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Case Study: Sustainable Development


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Third Pioneer Project: Environmental referral group system - "RHS EcoFriendly Hotels of Bolivia"

I. Objectives of the third project toward "Sustainable Tourism Development"

A) General Objectives:

1) To contribute toward the Conservation of the Environment, Natural and Cultural Resources.

2) To raise "Environmental Consciousness" and practice "Social Responsibility within and outside the hotel, with the participation of all parties involved: Owner, architects, scientists, staff, suppliers, related professionals, students and hotel guests among others.

3) To promote Bolivia as an "Ethno (*) and Eco-Tourism Destination" locally and internationally.

3.1*) The combined Ethno and Eco Tourism concept emphasizes on the exiting 32 ethnic groups in Bolivia - the greatest ethnic groups in The Americas: Which deserve the greatest respect "of not changing their cultural and heritage values". The heritage values of most tourism destinations around the world, tend to change: Bolivia, some of the Andean countries and Mexico, among others, do preserve greatly their heritage, this gives these destinations an advantage over the countries which do not preserve their heritage values. In 1994, Rues recommended strongly to the Secretary of Tourism to use with great pride the term of "Ethno and Eco Tourism."

4) To implement the guide lines of RHSs textbook (operational manual and criteria ) "Eco Hotel Management - Environmental Consciousness in Hotel Administration" through the efficient consumption of: Water, Energy and Waste based on the Rs principle: Reducing, Reusing and Recycling.

5) To implement and develop RHSs "Eco Marketing Strategies" focused toward: "The promotion, awareness and conservation of natural and cultural resources and destinations; avoiding the destruction of the natural areas and the change of Communitys Heritage Values." (Eberhardt H.. Rues) coupled with the "referral group joint effort marketing strategies."

6) To take part in the "Participative and Visionary Planning and Development Process" of Eco Tourism and Eco Education in order to raise consciousness and to participate in environmental problem solving strategies within all concerned sectors; government, communities, scientists, private enterprises, educational institutes, international organizations and the media among others.

II. Benefits of the third project toward "Sustainable Tourism Development"

1) The initial benefits (during the first phase of development 2 years, in 1995 - 1996) from the RHS Eco Friendly Hotel members side, were their great "Enthusiasm, Commitment, and Civic Involvement" in the complex tasks toward: Preservation, Education and Sustainable Tourism Development.

2) Environmental Consciousness Raising toward integrated Hotel Management and Marketing Systems.

Each member hotel received a guide book "Eco Hotel Management" which serves both, criteria setting of environmental standards and as operational manual. The member hotels participated in the following:

Continuous education seminars and action workshops on "Eco Hotel Management and Marketing" once a year.

Each member hotel is visited ( on site inspection, once a year) by RHS Environmental Hotel Consultants; their tasks are the assessment and identification of any mayor environmental problem, evaluating the improvements of environmental practices, as well training and monitoring.

2.1*) The criteria of environmental standards had to be very flexible, because each hotel/lodge is of a different size, category and age.  A standard form of basic and minimum criteria had to be accomplished. The RHS criteria emphasizes the triangle system: Overall good practices of all three primary objectives combined: Conservation, Education and Sustainable Development.  Each member hotel/lodge is rechecked within a two year period.  If a hotel fails with its implementation it will be taken out of the system.

3) Foundation of "Eco Tourism Society of Bolivia" (ETSB)

The "Asociacion Boliviana de Eco Turismo" (ABET) was founded by four Eco Friendly Hotel Members (*) in April 1995 and officially installed in April 1996.

ETSB primary objectives are: Coordination, training and recommendation within the overall Eco Tourism Education and Development process in Bolivia and the participating sectors: Government, private enterprises, scientists, educational institutions, and international organizations.

ETSB organized and held: Action work shops with the Ethnic groups. With the first course for "Eco Tourism Tour Guides" (course was cosponsored by UNEP) in 1996.

(3.1*) ETSB co-founders were, Jazmin Miranda, Hostal Caturra Inn. Claudio Vera, Hotels Rosarios. Walter Schmid, Hotel Oberland. And Eberhardt H. Rues.

4) Coordination and participation of the "First Forum on Eco Tourism - Latin America and Europe" held in La Paz, November 20 - 24, 1995, at the Radisson Plaza, La Paz.

The forum was co-sponsored by the European Commission, Alinvest and Chamber of Commerce of Bolivia. The local organizing committee was formed by six RHS Eco Hotel members, the coordination committees of Chamber of Commerce of Madrid and the Ministry of Tourism of Bolivia.

The Forum was conceptualized* around 4 topics:

Business Round Tables.


Bolivian Art and Craft Exhibition.

Nature and Heritage Tours for 20 invited European Eco Tourism Tours Operators. 400 professionals and students attended this event. This historic event, was the first launch to promote Bolivia?s nature and heritage values on the "International Market Scenario".

(4.1*) The conceptualization of the Eco Tourism was designed and implemented by Eberhardt H. Rues, who also was the principal coordinator and technical advisor of the event. Rues was General Manager of the Radisson Plaza, La Paz, in 1994 - 1996.

5) Setting good examples:

The active involvement in educational activities and good environmental practices within the RHS Eco Friendly Hotels, also set "Good Examples" for other hotels in Bolivia. The Bolivian Hotel Association, promoted the guide book "Eco Hotel Management" through all their affiliated hotels. This chain reaction, considering the short period of development - 2 years - has been satisfactory for the industry at large, all parties involved as well for the image of Bolivia as an emerging Ethno and Tourism Destination.

6) Making the referral system accessible to all sizes of environmental friendly hotels and lodges:

The owners of smaller lodges especially in remote areas, like the historic "Rubber King Residence"(in the 1920's) in the Bolivian Amazon, now the "Hotel Esperanza" of 8 rooms in Cachuela de Esperanza, near the Brazilian border town of Guayraramerin, 700 km distance of the Capital of Bolivia La Paz, benefitted most of joining the referral group system. For two main reasons:

First, the hotels/lodges have direct contact to the communities and indigenous groups. And participate in joint promotion and development of new "Eco Tourism Projects" for example in the Samaimpata area, near Santa Cruz. RHSs smallest lodge member "Cabanas Traudi" of 3 lodges total 7 rooms: the owner Traudi de Arce, is the manager of the "Archeological Ruins of Samaipata", in 1996 became a UNESO historical site. She also participates and coordinates other nature oriented projects in the area; up to this date, September 2002.

Second, the hotels/lodges got familiarized with integrated hotel management systems of international standards; which normally most of the smaller lodgings facilities in Latin America, have not access to.

The RHS referral group system accepts lodges/hotels starting with 5 rooms; as long they comply with the set triangle system standards within the respective category.

Eberhardt H. Rues - Founder and President
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