Beaches for All by re-using plastic

Beaches for All by re-using plastic

IL VIAGGIO TRAVEL (local ground operator, 2005), is the only one in Costa Rica which creates accessible itineraries and has all the equipment and training for adapting tourism into a destination for all. In our goal of promoting Human Rights and making accessibility a reality in a country we created a non-profit association named Red Costarricense de Turismo Accesible (Costa Rica’s Accessible Tourism Network).

This non-profit is the only association in the country who cares about the right of recreation and leisure in tourism industry for locals and foreigners alike. It works every day in the implementation and awareness of the tourism industry. We work based on the UN SDG, the Global Code of Ethics from UNWTO and Montreal’s Declaration from ISTO. We faithfully believe that “tourism for all” is, in addition to be a right, the most innovative and complete route to the new normality.

The three main pillars of the Association are:

  1. INFORM: communicate all efforts of accessibility in the tourism chain of value through our directory
  2. VERIFY: we visit the properties to check accessibility, we create a plan of accessibility so that they can improve on their own rhythm. We do the verification with certified professionals in the field.
  3. EDUCATE: we have created local and international alliances to educate the industry on different elements of accessibility for example service, communication, inclusion.

Working in the field we realized that there was a big dilemma on the beaches. There is no access to the beaches in Costa Rica for people with disabilities. So, we created a Social and Environmental project we call DONATAPA. This project was born in March 2018, which creates accessible model beaches through the recycling of plastic 2, 4 and 5. This plastic is transformed into plastic wood which is used to manufacture innovative products (retractable walkways, amphibian chairs, beach chairs, garbage cans, among others).

DONATAPA adds an additional pillar to the non-profit organization which is SUSTAINABILITY.

With the non-profit goals and this social and environmental project we are promoting social equality, human rights, safeguard natural environment, protect natural heritage, avoid waste production, provide local and foreigner tourists with honest information, contribute to sustainable development and community well-being.

Partners 

  • The plastic donors sign an agreement where they will collect and bring the plastic to our facilities. We have 190 private companies and government entities donating plastic around the country.
  • The plastic collector centers also sign an agreement, where they open their doors so people can leave the plastic and then they bring it to us. We have 35 collecting centers.
  • When the plastic arrives to us we get volunteers to separate the real usable plastic 2, 4 and 5 from the trash (which we send to the appropriate recycle).
  • “Yo hago el Cambio” is our “certified Environmental Management” They validate and certify that we are doing a correct process of collection and transformation of the plastic.
  • Donatapa made an agreement with IPP PLASTIC to become our transformation plant.
  • People with disabilities volunteer and help us design every product
  • The rest of the activities needed to make the project a reality are done by IL VIAGGIO TRAVEL team.

Funding Mechanism 

  • The non-profit Costa Rica’s Accessible Tourism Network exists because IL VIAGGIO TRAVEL donates a percentage from each accessible program that sells. That way the NGO has a daily income to operate.
  • Then each Accessible project is financed by local government, by donors or by other organizations.
  • For example, the first accessible pathway done in JACO was financed by the local government, by the Surf Association, Chamber of Commerce of Jaco, and by our non-profit organization.
  • The new 100% accessible beach club in Guanacaste we are implementing is financed by Booking Care Fund.
  • The accessible pathway and amphibian chairs for the South Pacific coast are being financed by the local government and by our non-profit organization.
  • The plastic itself finances the accessible projects because every product sold commissions a percentage that is donated and used on the accessibility projects. Donatapa is a complete circular economy.

Accessibility Actions 

Donatapa has collected 40 tons of plastic since November 2018. With our actions we have avoided the negative environmental impact this plastic could have caused. Plastic has been transformed in various accessible projects which have improved the accessibility in the country. This are the 4 projects we have created until now are:

JACO beach – from recycle plastic we created accessible retractile pathway, amphibian chairs and lifeguard tower. It was inaugurated in March 2019.

SAMARA – complete pier with pathways and lifeguard tower.

SOUTH PACIFIC COAST – upcoming project where we will donate 18m of retractile pathway and the local government is buying 2 amphibian chairs.

GUANACASTE – with booking care fund we are creating a 100% accessible beach club which we are donating to the local government. We will manage the project and our staff will be people with disabilities of the region. In Guanacaste project we are using the plastic wood of DONATAPA on the accessible implements and also on the walls of the building. It includes a Changing Place which will be the only one in Costa Rica right now.

Achievements 

  • We have been able to track the quantity of people visiting Jaco. From November 2019 till March 15,2020 we had 134 people with disabilities visiting the beach and 477 people joining them.
  • We won the first prize of a local contest of circular economy in Costa Rica “Yo emprendedor”.
  • We have been selected by Booking Care Fund as one of the best 6 projects in the world in regard to sustainability. And they are financing the 100% accessible beach club.
  • We have the Social Tourism Seal given by the Costa Rica Institute of Tourism which is created under the guidelines of ISTO. We also presented our non-profit organization on the “Encuentro de las Américas de Turismo Social” done by ISTO Americas in June 2019, in San José.
  • From September 2019 to March 2020 we have trained 742 people from the tourism sector.

Innovative features

  • Only NGO working on the developing of an Accessible Costa Rica for all
  • SUSTAINABILITY by collecting, recycling and using the final plastic wood on accessible projects to improve the human right of recreation.
  • Design of accessible solutions with recycled plastic wood
  • ACCESSIBLE DIGITAL DIRECTORY of all the accessible services around the Country so local and foreigners have adequate information.
  • VERIFICATION process where we include our law and international standards.

Positive Impact

  • Suppliers that implement accessibility will get a new segment of tourists.
  • Locals with a transient or permanent disability will be able to travel around Costa Rica with adequate services.
  • Locals working in the industry will benefit with more jobs. A tourism for all can eliminate the low season.
  • International Travelers with disabilities will have a verified product and will be able to enjoy Costa Rica equally.
  • Sensitize the population and the whole chain of value
  • We are working with the Costa Rica institute of Tourism to develop airport statistics
  • On each project we are tracking visitors and so the impact on the region
  • With ISTO and ICT we are working on the Social Seal with accessibility as a transverse axis
  • We are working with ONU Costa Rica to develop a digital accessible platform to educate the whole tourism chain of value in regard to Accessibility, Inclusion, Equity…
  • We are part of ISO committee representing Costa Rica on the new Accessible ISO for Tourism.
  • We have been presenting our projects to OAS in Washington DC as best practices.

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