BURLINGTON, VT; February 18, 2013 - G Adventures together with its corporate foundation Planeterra has launched a 3-year initiative in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Peru to link community based tourism projects to tour operators both locally and internationally.
Megan Epler Wood is acting as the Senior Techical Consultant for the project and led the design effort for one year together with Kelly Galaski, Latin America Projects Coordinator for Planeterra.
The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the InterAmerican Development Bank is supporting this innovative effort together with matching funds from G Adventures to develop more viable tourism markets in rural and indigenous areas that are not benefitting from the tourism economy, by financing the training and development support required to link local community projects directly to the G Adventures supply chain.
While tourism is booming in Latin America, with an annual growth rate of 7% annually in Latin America, poverty rates remain high. Even in popular tourism areas, such as Lake Atitlan in Guatemala and the Sacred Valley in Peru, indigenous people, and women are frequently not beneficiaries of the growing tourism economy.
This project seeks to set a model for linking local community projects to regional and international markets by engaging tour operators as an essential ingredient in ensuring local community products reach the marketplace.
"Planeterra plays a pivotal role in ensuring community needs are met," comments Megan Epler Wood. "We will be coordinating a series of local training and product development efforts that will focus on community capacity to be well managed suppliers to tour operators."
This effort will convert well-meaning community projects that have often failed due to a lack of market exposure and savvy, into long term sources of revenue and opportunity for local communities and help to set a standard for how community tourism projects are developed in future.