Sant Julià de Lòria is the first municipality in Andorra to receive a certification that highlights its sustainable efforts as a tourist destination and becomes part of the largest international network of destinations and companies committed to the 2030 Agenda and the 17 SDGs.
The Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI), chaired by Dr. Tomás de Azcárate Bang, has advised and accompanied the Comú de Sant Julià de Lòria in the process since the end of 2020, when the destination signed its commitment to work and advance on its path towards continuous improvement hand in hand with this Association that ensures the alignment of destinations and companies with sustainability, the principles and objectives set by the United Nations in this area. Now, this commitment is made clear with the receipt of its certification as a Biosphere Destination, a distinction that recognises and values its sustainable efforts, implemented in the territory and its tourism industry, as well as the development and implementation of an action plan that allows the destination to continue aligning its actions with more responsible management.
In a ceremony held on Monday 28 March 2021 in the Rocafort Auditorium, the Consul Majoral presented the certificate, which was assessed by a specialised Andorran company, to the public. This is undoubtedly a first step towards a new model of non-aggressive tourism in Sant Julià de Lòria, which meets the needs of customers and users without compromising future generations.
This certification guarantees a long-term balance between different areas: economic, socio-cultural and environmental, a goal in which Josep Majoral stressed that "the action is part of a global plan". "It is a continuous review and a company will monitor once a year that we are complying with what they ask of us", explained Majoral.
For his part, Dr. Tomás de Azcárate Bang, who spoke online, highlighted the work carried out by all those involved and congratulated Sant Julià de Lòria on being the first destination in the country to obtain this international recognition.
Likewise, the CEO of the Pirineus Group, Josep Maria Comes, shared his opinion on the process of obtaining Biosphere Certified Destination recognition, as a seal "subject to indicators with which to improve in different areas". In this way, Comes explained that sustainability has three cornerstones: the environment, integration with the surroundings and energy efficiency, where the indicators show just a general picture of how we are doing in each of them.
The Comú now has the first of the three categories, Biosphere Certified Destination, thanks to the efforts it has made at the administrative level to align its actions in the area of tourism with sustainability. However, if it manages to involve its entire business fabric in its commitment to sustainability, it could strengthen these values and the impact of its actions, which would allow it to aspire in the future to the Biosphere Gold Destination or even Biosphere Platinum Destination categories.
To this end, Majoral commented that after this first step of certification at destination level, "now we need to communicate and explain to the businesses in the municipality what the overall project is and all the actions we have been doing", such as the collaboration agreement with the Chamber of Commerce to carry out a diagnosis of the commercial industry in the municipality, or the agreement signed with the association of coeliacs so that the restaurants in the area offer special meals for this group.
The benefits of being a Biosphere destination are: