Advancing local participation and human development
Under the motto “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities,” the United Nations World Tourism Organization celebrated the World Tourism Day on September 27, 2015. This year’s event paid special attention to the contribution of tourism to community development, one of the fundamental pillars for the accomplishment of a more sustainable future for all, in line with the current transition towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
With one billion people traveling on a yearly basis and generating an activity that represents about 9% of the world GDP, tourism has become one of the key sectors of global economy. But beyond that, tourism has a transformative effect on host societies: it helps foster the development of local communities, it provides a livelihood for millions of people (an estimated 1 in every 11 jobs worldwide is tourism-related), and can have positive effects on the conservation of the environment and cultures. It is for these reasons that tourism, when carried out responsibly and sustainably, can have a positive influence on people’s and region’s sustainable development.
Since 2014, Dianova International and Nicaraguan tour operator Rutas Escondidas (Hidden Trails) have agreed to promote responsible tourism packages in this country. They offer people to travel in a sustainable and responsible fashion, placing value on local participation and sustainable human development.
Responsible Tourism Can Contribute to Development – Examples
The Mistikos, of African-American descent, are one of the various ethnic communities dwelling on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. For centuries, the Mitsikos used to make a living out of the hunting of marine turtles with traditional methods and were quite renown for it. Unfortunately, due to the exploding demand in sea turtle products on the international markets in the last decade, they had to resort to more aggressive hunting techniques which have contributed to endanger sea turtles, and more particularly species like green turtles and hawksbill sea turtles.
To counter these negative effects, a skills development program has been implemented in the objective of promoting responsible tourism in “Laguna de Perlas”. USAIDS, the US cooperation agency and the Wildlife Conservation Society established a local tourist agency, Kabu Tours, and offered turtle hunters to transform themselves into tour operators. People were given an opportunity to maintain decent living standards, while turtle hunting was reduced. Thanks to this initiative it has been possible to contribute to the development of the local community and participants have at the same time become the managers and the beneficiaries of this tourism activity.
Biologist and Director of the Eco Hotel, Gema Valdivia, explains: “This project was intended to promote rural and Community tourism in order to create job and development opportunities for small entrepreneurs in our community, most of them from the coffee sector, who had lived the various crisis in the coffee industry. All of them got to understand that responsible tourism could be a new source of income that might help them improve their lives.”
“A major success factor is that the community, through the cooperative “La Reforma”, is involved in the decision process, which leads to more social cohesion and generates a new chain of value.”
Tourism is much more than a leisure activity. Traveling in a responsible fashion can positively impact the environment, the economic development and people’s livelihoods in host countries. In addition, responsible tourism increases awareness and allows for discovery, learning and sharing.
If you want to visit Nicaragua with this philosophy, visit our website: Responsible Tourism in Nicaragua.