January 7, 2014
Morro de São Paulo, a top destination on Tinharé Island - part of the archipelago town of Cairu, in Bahia - has a new system for quality control of the touristic activity in Passaporte Tinharé, a unique voucher which is valid and mandatory for all archipelago tours.
The service, formalized as a municipal law in October 2013, was launched in November 2013 in Morro de São Paulo because Morro draws more than half the total number of visitors in Cairu.
About 40,000 tourists are expected in the seaside getaway in the summer high season (December to February).
Morro has 180 places to stay (with 10,000 beds), 120 bars and restaurants, 18 tour agencies, 250 transportation boats and 110 tour boats, according to the Cairu Tourism Secretariat.
Two of the most popular boat tours which can be taken with the new voucher are "Volta à Ilha”, which travels around Tinharé Island, and the Gamboa Beach tour.
By creating the unique voucher system, the Cairu Tourism Secretariat aims at streamlining the tours and monitoring the services offered in the archipelago. "The city's tourist activity is essential for the region's economy," said tourism secretary Bruno Wendling in a press release. We must treat our tourists well, hence the importance of establishing mechanisms to inspect and control those services."
In the unique voucher system, only tour agencies can sell tours. A price chart has been defined, based on economic viability studies carried out in the fist half of 2013 with the participation of tour agencies owners and staff and boat tour operators.
According to the Cairu Tourism Secretariat, those who don't follow the new rules can incur a suspension of activities and fines; repeated offenses might lead to a suspension of their license and punishments in accordance with the law, which complements Brazil's National Tourism Law.
The new measures allow the Cairu administration full monitoring of tour activities."Taxes are properly collected, and problems such as variations in prices, delays, the non-fulfillment of tour routes, non-qualified boatmen and boats in inadequate, unsafe conditions can be prevented," said mayor Fernando Brito.
Though the passport meant a raise in prices, it was very well received by the first tourists to use it during a peak of tourism influx: the Proclamation of Republic holiday (November 15) of 2013, when Tinharé Island's places to stay were 100% occupied. According to comments shared in a press release, some of the visitors' positive comments related to an overall perception of better organization.
Cairu's initiative is preceded by that of Bonito, in Mato Grosso do Sul, a reference in sustainable tourism in Brazil and the first city to implement a unique voucher for its touristic attractions (www.atrativosbonito.com.br). The successful system comprises accreditation of attractions and guides and constant monitoring in order to preserve the region's delicate ecosystem.
Tourists can help monitor the tours in Cairu by reporting inadequate service to the Tourism Secretariat in Morro (Rua da Fonte Grande, 33 – 1st floor, phone: 55-75-3652-1699
Environmental Protection Tax
In march 2013, Cairu launched an environmental protection tax (Taxa de Preservação Ambiental, or TAP) for tourists visiting Morro de São Paulo, following the example of destinations such as Fernando de Noronha, in Pernambuco. While Fernando de Noronha is a National Park, Morro is part of the Tinharé Boipeba Environmental Protection Area (APA).
The tax (R$15 per visitor) is charged upon arrival by air or sea. For now, it does not apply to the other two major islands in the archipelago - Boipeba and Cairu, because, according to the municipal administration, Morro is the destination taking the greatest environmental impact.
Morro's Special Secretary, Zeca Ribeiro, said that environmental tax resources are to be used in the study and implementation of actions such as responsible garbage colletion, beach cleaning, daily environmental monitoring, and the preservation of ecosystems such as mangroves and coral reefs.