Tourism Conservation & Planning at Peak Park in San Andres, Colombia
Solimar was recently contracted to support the development of a 5-year management plan for a protected area on the Caribbean island of Old Providencia, in the Colombian Department of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina. Solimar is tasked with developing innovative ideas to engage stakeholders working within the park to generate a sustainable source of revenue through tourism.
Solimar is applying our Business Approach to Conservation to develop revenue models and a business plan for the park that actively mitigate threats to conservation in the protected area and generate economic opportunities for local residents.
Because this is a remote region of Colombia, there is a unique set of challenges that must be considered in its development as a tourism destination. The island of Providencia is home to about 5,000 residents and receives fewer than 20,000 visitors per year. As tourism develops in the region, it must be done carefully and in a way that ensure economic opportunity for local residents. As in any destination, the charm of the communities around the park lies on their authenticity, something that should not be disturbed or “packaged” in a way that misrepresents them or threatens their way of life.
Regional Natural Park (PRN) The Peak was developed to preserve the fragile dry forest ecosystems in the mountains run the length of the island. Threats to the ecosystem include activities related to unsustainable agriculture and unregulated tourism activity.
Solimar’s work with the protected area comes as Colombian national government plans significant investments in tourism infrastructure on the island.
Solimar’s Gabriel Seder recently completed a destination assessment on the island. During a five-day site visit, Solimar:
• Hosted workshops and community meetings with stakeholders, including community residents, guide associations, farmer cooperatives, conservation NGOs, and local government officials
• Completed a conservation threat assessment to identify direct and indirect threats to biodiversity conservation
• Conducted a tourism destination assessment to understand existing and potential attractions and supporting infrastructure and services
• Conducted a visitor survey to assess market demand for new tourism products
• Introduced business concepts for generating revenue in support of conservation
• Drafted a business plan to support the sustainable implementation of conservation and revenue-generating activities
In the next phase of the project, Solimar will develop a fundraising strategy that can be used to secure funding for key activities. Solimar will target funders and donors in Colombia and internationally to support the development of ecotourism products on the island.
Solimar’s previous work in Colombia incudes the development of a Geotourism interactive website on the islands of San Andres and Providencia, in partnership with National Geographic and funded by a loan from the InterAmerican Development Bank.
Solimar also worked in the region of Chocó to develop and market community-based tourism enterprises as part of the BIOREDD+ program funded by USAID.
Colombia was recently listed one of Solimar’s top ten destinations to discover in 2015.