Sustainable tourism: Quimbaya relaunches its major projects

Quimbaya Latina America is relaunching its sustainable tourism projects and returning to the Responsible Travel Awards. For Claudia Terrade, the company’s CEO, there is only one possible path: that of sustainability.

TourMaG : How is Quimbaya doing?

Claudia Terrade: The global covid-19 pandemic that hit us has forced us to reorganise and reinvent ourselves. Although this unprecedented crisis has left its mark, it has also taught us things that we need to capitalise on.

Quimbaya was built 36 years ago, year after year. After the pandemic, we had to reactivate everything at the same time.

Our presence in 11 destinations in Latin America didn’t make this restart easy. It’s not easy to reopen 11 countries simultaneously, especially as not all the destinations behaved in the same way. We have rebuilt the company around the destinations’ recovery.

As you know, in Latin America, companies didn’t receive the same support as in France, so we had to live on our own resources.

But now we’re up and running, and we’re delighted to be able to resume our major projects.

“On Costa Rica, the recovery is unimaginable”

TourMaG : Have you been able to rebuild the teams?

Claudia Terrade: Before the pandemic, Quimbaya Latin America had 160 employees. Today we have 60. We are fully staffed in Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador.

Little by little, we are rebuilding the teams as needs arise. Recruitment is complicated. In Latin America, a lot of tourism employees have changed jobs.

We’ve changed the way we recruit, looking for personalities rather than CVs. And we’ve made some great finds!

Those who have stayed in the tourism sector, who have returned to it or who are entering it are really very good professionals. We really feel that everyone has something to contribute to the company’s progress.

TourMaG : Which countries are doing well and which are finding it a little harder to get back to business as usual?

Claudia Terrade : You know, it’s travellers who ultimately dictate which countries recover more quickly than others.

In Costa Rica, the recovery is unimaginable, extraordinary. I think that the government’s promotional efforts over the last decade are really bearing fruit.

Very often when a traveller comes to Latin America for the first time, they choose Costa Rica.

Mexico, which is a major tourist destination, is also doing well. Even during the pandemic, the country experienced constant flows of tourists, particularly to the United States, and it has resumed with unimaginable strength and greater flexibility.

Another big surprise is Argentina, which is attracting travellers despite its economic difficulties.

Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia also remain pillars of our production. These destinations are safe bets. On the other hand, Peru, which was off to a very good start, has been affected by the demonstrations that took place in December 2022. Bolivia, which is often offered in combination with Peru, is also marking time.

Finally, Panama is struggling to get back on its feet, even though it is a destination on a par with Costa Rica, without the problems of stocks. Panama has many historical and natural assets, and is one of only 3 countries in the world with a “negative carbon footprint”.

“We have a history with each country”

TourMaG : Why are you supporting the Responsible Travel Awards?

Claudia Terrade : We’ve always been involved in sustainable and socially responsible tourism without realising it.

We cannot develop our activity without doing so responsibly, without benefiting the local people and the host countries. We have to make tourism in harmony with all the players in the chain.

Imagine 36 years ago. Not all countries had the means to develop this sector in the same way. Destinations had to be respected. And we did it naturally.

We hired local people, we formed partnerships with tourism schools… And today we can say that we have a history with each country.

Quimbaya Latin America supports the Responsible Travel Awards

TourMaG : When did you start formalising the actions you were taking?

Claudia Terrade : In 2018, we created a sustainable tourism and solidarity department. We took stock of the actions we were carrying out, classified them and checked their development.

We each made our own contribution, at every level of the company. The aim was to obtain a label in each country.

Then the pandemic hit, and now we’re getting back to our projects.

We are back with the Responsible Travel Awards organised by TourMaG. We are reiterating our commitment to plastic-free tourism through the REFILL NOT LANDFILL network.

Finally, we are reopening the files left in abeyance during the covid on the labelling of our offices in each destination.

We have also just joined ATR (Agir pour un Tourisme Responsable), with the Association Réceptif Leader, of which Quimbaya is a member.

In addition to responsible and sustainable tourism, there is regenerative tourism, which consists of enabling visitors to have a positive impact on the holiday destination beyond a purely economic relationship.

In our sector, not everyone plays the game and not everyone is as sincere and honest. Sustainable tourism can quickly become marketing.

But if we’re in this business, it’s because we want to build something!

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