In an effort to take advantage of a growing new niche of
international tourists - those seeking educational and
experimental experiences - the Honduran Ministry and
Institute of Tourism have launched Project SAVE. As its name
suggests, the program will emphasize tourism that is Scientific,
Academic, Voluntary and Educational.
Activities like those promoted by Project SAVE tend to draw
participants who are financially comfortable and highly educated.
But the benefits that Honduras receives from the program reach
far beyond mere economics. Travelers such as these also tend
to leave behind a greater sensitivity to and appreciation
of the local culture. Academic and scientific visitors can
also bring the country prestige, especially when world renowned
organizations are involved.
The Tourism Ministry has been working in cooperation with
George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C. to
evaluate the potential that the country offers in this new
realm of travel and to identify specific SAVE attractions.
The study was carried out in two phases. For the first, 16
students working for masterâ€™s degrees in Tourism and
Business Management studied the width and depth that each
of these segments offers in Honduras, including the interests,
expectations and demands of tourists who would participate.
For the second phase, the students visited Honduras to get
to know first-hand the sites and the infrastructure and human
resources that support them. The key focus areas were Tela,
La Ceiba, Cayos Cochinos and Roatán.
The study was aimed at identifying the steps that Honduras
must take to attract research scientists to protected areas,
academics interested in tropical nature and culture, tourists
eager to provide their experience and volunteer their time,
and student groups ready to explore new surroundings and cultures.
Upon completion of their study, the GWU students shared their
findings with local business leaders, helping them to create
strategies and prepare market plans to develop new eco-tourism
initiatives in Honduras. The study findings will also be incorporated
into a special strategy designed to encourage SAVE tourism