Ever wondered what happens when a renowned tourism company and hotel group joins forces with an impact-driven nonprofit? Well, it’s like a ripple effect of positive impact that transforms lives in meaningful and empowering ways and fuels a brighter future for both people and the planet.
Planeterra & Iberostar: Bold Goals for a Brighter Future
The Iberostar Group is a globally recognized company with a rich history in tourism spanning over 65 years. At the core of its operations is Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, a distinguished brand offering over 100 4- and 5-star hotels across 16 countries. Setting the standard for responsible tourism, the Iberostar Group has gained global recognition for its commitment to people and the environment, placing the well-being of both at the forefront of its operations.
In line with that commitment, Iberostar, through the Iberostar Foundation, began working with Planeterra to find ways to support the social and economic development of the communities where Iberostar’s hotels are located.
With Planeterra’s expertise in using tourism to uplift communities and Iberostar’s vision to promote responsible tourism and community well-being at every step of their endevours, the two organizations have embarked on a partnership to foster community tourism initiatives at destinations where Iberostar is present.
The result? Boosting the social and economic development of the local communities while protecting their ecosystems. With the ambitious goals to impact more than 955,000 travelers, involve 35 communities, and improve over 13,000 lives through 36 projects, this partnership is a game-changer for the tourism industry!
How does it work?
Planeterra works to identify and support communities near Iberostar’s properties to help them get started and/or develop their enterprises. This includes providing them with resources, training, and oftentimes, seed grants, which will allow them to create tourism experiences that can be integrated into the hotel’s offering. Guests can immerse themselves in these experiences both on and off the Iberostar properties.
By incorporating these locally-owned enterprises into the Iberostar value chain, communities have direct and indirect access to the benefits of tourism, opening doors to a thriving market.
On the other hand, Iberostar’s customers are able to not only experience meaningful encounters with local communities, but they can witness firsthand the transformation that the hotel chain brings to communities and ensure that their stay is becoming a catalyst for economic, social, and environmental development in the destination. In this, both locals and travellers benefit from tourism.
The first phase of the project
During the first phase of the project, Planeterra and Iberostar worked with three communities in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Let’s take a closer look:
The first project was launched in Mexico. It takes place in the beautiful area of Quintana Roo and it’s led by Bejil-Ha Riviera Maya, a community tourism enterprise founded by seven passionate locals from the community of Chemuyil. This initiative was fully developed in close proximity to the Iberostar hotels in the area and it revolves around conserving over 50 cenotes and protecting the biodiversity of the Yucatan Peninsula.
More than just a tourism offering, Bejil-Ha benefits over 30 local families and promotes awareness and conservation of the territory. With exclusive “off the beaten path” itineraries, guests are invited to explore the community and its natural surroundings guided by knowledgeable local guides. Excursions include bike rides, visits to the cenotes, and a local gastronomy experience.
In Mexico alone, Iberostar operates 11 hotels across Cancun, Cozumel, Riviera Maya, and Riviera Nayarit.
In the Dominican Republic, guests staying at the Iberostar Costa Dorada property can enjoy a weekly immersive tourism experience with two local communities inside the property.
Alongside Chocolate de la Cuenca de Altamira (CHOCAL), an association run by women situated in Altamira, Puerto Plata, guests can learn about the process of cocoa cultivation and chocolate-making.
Through the production of various cocoa products such as chocolate, chocolate bars, and liquor, the women of CHOCAL have demonstrated their leadership skills, capacity for learning, and desire to enhance the local economy, society, and environment through their efforts and dedication. This project helps more than 200 farmers and their families.
Iberostar guests can also learn about the local wood carving techniques by witnessing the work of the Asociación de Artesanos de Madera Petrificada (ASOARTEP), an association of 40 skilled artisans who have united to protect and promote the cultural legacy of the Imbert community.
This activity benefits more than 250 families in the community.
In addition to engaging with community members and seeing their work, guests will also have the chance to purchase their products and handicrafts, taking home a meaningful souvenir that is not only beautiful, but also conveys the impactful story of these communities.
Looking ahead, Iberostar and Planeterra have ambitious plans to expand this pioneering project to all regions where Iberostar hotels operate, including destinations like Tunisia and Morocco, by the year 2030.
Through this partnership, Planeterra and Iberostar are setting a global benchmark for the hotel industry and demonstrating the tourism sector’s potential to address the exclusion of diverse communities from the wider tourism market.