The Ecotourism Management program offered by Universidad Andrés Bello (UNAB) was the first degree program of its kind in Chile to meet the standards set by the World Tourism Organization. In a ceremony at the former National Congress building, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) certification, TedQual, was delivered to the Ecotourism Management program at UNAB’s Santiago campus.
UNAB was one of three universities, along with the tourism programs at Universidad Austral tourism and DUOC, to be recognized by the WTO. UNAB was the first and is the only university with a program in Ecotourism to be recognized.
To obtain this certification, the School of Ecotourism at UNAB had to undergo a rigorous accreditation process that included an audit by the UNWTO international experts that are responsible for implementing and supervising UNWTO initiatives in the field of education and training.
"They are first-rate institutions because otherwise they would not have been able to get this certification," explains Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO’S Regional Director for the Americas.
According to Mitzi Acevedo, director of UNAB’s School of Ecotourism, obtaining this certification is very important because nationally there is no mechanism that can validate the quality of the curriculum in the area of tourism. "So having certification is a tremendous achievement, especially when delivered by the World Tourism Organization, which is the governing body of tourism in the world. It is the most one can hope for," she adds.
The certification granted by the WTO will allow UNAB’s School of Ecotourism to join an international network of institutions with UNWTO TedQual certificate programs. This network includes prestigious institutions like the University of Calgary, the University of Quebec, George Washington University in the United States and the University of Bologna in Italy.
In practical terms, the WTO certification will facilitate access to Ecotourism School exchange programs for students and teachers, international internships and provide opportunities to enrich the teaching and training models with the experience of other institutions.
The director of the School of Ecotourism commended the work done by the UNAB team, composed by Victor Leiva, Daniela Bravo, Humberto Rivas and Francisco Santa Maria, who prepared the background for the audit. "It was hard work, it’s one thing to say you are relevant, but it’s another thing to prove it," she said.
The Ecotourism Management degree was created as part of the School of Ecology and Natural Resources in 2001 in Santiago and is now also delivered at UNAB’s Viña del Mar and Concepción campuses.
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.