Cruising Industry Climbs on Board Sustainable Tourism Movement
QUITO, Ecuador- The travel industry has seen an obvious trend toward eco-tourism and sustainable travel. And, as vacation season steadily approaches, tourists are beginning to think more about the environment as they plan trips around the globe. The cruising industry is one area of travel that has been slower to follow the path of “greener” good; however, leaders have recently begun to catch up by creating innovative, healthy ways to cruise the open seas.
According to carbon offsetting organization Climate Care, cruise ships emit almost twice as much carbon dioxide as airplanes. Not to mention the thousands of gallons of sewage, hazardous wastes, gray water (runoff from laundry, showers, etc.) and oily bilge water unloaded into the ocean.
One place that is host to thousands of cruising tourists each year is the island group of the Galapagos. In fact, according to ConservaciÃ³n y Desarrollo, an eco-certification organization in Ecuador, more than 60,000 tourists will visit the islands this year. To counter the pollution that occurs due to the heavy influx of travelers, Smart Voyager was created in 2000. Smart Voyager is a voluntary certification program founded by ConservaciÃ³n y Desarrollo in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance in New York City that holds cruise ships and other tour operators to high environmental and social standards. In order to be certified, tour operators have to meet a stringent list of requirements, including on-site recycling, the use of lead-free paints, alternative energy, policies that benefit local populations, sufficient employee benefits and more.
Ecuador-based tour operator, Latin Trails, is one company leading the way toward environmentally concerned cruise lines. The newest member of Latin Trails’ certified yacht fleet is Galapagos Journey I. All of Latin Trails’ ships are designed especially for small groups to offer guests more privacy and comfort, while reducing the impact on the fragile Galapagos eco-system. With Latin Trails, people can feel confident they are minimizing their footprint while visiting the intricate eco-systems and pristine wildlife of the Galapagos. They have implemented on-site recycling programs, the use of reusable water bottles, the production of purified water through osmosis desalinization units, the use of biodegradable detergents and more.
Since the inception of Smart Voyager, nine companies in the Galapagos have become certified, alongside 35 boat operators, something Latin Trails is proud to report.
“Fortunately we are not the only ones, there are several other good operators that follow good environmental standards, of course this does not make it bigger for us but it means the Galapagos in general is being taken care of,” said Latin Trails general manager Marcel Perkins.
About the Galapagos Islands
Situated on the equator some 600 miles off the coast of South America, the Galapagos Islands are a remote volcanic archipelago that remains much as it was millions of years ago. Over the course of centuries, animal and plant life from the Americas reached the islands and gradually evolved into new forms. Many of its species are found nowhere else on earth.
About Latin Trails
South American tours have been designed by Latin Trails for more than 20 years. They have developed a network of local hotels, eco-lodges and boutique accommodation options alongside community travel and sustainable tourism programs. Visit www.latintrails.com for more information. For more information on Smart Voyager visit www.ccd.org.ec. Media Contact: Jessi Stafford, firstname.lastname@example.org, 970.690.3488. Photos available. Click HERE for media kit.
Smart Voyager certification and Latin Trails: This is a commitment to protect the Islands against potential sources of pollution; rules for the good management of docks, tour boats and dinghies; specify criteria for the procurement and management of supplies; and defend against opportunities for introducing alien species.
a) Must produce fresh water through reverse osmosis desalinization units, a method that purifies water with ozone and eliminates chlorine discharge into the ocean.
b) Treatment of black and gray wastewater is done through purified ozone.
c) Bacteria based liquids are used for wastewater treatment and are poured on the holding tanks of black waters to accelerate the biodegradable process before being released into the ocean 12 miles from the coast as required by International regulations such as MARPOL and the Galapagos National Park.
d) Gray water is also disposed 12 miles from the coast, although the actual requirement is two miles.
e) Only use four stroke outboard engines on their dinghies. Four stroke engines are more ecological because they are 70 percent quieter than two-stroke engines, emit virtually no fumes and use 50 percent less fuel consumption.
f) We must use only lead-free or TBT-free paint.
g) The cooling elements used in the refrigeration and air conditioning systems on board are free of R-12 gas that could potentially escape and add to the green-house effect.
h) Only biodegradable soaps and detergents are used.
i) No varnish is applied to the exterior walkways.
j) Only yellow exterior lights can be used that do not attract insects.
k) The standards also require sanitary living conditions and a good quality of life including medical insurance and advanced training for all crew members.
l) All guides are Ecuadorian nationals; 65 percent are Galapagos residents and 25 percent are native GalapagueÃ±os.
m) Benefits offered to employees include medical insurance for the employee, their spouse and up to three children. The highest level employee that are native-born from Galapagos are the Captains. Almost 80 percent of our crew members are Galapagos residents.
n) The majority of total food supplies are purchased from local vendors in Santa Cruz Island including all fresh fish and some vegetables. Dairy products and meats are also purchased on the Island of Santa Cruz and benefit the local community. Cargo sent to the Islands is kept to a minimum and all goods are purchased locally sharing the benefit with local supermarkets as well.
o) There is a waste management system and garbage-recycling program onboard with garbage receptacles placed on all decks with separate containers for plastics, paper, glass and organic waste. Organic waste is compacted and discharged according to International regulations and National Park requirements. Inorganic sold waste is classified into paper, glass and plastic and turned into the local municipal waste service and recycling center. Amounts are registered into the log books on board.
p) During the Galapagos cruise, passengers are reminded to reduce, reuse and recycle. Use the receptacles placed on all decks with separate containers for plastics, paper, glass and organic waste.
q) Our policy is to change towels daily. However, in order to conserve energy, we only change towels that are placed on the floor.
r) Each passenger is given a reusable water bottle and fill it each day from our containers of purified water made from our reverse osmosis water maker.
s) All guests are asked to bring only biodegradable sunscreens and lotions. We supply all travelers with biodegradable soap, shampoo and conditioner.