Community-based tourism for conservation of native communities
Indigenous native communities across the Americas are carrying out courageous and determined efforts to adapt to modern economic systems, while maintaining their native languages, traditions, and ways of life, and ensuring the conservation of their lands, natural resources and environment.
The Kichwa Añangu indigenous community, located in Yasuni National Park in Ecuador’s Amazon region, is an excellent example of native peoples’ efforts to adapt to rapidly changing economic conditions. In 2004, they took on a great challenge and embraced tourism as an alternative for local development by creating two exceptional tourism products: Napo Wildlife Center and Napo Cultural Center. This successful initiative allowed for not only the conservation of more than 21 thousand hectares of the park, but also for preserving the native community’s traditions and way of life. Currently, community members do not feel a need to move to large cities in search of opportunities. Working in tourism allows them to preserve their language (Kichwa), their arts and traditions, and to improve the quality of life of all the community’s residents, who thanks to this initiative now enjoy improved health services and education.
Similarly, the community of Chillca, located in the foothills of the Mt. Ausangate in Cusco, Peru, decided in 2006 to create a tourist product that would help with the conservation of its only economic activity, the herding of llamas and alpacas. That is how Andean Lodges was created. It is now a well-established rural community-based tourism company that has integrated many members of the local population in its lodging operations and management of trekking programs on the Route to Ausangate, making good use of their traditional knowledge and expertise, at the same time creating ongoing training programs that train community participants, with the outcome of clear improvements in the quality of life of the local population.
Today, both communal companies, Añangu and Chillca, have joined forces across borders in a strategic alliance, which aims to transfer knowledge through internships, by promoting the importance of community work, and by recognizing the importance of adapting to a globalized world. The first phase involved cross-community surveys between both projects. Two community leaders of Añangu, Jiovany Rivadeneyra and Mauricio Jipa, visited the community of Chillca and saw first-hand the work being done at Andean Lodges, taking a 5-day walk around the foothills of Mt. Ausangate, and attending presentations and meetings with members of the Chillca community. Likewise, Orlando García, a community leader from Chillca, visited the Kichwa Añangu community, actively participating in the community’s tourism activities at Napo Wildlife Center and Napo Cultural Center. Through these efforts, we seek to strengthen ties between both communities, with the main goal of training community members in the management of inclusive sustainable tourism activities, and with active participation of its members. Our next step is to continue exchanging ideas and experiences between both communities, to improve the training and operational and administrative skills of all members, and to build a better world for our future generations.
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Operation team made up of community members trained as guides, kitchen staff, housekeeping, guardianship and maintenance.