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News Article

Development Bank links with tour operator to support community-based tourism

New initiative supports tourism development in Central and South America

While community-based tourism is frequently touted as the way forward in ensuring that financial benefits from tourism stay with local people in destination communities and thus contribute to poverty reduction, often the reality does not match up to the rhetoric. The skills to properly manage and market community-based tourism enterprises are not always present, and jobs created can be low-level and temporary. But an initiative just announced for Central and South America should ensure that both finance and expertise are available for the participating enterprises. The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB), has teamed up with Canadian adventure and eco-tourism operator G Adventures to financially support and develop a new sustainable community-based tourism programme in five rural villages.

This is the first time the MIF has partnered with a tour operator on tourism development. By partnering with a leading global tour operator to develop new products, local enterprises will have instant access to a ready market and tools to meet the needs of travellers.

The programme, called Tour Operator's Plan for Sustainable Tourism, will be managed by G Adventures' corporate foundation Planeterra and aims for completion in October 2015. It will be implemented in four destinations where G Adventures and other operators send a high flow of travellers on organised tours - Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru - and initiatives will be developed in communities that have not previously benefitted from their nation's tourism activity.

Paula Vlamings, executive director, Planeterra, says, "Tourism is one of the largest industries globally and it is vital to the livelihood of 85 per cent of developing nations. Tourism creates employment opportunities, battles poverty and strengthens economies.

"The tourism industry has not traditionally been involved in international development activities but for community-based tourism development to be sustainable and effective the private sector, and specifically tour operators with reach to customers, should be engaged from the start."

Bruce Poon Tip, founder, G Adventures, says, "We're thrilled to be collaborating with the MIF and our involvement is testament to the positive impact travel can have on the lives of rural communities around the world when the power of the tourism engine is harnessed effectively. In addition to generating market demand this programme will stimulate local economic growth to preserve the cultures of these destinations.

"It also means our travellers will have the opportunity to experience new meaningful and enriching cultural exchanges with indigenous people. This project is a perfect fit for us at G Adventures as we evolve more and more into a social enterprise," says Poon Tip.

Five main community-based tourism initiatives are being developed and within each community further micro and small businesses will be developed and connected to each main enterprise. It is claimed that all will be profitable from the start due to their collaboration with G Adventures and its ability to bring visitors to the communities.

1. Coffee cooperative tour and restaurant San Miguel de Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

2. Community homestay accommodation, San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala

3. Community farm-to-table restaurant, Sacred Valley, Peru

4. Community homestay accommodation, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

5. Community-owned & managed campsite for trekkers, Lares Valley, Peru

Tip (2009) reported on a Planeterra Foundation initiative in Peru which trained local women to weave and produce crafts for tourists. A selection of database records on community-based tourism is given below.

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • David Simpson
  • Date
  • 05 March 2013
  • Source
  • Planeterra Foundation
  • Subject(s)
  • Tourism