Businesses champion sustainability in Chilean patagonia

Three hotels awarded Seal of Sustainable Tourism for their environmentally friendly business models at the edge of the world.

In the stunning landscapes of Chilean patagonia, tourism is a flourishing industry that is welcoming visitors from around the world to experience the unmatched beauty of the area.

Thanks to the innovative work of some of the area’s hotels and lodges, that pristine land will continue to be as gorgeous as ever. In recognition of their important efforts, Chile’s tourism service (Sernatur) has granted them the “Seal of Sustainable Tourism,” highlighting their green practices that are protecting the natural beauty of Chilean Patagonia.

Ecocamp and the refugios of Fantástico Sur were awarded the seal last month at a ceremony that included members of Sernatur and local government in the Magallanes Region where both businesses are located.

Found in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park — recently voted the 8th Wonder of the World — Ecocamp combines a hotel with a glamorous camping experience, all environmentally friendly.

“There are various practices that we do at Ecocamp that are sustainable. For example, 100 percent of our electricity comes from clean energy, we recycle, among other things,” the site’s general manager Sebastián Gómez said. “We have spent 15 years in the business of travel experiences and to get this distinction is a big achievement.”

Fantástico Sur runs several lodges and refugios along various trekking routes. Its Los Cuernos and El Chileno sites along Torres del Paine’s “W” trek were recognized with the sustainability seal by Sernatur for their outstanding work to keep the area clean and as untouched as possible despite the increasing volume of hikers passing through the famous routes.

“We are very proud to be recognized by the government, it is a big job to be sustainable and to operate in the middle of a mountain range which necessitates us meeting much of our logistical energy needs with renewables, which has been our challenge during our 20 years of operation,” Josian Jacksic, general manager at Fantástico Sur, said. “However there is still much to do, we need to certify the other two refugios that we run as well.”

As the region — and Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park — become increasingly popular, the importance of sustainability has never been more important in order to preserve the natural wonder of the land that drives the industry.

The hope is that moving forward, all tourism in the area will prioritize sustainability, and travellers will make a point to choose those companies that are taking care of the environment.

“There are businesses that are making enormous efforts to do the right things, that have a commitment and ethic to do things that work with the environment and the local identity,” Max Salas, governor of the Última Esperanza Province where both Ecocamp and Fantastico Sur operate, said. “It is therefore important that the traveller becomes aware of this, and one way is through this seal which certifies companies that take on this challenge.”

As a country Chile has broadened the way it views tourism and awards those companies who are pushing the industry towards a  brighter, more sustainable and open future.

For instance, Chile’s Huilo Huilo biological reserve was recently presented with an award for responsible tourism at the 2013 World Travel Market trade fair in London.

It is thanks to these groups that Chile made the list of the top ten most ethical travel destinations for 2014.