Thanks to the support of the Trade for Development Centre – an initiative from the Belgian Development Cooperation – Cordtuch (Ecuador) is improving its offer related to community tourism.
Ecuador is a pioneer in the field of so-called ‘community tourism’ where you are welcomed by the indigenous population. The country is home to an immense biodiversity, thanks to the existence of four ecosystems - the coast, sierra, Amazon area and Galapagos Islands. Furthermore, 25 % of the population is made up of indigenous communities with ancestral traditions. Community tourism is therefore a fundamental part of the country's national development strategy. It provides investment, increases the GDP, creates new sources of decent work and boosts the standard of living among local communities.
Community tourism provides investment, increases the GDP, creates new sources of decent work and boosts the standard of living among local communities.
Community tourism Chimborazo
The Corporación para el Desarrollo del Turismo Comunitario de Chimborazo (Cordtuch) is an association of 11 initiatives related to community tourism spread across five cantons in the province of Chimborazo. Local attractions, such as the natural park Reserva de Producción Fauna Chimborazo, the national park of Sangay and El Tren (offering tourists (overnight) trips in trains on panoramic routes) attract a diverse range of visitors: national and international nature lovers, railway fanatics and travellers interested in community tourism. However, Cordtuch still needs to boost its presence in the province, as its income represents a mere 0.95% of total tourism in the province.
Initiatives from Cordtuch members are injecting new life into the local economy, creating employment opportunities and protecting ancestral knowledge and the cultural heritage of the Kichwa Puruwa people. This is facilitates intercultural relationships with tourists. Such initiatives also contribute to building awareness and protecting natural riches, allowing the local population to live in a healthy and balanced environment.
New activities and initiatives have been developed, such as traditional craft workshops, centres for the processing of medicinal plants, projects involving the farming of llamas, vicuñas and alpacas, tree nurseries, a cultural museum, agro-ecological farms, …
New activities and initiatives have been developed, such as traditional craft workshops, centres for the processing of medicinal plants, projects involving the farming of llamas, vicuñas and alpacas, tree nurseries, a cultural museum, agro-ecological farms, … or, reforestation with indigenous trees, the protection of the páramo – a typical ecosystem in the Andes – and micro catchment areas. Cordtuch's activities are being reinforced thanks the founding of a new commercial and technical division, the Operadora de Turismo Comunitario Puruha Razurku responsible for launching its members' services on to the market.
An improved offer for tourists thanks to the Trade for Development Centre
The project funded by the Trade for Development Centre aims to make small businesses focused on community tourism sustainable. It provides support by (1) strengthening business skills in general, (2) developing the tourist offer on the local, regional or international markets with systems to improve and monitor their quality, based on certification related to sustainable tourism (3) and participation in trade fairs to present the range of community tourism on offer.
Two examples make the project more specific;
- A book of stories from the Andes has been created together with the Department of Natural Resources at the University of Rio Bamba (ecotourism course). Each community was invited to choose a story, which was then recorded and illustrated in watercolour. The university students became involved in storytelling evenings in the communities to dig up lost stories and write them down. It was not only a matter of topping up cultural heritage but also about creating interaction between various generations and communities.
- Cordtuch has made an orientation handbook for the 11 participating communities. In doing so, it aims to reinforce its company image and anticipate tourists' needs. The handbook contains tourist information, orientation, ecological and cultural explanations, warnings of any risks, etc. and can be given to visiting tourists by the communities. It also contains a common style for signposts and information boards, including technical standards and references for texts, structure, logos, colour indication and materials. The handbook has been issued to the authorities so that it can also be used on a national scale.