The systematic expansion of this Central American nation’s tourism industry in a way which enhances the environment while creating wealth for the poorer sectors of society is so comprehensive it will be replicated in other countries, stated the head of an international development agency.
Speaking to the Central American Conference on Sustainable Development and Tourism, Lelei LeLaulu, president of Counterpart International, said the Scientific, Academic, Volunteer and Educational (SAVE) project designed to grow tourism revenues while conserving the country’s environmental, cultural and archeological heritage also creates wealth for rural communities.
Adopted by the Honduran government as part of its national development planning, the SAVE project, asserted LeLaulu, is already being carefully studied by other countries as a way of ensuring their entry into tourism, the world’s most important industry, is done in a manner which enhances the well-being of their people and the protection of their natural resources as well as the revival of their culture.
The SAVE initiative was launched in 2004 at the Organization of American States’ Washington DC headquarters by President Ricardo Maduro of Honduras with Counterpart International, National Geographical Society and The George Washington University.
The SAVE program, designed by the Honduras Institute of Tourism under the guidance of Eva Carolina Gomez, Kenia Lima Zapata, and Minister of Tourism Thierry Pierrefeu, is one of the best designed and executed initiatives well worth replicating, LeLaulu believes.
Counterpart is working with the Honduras Tourism Ministry to implement its Coral Gardens reef regeneration program in the Bay Islands of Honduras, part of the world’s second most important reef system after the Great Barrier in Australia. It is also launching food security programs supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Counterpart is also a non governmental partner in the Mundo Maya Sustainable Tourism Project with Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador and Belize. Funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Mundo Maya project aims to use archeology of the ancient Maya as a means of improving the lives of the modern Maya communities in Central America.