AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
COLOMBIA A CULTURALLY ANCESTRAL AND DIVERSE DESTINATION
Colombia is a country recognized for its immense natural wealth, without a doubt we are a country that has a wide diversity of climates, bathed by 2 seas, a wealth of water throughout the territory and ecosystems that are home to a large number of species of flora and fauna like few others in the world. To this must be added its cultural wealth, a clear expression of this wealth is manifested in its indigenous peoples. Colombia is the second country in Latin America (including Brazil) with the largest number of indigenous peoples, 115 peoples are still in force and have preserved their cultural heritage supported by their ancestral worldview and the Law of Origin. In this way and understanding that tourism is an activity that can favor the rescue and cultural exchange, to achieve this it is necessary that the concept of sustainability and even more regenerative tourism, be the axes of tourism development with indigenous communities in Colombia. There is an aspect that throughout my experience in designing tourism products with indigenous communities that I have understood, and which in turn becomes a premise for this type of tourism: “Not all indigenous communities are for tourism, nor is tourism for all indigenous communities”. In this order of ideas and taking into account the World Tourism Organization – UNWTO, publishes in 2020, a series of recommendations on the sustainable development of indigenous tourism, these recommendations are aimed at all actors in the value chain and include communities, operators and visitors. In the first place, it is necessary to start from the principles that should guide indigenous tourism actions: Respect for the cultural values and cultural capital of indigenous groups, their physical, spiritual and cultural relationship with their traditional lands and laws; Consultation: in a comprehensive, transparent and ongoing process, consult the planning, design and management of projects; Empowerment: Help facilitate the capacity development and empowerment of indigenous communities through organizational structures and governance models; Equitable partnerships: Support indigenous businesses and promote sustainable business practices that not only ensure greater economic benefit, but also help protect cultural and natural resources; Protection: Ensure that the results of tourism development are positive.
Thus, the opportunities for indigenous tourism in Colombia to be a flagship product are given, the competitive and comparative advantages of the country, give us the opportunity to consolidate worldwide in this specialized type of tourism. We insist on the need to directly link those communities that voluntarily and autonomously decide to participate in tourism as an axis of their own development. It is necessary to include the communities in the design of products; to guarantee that the benefits generated by the tourist activity are distributed in a fair and equitable manner; the actions must contribute to the empowerment of the communities, in addition to achieving tourist alliances as equitable and sustainable as possible. The purpose of tourism activity is the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal, professional or business reasons. It is for this reason that from the planning and development of tourism with indigenous communities, tourists or visitors play a determining role in making this activity sustainable. Sensitivity and respect should be the motive for trips that inspire visitors to come into contact with the ancestral cultures of indigenous peoples. Responsibility is directly linked to the experience of a cultural connection, it is important that before the trip the tourist researches information about the community, understands the history, culture, codes of conduct and links with the nature of the indigenous groups, which will also help them to appreciate their customs; Choose tour operators that are managed by indigenous entrepreneurs or have direct business relationships with local indigenous suppliers; During the trip, it is recommended to act to conserve water, fauna and flora and ask the guide what can and cannot be done; Reduce waste generation to the minimum possible; Learn about local crafts and art. Buy only those pieces made by local indigenous artisans, respect the internal rules of the indigenous territories; Ask lots of questions. Ask the tour operator, guide, lodging establishments and indigenous communities about their environmental practices and their commitment to protect indigenous rights. Once, tourists have the opportunity to come into contact with indigenous communities, it is recommended to support environmental, health or education projects of indigenous people that improve their well-being and allow them to stay in their territories, indigenous hosts really want to attract more tourists, become promoter of positive experiences through social networks and digital platforms.
Tourism with indigenous communities implies a new paradigm for the sector, it requires a real transformation of the activity towards sustainability from the environmental, cultural, social and economic point of view, to the extent that we understand from our role the appropriate ways to address this type of tourism, it will be a satisfactory activity for all actors in the chain, approached from a perspective of responsibility, it can generate development opportunities for the communities involved, memorable experiences for visitors and preservation of the ancestral traditions of our indigenous peoples. Never be afraid to live new experiences, get ready and connect with the ancestral traditions that we proudly preserve in our country, we are an agency specialized in indigenous tourism, Live the indigenous magic of Colombia, Vive Huellas.