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Protecting local species for impact mitigation and creation of new business opportunities
Tourism impacts and depends on the environment
Mexico is one of the countries with the largest number of turtles in the world. Of the seven species of turtles which exist, six live in Mexican waters and are hatched on its beaches. Tourism may have a negative impact on turtle populations, mainly due to the degradation and/or destruction of the beaches where they lay their eggs. Excessive light may also affect the behavior of the adult females when nesting, and attract the newly born turtles away from the sea. On the other hand, tourism is also dependent on a healthy natural environment. The protection of ecosystems is the best way to ensure the beauty and exclusivity of natural environments, to make them unique and to attract tourists.
Mitigating its impacts and strengthening its position as a responsible group were the two motivations for the Sol Meliá hotel group in Mexico to engage in a turtle protection program in 2009.
Direct collaboration and education, the two pillars of the program
Although all the group’s hotels have helped in different ways, there were two main types of cooperation:
Participation of guests in releasing recently born turtles. This action was important because it raised guests’ awareness, as it also included a presentation about the turtles, their lifecycle and the importance of their preservation.
Active cooperation in the protection of nests and baby turtles. Hotels whose beaches are used for nesting helped the local environmental police to protect and guard the nests and the newly born turtles.
Among other results, in 2009 the Sol Meliá hotels located in Mexico, thanks to their sea turtles protection program, directly involved 3770 guests from the hotels, and helped protect approximately 4216 baby turtles of the Green sea and Olive ridley* endangered turtle species.
A new mandate for tourism
The Sol Meliá hotel group example shows that protecting local endangered species can be part of the attraction of the destination, therefore creating a new business opportunity for tourism, at a time when consumers are more and more concerned by their potential environmental impact.