Authentic and sustainable travel experiences through community-based tourism
The community of Yunguilla sees itself as an organized community of a group of people committed to the development of sustainable economic alternatives. For many years they have been working to improve their quality of life through the right use of natural resources. As part of the “Turismo Comunitario” project in Ecuador, the community was awarded the TourCert seal at the end of 2018.
Yunguilla lies one hour north of Quito in a cloud forest at 2650 m.a.s.l. As early as 1995, the approximately 200 inhabitants began to organize themselves through a nature conservation project. With the support of various NGOs, the first activities such as organic vegetable growing, arts and crafts, tree nurseries, a cheese factory and jam production were developed. In the year 2000 an official community society was founded.
In the meantime, Yunguilla has gone through an integral development process. The activities as well as the tourism offer today offer a successful source of income for the local population and at the same time serve the protection of nature and culture. Environmental education programs and community tourism carry the philosophy, customs and traditions beyond the community to visitors and travellers. Local gastronomy, accommodation and tours with the locals provide deep insights into the life of a rural community in Ecuador.
With the certification of TourCert, Yunguilla sees an opportunity to make its initiative more visible, to develop further and to initiate complementary learning processes, e.g. on the subject of marketing and networking. The aim is to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants, to maintain natural resources successfully, to diversify further through various sustainable production projects and, last but not least, to improve customer service.
Whether you want to spend a day with your family or several months in Yunguilla as a volunteer, the community has an offer for everyone. Also new is a restaurant, which is also supplied with products of the community.
It is also important for the residents to show that it is worthwhile to implement initiatives in their own community and not to emigrate to the city. Yunguilla would also like to share this success with other communities. She has assumed an important position in the “Turismo Comunitario” project. Its organizational model is to be strengthened as best practice and serve as a good example for other communities.
For this process, TourCert trained five consultants from different regions of the country to advise on community-based tourism. So far, a total of eight municipalities have been recruited, which already participated in a first workshop in December 2018.
Further information on the Turismo Comunitario project can be found here. The activities are coordinated by the two non-profit organizations Kate Umwelt und Entwicklung and VSocial Foundation. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) supports the activities financially.
More about the municipality of Yunguilla can be found on the website: www.yunguilla.org.ec