Sustainability scheme highlights hotels in Northern Chile

Two forward thinking hotels become the first in the Antofagasta Region to be accredited for environmental and socio-cultural sustainability.

Today travelers and tourists of all stripes are looking for something more in their holidays and foreign getaways. While visitors as varied as the adventurous budget backpacker and the luxury-seeking honeymooner have been visiting the Antofagasta Region to marvel at the wondrous Atacama Desert and fascinating local history, today’s guests are often looking for another draw: sustainability.

And many of the region’s hoteliers and tourist operators have been quick to answer the call.

Foremost among them are Nikyasan in Antofagasta and Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Spa in San Pedro de Atacama, the first hotels in the Antofagasta Region to receive the new accreditation for Distinction in Sustainable Tourism, “Sello S.”

Awarded by Chile’s National Tourism Service (Sernatur), “Sello S” guarantees visitors a environmental, economic and socio-cultural sustainability of the highest standard.

Forty hotels across the length of Chile now boast this accreditation.

Director of Sernatur for the Antofagasta Region explained that the “Sello S” is more than recognition of hard work on the part of the recipients, it also motivates more businesses to aim for responsible sustainability across the board.

“[This accreditation] allows the recognized hotels to differentiate themselves from their competitors and guarantee visitors, principally foreigners, the promise that each business is run sustainably,” she said. “Now the other establishments have the challenge of living up to this high standard, what would be better than becoming world destination for sustainable travel?”

Álvaro Méndez, Manager of Alto Atacama Desert Lodge and Spa, said the award is a both an honor and will continue to push the hotel towards even greater sustainability.

“It was a great motivation for us to participate in the accreditation process of the ‘Sello S’ and to ultimately be the first in San Pedro de Atacama to be recognized,” he said. “We appreciate the effort of Sernatur to promote sustainable practice, something which we should certainly all pursue to ensure we can enjoy a San Pedro de Atacama known for its care of the local environment and continue to be a preferred destination for the rest of the world.”

Last month it was the turn of hotels in the far south to be commended for their sustainable practice. Among the winners were several lodges and refugios in the world-renowned Torres del Paine national park.