Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?
We have only been open for two years and do not have much measurable data, but we hope that we are having a positive impact on the region surrounding us. By bringing guests to the region, we are creating an economic incentive to preserve Mayan and Garifuna culture, as well as (we hope) a sense of regional pride as the visitors are eager to learn about the traditions, crafts, music, language, etc. of this area. By bringing guests to seldom-visited national parks (Rio Blanco only received 100 official visitors in 2008!) we are showing the government that it is important to preserve these places. And by taking careful steps at the lodge to minimize our environmental impact, we hope we are showing our staff alternative ways to develop a business. For example, our gardener, who has been trained by Sustainable Harvest International, recently brought us over to his home to see the new organic vegetable garden that he is planting, based on the knowledge he's acquired working with us.