The Guatemala Tourist Board (INGUAT) is investing in the promotion and development of the country’s community-based tourism offering through a training programme for local guides in different communities of the interior. The tourist board aims to have 200 qualified Community Guides in 10 communities by 2015.
The communities targeted include Carmelita, Cruce de dos Aguas and Uaxactun, in the northern Peten region, where guides will be trained to offer visitors a more authentic experience within the Maya Biosphere Reserve, learning about the culture, traditions, gastronomy or crafts of the local people.
This initiative will generate employment and contribute to the sustainable development of rural areas in the country.
Honduras will be the first country in Central America to install biometric security controls in its international airports. Using the latest technology, the new controls will take fingertip readings and photographs of all passengers leaving or arriving into the country by air.
The new systems will be installed at the Toncontin Airport in Tegucigalpa, Ramon Villeda Morales Airport in San Pedro Sula, Goloson Airport in La Ceiba and Juan Manuel Galvez Airport in Roatan.
Seven hospitals and medical centres in El Salvador have received the accreditation given by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAASF), bringing the total to 16 certified centres and boosting the country’s medical tourism offering.
At the same time, the Ministry of Tourism of El Salvador is targeting tour operators to help develop this sector and promote the quality of the medical services available in the country, encouraging them to feature hotels offering rehabilitation services as well as hospitals and medical centres catering for foreign visitors.
The medical tourism sector in El Salvador has grown considerably in the past year, generating US$12,145 million in revenue during the first six months of this year, 26.6.% more than last year.
Italy – 7-night trip to Puglia (Saturday 25th – Saturday 1st November)
Price: from £5,980 per person (based on two adults and two children), includes:
International return flights
Seven nights at Borgo Egnazia in Casetta Splendida, a 90-square meter, two-story villa
Private airport/hotel transfers
The Galapagos – 7-night trip (Friday 24th October – Saturday 1st November)
Price: from £3,850 per person (based on two adults and two children), includes:
International return flights on KLM
Four-night/full board cruise of the Eastern Islands on the M/V Santa Cruz in two Superior twin cabins with Darwin Elite services
Two-nights in Quito
Private airport/hotel transfers
Dinner and cookery class at Theatrum
Full day Quito city tour
Exsus also has several other half term late availability offers which are available on request, including:
USA – 5-night trip to San Diego for a family of four
Five nights for the price of four, on a bed & breakfast basis at the Hotel Del Coronado.
San Diego is a great family holiday destination. A family favourite of the Le Bons, there are a wealth of watersports for children to enjoy as well as kids camps. The added bonus of this destination are the direct international flights from Heathrow.
Kenya – Masai Mara
Three nights for the price of two at the luxury Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp.
Children will love camping in these luxury tents located in the exclusive, wildlife rich corner of the Masai Mara
Further information on late availability offers from Exsus.
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Exsus is a privately owned tour operator with over 13 years experience in arranging luxury, bespoke holidays to Australasia and the South Pacific, South America, the USA, Central America, Africa, South East Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and the Indian Ocean.
The renovations of the public areas and guestrooms in the Libertador Trujillo, one of the city’s most symbolic hotels, are complete, and its guests can now enjoy the fruits of this grand restoration work.
The hotel will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary as part of the Libertador hotel chain, and this completed work that restored traditions this city is known for and that added innovative touches is an expression of its commitment to maintaining the expected high standards of quality.
Libertador focused the improvements on expanding the reception area and lobby and on making the bar, restaurant, and terrace more distinctive and striking to increase its guests’ comfort. The Lobby expansion, furthermore, included the addition of a new Business Center to meet the needs of its business and vacation travelers.
Guestroom renovations took the form of upgrades to the beds and bedding and the installation of new, modern television sets; the final touches to the interior design to embellish and enhance our guests’ experience are still underway.
The chosen color scheme highlights the hotel’s Colonial architecture and is in keeping with a manor house from that time period, employing mosaics, heavy drapery, and other significant changes in interior décor, some very traditional like the lattice work and wrought iron lamps for which Trujillo is famous.
Flavia Montesinos, the hotel’s manager, said, “We have balanced the operational aspects that a hotel must have with its attractive visual details, all the while maintaining good taste.”
The Libertador Trujillo hotel has 73 guestrooms, and the average number of guests per year is 19,700. The nine-month long renovation period entailed an investment of $ 2 million.
Read more travel news at www.travelpulse.com
Boutique eco-resort commits to maintaining the global standard in sustainable tourism and will continue improvements for the benefit of guests, employees and the community
HOPKINS, Belize — Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort, an award-winning boutique eco-resort in Belize, recently earned a Bronze Certification from Sustainable Travel International’s Sustainable Tourism Education Program (STEP), illustrating full compliance with a set of baseline best practices aligned with global sustainable tourism criteria. Hamanasi is the first hotel in Belize to earn this esteemed certification.
The revolutionary STEP Eco-Certification Standard was one of the first standards to be formally recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. The standard includes universally accepted best practices for tourism business management and dozens of sector-specific practices. Each practice includes multiple levels of involvement, ranging from low-cost baseline criteria to resource-investment industry leader criteria.
STEP measures all aspects of sustainability for tourism businesses and serves as a practical tool for assessment, benchmarking and education. Companies enrolled in the STEP program are required to assess the impact of their business practices and continue to thoughtfully integrate sustainable practices into future operations.
“Hamanasi is illustrating leadership in sustainable tourism by committing to the certification process,” said Robert Chappell, Senior Director of Standards & Monitoring at Sustainable Tourism International. “It is a rigorous undertaking and by completing this process, it shows they’re committed to having their work generate positive impact on the people and places where they’re located.”
The bronze level is the first step in the certification process, laying the foundation for future sustainability initiatives. One of the primary focuses of the program is to demonstrate continuous improvement over time. These improvements can have a profound effect on habitat preservation, cultural heritage protection and area economic systems.
“Reducing our carbon footprint, educating others and engaging in community projects are energizing, on-going commitments. These include expanding our organic garden, enhancing our Green Team’s outreach initiatives and transitioning to more eco-friendly infrastructure. We see being a sustainable resort as a continuous journey with and for the benefit of our employees, guests and community,” said Dana Krauskopf, co-founder and owner of Hamanasi.
Within 12 months of receiving the bronze level certification, businesses are encouraged to setup an on-site assessment of best practices from an independent, third party auditor. Common Accommodations best practices involve facility management, safety, employee training, guest rooms, public areas, and kitchen operations.
To find out more about the STEP Standard, visit www.sustainabletravel.org. To find out more about Hamanasi’s commitment to sustainability and to book your stay at the No. 1 Small Hotel in Central America, visit www.hamanasi.com or call 877-552-3483.
About Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort:
Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort is nestled between sandy beaches and lush rainforest on Belize’s central coast. The boutique resort embodies casual elegance with displays of Belizean hardwood furniture, locally crafted art, fresh Caribbean fusion cuisine, and a warm, welcoming staff. Customer service is a high priority at Hamanasi; employees undergo an extensive training program and share a true sense of pride and ownership in the resort.
About Sustainable Travel International:
Sustainable Travel International is the world’s leading organization that is harnessing the power of travel and tourism as a force for good. We help communities, businesses and governments build a better future for themselves and their environments through travel and tourism. Our vision has always been to harness the power of travel and tourism as a force for good. Since our creation, we have dedicated ourselves to understanding the complexities of travel and tourism around the world and spent more than 10 years developing tools and partnerships that deliver on such ambitious goals. Today, in response to urgent threats facing our planet, we are convening leading travel corporations and tourism destinations to scale-up our solutions in order to improve the lives of at least 10 million people over the next decade. Collectively, we are redefining global travel and tourism as a force for good.
CRUISE specialist ecruising.travel has just released a new 34-night cruise tour package for 2015 which takes in Alaska, North America and the Panama Canal with introductory discounted prices of up to 40 per cent, when you book by December 15.
The deal is great value as it includes return air fares, 29 nights aboard the Norwegian Sun, three nights at the Hilton Clearwater Beach Hotel in Tampa, Florida and two nights at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel.
The new price starts from $6489 for Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane passengers, from $6739 from Adelaide and from $6859 from Perth and also includes all meals and entertainment on the ship, and all port and air taxes.
After your stay in Tampa, the Norwegian Sun departs on April 19, 2015 for a stop in Colombia before passing through the Panama Canal to Costa Rica. It then makes three port calls in Mexico and calls on Los Angeles and San Francisco on the way to Canada.
The ship then spends several days cruising the waters of Alaska including the Inside passage and Sitka, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan before returning to Vancouver.
For more details contact ecruising.travel on 1300 369 848 or check-out www.ecruising.travel.
The $20 million development is located on the protected deep-water Bay of Trujillo, “one of the finest harbors in the Caribbean, if not the finest,” said Michael Greve, president of Miami-based Global Destination Development, which is a partner in the project.
Eight ships have scheduled 29 calls at Banana Coast during the 2014-15 winter season. In addition to Norwegian Cruise Line, other companies with plans to visit include Holland America Line, Silversea Cruises, Oceania Cruises and P&O Cruises.
Although a ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for Oct. 15, the Norwegian Jewel is not the very first ship to call at Banana Coast. That honor went to the Travel Dynamics International’s 130-passenger Yorktown, which visited on Feb. 10. But the 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel is the first mega-ship to call at the new cruise facility.
“We finished construction this past spring after a couple of years,” Greve said. “Tenants are still moving in, and that will continue as we build up our business. Tours are fully developed at this point.”
The 10-acre waterfront facility now has a beach and about 20,000 square feet of retail, including a jade museum and jewelry store, CocoLoco’s organic frozen coconuts, duty-free liquor and gift shop, and kiosks offering refreshments and souvenirs crafted by local artisans. The shopping area can build out to 50,000 square feet over time, Greve said. There isn’t a restaurant at this time, but several are within walking distance just outside the Banana Coast welcome center.
Arriving cruise passengers will be welcomed by local Garifuna performers — who play a unique Central American style of music, including Punta — and dancers in colorful attire. Signage will be in English and Spanish, and translators will be on hand at the port.
Banana Coast Tours offers 15 shore excursions that include active, adventurous activities as well as tours on trams. Among the excursions are a snorkeling trip to a bay populated by starfish, kayaking in a bio-diverse lagoon, a hike to cascading pools of water, an ATV tour through the jungle, horseback riding, hikes through the Campo del Mar nature parks, and tram rides through the historic city of Trujillo.
“Our dedicated cruise center is adjacent to the colonial town of 30,000 people, which offers a plethora of options,” Greve said. “There are all kinds of walking activities very close to the port, which is one of the highlights of Banana Coast. Trujillo was established in 1525, so it’s a really quaint Spanish colonial town. It’s less than a five-minute walk away.”
Christopher Columbus landed in Trujillo in 1502 during his final voyage to the New World. Among the attractions in Trujillo are the 17th century Santa Bárbara Fort, a traditional Spanish plaza, and 19th century San Juan Baptista Church. Historic British, French, and U.S. consulates also are within walking distance.
Banana Coast is about 32 miles south of Roatán, an island that is home to Carnival Corp.’s Mahogany Bay Cruise Center and the facility at Coxen Hole partially owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. But as those facilities have grown in popularity on the Western Caribbean circuit, it sometimes gets crowded.
“They can become quite full on middle days of the week in high season, which is part of the reason some of the lines are interested in our port,” Greve said.
Although there are plans to build a pier, Banana Coast now will operate as a tender port. Ships will use their own tenders to bring passengers about 550 yards to the cruise center. “The water is so calm in that bay, we really don’t foresee that to be a major issue for the guests,” Greve said. “We have plans for a dock but it depends on the growth and the feedback we get from the cruise lines.”
Global Destination Development is building Banana Coast with Grand Trujillo Authority, a partnership that includes Life Vision Properties and the municipality of Trujillo.
Read more travel news at www.travelpulse.com
HOPKINS, BELIZE – Hopkins is one of the few remaining Garifuna villages in the world and, like others in Belize, is struggling to preserve their endangered customs. A community-wide effort has ensued to uphold and share the Afro-Amerindian traditions with those who visit their district. Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort remains a defender of this disappearing culture; this award-winning eco-resort educates guests about Garifuna heritage and encourages travelers to take part in cultural festivities throughout the year.
The Garifuna people, also known as Garinagu, are an Afro-Caribbean culture created out of slave-driven and war-driven migrations from Nigeria to St. Vincent to Honduras and up the coast of Central America, including Belize. Through the admixture of these peoples as well as the influence of European settlers in the Americas, the Garifuna became a diverse culture incorporating African music, dance, rituals and ceremonies; Native American agriculture, hunting and fishing techniques; and an Arawak, Carib and French influenced language. UNESCO recognized the Garifuna Culture as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible cultural heritage of humanity, meaning this important culture should be preserved, promoted and celebrated.
At Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort guests can experience fresh, local Garifuna cuisine created by the resort’s award-winning culinary masters. Cassava, fresh coconut milk, plantains, local herbs from Hamanasi’s organic garden and freshly caught fish are just a handful of the ingredients used in Garifuna fare. Enjoy reading common Garifuna, Creole and Mayan phrases on the menu while waiting for your savory meal.
Hamanasi also offers a Hopkins Bicycle Tour, where a local guide leads guests through the village showing them cultural highlights, like the village drum marker, Rudy Coleman (father of a Hamanasi cook), and the Lebeha Drumming Center. The drumming center keeps Garifuna music alive by providing lessons to young people and offering weekly dancing and drumming performances for locals and guests. Visitors can even learn to play during one-on-one and small group lessons right on the beach. Hear the rhythmic African drumbeats, watch the dancers pulsate their hips and feel the spirits of Garifuna ancestors all around.
On November 19, Garinagu Settlement Day, the Garinagu present a reenactment of their forefathers’ arrival to Belize. Villagers awake at daybreak, don traditional clothing, then jump into boats and make their way along the shoreline. The boisterous crew stops at local sites, blowing conch shells to herald their arrival at each beach, then march along the sand while beating drums, shaking sisera, singing and dancing. Hamanasi Resort guests greet the Garinagu with local rum and cassava bread while dancing along. Resort employees – more than 50 percent of whom are Garifuna – also participate and wear traditional garb throughout the day. After these festivities, a mass is held in the village church to solemnly honor the ancestors who arrived from Honduras. The day also features a parade, drumming and dancing competitions, traditional food entrees and plenty of rum. In the evening, Hamanasi invites a local group to perform traditional drumming and dancing, offering guests the chance to, once again, enjoy and participate in the celebration.
Hamanasi supports the Garifuna year-round, providing jobs to locals, bringing in groups for performances as well as donating to many causes and organizations with the help of the Hamanasi Green Team. The resort is committed to supporting the community and giving them the means to preserve their unique traditions and share their culture with people from all over the world.
A 10-day Tropical Birding Expedition, Nov. 10 – 20, 2014
San Jose, Costa Rica – For those who you like to see, hear or track tropical bird species or assist conservation efforts to the 870 bird species that call Costa Rica home, the Cayuga Collection has partnered with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to offer a 10-day Tropical Birding Expedition (Nov. 10 – 20, 2014).
Cayuga’s Tropical Birding Expedition will guide guests through some of the most diverse and plentiful bird habitats in the Costa Rica, while providing avid birders the opportunity to enjoy eco-luxury amenities at a variety of award winning, sustainable properties. Additionally, guests will experience both primary and re-generating rainforests and a coffee plantation, many differing ecosystems hosting a myriad of Central American species. As a bonus, North American migrants will have arrived, better informing the need for neo-tropical forest conservation.
Included in the expedition are visits to Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation Resort near San Jose, Arenas Del Mar Beachfront & Rainforest Resort in Manuel Antonio, and the famed Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the southern tip of the Osa Peninsula. Guests have the opportunity to sign up for the full 10-day tour, or arrange schedules to join the avitourism activities at any of these properties. When signing up for any of the Cayuga’s Tropical Birding Expedition, there is a 35 per cent reduced room cost at each participating property.
Properties offer a wide range of bird species, including the scarlet macaw, laughing falcon, dozens of tanagers, toucans, and colourful hummingbird species. To help maintain the natural habitats and migration of these birds, each of the Cayuga Collection properties have taken steps to enhance conservation efforts. At Finca Rosa Blanca, the tree-shaded organic coffee plantation is a natural draw for birds seeking insects, fruit and shelter. Thanks to the many native trees planted on site, the shade trees in turn provide nutrients and nitrogen to the coffee plants. Arenas Del Mar uses only native plant species throughout the property to attract bird life found in the Central Pacific zone including the common black hawks, trogons and toucan varieties. John and Karen Lewis, the visionary founders of Lapa Rios Ecolodge and Reserve, signed a conservation easement benefiting permanent biodiversity protection to more than 900 acres of tropical rainforest. In addition to almost all Costa Rican animal species, reptiles, amphibians, etc., more than 360 bird species have been recorded. For a bird list, visit http://www.laparios.com/birders_paradise.html
Awaken each morning to the bird chorus then join the pre-breakfast early bird walks, which provide the best chance to see multiple foraging species. Participate in afternoon or evening bird hikes, and seminars on birding conservation with an overview of the work being done by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. A full schedule of daily activities is available by contacting email@example.com
Joining from Cornell will be husband-and-wife team Ben Freeman and Alexa Class Freeman. Having worked as a bird guide and researcher throughout Central America, Ben is now studying and conducting research for his dissertation for Cornell on tropical bird evolutionary ecology. Alexa is currently a post-doctoral researcher, where she works to educate the public about the conservation of biology of birds. Previously, Alexa worked several years in tropical countries including Costa Rica, Ecuador (where she completed her dissertation research), and Papua New Guinea, studying birds and helping with conservation efforts.
With one fifth of Americans identifying as birdwatchers, avitourism is a growing industry, contributing more than $36B to the US economy, according to a US Fish & Wildlife Service study, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society developed eBird.org in 2002, which serves as an online checklist program, helping to revolutionize the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. With a goal to maximize the utility and accessibility of bird observations, those participating in the Tropical Birding Expedition will have the opportunity to participate in the program, helping to catalogue observations in each of the Cayuga Collection property locations.
For more information on the Tropical Birding Expedition, visit www.cayugaonline.com
About Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality
Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality develops and manages hotels, lodges and other tourism related projects in Central America commit to the four Ps of sustainability – people, planet, profit and place. It offers solutions and expertise to tourism operators looking to enhance their performance in an environmentally, socially responsible manner. Cayuga provides expert responsible travel advice, including full itinerary suggestions for families, adventurers and honeymooners. For more information, visit www.cayugaonline.com
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