July 4, 2013

Sustainable Tourism as a Tool against Unsustainable Development

In current days, It is very well known that in this global world most of time the development is executed without taking into account land ordering, environmental variables, community thinking and goals, among others. One example of this problematic it has been happening for a few years in the Pehuenche Community called Camilo Conoequir Lloftunekul, located in Chile, Araucania Region, specifically in Curarrehue Village in Trancura Valley.
This location has lots of tourism attractions, been some of them, the beautiful landscape with volcanoes, Rivers, Forest, proximity to Argentina border (5km), cultural heritage led by Mapuche - Pehueche ethnicity, among others.
Since 2010, an hydroelectric company has been trying to install a plant for electricity production in a river named Anehuerraqui, which is an affluent of the great Trancura River, which is known around the world because of its excellent conditions to do adventure tourism activities as rafting and kayaking. Furthermore, the water that brings Anehuerraqui River is used by the community to irrigate plantations of different products, and also some families do subsistence farming.
As we can see, there is a confrontation of two kinds of developments or uses that are difficult to fusion. For one side, the hydroelectric plant is going to produce a big quantity of impacts which are going to affect directly tourism activities and daily life of families. On the other side, nowadays there is a pushful experiential tourism driven by the Pehuenche Community Camilo Conoequir Lloftunekul that is improving quality of life.
According to this scenario, there is a question that arises. Is it possible to fight against this crazy development using sustainable tourism as a tool? To answer this question (according to this case) it is necessary to understand what the community has been doing related to tourism development. A couple of years ago this community started establishing experiential tourism without knowing, and today they have an offer extremely interesting, including accommodations, restoration, kayaking, apiculture, guiding, among others.
Diagram 1: Tourism development in Trancura Valley – Community camilo Conoequir Lloftunekul.
Actually, some residents are kayaking and hiking guides, some families have opened their houses to receive tourists, offering them not only accommodations, but also native food. This offer is a truly experiential tourism, where clients can know Pehuenche culture from inside of a family.
In my point of view (and also tested by hundreds of studies), Tourism can help to affront unsustainable developments, creating new commercial activities that help to improve local economy. Furthermore, Sustainable Tourism can be used as a tool, because through this economical activity is possible to show that there is an economical growth, recovering of cultural heritage, and conservation and improvement of natural areas by community residents.
What to do in these kind of cases?. Well, it is a key that big companies take into account all the economical activities that are part of a territory, village, or community. Moreover, in the project development process communities should be ask since the beginning of the planning, in order to work together. This is the company, the community, and others actors (affected by projects), with the aim of improve quality of life. Truly sustainable development is not just giving some money to each resident or building a new school and some outdoors games and think the task is done, it is necessary to go further having as a goal the three sustainable pillars.

1 comment:

Sonia Ahuja said...

Thanks and keep sharing such articles with us.
Damdama Lake