that include environmental, social-cultural, scientific, politic, and economic aspects for the productive development of our seacoast areas. That’s why new paradigms and sustainable development politics are necessary. It’s imperative to demonstrate with facts that this comprehensive productive model improves the life’s quality of the ocean communities and increases working opportunities in a long-term. Another cultural barrier is the right appreciation of the potential and services that Uruguay has (landscape, biological and historic-cultural diversity). We can have an idea of the grade of immaturity on environmental politics when we say that Uruguay is the last South American country to regulate a National Protected Areas System (without any area established yet). The traditional culture of “beach and sun” has concentrated holidays in short terms during the summer which privilege the personal enjoyment.

The Story

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Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

See previous answer.

What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.

Our goal is to reach the ecosystemic and comprehensive conservation in the seacoast region, using the right whale as a flagship species. The whale is also an “umbrella” species ideal to carry out programs to educate and aware people about conservation of the sea environment (there are many threaten species). It was necessary to promote, local and nationally, managements for the conservation of whales and their habitat. It was necessary to find more effective tools in mid-term for conservation. In 2002 I suggested the implementation of the circuit called RIGHT WHALE ROUTE by the construction of 9 watching platforms that made the areas more important and promote birds and cetaceans watching the whole year. This generated a local reference space and a novelty for the summer tourist. In an avant-garde level, it was established the decree 261/02 which regulate the on board watching that established distances, speed and number of ships and a mandatory training course for captains. The return of Uruguay to the International Whale Commission had an impact in Latin America that highly promotes a position as country in favor of the conservation and no-lethal use of cetaceans. All conditions were given to give one more step with precedents: to sign an “Organizational Agreement to Promote Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Development with Emphasis on Cetacean Watching” as a state politic. The present initiative is framed among the actions that the “Latin American Net for Cetacean Conservation with Emphasis in Seacoast Protected Areas” promotes. Mabel Augustowski (CEMAR, Brazil) is in charge of the general coordination of the net and Rodrigo García (OCC, Uruguay), member of AVINA Montevideo and referent of the present initiative, is the Executive Secretary. The goals of the Net include actions for cetaceans’ conservation in Latin America and the support for the creation and administration of protected areas and the promotion of no-lethal use of cetaceans. The coordinator group unit of the net is formed by partners in Brazil and Uruguay and it’s foreseen to include Argentina, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Costa Rica.

Please write an overview of your project. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the Google map located on the competition homepage.

“Right Whale Route – RWR”: The idea is to strengthen the high quality tourist seacoast circuit as an instrument for a comprehensive administration and sustainable development of local communes.
The goal is to reach the comprehensive and ecosystemic conservation, where the right whale is used as a flagship species because of its power for social mobilization to attract visitors during low season. It’s also a goal to develop responsible and sustainable tourism by extending it to the whole Reserva de Biósfera Bañados del Este (MAB – UNESCO). In this way it’s exalted the landscape, biological, and historical-cultural diversity; it is taken advantage of idle infrastructures, and it’s given working opportunities to seacoast towns. The process has three phases: participation in course-workshop, written commitment and implementation of Good Environmental Practices – GEP. It’s hoped to revert massive summer tourism in our coast, the growth of seaside resorts and productive activities that affect these fragile areas through a sustainable productive alternative from the economic, social-cultural and environmental point of view.

326 weeks ago Paul Liebner said: Since 2001, the OCC's historic work to promote the southern right whale in coastal communites in Uruguay laid the important groundwork ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
331 weeks ago elsa cabrera said: Como organización chilena dedicada a la conservación de los cetáceos, hemos tenido el privilegio de concocer el trabajo realizado por la ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
332 weeks ago flipper flipper said: La puerta perfecta hacia un mundo de maravillas, un pasaje para descubrir la hospitalidad de su gente su cultura, costumbres y ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
333 weeks ago Jessica D´Imperio said: Hola!!! Como voluntaria de la ORG. para la conservación de cetáceos estoy muy orgullosa de nuestro trabajo y súper contenta por los ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
333 weeks ago Fabián Palmero said: Mi apoyo total a este proyecto que esta llevando adelante la OCC ya que es un gran esfuerzo de personas concientizadas de la importancia ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
334 weeks ago esthela noya said: apuesto a este proyecto ya que genera la fuente de trabajo, ayuda a preservar el ambiente costero... y preservamos un patrimonio ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >
334 weeks ago Carole Carlson said: Since OCC's community-based work began in Uruguay, public perception and interest in whales and marine conservation has soared. On a ... about this Competition Entry. - read more >