Shandia Community Tourism
Community of Shandia, Tena, Ecuador
The community of Shandia is a village located in the rainforest of eastern Ecuador. It is inhabited mostly by Indigenous people of the Kichwa Nationality and was formerly an evangelical missionary centre and currently consists of 90 families.
The community owns a lodge called Shandia Lodge, which was developed with the purpose to generate a employment opportunities, increasing collective self-esteem, and generating security, leadership, and management skills among the members of the community. However, the community enterprise was in need of customers to reach its full potential and to achieve financial success. The community has great potential to offer local activities for travellers and as a result, to benefit more from the travel industry.
Currently the community enterprise has significant barriers to access the international market, and when they do have access, they risk losing unique traditions and cultures. Women face barriers to accessing formal job opportunities, and youth have limited access to significant job and education fulfilment, and so often migrate to the big cities. The environment and wildlife need to be protected with sustainable plans managed and lead by locals, and tourism can be an excellent tool to protect natural cultural resources and improve empowerment for community members.
Planeterra and G Adventures, in partnership with local non-profit EcoCiencia, have worked with Shandia community to identify opportunities in tourism and to develop new culturally immersive tours which include a cycling tour and community experience lead by the village’s youth. Planeterra donated funds for equipment and training programs for local guides, which represent a much-needed boost the community. Training has also been conducted by our partners EcoCiencia who are experts in environment, wildlife and community development. The enterprise is seen by the community as a way to rescue their Indigenous culture and provide opportunities for the future.
G Adventures will bring travellers to experience the community by meeting local people and participating in different activities such as the cycling tour, learning about traditional agricultural practices, including their specialization in cacao production, and take a guided a class of how to make chocolate, also using accomodation in the community lodge, having meals with local ingredients grown in the village that are prepared by ladies who were provided culinary training through the project. All of these efforts contributes to the development of the Shandia community enterprise and their innovative tourism product based on their ancestral culture and relationship with the nature in the Amazon.
The primary positive social impacts of this collaboration will be increased revenue flow into the community by the integration and connection of the community enterprise with G Adventures’ market. Investments into local infrastructure will provide the local partners with the necessary tools and resources to improve their community tourism product, ultimately increasing their social, economic and environmental impact while generating additional jobs and positive visibility for the community. Shandia community will be using tourism as a tool to protect and preserve natural and cultural resources and express, share, develop, and pursue their traditions as well as their new dreams.