Travel changes us. It changes our view of the world and makes us rethink our own lives. Whether across the globe or in an unknown corner of your own home town, you can’t travel to a different place and meet new people and come back unchanged. At RED, we see travel as a vehicle for change, and through our projects create the space for that change to occur. Much more than a tour operator, RED links community development with wildlife and habitat conservation through tourism, implementing projects that go beyond sustainability to regeneration of habitat, communities, traditions and culture.
RED projects have made change possible for hundreds of individuals throughout Northwest Mexico. Click the map at the right to read about a few of our projects, and sign up for our Blog from the Field to stay posted on RED’s work.
RED is a hybrid social enterprise that combines a for-profit tour operator that offers world class Conservation Adventures, with a non-profit organization that provides training, small business incubation and technical assistance in rural communities throughout northwest Mexico. The two independent vehicles share the same objectives to:
To broaden our impact and transmit our knowledge and experience to other organizations, RED also provides sustainable tourism consulting services, from product development to market analysis. Click on the Consulting tab above to learn more about RED’s consulting services.
Linking tourism with management in Mexico’s Natural Protected Areas
Together with Mexico’s Commission for Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), RED develops tools to inform visitors, strengthen management and regulation, and increase tour operator awareness in parks and protected areas. RED’s goal is to make sustainable tourism a net plus for Mexico’s park system, acting as a driving force in developing regional and local economies, and a key contributor to management and conservation activities.
Since its inception in the final months of 2009, RED has evolved into a recognized leader in the field of sustainable tourism, winning ATTA’s young operator scholarship award for its innovative model combining socio-economic development with conservation through sustainable tourism:
RED Sustainable Travel is a hybrid social enterprise based in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. RED’s for profit tour operator and non-profit sister corporation share the mission to foment tourism models that support the conservation of natural and cultural patrimony, generate sustainable employment alternatives, and strengthen micro-enterprises in communities throughout northwest Mexico.
Reducing impact and funding conservation through sustainable tourism in Magdalena Bay
In Magdalena Bay, RED works with Grupo Tortuguero to recruit, train and employ fisher conservationists, creating sustainable employment alternatives and in the process generating important data that contributes to policy making decisions that impact sea turtle conservation. Through trip fees and donations, RED funds participation of local students in Academic Adventures. By putting the monitoring in the hands of local fishermen and involving local youth, RED helps create local stewards of Magdalena Bay’s natural resources.
Strengthening sustainable tour operators in priority conservation areas
RED knows from our experience as a tour operator that this is a complex industry with many and diverse challenges, from operations and administration, to product development, customer service, and market strategy. The majority of tourism businesses in Mexico are micro enterprises and small, family owned operations. Unfortunately, most of these businesses lack formal training in the nuts and bolts of running a tourism business. In Baja California Sur, Sonora, Sinaloa and Nayarit, RED provides training and technical assistance to family and micro enterprises in high priority conservation areas. From the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve to Marismas Nacionales, we are strengthening the supply side of the sustainable tourism offering in Mexico and adding value to each link in the chain.
Leading regional sustainable tourism development in the Sierra la Giganta Coastal Corridor
With an incredible array of biodiversity, untouched natural landscapes, and both a coastal fisher tradition and rich ranchero culture, Baja California Sur has much to offer as a sustainable travel destination. With support from Resources Legacy Fund and in conjunction with Solimar International, RED is working to create a sustainable tourism corridor along the coastal zone of the Sierra la Giganta range, between Loreto and La Paz. This effort seeks to proactively create sustainable employment opportunities for ranchero and fisher families, stem the loss of culture and tradition as youth leave to the city in search of employment, and create a platform for the protection of one of the region’s truly wild places.
Making tourism a net plus for conservation and community in Natural Protected Areas
RED works with the National Protected Area Commission (CONANP) to create tourism products that support the management and conservation activities in Cabo Pulmo National Park and Espiritú Santo Biosphere Reserve. RED has also developed a training program to train local tour operators and guides in best practices and reduce their impact on natural resources, to ensure a vibrant local economy and healthy ecosystems.
Urban Guides: preserving cultural heritage and creating opportunities for women in La Paz
RED’s Urban Guide program trains women with little access to economic opportunities to become tour guides in La Paz. With support from Lush Cosmetics and in partnership with a group of students from the University of Colorado, Boulder, RED created a training program including Group Management and First Aid; English; and Architectural, Historical, Cultural and Gastronomic Interpretation. In the process young women develop skills they can use in other employment opportunities or even to launch their own micro-enterprises.
Earth, air and water: understanding the web of life and local economy in the Sierra de La Laguna Biosphere Reserve
RED, in partnership with Ecology Project International has developed a curriculum to instill local youth with a practical understanding and appreciation of the connection between humans and nature in the Sierra de La Laguna UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Through an experiential learning curriculum, students from around the region are instilled with the importance and fragility of the natural resources in this area.
Co-Founder & Director
|Chris launched RED Sustainable Travel after a decade of building up the grassroots conservation movement throughout the Baja California peninsula as co-founder of the nonprofit organization Pro Peninsula, along the way helping to launch half a dozen community organizations in the region. Recognizing that it is impossible to separate the environmental issues from the economic concerns over natural resources, in 2009 Chris launched RED Sustainable Travel, to link species and habitat preservation to socioeconomic development through sustainable tourism. Combining his tourism operations and marketing experience in Costa Rica and Ecuador, his work in international product marketing, Bay Area startup knowledge and a firsthand understanding of the communities, natural places and pressing environmental issues throughout NW Mexico, Chris’s vision would evolve into one of the most innovative models for conservation and community development in the region.|
Luis GarduñoCo-Founder & Director of Operations
|Luis is a dreamer. He dreams of people having dignified jobs, working in harmony with their natural surroundings, and building strong communities throughout Mexico. Luis brings to RED close to two decades of experience in tourism, as an adventure travel guide in Baja California Sur, a SCUBA instructor and underwater guide in Australia, and as a guide, chef, and host on live-aboard yachts. Luis returned to iconic Baja Expeditions, where he first started out in the travel industry, this time to manage sales staff, design marketing campaigns and develop innovative nature and adventure travel products. He also created an “in the field” training program in conjunction with RED, to give aspiring guides and chefs from rural communities the chance to acquire practical experience working with seasoned professionals. In 2009 he brought his wealth of experience and passion to RED, overseeing trip operations and marketing, and creating RED’s Tourism Operations Training program which has helped professionalize budding tour operators in over a dozen rural communities throughout NW Mexico. If a job exists in tourism there is a fair chance that Luis has done it (and done it well). The unrivalled quality of experience on RED adventures is a direct reflection of Luis’s commitment to professionalism, service and a vision of building a better Mexico.|
Charlotte VizzuettCommunity Liaison
|Charlotte is fascinated by people and their stories. With a degree in Sociology and a specialization in Community Development, Charlotte brings the right knowledge and tools to the RED team to carry out projects that leave a positive impact in rural communities. After working for state development agencies in Hidalgo and Querétaro, Charlotte traveled to Baja California Sur, working with the community group Amigos para la Conservación de Cabo Pulmo to design and implement surveys and market studies, producing a strategic plan for developing Cabo Pulmo as a sustainable and unique tourism destination and organizing workshops on Business Collaboration and Destination Management in the local community. Joining RED in 2012, Charlotte has honed her tourism skillset, leading projects to analyze tourism potential, strengthening RED’s institutional work in Natural Protected Areas with CONANP, and expanding RED’s training methodology for micro tourism enterprises.|
Jaime CamposCommunications Coordinator
|Growing up in Mexico City, Jaime developed a deep interest in socio-economic development. He went to the renowned ITAM University to get the tools, and where he presented a thesis on collaborative marketing strategies as a model for ecotourism businesses in the Yucatán Peninsula. Jaime went on to work in the field of strategy and public policy consulting before joining RED in 2012. At RED, Jaime has found a place where he can apply his business skills in projects that have a regional impact. His expertise in market analysis and strategy has positioned RED as Mexico’s leader in Conservation Tourism and has helped RED strengthen micro-enterprises in communities throughout Baja California Sur, Sonora, Sinaloa and Nayarit. If you have traveled with RED, you are probably familiar with Jaime’s warm nature and commitment to ensuring that your experience surpasses your expectations. You may not have known how equally committed he is to furthering socio-economic development throughout Mexico.|
RED Turismo Sustentable leads the field in providing sustainable tourism consulting services throughout Northwest Mexico. RED leverages a combined more than 30 years experience of its managing partners in nature and adventure focused tourism and community based and institutional level conservation initiatives to provide a range of services that includes:
• Destination level Analysis of Tourism Potential
• Market analysis
• Product development
• Tourism Operations Training for family, community and micro-enterprises
• Business incubation and technical assistance
• Design and implementation of destination management strategies with partners – Washington DC based Solimar Intl.
• Market strategy and implementation for sustainable tourism micro enterprises
• Design and implementation of species and NPA focused travel philanthropy programs
• Development of tools for CONANP to inform visitors, strengthen management and regulation, and increase tour operator awareness, making tourism a net plus for Mexico’s NPAs
What sets RED apart as a sustainable tourism consulting firm?
RED’s background in combining community based conservation initiatives with tourism throughout NW Mexico, our diverse team, and our ability to draw on knowledgeable, experienced local partners, give us an unrivalled on the ground presence. Academic theory and a consultant-driven perspective can only take projects so far. As an award winning tour operator based in La Paz, RED knows what it takes to move a concept off of the whiteboard and into an operational environment. From intimate market knowledge, to logistics, product development, CRM and human resources, sustainable tourism is our business.
Going on an adventure to a new place has the power to change you, but you can also change a place—for better or worse. Make a positive impact with one of these ten trips that are full of adventure and also benefit local communities and conservation. —Kate Siber
Three industry experts see enormous potential and opportunities for agents in the adventure travel market in Mexico.
Their expertise comes from different quarters, but all agree that the market is undersold and somewhat misunderstood from the travel agent perspective.
Bahia Magdalena, a broad lagoon on the Pacific side of Baja California, is home to one of the world’s most robust green sea turtle populations – a source of pride among locals who lead trips to see the creatures in action. And rather than just spot them from afar, or perhaps catch a glimpse of one while snorkeling nearby, visitors can spend their vacation working directly with this endangered species while helping to preserve them.
Sea turtles have roamed the oceans for close to 200 million years, surviving assaults that doomed the dinosaurs. Around the world different species now face threats ranging from coastal building to poaching and drowning in fish nets.
The latest hot spot for turtle trouble is Magdalena Bay, an 870-square-mile haven for whales, dolphins, sea birds and five species of sea turtles tucked along the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula north of the tourist hub of Cabo San Lucas.
This past spring, LUSH staff from across North America traveled to Magdalena Bay, Baja to embark on a conservation adventure with LUSH Charity Pot partners, RED Sustainable Travel.
In the realm of sea turtle conservation, private enterprise is rarely considered a lead player. At best, it fills a supporting role through corporate financing of conservation projects, but more often it plays the villain.