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Smart Voyager - a certification program of sustainable tourism for South America.

ccd_elements_r10_c4 (5K)The Smart Voyager program was created in 1998, with the aim to minimize the environmental impacts of tourism.

In the year 2002, Smart Voyager was recognized by UNESCO, as an example that should be implemented in all of the natural patrimonies of humanity. Smart Voyager is a founding member of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas.

The Smart Voyager program endeavors to convert the concept of sustainability into something real, practical and necessary in the context of a competitive market, with an aim to improve the relationship of tourism with its surroundings.

ccd_elements_r12_c5 (3K)Smart Voyager considers rigorous environmental, social and security norms, that, when completed, guarantee a decrease in the environmental impacts that a tourist operation may generate, ensuring direct benefits to the local population and an active participation by the tourist in the conservation of natural resources.

What is SmartVoyager?

Smart Voyager is a program of Conservación y Desarrollo(CyD), an Ecuadorian nonprofit, SmartVoyager minimizes the impact of tour boats in the Galapagos Islands by improving social and environmental conditions of boat operations. Operators that meet the program's Standards are certified and may use the SmartVoyager® label in marketing their Services. The label gives travelers the assurance that they are supporting operators who care about the environment, wildlife conservation, and the well-being of workers and local communities.

Principles

The certification standards are organized into twelve principles:

Company Policy
The Company must have a management policy that includes compliance with national legislation and international agreements as well as SmartVoyager standards.
Conservation of Natural Ecosystems
The tourist operation must support and promote conservation of the Galapagos National Park and the Marine Reserve.
Lowering the Risk of Introduction and Dispersal of Exotic Species
The tourist operation must prevent the introduction of species from the continent to the islands and the dispersal of species between islands.
Just and Proper Treatment of Workers
The tourist operation must elevate the socioeconomic welfare and quality of life of workers and their families.
Employee Training
All personnel involved with the tourist operation must receive environmental education and training.
Community Relations and Local Welfare
The company must make a commitment to the welfare and socioeconomic development of the Galapagos Islands community.
Strict Control of Use, Supply and Storage of Materials
Boat operators must plan and control the consumption, supply and storage of materials, taking into consideration the well-being of tourists, workers, local communities and the conservation of natural ecosystems.
Integrated Waste Management
Boats must follow a waste-management plan, including the reduction, reuse, recycling and adequate final treatment of disposal of all wastes.
Commitment on the Part of the Tourist
Tourists must be guided in their involvement in protecting natural resources and local cultures, tread lightly and collaborate with the island conservation programs.
Safety
The SmartVoyager program does not guarantee safety, but certified boats must adhere to international safety standards and have all the appropriate licenses and approvals.
Planning and Monitoring
Tourism operations must be planned, monitored and evaluated, taking into consideration technical, economic, social and environmental factors.

How Does an Operation Get Certified?

Application Applicants should submit an application form to Conservación y Desarrollo (CyD) These application forms can be requested via email at

smartvoyager@ra.org
or ccd@ccd.org.ec.

Self-assessment

After the application has been submitted, the tour operator usually performs a self-assessment or internal review to determine its level of compliance with the standards.

Evaluation

In some cases, the operator may request a short evaluation to decide whether or not an on-site assessment needs to be performed. If so, CyD assigns an assessor to perform this evaluation (pre-assessment).

Audits

On-site assessments are required for all operations. The scope and intensity of the assessment depends on the size and type of operation.

Status Granting

An International Certification Committee awards a status to the operation:
(a) Approved: when the operation complies with at least 80% of the total SmartVoyager standards and there are no fatal flaws.
(b) Denied: when the operation does not comply with SmartVoyager standards and it is not expected that improvements will occur in the short term.

Other statuses are:

(c) Pending: when waiting for the Certification Committee's decision after evaluation or assessment has taken place.

(d) In review: when non-compliance is suspected or claims have been received.

(e) Suspended: when proven non-compliant with standards.

(f) De-licensed: when violations of the standards persist.

Certification Contract

Approved operations must enter into a certification contract with the CyD for use of the certification marks.

Annual Renewal and Audits

Companies are required to submit annual reports on their certified operations. All certified boats are audited annually.

Unannounced Visits

SmartVoyager's staff and/or external observers may randomly visit certified companies.

Emergency Assessments

If serious violations of SmartVoyager standards occur or are suspected, CyD may perform emergency assessments of certified boats.

Benefits of Certification

Increased Market Share

Nature related tourism is a rapidly growing market. SmartVoyager gives visitors the assurance that they are traveling with an operator who cares about the conservation of the islands while ensuring that passengers enjoy an educational adventure. SmartVoyager helps distinguish products in competitive markets.

Sustainable Services

Progressive operators with foresight and vision want to ensure that their business has a future. SmartVoyager helps producers improve management by employing Best Management Practices and finding the path toward sustainability.

Capable and Dedicated Crews

On certified operations, employees receive proper training, fair treatment and wages, sanitary facilities and improved working conditions. This builds competence and pride, which lifts performance.

Public Image

Certification improves the image of a company among peers, the government, consumers and the general public. SmartVoyager brings prestige, praise and publicity.

Proactive and Participatory

Certification allows citizen conservationists and industries to take a proactive and market based approach to problems instead of waiting for government regulations.

Technology Transfer

SmartVoyager hopes to bring operators into international technical discussions and put them in direct contact with the latest information. Managers learn new practices and technologies from their progressive peers.

Personal Satisfaction

Many operators want to be good citizens and responsible members of their local and corporate communities. SmartVoyager certification standards give them guidance on how to reduce the environmental impacts and increase the social benefits of their business.

SmartVoyager is a program of Conservación y Desarrollo (CyD), an Ecuadorian nonprofit group and is member of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas

For More Information, contact:

Contacts: Alfredo Dueñas, Conservación y Desarrollo, Apdo 1716-1855, Quito, Ecuador Tel: (593) 2-224-3183 Fax: (593) 2-246-9089 ccd@ccd.org.ec smartvoyager@ra.org