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Alba Sud News | Responsible Tourism


Catalonia: Rural Community-Based Tourism Encounter

Representatives from 8 community-based tourism operators in Latin America will visit Catalonia during the month of October 2013 for an encounter organized by Alba Sud, in collaboration with CETT-UB, Èxode Viatges, Tosca, the City Council of Sant Cugat and the support of the Barcelona Diputació.

Photography by: Albergue La Amistad, Isla de Chira, Costa Rica. Picture from Priscilla Mora (creative commons).

From October 20-29, 2013, a delegation of ten representatives from tour operators specializing in rural community-based tourism in different countries of Latin America and England will visit Catalonia with the objective of strengthening commercial ties with Catalan agencies, exchanging experiences and getting to know tourism initiatives in Catalonia that could serve as inspiration for their respective places of origin.

¿What is rural community-based tourism?

Rural community-based tourism (TRC, for its acronym in Spanish) in Latin America is a type of tourism that takes place in rural areas where the local population, especially indigenous and peasant families, through their different organizational structures of collective character, play a central role in their own development, management and control, as well as in the distribution of their benefits. This type of activity usually does not replace traditional agricultural activities (agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forestry, crafts...), but is a way to expand and diversify the productive options of rural communities and complement peasant economies.

This type of offer allows visitors to learn directly from the local population about their natural environments, the people's daily life, traditional productive activities and history... One of its main attractions is the possibility of establishing personal and direct relationships with the people of each place visited, in addition to the knowledge that one is contributing to improved local economies.

In recent years, a critical issue in consolidating these proposals has been the difficulty of expanding and strengthening marketing channels, both within their own countries and abroad. This is why it has been crucial for many community-based initiatives to have tour operators specialize in rural community-based tourism. In some Latin American countries, the initiatives themselves have created their own operators through their networks. In other cases, they have reached agreements with private operators who have specialized in this segment.

A meeting to strengthen relations

In the Catalan market, as in the rest of the Spain, the commercial offer of rural community-based tourism in Latin America is not yet as established as in other European countries such as Germany, Holland, England and France. It is for this reason that Alba Sud, in partnership with the School of Hospitality and Tourism (CETT-UB), the City Council of Sant Cugat,Èxode Viatges and TOSCA, and with the support of the Barcelona Delegation through a technical assistance project of the International Relations Department, organized a meeting aimed at strengthening the links between rural community-based tourism operators in Latin America and various stakeholders of tourism in Catalonia (agencies, universities, NGOs, local administration).

From October 20-29, a delegation of the following people will meet in Catalonia:

  • Roxana Flamenco de Martínez from El Salvador, director of ToururalES, president of the National Bureau of Rural Community-Based Tourism (TRC) in El Salvador and president of the TRC Network of Central America, Belize and Dominican Republic;
  • César René Serranoalso from El Salvador, tourism representative in the Tamanique City Council;
  • Madelyn Castro Porras from Costa Rica, product coordinator for ACTUAR;
  • Flora Acevedo from Nicaragua, representative for Éxode Nicaragua and professor of tourism at the National Autonomous University of (UNAN-Managua);
  • Rosa María Martins from Brazil, coordinator of the Ceará Community Tourism Network (Red TUCUM);
  • Christian Alfredo Garzón from Ecuador, general manager of Runa tuparí Native Travel;
  • Sandro Bladimir Saraviafrom Bolivia, national coordinador for the TUSOCO Network;
  • José Gerstle from Chile, commercial manager for Travolution;
  • Carlos Ramiro Ragno from Argentina, technical advisor for the Salta Peasant Tourism Network (Red de Turismo Campesino de Salta) and technical team coordinator for the Argentina TRC Network.

Felipe Zalamea, director of the travel agency Sumak Travel, will also accompany us from England,.

During their stay, the delegation will offer various presentations to publicize the rural community-based tourism initiatives in their respective countries. They will also offer a workshop at the CEET-UB, which has gotten the support of the Catalan Union of Specialized Agencies (UCAVE), with the objective of strengthening ties with Catalan tourism agencies and tourism students interested in collaborating with theses Latin American operators.  

Different successful tourism experiences in Catalonia will also join, serving as a source of inspiration for the design of new products and services in the delegates’ respective countries. These include:

  • The management and protection of natural spaces combined with information and tourism activities in the region of La Garrotxa, where they will also see the development of a tourism model linked to local agricultural production.
  • The role of tourism in promoting the production of wine and champagne in Penedès.
  • Managing sun and beach tourism and the process of generating a complementary offer in the town of Vendrell.
  • The recovery of recent historical memory as part of a tourist offers stemming from the Granollers case.

During the next few days we will disseminate the invited guests’ presentations.



English translation: Noelia A. Acosta Fajardo.

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