Strengthening sustainable tourism and promoting biodiversity conservation in the Bolivian Amazon.
- Client: USAID – Bolivia
- Partners: Chemonics, Wildlife Conservation Society, Winrock International, International Land Systems, Instituto Boliviano de Investigación Forestal, Centro Amazónico de Desarrallo Forestal, Fundación Pando, Fundación Valles
- Project Duration: October 2009 – December 2013
The Amazon Basin, which includes Bolivia, contains the world’s largest remaining tropical rainforest and is full of globally important biological resources that are rapidly dwindling because of under-regulated industry, deforestation, overgrazing, and other environmental threats. As noted in Bolivia’s National Development Plan, the global importance of its natural resources is matched by a national priority to use those resources sustainably generate employment, grow the economy, and alleviate poverty. Therefore, the deterioration of these natural assets poses a dual threat to the world and Bolivia, and USAID has made conservation in Bolivia a priority.
Solimar promoted community-level impact by enhancing access to productive tourism opportunities linked to the conservation and sustainable use of the biodiversity of the Bolivian Amazon. These tourism opportunities helped to spur economic growth and increase incomes of local and indigenous communities and producer groups. Solimar also helped to strengthen and improve community-based tourism enterprises primarily in the Northern La Paz and Southern Beni regions, specifically in the municipalities of Rurrenabaque and San Buena Ventura, by providing technical assistance and building capacity in a number of key tourism- and conservation-related activities.
- Building capacity: providing training and technical assistance in site assessment, business plan development, tourism management and services, sales and marketing, and monitoring and reporting.
- Developing Destination Management Organizations (DMOs): exploring the development of destination management organizations for the project regions in Bolivia and improving commercialization and marketing links.
- Incentivizing the Travel Trade: utilizing online marketing tools and an international marketing internship program to promote awareness of Bolivian tourism and conservation and increase visitors and community income from sustainable tourism activities.
- Improving conservation practices: training local nature guides and encouraging the sustainable use of natural resources and other land-based production systems.
- Solimar provided an array of marketing support to the San Miguel del Bala Ecolodge in Rurrenabaque – including a website redesign, social media marketing and outreach with potential sales partners in La Paz to increase sales and improve positioning.
- Those efforts resulted in a 57% increase in sales in 2011, which was in contrast to a -4% decrease in overall visitors to the Rurrenabauque destination that same year.
- The result of this increase in clients was the creation of 826 additional workdays compared to this same period the previous year for the 62 families directly benefitting from tourism activities at the ecologe.
- Creation of tourism products/routes in the Northern La Paz/Beni region.
- Improved business development capacity, entrepreneurship opportunities, service quality, and environmental and social performance of tourism businesses and DMOs.