Is environmental conservation the future of tourism in Latin America?


Once seen as a passing trend, ecotourism has become a pillar of the global travel industry. However, Latin America is taking this one step further, and focusing on how the restoration of native species can attract visitors from across the world.

Ecotourism has emerged as a pivotal segment of the global tourism industry. And, perhaps more than any other region, Latin America has embraced this trend and become a destination for travelers looking to experience rich biodiversity as well as sustainable vacationing.

Recently, tourism-focused conservation efforts are enabling Latin America to take its eco-endeavors even further, and providing a win-win-win for the environment, local economies, and tourists.

The concept is simple: Travelers want to see plants and animals they can’t experience anywhere else. Nations and organizations preserve habitats, create breeding and rewilding programs, and implement sustainable practices to ensure flora and fauna thrive, among other efforts. Tourists come to see them and generate revenue for local economies. As the community flourishes, more resources can be put towards conservation. Rinse and repeat.

As of now, the scale of these initiatives vary, but the results — and the direction that this movement is being taken — speak for themselves.

Take, for example, The Ibiti Project in Brazil. Billed as an experiment focused on connecting human beings and the environment, the Project is located on 6,000 hectares, 98% of which is undergoing the process of rewilding. Accommodations range from a farm hotel to remote cabins, or even longer-term lodgings, and offer a spa, several restaurants, and experiences for all ages. Visitors also have the opportunity to explore the Project’s initiatives to reintroduce and protect several species of animals (including primates, birds, and pumas) into the area.

Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

There are grand aspirations for what this kind of conservation can achieve. In fact, with biodiversity that rivals many African nations, Latin America has the potential — and the motivation — to generate the same level of tourism as leading safari hotspots. (For reference, the global safari tourism market was valued at $34.62 billion last year, and is only expected to grow.)

As an entrepreneur, I get a sense of joy when doing good yields rewards. As a Latin American, I take great pride that this work is being done to improve and preserve beautiful parts of Central and South America. And as a traveler, I am excited for what these conservation efforts will create.

Danilo Diazgranados is an independent investor in the global food and wine, financial services, real estate, and the hospitality sectors.