Ecotourism & Indigenous Communities


Reduced to a marketing ploy by many tour operators, "ecotourism" still has much to offer a region's resident population. In the mountains of Peru, Isabelle O'Connell witnessed the building of an infrastructure of trust, communication, and co-operation between local and national authorities, as means for planning and carrying out ecotourism management.

"The great challenge essentially was to create stakeholders in the eyes of all the interested parties. TMI had not only to identify who the stakeholders were (at the individual, organizational, or agency levels), but ensure that they and their right to contribute to the discussion of development issues were recognized as such by the others. TMI also had to encourage these stakeholders to demonstrate their commitment by investing in ecotourism-related initiatives and enterprises either with cash, labour, or in-kind resources.

"The fact that so many stakeholders 'owned' it, and that the planners themselves presented it for public discussion, strengthened the plan in the eyes of government agencies significantly. They saw the plan belonged not just to the Mountain Institute, but to all the participating communities and interests. As a result, government agencies came to acknowledge the need to move toward sustainability for the region, and how important ecotourism and community development were to that sustainability."

An Andean Process Helps Restore Some Local Control To A Global Asset
O'Connell, Isobel
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