Since the 18th of July 2023, Keen Tours has been certified by Biosphere, a milestone in recognition of the work we have done.
The principles of sustainability have been present since the founding of Keen Tours. A significant part of the company’s activity is carried out in the Peneda-Gerês National Park and that is why we decided that the company’s operation would have a positive impact on that territory. We positioned ourselves from the outset to minimize the negative impacts generated and to maximize the positive ones, assessing the environmental impact of our activities using expeditious methodologies.
In a first phase, we joined Natural.pt and deepened partnerships with other micro and small companies, but also with local communities and associations present in the territory with a view to pursuing sustainable development. Subsequently, we have been changing the company’s positioning, promoting activities at a slower pace and valuing even more the various components of the landscape, traditional activities, education and environmental intervention.
During the pandemic, combining the need to diversify the business with the desire to contribute more decisively to the sustainability of the territory in which we operated, we decided to create the LOJA do PARQUE, dedicated to the retail of products from small producers and artisans from the Gerês-Xurés Transboundary Biosphere Reserve and also a space for the manufacture and creation of new products from endogenous resources, open to the general population.
In this experience, we learned from a vast number of partners the difficulties of implementing some measures, but also, and essentially, the availability and intention to improve the territorial context where they are located, taking responsibility for the decisions they make in the choice of raw materials, process, packaging and distribution.
At the time of the creation of the company, there were no certifications specifically for tour operators. We kept an eye out for the appearance of certifying entities and moved forward with the process when we found Biosphere. The certification process did little to change the company’s procedures, given that we already applied the overwhelming majority of the listed measures. However, it was the process that allowed us to systematize what we were already doing, accelerate projects and ideas in the portfolio and increase partnerships with a view to pursuing the company’s non-financial objectives.
A good example of a project accelerated by certification was the offsetting of the carbon generated in tourist entertainment activities, with an increase of 20%. This measure has been put into practice since the beginning of this year, and is implemented in partnership with the Itineris cooperative, with the aim of compensating for the greenhouse gases emitted in wastelands in the National Park territory, or others in Minho, imitating the existing phytosociological associations and thus promoting, at the same time, the restoration of habitats.
Another example of partnership, more structured, more careful, initiated after the beginning of our certification process is our integration in the project “COMMON GOOD — INNOVATION AND COOPERATION IN THE MANAGEMENT OF BALDLANDS, TO ENHANCE THE BIOECONOMY, SUSTAINABILITY AND RESILIENCE OF RURAL COMMUNITIES AND AGRO-SILVO-PASTORING”, funded by the RRP and led by the Polytechnic Institute of Viana do Castelo, and which includes several entities of local and national scope, such as BALADI – National Federation of Baldios, the Agrupamento de Baldios da Serra do Gerês, the CIM of Alto Minho, Folk & Wild, among others.
It is our way of being to reject tourism as an extractive activity. We have always seen our activity as a way of supporting the development of the territories where we operate through the support or creation of fairer local value chains with low or positive impact, and the networking of the various agents.
Tourism, as a sector, will only make an effective contribution to the country’s development when it incorporates sustainable practices and actions and when it can influence other sectors to join in this path.
Biosphere‘s certification corroborates our conviction that we are on the right path.