Choco Community Tourism Alliance, Colombia

Reinforcing Colombian efforts to sustainably manage and utilize environmental assets in mitigating and adapting to climate change, preserving biodiversity, and promoting economic growth

  • Client: Chemonics International (funded by USAID)
  • Partners: Colombia’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism; the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development; Parque Naturales Nacionales; and the Municipality of Nuquí
  • Project Duration: October 2012 – June 2013

The Challenge

The Colombia BIOREDD+ Program: Biodiversity – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (BIOREDD+), a program funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), strives to reinforce Colombian efforts to sustainably manage and utilize environmental assets in mitigating and adapting to climate change, preserving biodiversity, and promoting economic growth. Under its biodiversity conservation component, BIOREDD+ has begun to implement a set of activities aimed at developing community ecotourism in the Nuquí/Utría National Park area on the Pacific Coast.

In December 2012, BIOREDD+ contracted Solimar International to conduct a thorough tourism site assessment of the destination. Although bursting with biological and cultural assets, the lack of organizational and business capacity, coupled with insufficient marketing outreach, were the key weaknesses identified in the assessment of Nuqui’s tourism sector.

The Solution

Solimar supported the achievement of BIOREDD+ program results by improving tourism marketing of Nuquí/Utría National Park,improving the business management capacity of key tourism operators in and around the park, and creating formal relationships with key local service providers to supplement the capacities of tourism operators andsupport sustainable economic growth that is directly tied to the conservation of the area’s rich biodiversity. In November 2013 Solimar was contracted to return to address these weaknesses by leading a series of capacity building and implementation support activities and deliverables that stem from the assessment’s primary recommendations, along with recommendations received from Parques Nacionales Naturales (PNN) in terms of marketing, capacity building, and on-site support for community tourism operators.

Major Activities

Solimar’s work encompassed the following two objectives:

  1. Business management and marketing capacity of targeted community tourism organizations in the Nuquí/Utría National Park improved
  2. Marketing of Nuquí/Utría National Park’s tourism sector improved and tourism sales increased.

These objectives were achieved through the completion of the following major activities:

  • Creation of a destination marketing alliance comprised of four local community tourism enterprises (CTEs)
  • Leading capacity building trainings in tourism enterprise operations and management, and tourism sales and marketing
  • Creation of a tourism brand and website for the alliance
  • Assisting with the development and promotion of new tour packages
  • Structuring a sales partnership with a major Colombian inbound tour operator
  • Liaising with the Ministries of Tourism and the Environment to feature Utría NP as a demonstration site for sustainable tourism development in a protected area


  • At least 8 people trained in tourism business operations & management
  • At least 9 people trained in tourism marketing & sales best practices & techniques
  • At least 3 new tourism products (tours) or services developed and being sold
  • Increased gross sales of each of the 4 CTEs
  • At least 5 new sales partnerships
  • CTEs receiving positive responses to regularly recorded and recorded client feedback questionnaires
  • Stakeholders’ business capacity increased as demonstrated by Tourism Operations and Management Course and Tourism Sales and Marketing Course participants’ ability to correctly answer at least 50% of course quiz and exam questions

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“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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