La Garrotxa awards Charter Part III to two first tour operators in Spain
Since EUROPARC French Section developed Charter Part III for the first time in 2014, no other section had gone further in awarding tour operators with the Charter. In January 2017, Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa, in close cooperation with Turisme Garrotxa (ECST Permanent Forum) awarded Nit i Vol and Trescàlia with the ECST Part III, being pioneer in Spain once again: in this case, in implementing agreements with tour
Charter Part III: Implementation process
The methodology followed by these 2 travel agencies was approved by EUROPARC Federation on October 2015 in Regensburg and basically consists in following steps:
1) Diagnosis of the candidate based on a checklist: candidate must inform on how the travel agency fulfils criteria (checklist system) focused on:
- “Social and labour policy” (training policy in the enterprise, good practices for reconciling work and family life, etc.)
- “Environmental policy” (calculation of carbon footprint, green procurement, carrying capacity consideration when planning visits, relationship with the protected area, etc.)
- “Economic policy” (customer satisfaction surveys, market targeting, etc.).
The key items sum up to 66 but there is no minimum number of criteria that the candidate has to reach -no threshold applies-. Thus, the checklist is just to inform on the starting point and current state of the candidate.
2) Proposal of future actions – commitment: candidate must inform on planned activity to improve its performance in action fields mentioned above: “Social and labour policy”, “Environmental policy” and “Economic policy”. The proposal was approved by the Permanent Forum, Turisme Garrotxa in this case.
3) Submission of the proposal, composed by current diagnosis (check-list on 66 items), action plan and application letter altogether with other formal documents to Charter Part III Evaluation Board, whose members are:
- A member of Spanish section EUROPARC-España.
- A member of Spanish Tourist Board, Secretaría de Estado de Turismo, in charge of tourism agency Turespaña.
- A technician on behalf of regional tourism administration: currently a member of Consejería de Turismo y Deporte, Junta de Andalucía (Andalusian Government).
- A technician on behalf of ECST protected area: currently a member of Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa’s staff.
- A member of TUREBE, Ecotourism Club in Spain Club Ecoturismo en España
- A tourism agency on behalf of this sector: Agrotravel.
Based on the current performance of the candidate, as well as considering future commitment with the protected area, this board suggests a decision on awarding the ECST Part III to Europarc España, who finally approves or rejects the candidate. A fee of 300€ must be paid to Europarc España to register as a Charter Part III partner, award valid for a 3 year period.
Sustainable Tourism Agreement
Once the travel agency is awarded the Carter Part III, an agreement has to be signed between the enterprise and the protected area. Such agreement includes the future commitment of the travel agency in following key aspects:
- “Creating ecotourism products”,
- “Support conservation and local development”,
- “Management improvement of the travel agency”
- “Communication between the travel agency and the protected area”.
As an example, Nit i Vol and Trescàlia have included in their action plan organising at least 2 meetings per year with the protected area in order to keep updated on protected area regulations, projects and so on.
Also in order to show their connection with the protected area, both travel agencies will include detailed information on Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa in their marketing deliverables (Trescalia already informs on its commitment in its website: http://trescalia.com/about-us/responsible-tourism/).
Charter Part III travel agencies will, from now onwards, take part in the steering committee that was set out in la Garrotxa during its first application to the ECST and that still meets quarterly to monitor the 4rth Charter Action Plan implementation (2016 – 2020).
Worth to note is that Carter Part III travel agencies from la Garrotxa can now easily sign an agreement with other ECST protected areas all over Europe as long as they have implemented Charter Part II. In this case, both enterprises can follow a fast track process and skip steps regarding diagnosis and proposal described above.
Evaluation on how Charter Part III performs in Garrotxa and its outputs on boosting sustainable tourism will be easily run: joint annual reporting is required on how the travel agency progresses on the actions agreed with the protected area and on how the protected area reaches out its hand to enterprises targeting ecotourism.
For further information:
Joan Pijuan Coromina
Technician at Parc Natural de la Zona Volcànica de la Garrotxa
T. 00 34 972 26 60 12
e-mail: jpijuan @ gencat.cat