IUCN

What does sustainable tourism in a post-COVID look like in Vietnam?

As 2022 came to an end, so did the ‘Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World’ project, funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, in which we collaborated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

With this project, we aimed to uplift communities, living in and around protected areas, to use tourism enterprises as a way to recover from the impacts created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project also aimed to develop a more crisis-resilient and sustainable landscape in and around protected and conserved areas. The focus was on improving the ecological and social aspects of tourism and rebuilding better for people, wildlife, and ecosystems.

To achieve this, IUCN and Planeterra worked in the Cuc Phuong National Park and Van Long Nature Reserve (Vietnam) to provide training to, and build the capacity of, community members. Through this, both organizations were looking to uplift local community tourism enterprises and increase their benefits, build common visions through action planning, and provide recommendations to protected area staff and management, as well as global guidance and best practice solution sharing based on lessons learned from the project.

We used MEET Network’s experience and methodology to inform and provide guidance and content to the project, including its actions with project sites. Also, the IUCN Green List Standard was core to the success of the project.

Our work in Vietnam

Tourism was not the main source of income for the communities in the Cuc Phuong National Park. The Khanh village has been the only location open to visitors since 1993, making it one of the earliest examples of community-based tourism in Vietnam, as noted by the Cuc Phuong Management Board. However, the village currently has only four homestays and the services, pertaining to tourism, are limited.

We found out that people in Cuc Phuong were keen to gain knowledge about tourism and use it to diversify their income. We also discovered that staff from the Cuc Phuong Center of Education and Environmental Services, in charge of tourism and education activities, were not trained to deliver tourism products and services. Likewise, there was no monitoring and evaluation system in place to ensure an effective and smooth operation of community tourism-related products. 

We could see a similar case in the Van Long Nature Reserve, given that tourism was not the main source of income, but community members were eager to gain the skills and knowledge needed to run a tourism enterprise. It was also identified that the Management Board responsible for tourism management in the area, lacked expertise in the matter.

Check out the activities the project initially planned for the Cuc Phuong National Park, here.

To identify all of the situations mentioned above and adapt the initial project plan to better suit the communities needs, our team in the field started off by conducting a baseline survey.

Training sessions

A series of three workshops were conducted in five villages to improve the community participants’ knowledge and skills in:

  • Health & safety.
  • Ecotourism product and itinerary development.
  • Ecotourism marketing and promotion.

All the contents were tailored to fit the demographic features of selected communities (ethnicity, age, learning ability, etc.). 

Read more about the Health and Safety training in both protected areas in this blog post.

Product development and pilot trips

Four tour itineraries that highlighted the most prominent features of the local communities were designed and two out of them were put into practice. Since community members were mostly new to tourism, it was determined that hosting pilot trips, which would give an opportunity to community members to interact with tourists first-hand, would be more suitable activities to implement at this stage.

The project, in close collaboration with community members, then organized one ‘learning trip’ for tour guides and three ‘test trips’ (two to Khanh village in Cuc Phuong National Park and one to the Van Long Natural Reserve) involving expatriates living in Hanoi. These initiatives helped our team to get feedback from visitors as well as give local communities the chance to improve their skills before introducing them to the tourism market. 

Learn more about the pilot trips in Vietnam here.

Planeterra’s key learnings

After working on the ‘Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World’ project in Vietnam for over a year, we learned that:

  • Conducting baseline surveys before designing a community tourism project is key to understanding the current situation and real needs. 
  • If there are any issues related to the administration and local partnership, they must be sorted out before the project implementation. 
  • It would be ideal to have a designated team to continue supporting the project, or perform regular check-ins after its completion, to be able to guarantee the sustainability of the activities.

Community tourism enterprise development provides local communities with additional opportunities to recover from the negative impacts of COVID-19, whilst promoting resilience through the development of business skills and knowledge and by emphasizing the importance of linking community well-being and effective protected area management.

Looking back at all the project activities (i.e. cash-for-work), we can see how some of them have had a positive impact on motivating the communities to use tourism as an additional income source that draws value from healthy and protected areas. 

For Planeterra, working on this project has reaffirmed that tourism, when managed responsibly, can be crucial to promote a positive relationship between communities and the environment. 

Learn more about the ‘Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World’ project, here.

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What does sustainable tourism in a post-COVID look like in Peru?

As 2022 came to an end, so did the ‘Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World’ project, funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, in which we collaborated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

With this project, we aimed to bridge the gap created by the pandemic on tourism and develop a more crisis-resilient and sustainable landscape in and around protected and conserved areas. The focus was also on improving the ecological and social aspects of tourism and rebuilding better for people, wildlife, and ecosystems.

To achieve this, IUCN and Planeterra worked in the Río Abiseo National Park and Amarakaeri Communal Reserve (Peru) to provide training and capacity building to community members. Through this, both organizations were looking to uplift local tourism businesses and increase their benefits, build common visions through action planning, and provide recommendations to protected area staff and management, as well as global guidance and best practice solution sharing based on lessons learned from the project.

We used MEET Network’s experience and methodology to inform and provide guidance and content to the project, including its actions with project sites. Also, the IUCN Green List Standard was core to the success of the project.

Our work in Peru

Because of COVID-19, the access roads to the Río Abiseo National Park were closed, the flow of visitors decreased, and economic activities based on agriculture, forestry work, and local commerce were limited. Even though the situation of tourism in the area seemed to be improving at the start of 2022, there were still some barriers for community members.

Some of these included having limited access to training and funding opportunities to develop unique and meaningful community tourism enterprises that go along with the flow of visitors around the local tourist attractions (e.g. the improvement of food and lodging services that already existed). Through this project, we worked with five rural communities (San Juan del Abiseo, Pizarro, Pucallpillo, Santa Rosa and Dos de Mayo community) in this protected area.

Check out this blog post and meet some of the local entrepreneurs at Río Abiseo National Park who developed and improved their community tourism products and experiences by working on this project with IUCN and Planeterra.

In the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve, the COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed the flow of tourists. Given that the community has been hosting travellers for over 10 years when tourism came to a halt it left severe economic losses. This meant that they had to go back to traditional fishing, hunting, agriculture and other extractive activities as a survival measure.

Talking about tourism, in this protected area, through the project we supported and worked with five indigenous communities (Queros, Shintuya, Puerto Azul Mberowe and Boca Ishiriwe) already involved in the tourism sector, some of them had formal organizations and basic tourism facilities to host tourists. However, there was still the need to provide training and capacity building to improve the existing community experiences, effective market access, as well as access to tools for responsible tourism development, basic sanitation, and improving the quality of life of the local population.

To get a clear understanding of the current situation of tourism in both protected areas, the team in the field conducted a baseline survey. As a result, a starting point was established for all project activities.

Conducting a baseline survey is key to the success of a project and for our team in Peru, it also became a powerful tool to boost stakeholder participation in both protected areas. It is also worth mentioning that there was no previous analysis on these topics at the national or local level, making this information the first of its kind in Peru.

Let’s review some of the most outstanding project initiatives!

Training sessions

The training sessions for this project focused on the following topics:

  • Health & safety.
  • Ecotourism product & itinerary development. 
  • Ecotourism marketing and promotion.

Thanks to the baseline surveys, our team in the field learned that the residents of Río Abiseo National Park had no previous knowledge about tourism businesses, so the sessions needed to start from zero. On the other hand, people from the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve had previous experience in tourism, so the training sessions were designed to enhance their existing tourism offer.

Read more about the ecotourism products training, here.

Community-Led Action Plans & Cash-for-Work

The community members in both protected areas had to envision how they would like tourism to be and then come up with a Collective Dream. Based on this, the participants agreed on an Action Plan that would guide their activities relating to community tourism development.

Part of the Community-Led Action Plan included Cash-for-Work activities, which enabled community members to use their skills to develop tourism infrastructure that would contribute to adding value to the products, services and itineraries that the communities developed. The Cash-for-Work mechanism ensures that these economic resources are directly benefiting each participant. 

Click here to read more about how the cash-for-work initiative empowered local communities in Peru.

Product development and FAM Trips

During the Ecotourism Product and Itinerary development training, the communities and facilitators co-designed twelve tour itineraries. To get a more practical understanding and showcase their products, the communities hosted FAM Trips with Peruvian tour operators.

The expectations from both sides were high. In the case of destination managers, joining these trips allowed them to see the reality of tourism in their territory, community performance, conservation commitment and future expectations from operators and hosts. The FAM Trips also helped to get feedback from tour operators about the protected areas and community tourism potential.

Learn more about the FAM Trips, here.

Planeterra’s key learnings

After working in the ‘Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World’ project in Peru for over a year, we learned that:

  • Coordination between all stakeholders is important. 
  • The organizations involved must work together to break down barriers instead of putting up new ones. There must be clear institutional roles and discussions over tourism management and tourist destinations governance frameworks to empower communities.
  • Having a professional team with vast knowledge and experience in each destination is crucial.
  • To succeed in tourism, there must be a clear market-driven strategy among tour operators and communities. 

Community tourism enterprise development provides local communities with additional opportunities to recover from the negative impacts of COVID-19, whilst promoting resilience through the development of business skills and knowledge and by emphasizing the importance of linking community well-being and effective protected area management.

Looking back at all the project activities (i.e. cash-for-work), we can see how some of them have had a positive impact on motivating the communities to use tourism as an additional income source that draws value from healthy and protected areas. 

For Planeterra, working on this project has reaffirmed that tourism, when managed responsibly, can be crucial to promote a positive relationship between communities and the environment. 

Learn more about the ‘Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World’ project, here.

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FAM Trips in Peru to promote local tourism experiences

IUCN FAM Trip

IUCN and Planeterra have been working with communities in Río Abiseo National Park and the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve in Peru to develop community-based tourism enterprises and link them to the travel market.

One of the best ways to do this is through familiarization trips, also known as FAM trips, where tour operators can get to know the communities first-hand. Therefore, organizing a FAM trip was one of the main initiatives of the project.

Last October, representatives from several Peruvian tour operators gathered in the Río Abiseo National Park and the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve to discover all the wonderful experiences the communities have to offer.

FAM Trip in the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve

From the 16th to 22nd of October, six representatives from various Peruvian tour operators, two Amarakaeri management representatives and the IUCN media team gathered in the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve to discover all the wonderful experiences the communities of Queros Shintuya, Boca Ishiriwe and Puerto Azul Mberowe have to offer.

During the FAM trip, participants had the opportunity to interact with the communities, learn about their culture and natural environment, taste their traditional dishes and experience new tourism proposals. The main activities included:

  • Visiting the Hinkiori petroglyphs and getting to know the local handicrafts in Queros.
  • Conservation and handicraft experience by the “Oteri” initiative, culinary tasting by the “Wandar Wachinokeri” initiative and visiting the hot springs in Shintuya.
  • Visiting the macaw clay lick in Puerto Azul Mberowe.
  • Visiting a mammal clay lick in Boca Ishiriwe.

The FAM trip was a great learning experience for the communities, especially for two of them as it was their first time hosting tour operators. The feedback from the participants will be of great value in improving existing tourism offerings or creating new experiences.

FAM Trip in the Río Abiseo National Park

From the 27th to 29th of October, four local and regional Peruvian tour operators, four destination managers from the public and private sectors and the IUCN media team visited the communities of Dos de Mayo, Pucallpillo, Santa Rosa, Pizarro and San Juan del Abiseo in the Río Abiseo National Park.

During the FAM trip, participants had the opportunity to interact with the communities, learn about their culture and natural environment, taste their traditional dishes and experience new tourism proposals. The main activities included:

  • The Chocoplatano gastronomic experience.
  • Nature and cultural experiences through the cocoa fields in Pulcapillo.
  • Touring the Meliponas circuit in Pizarro.
  • Tasting of bark and root-based beverages in San Juan del Abiseo.

Although this was the first time the communities had hosted tour operators, they did an excellent job. They’d prepared special receptions, speeches and dances, and had excellent time management skills. 

The communities were motivated to take the lead and start ‘now’, especially after the construction work was done through the cash-for-work mechanism. 

The FAM trip participants provided input, helped them with the formalities of working and shared the next steps. This feedback inspired communities and other stakeholders to compromise and continue working to promote the destination and the great tourism experiences it has to offer. 

These FAM trips are just the beginning of a great journey in tourism for the communities of Río Abiseo National Park and Amarakaeri. Read more about the ‘Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World’ project, here.

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Pilot trips introduce the communities in Vietnam to the tourism market

Pilot trips in Vietnam 2

Community members at Cuc Phuong National Park and Van Long Nature Reserve in Vietnam are putting their newly acquired skills in sustainable tourism operations to the test by hosting real visitors.

The teams at IUCN and Planeterra have organized pilot excursions to the protected areas, so community members have the chance to be exposed to different visitor markets, allowing them to practise what they have learned in the past few months during the training sessions, in real-life situations.

The pilot trips offer travellers two itineraries:

A weekend getaway in Van Long Nature Reserve

Van Long Wetland Nature Reserve is one of the largest wetland nature reserves in the Vietnamese Northern Delta. The natural land area is more than 3,500 hectares and consists of eleven ecosystems, the two major being the limestone forest and wetland ecosystems.

Travellers that joined this trip, are amongst the first visitors to be welcomed by the local communities of Gia Hoa commune (Gia Vien district, Ninh Binh). Here are some of the activities that they enjoyed:

  • Getting to know the pristine and charming beauty of “Ha Long Bay on land, still relatively unknown to most tourists.
  • Discovered the authentic northern lifestyle while learning about the livelihood of the locals.
  • Sampled some delicious dishes prepared with fresh ingredients grown locally.
  • Went for a boat ride through the vast area of Van Long wetland to enjoy the peaceful scenery.

Explore Muong Culture in Cuc Phuong National Park

Cuc Phuong National Park is the oldest national park in Vietnam. It was founded in 1962 and it is already a well-known tourist destination. Cuc Phuong’s ancient forest is home to more than 2,234 vascular and non-vascular plants, 122 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 135 species of mammals, including clouded leopard, Delacour’s langur, Owston’s civet, and Asiatic black bear.

The activities that the communities of Khanh village (An Nghia commune, Lac Son district, Hoa Binh) specially designed for this itinerary are:

  • Exploring the rich culture of Muong ethnic people, one of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups.
  • An immersive culinary experience, including a trek in the primary forest to explore the abundant flora and fauna of this region.
  • Get a taste of delicious mountainous dishes made from local fresh ingredients.
  • Discovering how local communities / indigenous groups are integrated into the work of the protected area’s management.

Outcomes of the pilot trips

Visitors had a chance to explore the local culture and the natural surroundings and community members got to interact will real travellers and get a better understanding of what hosting a tour looks like. 

Visitors were impressed with the hospitality of the local people and found that the training provided to the local communities by the Project, was valuable and helped its purpose. 

After their experience, visitors were asked for their thoughts and some improvements suggestions were pointed out. The feedback from these pilot trips will allow community members to improve their tourism offers.

To learn more about the Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World project, click here.

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Cash-for-work to empower local communities in Peru

Cash-for-work interventions are creating opportunities for local communities to strengthen their economies and to empower their sense of ownership.

Dos de Mayo Community, Río Abiseo National Park

One of the main problems that arise when developing community tourism experiences, is the lack of infrastructure to accommodate visitors and offer them the services they need for a comfortable stay. Building the facilities is the obvious solution to this issue, but what if we also took advantage of the chance to give the residents an additional source of income? That is where the Cash-for-Work (CFW) mechanism comes into play.

CFW interventions aim to create opportunities for local communities to strengthen their economies and empower their sense of ownership. For that reason, CFW is one of the main initiatives included in the Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World project for the communities in Peru.

Community members have previously identified in their Action Plans construction works that needed to be given priority. These interventions are fully funded through the CFW mechanism. During the past few weeks, ten communities in Amarakaeri Communal Reserve and Río Abiseo National Park have been working to build the needed infrastructure and facilities.

These are some of the results of their work:

New facility San Juan del Abiseo

San Juan del Abiseo Community (Río Abiseo National Park)

In San Juan del Abiseo, residents worked to build a house for tourists and a “Welcome to the community” sign. This project directly benefits 17 community members (14 men and 3 women).

Pizarro community viewpoint

Pizarro Community (Río Abiseo National Park)

In Pizarro, residents worked to build a tourist viewpoint, improving the road to access it. They also reformed an exhibition space for meliponiculture (the breeding of melipon bees or stingless bees) and one booth for sanitary facilities. This project directly benefits 28 community members (24 men and 4 women).

Pulcapillo Delivering facilities in Pucallpillo community

Pucallpillo Community (Río Abiseo National Park)

In Pucallpillo, residents worked to build three bridges to improve accessibility in the community. They also built a welcome booth (“Tambo” at the local pier), a “Welcome to the community” sign and the signposting for a cocoa demonstration plot. This project directly benefits 30 community members (26 men and 4 women).

Clara-del-Aguila-Aspajo-and-her-son-Jose-Caballero-del-Aguila-in-their-new-bread-facilities-scaled.Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa Community (Río Abiseo National Park)

In Santa Rosa, residents worked to improve the maloca (rest area), the pedestrian access road to its Botanical Garden. They also built an artisan oven, a community bridge and giant 3D letters with the name of the community. This project directly benefits 22 community members (17 men and 5 women).

Supervision-entrega_Mejora-de-acceso-a-la-comunidad-Dos-de-Mayo-scaled.jpg

Dos de Mayo Community (Río Abiseo National Park)

In Dos de Mayo, residents worked to build a bridge to improve the access between the pier and the central area of the community. This project directly benefits 20 community members (18 men and 2 women).

Proceso de elaboración de Tachos ecologicos_Shintuya

Shintuya Community (Amarakaeri Communal Reserve)

In Shintuya, residents worked to build a sanitary pit for community waste and six wooden huts with three garbage cans made out of local plant roots. This project directly benefits 34 community members (12 men and 22 women). Note: the construction aims to be completed by October 31, 2022.

Armado de la construcción_Puerto Azul

Puerto Azul Community (Amarakaeri Communal Reserve)

In Puerto Azul, residents worked to build a community dining room. This project directly benefits 15 community members (10 men and 5 women). Note: the construction aims to be completed by October 31, 2022.

Boca Ishiriwe Limpieza del Área de construcción

Boca Ishiriwe Community (Amarakaeri Communal Reserve)

In Boca Ishiriwe, residents are working to build a visitor reception centre. This project directly benefits 26 community members (12 men and 14 women). Note: the construction aims to be completed by October 31, 2022.

Apertura de área 5_ sembrado de Castaña Barranco Chico

Barranco Chico Community (Amarakaeri Communal Reserve)

In Barranco Chico, residents are working to plant ornamental and production plants such as chestnuts, palm trees and coconut, among others. This project directly benefits 25 community members (9 men and 16 women). Note: the construction aims to be completed by October 15, 2022.

In around five months of work in both protected areas, all these interventions have positively impacted 243 individuals (152 men and 91 women). The Planeterra team has been supervising the process in each community of the Río Abiseo National Park between September 19 and 30, 2022.

To learn more about the Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World project, click here.

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Health & Safety training for community tourism in a post-COVID era

“Thanks to the project’s workshop, we have a chance to sit together, have open discussions and be engaged in developing our community rules” - Mr. Trinh Van Kim (Doi Ngo village, Van Long NR).

Doi Ngo_Vietnam_Planeterra_IUCN

In July and August 2022, our team in Vietnam conducted training on Health and Safety (H&S) implications in community tourism at Cuc Phuong National Park and Van Long Wetlands Nature Reserve.

With this activity, we aimed to provide suggestions on operational procedures to manage health risks for tourism-related experiences in a post-COVID-19 era. We also wanted to share public space renovation ideas to create a safe tourism environment in the communities and guide service providers in good practices for waste treatment.

A total of 58 people attended the H&S workshops at two villages in Cuc Phuong National Park and 125 at three villages in Van Long Wetlands Nature Reserve.

During these sessions, community members became aware of the Rules and Regulations in H&S and community tourism services proposed by local authorities and developed a Code of Conduct for H&S and Services, including a set of rules that guests should follow during their stay in the villages.

In addition, the local community agreed on an Action Plan for renovating the public space to create a clean, healthy, and safe environment to welcome guests. Some of the proposed interventions are:

  • Transforming a designated area in Khanh village into a parking lot and planting tall trees to provide shade.
  • Reducing waste in every household.
  • Making the villages even more picturesque by planting more flowers and decorating trees in front of local family homes.

Community members have also compromised to follow H&S procedures when welcoming guests and gained knowledge about the cleaning and waste management processes. 

While conducting the H&S training, our team in Vietnam reflected on the importance of sharing information about H&S-related issues with the community in general, not only with those involved in tourism. Therefore, they decided to hold different sessions, one for all residents and another for the households that provide tourism activities.

HS training - Vuon Thi_Vietnam_Planeterra_IUCN

They also realized that, when working on a project, it is crucial to have in-depth knowledge about situations, beliefs and the characteristics of each community to adjust training or activities to their specific needs.

Click here to learn more about the ‘Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World’

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Community-led Action Plans and Training on Ecotourism Products in Peru

Community-led Action Plans have been a crucial part of the "Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas in a Post-COVID World” project in Peru.

During March and June 2022, our team in the field worked alongside the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in developing two Action Plans led by ten communities from the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve and Río Abiseo National Park. 

Through this participatory process, the communities determined how they envision tourism in their territories and determined concrete steps to achieve it.

One of the key elements of these plans has been the Cash-for-Work (CFW) interventions, through which the Project will finance the construction of the infrastructure and equipment that each community established in their Action Plans.

In Río Abiseo and Amarakaeri, these include the renovation of bridges and accessible tourist trails, the implementation of a restaurant, a reception house for guests, and a tourist viewpoint, among others.

The initial state of a bridge in the Pucallpillo Community, Río Abiseo National Park

With the CFW programs, Planeterra and IUCN aim to impact 107 families in the Río Abiseo National Park and 75 families in the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve.

The benefits not only include purchasing construction materials, but also providing jobs to the community members participating in the Project.

The success and continuation of this process lie in the collaboration of several stakeholders. These include local offices from the protected areas of Río Abiseo and Amarakaeri of the SERNANP (the Peruvian National Service for Natural Areas Protected by the State) and the Amarakaeri Administration Contract Executor (also known by its acronym in Spanish, ECA) and of course, the representatives from the local communities. 

Socialization Workshop, Boca Ishiriwe, Amarakaeri Communal Reserve

Additionally, between June 10 and 21, 2022, 145 participants from five communities of Río Abiseo National Park were trained on how to create Ecotourism Itineraries and Products.

The training sessions were developed in collaboration with the IUCN and aimed to evaluate and create specific knowledge in the following areas:

  • Ecotourism and its different types of experiences: Each session explained the opportunities of ecotourism-related activities and their connection with conservation.
  • Developing tourism products: Tailor-made itineraries according to the local context and market opportunities.
  • Measuring the potential of an attraction: Through in-field technical visits to the main attractions of the communities.
  • Itinerary planning and costs: Practical workshops to build itineraries based on the experiences and expectations of community members.
  • Communication management between stakeholders: To create the final itineraries, it was important to keep in close communication with stakeholders such as the SERNANP.

Training sessions were tailored to meet the needs and potential of each community. 

Action Plan Workshop, Rio Abiseo

As a result, five communities in Rio Abiseo have itineraries that include traditional activities, costs, and the number of people responsible for each experience, making them an attractive option for local and regional tour operations to promote the destination. 

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Meet some of the local entrepreneurs in Río Abiseo, Peru

In Peru, community members have developed action plans to recover the local tourism industry and ensure that there will be even more benefits for the communities.

Santa Rosa Community, Rio Abiseo National Park_IUCN_Planeterra

As the tourism industry begins to recover, Planeterra is working around the world to ensure that more communities will have access to the positive impacts of the tourism industry as it returns! One of the ways we are doing this is through our partnership with IUCN in Peru.

Planeterra’s local team has identified local tourism entrepreneurs in protected areas looking to create new or improve existing tourism experiences.

When done sustainably, tourism in protected areas provides a way for community members and travellers to enjoy and celebrate the natural beauty of the lands, while increasing our overall well-being and connectedness to nature.

Meet some of the local entrepreneurs in World Heritage Site, Río Abiseo, in Peru who will be improving and developing their products with us over the coming months:

Clara del Águila Aspajo, Santa Rosa Community, Rio Abiseo National Park

Clara del Águila Aspajo-Santa Rosa Community, Rio Abiseo National Park-IUCN

Clara is an artisanal baker. Her bread is consumed daily by community members in Santa Rosa. She bakes using local ingredients, including flour, egg, oil, yeast and occasionally cheese.

Through the project, Clara and her family hope to offer their baked goods as an experience to visitors. To accomplish this, they will be working to diversify the types of bread they produce and how to turn the bread-making process into a fun experience. 

Clara hopes to showcase locally sourced ingredients with her bread, like cocoa, sausage and yucca. She also wants to show visitors the important role her bakery plays in community life in Santa Rosa!

Jerly Huaman Quispe, San Juan del Abiseo – Rio Abiseo National Park

Jerly Huaman Quispe_San Juan del Abiseo - Rio Abiseo National Park_IUCN_planeterra

Jerly wants to create an ecotourism product which highlights natural drinks made from medicinal barks from trees in San Juan del Abiseo.

In order to do this, Jerly is looking for support through the project on how to create a sustainable tourism experience that is aligned with conservation goals in his protected area. 

His location is accessible to the flow of visitors coming to Rio Abiseo. With the new experience, Jerly hopes more people will visit his community and see its natural beauty.

Sandro Sandoval Caballero, Pucallpillo Community, Rio Abiseo National Park

Sandro Sandoval Caballero_Pucallpillo Community, Rio Abiseo National Park_IUCN_Planeterra

Sandro is a cocoa farmer. He hopes to create an ecotourism experience that will allow visitors to understand the full cocoa production process. Visitors will learn about (and participate in!) planting, harvesting, post-harvest and marketing of cocoa.

Through the project, Sandro hopes to learn more about tourism, and how he can turn his cocoa production into a fun and educational experience for visitors to Pucallpillo.

The community currently sells cocoa products to the European market through their own community-based enterprise called “Choba Choba”.

Rodolfo Vargas Vásquez, Pizarro Community, Rio Abiseo National Park

Rodolfo Vargas Vásquez_Pizarro Community, Rio Abiseo National Park_IUCN_Planeterra

Rodolfo is a beekeeper and honey producer. He and his community hope to teach visitors about Meliponas (stingless bees), including a demonstration of how they take care of this special bee.

Breeding of Meliponas is a livelihood of community members. They aim to create an ecotourism experience that complements this livelihood without compromising the conservation of the species. 

A beekeeping tourism experience in Pizarro would be the first offered in the protected area and a special experience for any visitor.

In Peru, community members along with protected area site managers have developed Action Plans to recover the local tourism industry and ensure that there will be even more benefits for the local communities in the future!

These entrepreneurs will receive training on product development, marketing, and health and safety over the coming months to improve their overall products.

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How we’re keeping communities at the center of tourism recovery in Vietnam

We were able to identify four villages with high community tourism and socio-economic impact potential for project intervention at Cuc Phuong National Park.

As a well-known destination in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has beautiful beaches, vibrant cities, diverse cultures, expansive coastlines, mountains, deltas and much more, attracting over 18 million international visitors in 2019.

These visitors contributed over US$ 33.1 million to Vietnam’s growing economy and made it one of the most popular countries to visit in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,  Vietnam’s economy has suffered greatly from the halt in tourism. In 2020, revenue from tourism decreased dramatically, generating only 42% compared to 2019.

This has had a substantial impact on the people and places once frequently visited by international guests.

Planeterra’s work with the IUCN aims to offer and grow the benefits of sustainable community tourism in response to the impacts of the pandemic.

The project targets community members who have suffered financial loss from COVID-19 and introduces community tourism as a way to make the industry more sustainable and beneficial for all people and nature, as tourism returns to Vietnam.

The project is focused on two protected areas in North Vietnam: Cuc Phuong National Park and Van Long Wetland Natural Reserve.

Introducing Cuc Phuong National Park

In January, Planeterra’s project team in Vietnam visited Cuc Phuong National Park for the first time to kick off the project activities. Established in 1962, Cuc Phuong is the oldest national park in Vietnam, showcasing an engaging cultural and wildlife heritage with enchanting scenery.

Covered in a dense forest, this landscape forms the habitat for some of Asia’s rarest animal and plant species, like the Delacour’s Langur (Trachipythecus delacouri), Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) and Vietorchis Aurea Aver Orchid.

The national park’s management board has done an amazing job in offering unique experiences with valuable knowledge in biodiversity conservation to both domestic and international visitors.

In 2020, the number of tourists visiting Cuc Phuong dropped by 50%. Subsequently, the number of visitors to communities around the park also decreased. In other villages with no prior tourism activities, people have also struggled to make ends meet.

Activities in Cuc Phuong over the past months

Working closely with IUCN and the management board of Cuc Phuong National Park, we were able to identify four villages with high community tourism and socio-economic impact potential for project intervention.

In order to better understand their situation, the Planeterra team first conducted a baseline survey of 185 community members.  Through this process, we learned that community members have a high interest to participate in tourism, but very limited exposure and access to the market.

The survey results provide a thorough understanding of how COVID-19 has impacted the communities’ livelihoods, their current tourism initiatives and their interest in engaging in community-based tourism.

Future project activities will be adapted to ensure that the interests of the local community are at the center of our work.

Planeterra is also working in Vietnam currently, and we will update you on that progress soon! We thank you and our entire community for supporting us and the communities we work with.

Stay tuned for our next activities in Van Long Nature Reserve!

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Sustainable tourism as a driver for Economic Growth in Peru

The Peru team met with community members to discuss project goals & to better understand tourism potential.

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Peru is known for its rich natural and cultural history, Peru drew over 4.5 million tourists in 2019, generating over US$ 4.7 million and 3.5 million jobs.

Within its three geographic regions, Peru contains 80% of the world’s climate types and 84 of the 114 life zones. Peru’s people and economy have suffered greatly from a loss of tourism revenue because of the pandemic.

Between January and July 2020, the arrival of international tourists decreased by 67.3%, compared to the same period of the previous year.

Our work with IUCN will support a COVID-19 response to impacts on local benefits from tourism by collaborating with communities in two protected areas in Peru, the Rio Abiseo National Park and Amarakaeri Communal Reserve.

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Introducing Rio Abiseo

In January, Planeterra’s project team in Peru visited Rio Abiseo National Park for the first time to kick off the project activities. Rio Abiseo is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site covering 274,520 hectares of the Eastern Cordillera – a vital part of the Amazon watershed.

The area protects thousands of species of flora and fauna, including iconic, rare and endemic Amazon wildlife such as the critically endangered yellow-tailed woolly monkey and the Huallaga Toucanet!

A significant area of the Park is under rehabilitation, which has the potential to provide local employment and ‘green jobs‘ with further investment. In 2019, there were approximately 1,200 visitors, mainly domestic, but the steady increase in international guests was cause for optimism and growth in tourism service and promotion for the area along the value chain.

However, in 2020 this growth substantially decreased. Our team is working to implement the training and development needed to activate the community’s vision for sustainable tourism in the national park; particularly, through community-based tourism initiatives.

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Activities in Rio Abiseo Last Month

In the last week of January, the Peru team met with 77 community members across five villages to discuss project goals, better understand the tourism potential of each community, and most importantly, learn about the communities’ vision for their families and how nature-based tourism can play a key role in achieving those goals.

During the first week of February, 150 baseline surveys were conducted to better understand how COVID-19 has impacted the communities’ livelihoods, their current tourism initiatives and their perception about implementing sustainable tourist products in post-pandemic scenarios, so that project activities can be adapted to community needs, and impact tracked over time!

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Planeterra and IUCN are working together to ensure that communities will once again benefit from sustainable tourism, and that tourism is better integrated into protected area management planning and operations at both sites in Peru, and inform a blueprint for other places in the country!

We are also working in Vietnam currently, and we will update you on that progress soon! We thank you and our entire community for supporting us and the communities we work with.

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