In this interview, sustainable tourism consultant and university lecturer Natalia Naranjo shares her experience and thoughts on the current state of sustainability in travel and tourism in Latin America, why she decided to represent Colombia in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, and what Colombia can learn from Canada.
- Sustainable tourism as instrument for learning about and protecting the places we visit;
- The current state – and challenges – of sustainable tourism in Colombia and Latin America;
- How approaches to sustainable tourism differ between Canada and Colombia;
- Lessons Natalia learned as consultant;
- The best way to measure sustainability performance of hotels and destinations;
- Her advice to newcomers to sustainable tourism consulting;
- Which are the leading academic institutions in the sustainable tourism field in Canada and Latin America.
Natalia, what was your view of sustainability and tourism when you first started your professional career?
When I first heard about sustainability, I saw a proposal to do things in the right way. I started to work in tourism in Machu Picchu, Peru, in a hotel that was offering guided tours to add value to their guests; the tours focused on nature and culture.
As a tour guide, I had the opportunity to experience the region, and learned about orchids, birds and the Inca culture. This is how I fell in love with tourism.
For me at that time, sustainable tourism was a practice to show others the marvelous nature and local culture; an instrument for learning about and protecting the places we visit.
Now at the beginning of 2015, what has changed?
My view on sustainable tourism has not changed, but my understanding of it has been growing as I learned about new concepts and ideas. What has changed is that since that time my work became my passion; and I keep learning every day to improve my skills and my knowledge about sustainable tourism.