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Community-based and indigenous tourism in Latin America after COVID-19

by Irina Kincherova

Latin American Indigenous Tourism, webinar

In May 2020, the joined team of and organized a webinar with an ultimate goal to connect communities during these pandemic times and discuss their experiences about the present and future of tourism in their territories. Speakers from Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru shared their views on this new life that communities in Latin America have to adjust to.

The situation that we all live in now makes it impossible for tourism industry to have any activity at the moment, and nobody can surely say when we will be able to come back to traveling, even inside our own countries. However, let’s focus on the positive. This is a great opportunity for the Earth to have a rest and for all of us to have a deep breath, re-think, re-plan and come up with new ideas for future traveling.

Indigenous community in Salta, Argentina
Salta, Argentina

Communities all over Latin America take advantage of extra time that the pandemiс brought to them and focus on agriculture and farming. As Natalia Valdez from Salta Province in Argentina puts it, “we’ve always been in contact with nature and worked collectively in gardening and farming. Now we added a new activity of developing community-based tourism at the local level.” Natalia says that we all have been given a great opportunity to know ourselves better, learn about our past, go back to the roots, so then when it’s all over, we can share it all with the travelers, as “we believe they are looking for exactly that – intercultural encounter, learning and bonding with the place.

Lorena Zafra from Antioquia, Colombia tells us that they quickly learned that they can’t depend on only one activity (tourism), “we need to pay more attention to the local development, agriculture.Sandro Saravia agrees with Lorena. “It’s been a hard time for the communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia,” he says, “but tourism is a complementary activity to agriculture, so communities take care of cultivating food.” 

Women from a community in Guatemala
Women from a community in Guatemala

Walther Pancca from Titicaca, Peru also mentions agriculture as an alternative activity to tourism, yet sadly adds that with no tourist activities young people are eager to leave to big cities to look for a job as “there is even no internet connection around here”. Walther believes that agencies should start selling tours online to speed up the reactivation of community-based tourism, as “without it young people will leave and the village will slowly die”. Reportedly, the youth would love to stay and work in their homeland, doing such ecological, healthy work, respecting their culture and traditions, however, without tourism it becomes impossible.

Speaking of reactivating the industry of community-based tourism, Lorena believes that, in the “new world”, we’ll have to change the modality of the traveling to shorter trips and we have a possibility to offer it starting with people from our own countries. “People have been locked in their houses for a while now. And it’s our power to give them the opportunity to travel and provide them with everything they need during the trip.

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

We here in Travolution agree with the communities all over South America when they say that we’ll surely get out of this complicated reality and we’ll be able to come back to what we enjoy most – receiving people in our homes and undoubtedly become friends with them. As Sandro puts it, Community-based tourism is a big part of the future and we will continue doing what we’ve been doing before”, and adds “and we’ll definitely be ready to come back to work when it’s all over”.

Meanwhile, we already offer our travelers the opportunity to organize their next trip. The communities, the agencies and ourselves work hard to insure the safety written in our health policies. We invite you to book one of our tailor-made trips now and make it happen as soon as it becomes possible.

If you understand Spanish, you can watch the webinar on Youtube.

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