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Celebrating Indigenous Peoples around the globe

TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION BY INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES AROUND THE WORLD.

For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have shared an ancestral connection to the land and the natural resources around them. Their unique cultures and ways of relating to each other and the environment have shaped their identity.

Learning from these communities can not only offer an advanced understanding of food systems, environmental conservation, science and innovation but also provide unforgettable experiences while travelling.

Tourism is presented as an alternative to preserving the cultural diversity and the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples. Likewise, it can foster entrepreneurship among local communities, helping them to develop socioeconomically and become more empowered.

For travellers, learning about Indigenous communities around the world allows them to delve into the traditions that have shaped our culture and history. As a result of this, both locals and tourists benefit from an educational and transformational experience.

At Planeterra, we support programs that recognize the unique offerings that Indigenous and rural communities have for tourism. 

Meet some of our partners who are working to create meaningful connections between travellers and Indigenous peoples: 

colombia

Gotsezhy Wiwa community tourism, Colombia

The Wiwa and Kogui are descendants of the ancient Tayrona people and have remained in isolation throughout history until the last couple of generations. They see tourism as a way to uphold their cultural values and share their customs and traditions, while also guaranteeing territorial sanitation and economic autonomy for the families of these communities. 

Planeterra worked with the Wiwa community leaders directly to identify opportunities in communities along the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) trekking route. Together, we developed a training kitchen, and a meal and handicraft experience all guided by local people in the Wiwa community of Gotsezhy.

Since then, the community has benefited greatly from the opportunity to increase their economic income and is now able to invest in social programs such as garbage management, community gardens, improving access to drinking water, and education.

Women have had a greater entrepreneurial role by participating in selling their handicrafts and being part of the food experience, and youths are training as local guides sharing their culture and traditions.

Learn more here.

Dqae Qare San Lodge, Botswana

The San are the earliest inhabitants of Southern Africa, they currently number around 113,000 and are scattered across six countries in the area, with a large number residing in the Kalahari region of Botswana. 

With a grant from Planeterra, improvements to Dqae Qare San Lodge that would have taken five years to complete took only a matter of months. Additionally, with the D’kar community living on about 30 cents a day, the jobs provided at Dqae Qare are truly changing lives. One Dqae Qare employee is able to support a family of ten back in the village of D’Kar.

The revenue brought by connecting Dqae Qare San Lodge to a wider travel market, allows the Kuru Development Trust to invest more in their business, empower and employ more people from D’kar, and invest more into infrastructure and community projects like fresh water infrastructure and support for their preschool.

Learn more here.

Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, Canada 

The colonization of what is now known as Canada, compounded with the implementation of residential schools and the fracturing of families, alongside the flu and smallpox epidemics, led to the alteration or loss of much of the oral history important to the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations of the Whistler region. 

There exists a demand for a larger First Nations presence in the area, to ensure the ancient cultures of the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations are protected. Likewise, there is a great need for economic opportunities which will benefit youth who live on nearby reserves.

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre affords youth from reserves in the region transport for classes, and the opportunity to train in the hospitality industry through an on-site museum and cultural tours. 

Through its partnership with Planeterra and the connection to the travel market, the center can increase its visitor numbers, giving them more opportunities to expand its training base and available visitor activities.

Groups are able to visit the center to participate in activities such as a medicinal tea ceremony, bannock tasting, or a tour of the museum and grounds.

Learn more here. 

Parwa Community Restaurant, Peru

Parwa Restaurant is owned by the Huchuy Qosqo Association, a community-based tourism enterprise developed by Planeterra with co-financing from the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank Group.

All income earned by the restaurant is used for investment in social projects for the community, executing clean water projects, and even installing a computer lab for the community’s youth, directly benefitting more than 40 individuals. 

Also, the ingredients used in the restaurant are bought directly from the local farmers, providing a local market for direct sales. The employees at the restaurant have monthly salaries, health insurance, pension funds, and other labour benefits.

Over 25 micro-entrepreneurs received technical assistance and funds to establish new businesses to supply the Parwa restaurant or sell their goods to travellers who visit the Huchuy Qosco community.

Learn more here.

Shandia Lodge, Ecuador

The village of Shandia is located in the rainforest of eastern Ecuador. It is inhabited mostly by Indigenous people of the Kichwa nationality and was formerly an evangelical missionary center. The village currently consists of 120 families.

The community owns Shandia Lodge, which was developed with the purpose to generate employment opportunities, increasing collective self-esteem, and generating security, leadership, and management skills among the members of the community.

The community enterprise faced significant barriers to accessing the international market, and when they did, they risked losing their unique cultures and traditions. Also, the environment and wildlife needed to be protected with sustainable plans managed and led by locals.

Planeterra, in partnership with the local non-profit EcoCiencia, worked with the Shandia community to identify opportunities in tourism. Together, we developed new culturally immersive experiences, including a cycling tour and a community experience led by youth.

Travellers also have the opportunity to discover traditional agricultural practices and learn how to make chocolate.

Learn more here.

Barauli Community Homestay, Nepal

Barauli, home to the Tharu people, is a small Indigenous community near the Chitwan National Park in Nepal. The park is a popular tourism attraction that is well known for its wildlife but less known for the cultural value that it has to offer travellers. 

Due to its distance from the typical places of interest in the park, the Tharu residents were not able to access the economic benefits of tourism. Limited opportunities for community members led to engagement in illegal activities like poaching and deforestation in the park as a means of income diversification.

To overcome this, the community homestay program was developed by Royal Mountain Travel, our ground partner, to connect travellers coming for the park’s wildlife with the rich culture of the Tharu people. 

The village started with 14 individual cottages that are part of the homestay program, plus a community dining hall. The homestay project is completely run by Tharu women, providing diversified income opportunities in the region. Several different activities and livelihoods have been built out of this program, such as serving personnel and cooks, cooking class hosts, and local guides.

New homestays have opened up in the region to meet the increasing demand for travellers to have authentic community experiences while in Chitwan. 

The community saves a portion of all tourism profits to be reinvested into community development including environmental projects, scholarships for students and improving the tourism experience.

 

Learn more here.

These are only some of the great projects being developed and led by Indigenous communities worldwide. We celebrate these communities and the key role they play in the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge.

If you would like to support our work to help Indigenous-owned businesses recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and welcome travellers again, you can donate here.

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Our Partners Welcome Travelers Once Again!

We are thrilled to see travelers visiting Planeterra partners and experiencing the joy of connecting with local communities through travel once again.

Over the past several weeks we have been receiving images and videos from our partners as they welcomed their first travelers since many had to shut down due to the pandemic.

Thanks to the support of our donors, we helped provide flexible grants to support and ensure several partners could be ready to once again welcome travelers and begin generating income for their communities.

The smiles on the faces of our partners and the travelers have been incredibly uplifting for our whole team. This is why we thought we would share and shine a spotlight on some of our partners who have begun welcoming travelers once more:

Salaam Baalak Trust – India

Salaam Baalak Trust is an Indian non-profit organization that provides safe housing, counselling, education, and support to over 5,000 children in New Delhi, as well as managing five safe homes across the city. They run a “City Walk” program, a youth-led walking tour that provides a different perspective on Delhi while allowing youth to gain new skills. 

Funds from the City Walk program are used to provide scholarships and job placements for youth, as well as resources for the shelters. By connecting the program to our tourism partners, they now have a reliable stream of income to support their education and social service work.

City Walk has not only given the youth a new set of skills but also helped boost their self-confidence by improving their communication skills and shaping their personality while interacting with tourists from across the globe.

Learn more here.

GoodWork Foundation_planeterra

The GoodWork Foundation – South Africa

The GoodWork Foundation (GWF) is located on the route to the Phabeni Gate of Kruger National Park. They aim to provide learning opportunities to rural and marginalized communities in Africa. To achieve this, they work with young people from the villages around Kruger National Park to help them develop business and barista skills as well as tourism and hospitality training. 

Travelers who visit the GWF Cafe on their way to the park enjoy a variety of hot coffee and macadamia-based snacks (Kruger National Park is also known for its macadamia, banana, and cashew farms). 

Learn more here. 

Thailand Hill-Tribes Trek – Mae Hong Son, Thailand

The Hilltribe trekking in Northern Thailand creates job opportunities for individuals in three communities Pha Mon (Red Lahu), Meung Pam (Red Karen), and Jabo (Black Lahu). This helps them to continue to stay in their home village, retaining culture, and preventing urban migration. 

Thanks to their community development plans, 10% of each tourism activity is invested in a wider community development fund. This fund benefits the greater communities’ needs such as the local school, and community environmental programs. The community can also use these funds to allocate loans to individuals looking to start their own businesses or to fund different emergencies.

Earlier this month, they hosted their first group of travelers since the pandemic started and we couldn’t be happier.

Learn more here. 

Osmose- Cambodia 

Osmose – Tonlé Sap Biosphere Reserve, Cambodia

Osmose is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the environmental preservation and the socio-economic development of the Prek Toal area, located in the Tonle Sap UNESCO Biosphere reserve.

Over the years, Osmose has developed more projects to support the local population to protect their incredible environment. One of the projects is their sustainable community tourism tours, accommodations, and handicrafts that work to support the conservation of the area. ⁠

A group of travelers recently visited the Saray water hyacinth handicraft workshop, where the village families fabricate and sell beautiful handicrafts made from dried water-hyacinth stems to supplement their incomes. They also learned how to make these handicrafts which is not only a great experience but also an opportunity to support this amazing project!

Learn more here.

Baracoa Community Tours, Baracoa – Cuba

We are very excited to see travelers enjoying the cultural immersion tour in Baracoa again. Planeterra has worked with the Baracoa Community to include visits to multiple family-owned micro-enterprises related to local cultural activities. Three villages are visited in this tour, resulting in 200 people being impacted by responsible tourism.⁠

When visiting the community, travelers have the opportunity to learn from local guides, participate in local living experiences and make some traditional delicacies. ⁠They can also purchase unique handicrafts as a souvenir, all supporting the women, men, and youth of Baracoa. 

Learn more here.

Puesta del Sol Association – Ometepe, Nicaragua

The Puesta del Sol Association is a community rural tourism initiative from the Community of La Palma in Nicaragua. Puesta del Sol has created new job opportunities which have strengthened the economy and quality of life of the community and they couldn’t be happier to host travelers!

The Association has created a community fund that allows them to provide scholarships, support the elderly and invest in community infrastructure (such as a local school, a local park, and others).

They have also developed a series of training programs related to tourism and new tourism initiatives. Planeterra helped introduce Puesta Del Sol to our tourism partners to help provide a steady stream of travelers. 

Learn more here.

Guneysinir Community Park – Guneysinir, Turkey

This almond plantation cooperative that doubles as a community park not only provides a source of shade and water retention but also a source of income – once the almonds can be harvested. Another added benefit is that it is becoming a place for families and visitors to enjoy together.

Planeterra provided the grant to plant the almond trees and has secured income for the community through corporate partners who bring travelers who visit the park and enjoy a snack made by a local family, supporting this budding social enterprise.

Learn more here.

 !Khwa ttu – Cape Town North, South Africa

!Khwa ttu is a San culture and education center based on a Nature Reserve near Cape Town. They have been one of our most resilient partners during the COVID-19 pandemic! They used our learning resources and pivoted their business by attracting more young local day travelers and campers. 

They cut out their biggest food supplier, a supermarket chain in South Africa, and started locally sourcing all their products. At the moment, they are working with over 30 local suppliers like gardeners and fishermen who are supplying fresh resources for their restaurant. And after a couple of rough years, they are stronger than ever!

Learn more here.

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1 year of the Global Community Tourism Network

One year after launching the Global Community Tourism Network, Planeterra announces recipients of Global Community Tourism Fund.

It has been one year since we publicly launched the Global Community Tourism Network.  We started with 200 community tourism enterprises in the Network in 68 countries and have grown to over 387 communities across 76 countries in just one year. 

Through countless webinars, mentorship sessions, and peer to peer learning, we knew that we wanted to take our support one step further. 

In March 2022, we launched the Global Community Tourism Fund, a grant program that supports growth and recovery for community tourism enterprises within the Global Community Tourism Network (GCTN) through small grants and mentorship. We received many applications  from our community partners around the world and are excited to announce the recipients.

Each recipient will receive a flexible grant to support initiatives such as infrastructure upgrades, equipment purchases, marketing, training and more. Read more about the first projects supported by the fund below:

Lavender Jeep Siem Reap – Cambodia

Lavender Jeep is an adventure tour company providing curated tours of Siem Reap, Cambodia, in a 1975 A2 American Jeep. Lavender Jeep was founded to create employment opportunities for women and fund educational programming that primarily benefits young women and families. The staff members are shareholders in the company earning 30% of the profits on the tour.

A change in vehicle registration laws in Cambodia meant that funds were now required to register their jeeps. Without funds to cover this cost, Lavender Jeep had to decline tour bookings over the past months. Lavender Jeeps hasn’t had travellers since March 2020 and requested a grant to help get their drivers back on the road! With this grant, they are able to register and be able to receive travel bookings again!

Learn more here.

The Cove- Malawi

The Cove- Malawi

The Cove Ecolodge is a social enterprise in Chitende, Malawi. Their mission is to utilize money from tourism revenue to support community-driven development projects. They believe in fostering sustainable solutions through building relationships, working and learning together, and valuing their interactions with each other and the environment. A few of their development projects include road construction, water solutions, as well as community grants to young single mothers.

Chitende is a rural village in northern Malawi that is isolated from the government grid system for water and power. The ecolodge does not have access to water for their showers. Planeterra has distributed a grant to support the building of a piped water source in a central location in the community that will allow for 15 households to have access to cleaner, closer portable water. This piped water system will also allow the lodge to have water which will enable them to increase their customer base. 

Learn more here. 

Girls Empowered by Travel- Nepal

Girls Empowered by Travel- Nepal

Girls Empowered by Travel – Nepal (GET-Nepal) is a non-profit organization that provides safe opportunities for women to travel and get involved in community work in a welcoming and safe environment. Through travel and tourism, GET-Nepal aims to empower women, especially those from marginalized backgrounds, by engaging them in leadership building workshops, creating female change-makers, and providing opportunities for economic participation.

Throughout the last two years, the hiking trails in the local village have fallen into disrepair.  This hiking trail is needed in order to receive travellers as they will trek from the bus stop to the community. Through the Global Community Tourism Fund, we have sent a grant to support the community to re-open these trails in order to safely receive travellers in the coming months.

Learn more here. 

Redrocks Rwanda

Red Rocks Intercultural Exchange Center- Rwanda

Red Rocks brings under-served communities into the tourism supply chain and supports community development projects through their initiatives of cultural heritage conservation, visual and plastic arts (painting, drawing, sculpture, modeling, etc.), and graphic arts (painting, drawing, design, and other forms expressed on flat surfaces). Red Rocks also provides budget accommodation including a hostel room, an ample tranquil campsite in Red Rocks Intercultural Center, and Red Rocks Guest House to host visiting travellers. 

As a result of the pandemic and the lack of tourists visiting the area, many artisans and weavers have no markets to sell their crafts. Unfortunately, this has impacted women and youth more significantly.  Red Rocks requested funding to develop and implement a marketing plan to increase the number of visitors to seven local communities. The funds will support new audiovisual and promotional material, update their website, and train local leaders on marketing in the area. 

Learn more here.

Osmose- Cambodia 

Osmose- Cambodia 

Osmose is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the environmental preservation and the socio-economic development of the Prek Toal area, located in the Tonle Sap UNESCO Biosphere reserve. Osmose facilitates both the conservation of the Tonle Sap environment and the sustainable livelihoods of the floating village communities. The projects are based on income-generating activities, mainly visitor services including meal experience, homestay experience, guide service, peddle boat ride, and water hyacinth handicrafts. For this purpose, Osmose trains specialist guides to conduct eco-tours and created a community restaurant and some homestay services. Women in the community are trained in water hyacinth weaving and can sell their products for additional livelihoods. All these services are managed by a local cooperative supported by Osmose.

Osmose has created several floating structures: a Saray water hyacinth handicraft workshop, an environmental education school, and a community restaurant all connected by a floating bridge. Some of the bridges are currently in a poor condition. Income from ecotourism saved in the community box supported the maintenance, however, because of the COVID-19 crisis and the lack of visitors for nearly two years, there weren’t funds to support the repairs. Planeterra has sent a grant to support the renovation of the various platforms so that it is safer for staff and visitors to the area!

Learn more here.

Asociación de Turismo Rural Solidario ASTURS PERÚ- Perú

Asociación de Turismo Rural Solidario ASTURS PERÚ- Perú

Asociación de Turismo Rural Solidario ASTURS PERÚ is a community-led and owned organization representing 14 Indigenous families and impacting 70 community members. The association provides homestay experiences on Lake Titicaca, Perú. The experience benefits community members through capacity building and training on community tourism, and offering an alternative source of livelihood. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, community tourism activities have been hit hard, many local families lost income from tourism which was their major economic activity. 

Today tourism is restarting slowly, but the homestays need improvements to guarantee health and safety for travellers. Previously, homestay hosts used only piped water both for their consumption and to prepare food for travellers, however, new domestic health and safety restrictions require filtered water for guests.  Planeterra is helping support a new piped water system that will allow for 12 Indigenous households to have access to cleaner and potable water. This implementation will not only guarantee a quality service for travellers but also improve the health of the local community. 

Learn more here.

Red de Turismo comunitario Jipijapa Wankavilka- RED TCJW- Ecuador

Red de Turismo comunitario Jipijapa Wankavilka- RED TCJW- Ecuador

Red de Turismo comunitario Jipijapa Wankavilka is a community tourism network that is represented by 7 communities of the Manabí province, on the coast of Ecuador.  The organization works to empower their community through tourism, specifically women,  as well as to preserve local traditions, and protect their natural resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant loss of income for the communities, despite having the infrastructure and tourist attractions in the area. Currently, the lack of internet access, digital tools, and traveller awareness has been a significant barrier to the community. Planeterra is providing a grant to support the development of a marketing plan, including funding new audiovisual and promotional material, website support,  and training for local leaders on marketing initiatives. We hope this grant allows them to connect with travellers once again to support these communities. 

Learn more here.

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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.

Planeterra_IUCN_Santa_Rosa_Abiseo_paisaje

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.

Planeterra_IUCN_Rio_Abiseo_paisaje

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.

Planeterra_IUCN_Rio_Abiseo_comida

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!

Planeterra_IUCN_Dos de Mayo_Rio_Abiseo_cocina

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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More about our partnership with IUCN

We're thrilled to be working together with IUCN to deliver community tourism development, with a focus on four protected areas in Peru and Vietnam.

The Planeterra team is excited to share more about our partnership with IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. We are working together to deliver community tourism development, with a focus on four protected areas in Peru and Vietnam.

Protected Areas play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the planet and our health as a species. They are important in conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as food, clean water supply, medicines and protection from the impacts of natural disasters.

Tourism is a key economic driver to support protected areas and provides a way to foster the public’s and local communities’ connections to protected areas. Tourism can provide a powerful argument for the conservation of protected areas because it depends on beautiful natural areas, healthy wildlife, and authentic cultures.

Sadly, COVID-19 has already resulted in the closure of parks and protected areas in many countries.

There are concerns that as a result of job loss, many people living around the national parks are considering bringing back unsustainable forms of income, including hunting, mining and deforestation. 

Tourism provided jobs and a sustainable income for families and helped protect the environment.

Planeterra and the IUCN are working in Peru and Vietnam to bridge the gap created by the pandemic on tourism in and around priority protected areas and kickstart economic recovery through community-led tourism.

Our goal is not to simply get tourism back to where it was before, but to do tourism better for the people, wildlife and ecosystems in the targeted protected areas.

our_partnership_IUCN_Planeterra

Over the past 2 years of the pandemic, we’ve witnessed the vulnerability of people, livelihoods and economies to the declining health of our environment.

However, it has also highlighted that human health and well-being depend on healthy ecosystems and biodiversity providing essential goods and services.

Recognizing that tourism operations need to become more sustainable and nature-oriented, Planeterra and IUCN are working with Indigenous people, local communities and protected area managers to build up safe, equitable and sustainable community-based tourism experiences.

These experiences are strengthened with community benefit-sharing programs to support community recovery from the pandemic and to build a better future for people and wildlife.

To achieve this, Planeterra will provide training to community members to improve their tourism businesses and increase their benefits.

Planeterra has welcomed six people to our team, Phuong Tran and Richard Bazan Callupe, who will be managing the project in Peru and Vietnam as well as two more team members in each region!

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Planeterra and Socialbnb Announce Partnership

“We’re excited to be expanding our work to include the accommodations on socialbnb’s platform,”

Planeterra is excited to announce that we have partnered with the social impact startup socialbnb to support community tourism enterprises around the world, while bringing meaningful accommodations to travellers wanting to give back on their next adventure abroad. 

Founded by Nils Lohmann and Alexander Haufschild in Cologne, Germany, socialbnb is an online platform that connects travellers with social and environmental projects or social businesses around the world for overnight accomodation. By choosing to stay at an accommodation on the socialbnb platform, travellers know that their travel dollars are having an impact locally. There are plenty of spaces to choose from, as the socialbnb platform currently hosts 190 projects in 45 countries. 

With socialbnb’s help, Planeterra plans to provide access to training and resources via the Global Community Tourism Network, to as many of the accommodations on the socialbnb platform as possible. 

“We’re excited to be expanding our work to include the accommodations on socialbnb’s platform,” says Planeterra’s Director of Global Programs, Rhea Simms. “We are also going to be working with the socialbnb team to introduce them to community tourism enterprises that we are already connected to – providing our community partners with access to more travellers in the future, while helping socialbnb expand their important platform.” 

By staying overnight at an accommodation booked on the Socialbnb platform, the projects receive a sustainable source of income apart from donations and can thus finance their valuable work. This supports projects in the field of environment and animal welfare, as well as education, equality, or health. Meanwhile, travelers can have an authentic and local travel experience, to immerse themselves in local life and to learn more about the respective project.

Planeterra and socialbnb are looking forward to a long partnership, helping to bring more community tourism enterprises to the market, and changing the face of the travel industry by providing travellers with access to meaningful experiences that give back and empower local people, while protecting the environment.

 

Learn more about socialbnb here. 

Mr. Thy in Pang Na - Kambodscha

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

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The ‘Six Stars’ at Amba Estate

THE “SIX STARS” AT AMBA ESTATE, BANDARAWALA, SRI LANKA

We have just returned from Sri Lanka after meeting yet another group of inspiring women being supported by Planeterra Foundation! The “Six Stars” as they befittingly call themselves, are women who work a the AMBA Tea Estate and with Planeterra support have established a successful chutney cooperative after getting training and necessary equipment, further supplementing their income.

AMBA Estate is a community-based sustainable tourism project in the Ambadandegama valley in the Uva Highlands of Sri Lanka. Ambadandegama Chutney Cooperative is the first entirely community-owned venture to be supported by the Estate. Planeterra provided a grant for equipment and training so that the women of AMBA could start producing a range of chutneys, pickles and other preserves to be sold to visitors, utilizing the multitude of fruits and vegetables that grow in the valley. The group received guidance on how to make different types of chutney and about health and safety standards, like how to sterilize the bottles. The whole process is carried out with utmost precision. Anyone witnessing the entire process can feel the meditative approach of the cooking, as going step by step requires a lot of patience. But in the end, you are rewarded well with the aromas of all the lovely ingredients slowly filling the room.

The Happy Team at Work

The six members of the cooperative were selected by AMBA because they are the most experienced tea pickers. In Sri Lanka, it is mandatory that tea pluckers retire from the plantations at the age of 55, so the chutney cooperative adds financial stability as these women move into retirement. The “Six Stars” are all able to work from the comfort of their own homes which also provides them the opportunity to get help from their family members. As a result, the cooperative can churn out an order of 10-15 bottles in a single day. Guests at AMBA Guest House are able to taste the delicious chutneys ranging from mango, papaya, tomato, jackfruit, and lime, and can also take some back home.

The Six Stars remark on the impact AMBA has had on them, including being able to support their families.

“I have two daughters and one son,” Renuka says, “This money has really helped me a lot as I build my house. With the profits, I bought wiring for the house.”

“I worked before in the estate and now I do this,” Ramayalatha reflects, “I am saving money for my daughter’s wedding.”

All of the women’s stories are truly inspiring, but Renuka’s story stands out. after facing a lot of setbacks early in life, in 2008, she joined AMBA as a tea-plucker. Step-by-step she learned a whole range of new skills, from organic vegetable and tea growing to fine-plucking, tea-rolling and jam-making. Like all of AMBA’s team, she participates in the farm’s revenue-share and she is now responsible for all aspects of tea production, from plucking the leaves to rolling and overseeing the oxidization and drying. She is also a founding member of AMBA’s chutney cooperative, which are then sold in the AMBA farm shop. Thanks to Renuka’s perseverance and hard work, she has been able to give her children an excellent education – her oldest daughter graduated and is now a teacher, her son is a security officer at a school, and her youngest daughter is taking her O Level. Renuka says that her life is getting much better, thanks to AMBA and Planeterra.

It’s not just the members of AMBA Chutney Cooperative who are set to benefit from this enterprise. The community is also seeing ripple effects from this business, as Rs. 10 from each bottle of chutney sold is added to the cooperative’s fund which goes towards their equipment, and eventually, towards purchasing a start-up kit for more women to join the cooperative.

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Planeterra Raises $100,000 in Emergency Funds for Community Tourism Relief

Non-profit raised $100,000 to support community tourism businesses affected by COVID-19 shutdowns

Earlier this week, Canadian non-profit Planeterra Foundation successfully closed their Turn Travel Into Impact from Home emergency fundraising campaign after successfully hitting their fundraising target of $100,000. The campaign was aimed at encouraging travellers who have found themselves at home due to the spread of COVID-19 to continue to make an impact on small community businesses in the tourism industry.

Planeterra Foundation has disbursed 19 emergency relief grants during this time, and will continue to evaluate and support project partners until travel resumes.

“Just because this particular fundraising campaign has closed, does not mean we are done sending grants to our partners,” says Planeterra President Jamie Sweeting. “Our team continues to support our 85 community partners worldwide, and we are reviewing grant appeals on a regular basis, with more to disburse in the coming weeks.”

Planeterra’s Turn Travel Into Impact from Home campaign was launched at the end of March, when it became clear our community partners globally were going to need support to meet their basic needs during the pandemic, and ensure their recovery when travel reemerges post-COVID. After reaching their $50,000 goal in June, Planeterra Founder and Chairman of the Board Bruce Poon Tip graciously offered to match donations for the remainder of the campaign, which helped the non-profit reach their second goal of $100,000.

“We want to thank our global community of donors for their overwhelming support when our partners needed it most, but our work is far from over,” continued Sweeting. “The Planeterra team continues to help our partners that are dealing with the various stages of the pandemic. We hope our growing community will join us as tourism and Planeterra reemerge stronger and more resilient than ever.”

– ends –

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

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