Colombia’s coastal city of Cartagena seeks to become the nation’s first certified sustainable tourism destination.
The city began preparing for the title three and a half years ago. It will be visited next month by a certifying agency chosen by the Ministry of Tourism, to determine if the city is truly ready to go green.
To succeed, it will have to meet a list of 100 environmental, sociocultural, and economic requirements that proves the city to be sustainably capable.
The list includes the requirement that the city create a program to help prevent the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, which Cartagena has achieved through its recent agreement between local hotels and Unicef.
The city has also administered several surveys that access aspects of local tourism, to determine what visitors value most about Cartagena.
“Through this survey we found that our strength is in our tourism attractions and the quality of our people, but our main weaknesses are abuses by taxi drivers, which we have been campaigning against,” explained Paola Mercado, director of Calidad Turistica.
Cartagena would be the first city certified as a sustainable tourism destination, and many hope that the city’s example will prompt other cities, such as Bogota and Medellin, to do the same.