COMMUNITY TOURISM Ecuador: Alliance between Civil Society, private enterprises and local governments to promote access to responsible tourism market in the northern region of Ecuador. February ’07 – January ‘08 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES CARE Ecuador is developing a responsible tourism offer in the northern region of Ecuador (characterized by extreme poverty and the presence of Afro- Ecuadorian population) promoting small and medium enterprises in partnership with a financial institutions and tour operators. The first phase of the project is focused on tourism value chain analysis and building multi-sector partnerships. The main private sector partner in this first phase is “Banco Solidario” – a commercial bank financing sectors that lack access to mainstreaming credit. Contacts have been taken with national and international tour operators to involve them in the project and the project partners have designed the first responsible tourism packages. The local government is involved to create incentive to stimulate the adoption of CSR practices in the tourism sector in the region. This is the first community tourism experience for CARE Ecuador and there is no thorough systematization in the region, apart from “Ruta del Che” final report. General Objective: Contribute to poverty reduction by including rural communities in the process of tourism development in the Northern Region of Ecuador. Specific Objective: Improve the quality of life of the population in the Northern Region of Ecuador, linked to responsible tourism industry, by supporting Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises, in a sustainable and equitable fashion and protecting the tourism resources in the region. Expected Results: 1. Understood the responsible tourism value chain in the Northern Region of Ecuador 2. Established a multi-sector alliance among local stakeholders (small and medium enterprises) with large tour operators. PROGRESS Community tourism projects are not a common initiative for CARE in Latin America, and and exchange of experience with Bolivia has been organized. Among important lessons gained from Bolivia experience are: 1. Value chain analysis is fundamental at the beginning of the project in order to avoid unrealistic expectations of the stakeholders of the alliance and put the bases for a fair distribution of the value created 2. It is fundamental the establish alliances with tour operators since the beginning of the project, because this is a role that the private sector only can assume and can help to shape the offer based on the demand 3. Need to establish a common language and communication flow between large private firms, SMEs and communities through a capacity building process (using CSR language), in order to prevent conflicts Elaborated Market Study for the responsible tourism market in the northern region of Ecuador. The design of five tourism products has been elaborated. Tourism value chain analysis in progress Established the responsible tourism network of the northern region of Ecuador. It is the first time that communities (indigenous, mestizos and afro), private sectors and land owners met to start the negotiations to integrate their tourism initiatives. RESULTS TO DATE This project is meant to be a study and start-up phase for a bigger tourism initiative. The impact therefore cannot be measured on the final beneficiaries yet. The first specific objective is work in progress (50%) as the tourism value chain is almost completed and its development will start during the next few months. The establishment responsible tourism networks is the most notable result of the project until now as it aggregates more than 20 entities of different sectors and has the potential to generate the necessary resources to make the initiative advance after this first phase.
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