Ceci – Uniterra
by Julie Potvin Lajoie
Community tourism leaders from 12 municipalities and three departments in Guatemala (Chimaltenango, Lake Atitlán and Izabal) participated in a community tourism summit on Aug. 1 at the Hotel Villa Colonial.
National tourism agencies and institutions, including INGUAT (Instituto de Tourismo of Guatemala), CAT (Comité de Autogestión Turística) and La Antigua’s CAMTUR (Cámara de Turismo) also participated.
The objective was to encourage dialogue and develop strategic alliances between leaders of community tourism and tour operators for the promotion and marketing of new products in community tourism.
This event was made possible thanks to the Center for Studies and International Cooperation (CECI), a Canadian NGO that for many years has been supporting initiatives of community tourism in Guatemala. The event also was also made possible by the support of CAT, CAMTUR and INGUAT.
Supporting indigenous populations in particular, CECI’s Guatemala effort centers around community tourism, crafts production and agri-food, focusing on the promotion of fair trade and the solidarity economy as a means of providing incomes for families.
Martsam Travel representative Benedicto Grijalva shared the positive and negative experiences in the promotion and marketing of these kind of products to the participants and the leaders of community tourism, bringing forth a number of ideas to improve client services and to consolidate and reach higher standards for quality, necessary for marketing.
Pursuing such opportunities for dialogue is never free from large questions and moments of controversy, but these exchanges also fueled the discussion among participants. Overall, the results were favorable in seeking to encourage interest and promote contacts between interested parties in the tourism industry in Guatemala, whether of a community, business or institutional setting. Ultimately, these are important links of tourism in Guatemala.
At the end of the event, tour operators mingled with community leaders to get to know more of their products and to pick up various promotional materials.
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