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16 November/ 2004

Honduras President commits to save Geotourism

ORGANISATION OF AMERICAN STATES Washington, D.C. (October 26, 2020) ¬ The President of Honduras signed an historic agreement designed to attract Scientific, Academic, Volunteer and Educational (SAVE) travelers in a comprehensive plan to create wealth while conserving natural resources and stimulating culture in the Central American region.

The agreement with the National Geographic Society, Counterpart International and The George Washington University (GWU) will draw specialty travelers in the diversification and strengthening of Honduras' natural and cultural attractions.

SAVE’s consortium partners are developing a long-term model for increasing the credibility of destinations, providing experiential learning opportunities, and engaging travelers in conserving and improving unique landscapes and communities.

Speaking to a large assemblage of media and the diplomatic community in the elegant mansion housing the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), President Ricardo Maduro said Honduras is proud to be the first country in the world to embrace both the SAVE approach to tourism development, and the concept of "geotourism", which "sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place ¬ its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents."

President Maduro said that since he was in the OAS he hoped the Honduran approach incorporating SAVE based on geotourism would be seen as a model suitable for other countries of the region. Noting he and other presidents of the OAS were regularly consulting each other on security-related issues, he said sustainable tourism could contribute to lasting peace and security in the Central American region.

Minister of Tourism Thierry Pierrefeu reminded assembled Latin American and Caribbean diplomats and dignitaries that the Caribbean starts in Honduras, with its 750 kilometers of beaches and pristine coastline and the second largest barrier reef in the world. With one percent of the world's landmass, Honduras, he noted, has seven percent of its biodiversity. The sustainable tourism plan is important for building a stronger national identity as citizens re-connect to their heritage and their environment.

Chairman of the National Geographic Society Gilbert M. Grosvenor, whose family launched the National Geographic magazine over a century ago, declared the Mayan ruins of Copan in Honduras, excavated in part by the society's archeologists, were his favorite. He committed the resources of the society, which operates several magazines and two TV channels, to promoting the Honduran geotourism drive. The geotourism concept was developed by Jonathan Tourtellot of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

Professor Donald Lehman, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at The George Washington University, which helped design the SAVE concept through the work of tourism guru Professor Don Hawkins, pledged to work closely with the Honduran Institute of Tourism to carefully develop tourism destinations around the Mesoamerican nation's significant biodiversity, cultural and academic assets.

Lelei LeLaulu, President of Counterpart International, a non-profit development organization, lauded the vision of the Honduran leadership.
"It is so encouraging to meet a leader like President Maduro who instinctively understands the value of sustainable tourism as a potent weapon in the fight against poverty. He and Minister Pierrefeu, plus the Honduras Institute of Tourism (IHT), recognize sensible policies can ensure tourism provides jobs and builds healthy communities for regions with little or no other resources."

SAVE, an initiative originated by IHT and jointly developed with GWU, is a component of a pioneering tourism strategy in the Central American nation. SAVE consortium partners will also commit to the geotourism principles developed by the National Geographic Society.


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