Communities and SMEs

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planeta
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Communities and SMEs

Post by planeta »

TOPIC: Communities and SMEs
1. Assessing community priorities
2. Developing consistent community services
3. Linking businesses to community services

MODERATOR: Nicole Haeusler

SETTINGS: Active participants can reply to this topic

PARTICIPANTS:
http://www.planeta.com/ecotravel/tour/e ... .html#part

REFERENCE

Ecotourism Emerging Industry Forum (Nov 1-18, 2005)
http://www.planeta.com/ecotravel/tour/emerging.html

Nicole Haeusler
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Post by Nicole Haeusler »

Dear All,

Welcome to the discussion group "Communities and SMEs". I will be your moderador for this topic and was asked to introduce myself.
My name is Nicole H

Meganew
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Post by Meganew »

Hello everyone,

I am greatly looking forward to this dialogue, particularly on communities and SMEs. In the last 3 years, I have been asked to do a fair amount of work for the donor community - primarily USAID - on linking private businesses to community development. I have had the opportunity to work on this matter in Ecuador, Chiapas, Mexico and in southern Sri Lanka. In each case, I saw very particular examples of need at the community level. Frequently I have been dealing with issues of ethnic strife between minority community members and majority populations running the government and businesses.

I have been a strong advocate for many years of developing tools to better evaluate community needs before initiating projects. I have long felt that we need to better understand the social and political structures of the communities we seek to work with first - before beginning full tilt business development.

I realize that this can be an impediment to business development - which must respond to investor needs. Normally a business should be able to demonstrate that it can reach a profit in 3 years. This does not really leave enough time to sort out very sensitive community issues.

It is for this reason, among many others, that I feel private business cannot properly develop true ecotourism without some donor grant support - particularly if we are seeking to develop businesses in areas where poverty is high, infrastructure is poor, and ethnic differences tend to be sensitive.

I am hoping that private businesses can weigh in here with their own experiences in this matter, and particularly how they might imagine donors could provide assistance. Some of the businesses involved in this forum have a great deal of experience in this matter. I am hoping to find some practical solutions that allow donors to tailor more useful technical asisistance programs directly to business development in regions that have been "left behind" by traditional business development.

jsweeting
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Timeframes and realistic expectations...

Post by jsweeting »

CI has worked for many years with communities in developing countries and has had numerous experiences with regards to community tourism enterprise development. I for one believe this term "model" project to be a bit misleading, because the idea of a model is that it can be easily replicated...not something I see happening a whole lot around the World.
What I can say is that there are examples of community tourism SMEs that have spawned replication and local growth in the tourism industry - bringing with it entrepreneurialism...is this always for the good of the communities themselves, that is not necessarily for me to say, but rather them.

My question of the participants with a lot more knowledge of this area than I, is whether most communities (and I do hate to generalize but in this case I am interested in the overall perception of experts in this area) would prefer to own their own business, have a joint venture with an outside business or would rather to just have a job, or have people buy their crafts, or buy their crops?

Nicole Haeusler
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Post by Nicole Haeusler »

I would like to summarize important points mentioned above:

1. There should be a linkage and cooperation between Private Sector, Communities and Donor Organizations in order to develop a successful community tourism project.
2. The implementation of a successful community project or SMEs have to be subsidized for at least 3-4 years (from my experience I would even say ten years)
3. There is no model project!

And the important question for me has been "...whether most communities would prefer to own their own business, have a joint venture with an outside business or would rather to just have a job, or have people buy their crafts, or buy their crops?"

I would say that this decision-making process is quite often highly manipulated (yes, in some cases I would use this strong word) by the organizations helping to implement the project. Most of the communities in developing countries do not have a clue of an idea what is tourism, so they depend fully on the information and recommendations given by the organization they work with. And these organizations have quite often a strong NGO background who recommend therefore the option: "Create your own business - do not work together with the devil private companies". And as well the option "Joint Ventures" were not recommended to them. But I personally find option three the most interesting one:
Do we really have to create always a community tourism project with expensive ecolodges, many years of intensive training which finally does not lead to a successful story due to different reasons. Would it be not better to support the activities the people already do - like handicraft, crops, honey making, medical plants etc. etc. by supporting the cooperation between the private sector (I am talking especially about 3/4/ 5 Star Hotels and "normal" tour companies) and the communities in their area?

Nicole (Moderator)

Richard Edwards
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Post by Richard Edwards »

Hello to the

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Post by janwig »

I really like Olivers phraseology and rhetoric in the expression - "open up a new can of worms", relating to channeling funds through an NGO or creating ones own foundation.

As an inbound tour operator, I am sort of sorry to say that, we alone, produce better community benefits and job creation in a locations in Mongolia that are outside of protected areas, far away from any NGO:s or donors attention, yet attractive for visitors.

Our best case is an arid and difficult place to live on. After a few years of "hiring the natives" approach, where we hired labor, horses and camels, local people resonded very well and tended to like this job. Onde day one family came to me and announced they had registered their own tour company! It ss the only example where we found our indigenous partners went to town and registered their own tour company. Now they are subcontractors to us, and get the bulk of their business through us, which includes running of a yurt camp (eco-lodge Mongolian style) a series horse riding expeditions and treks without vehicles support that are being sold the world over. Even film expeditions for documenting their lifestyles with international film teams. The folks in this region are proud nomads and have a sufficient number of livestock for a decent living.

In another area, with rivers and forests, we have for years been trying to make sportsfishing trips. Mongolia has 3800 rivers in its north This is where we are considering jumping into this "can of worms" in order to be transparent with other external stakeholders on our objectives. These stakeholders includes:

a) An American missionary that stayed and invested in a saw-mill, and forestry was part of the livelihood of this community in the communist period.
b) A gold mine in the headwaters of our fishery, partly owned by a former president of the country.
c) A donor program that are among other promoting Game Ranching of Red Deer (kind of Elk for Americans...) which would attract overseas hunters to come and shoot them. This program also manage the buffer zone management of a huge protected area that is a wilderness.

Needless to say, as tourism entrepreneurs, facing competition and shortage of time, it is hard to expand the work getting stakeholders groups together. Or to be included in them. We just do not have the time even if I have the experience of how to do it. Yet, we know that we can offer a good market for this community, many jobs, as in the first example. I also know that the coordination work of all these well-intended efforts (well, the gold mine is not for profit at the community level at all....just jobs) is very rough in the edges excersise and in time it will not be treated with the same matter of urgency as we would feel about the proposal to establish good conservation of the fishery, which is the partneship we require to be able to go out and sell fishing trips. We need to be confident that there are some fishes of the right sizes in 3-5 years time because this is what it takes of marketing efforts to get a flow of visitors going. The outcomes of these talks are uncertain. Why we hesitated to invest in the marketing required, for years, simply because we are not sure the integrity of the fishery can be maintained. Being few people in Mongolia generally, it is hard for us to find the local partner that we need, that can provide us with the focus required to shake it and move it towards sustainability.

In this case, I feel I am looking at "a can of worms" and considering to work with an NGO t assist us or create our own foudnation. However we may also redirect our efforts elsewhere, to the second best places. E.g. another community downstream who are blessed with lack of interventions. Which is, I must say, only from our perspective, better prospects to quicker establish a kind of grassroots tourism which is the goal of all ecotourism.

We are getting there, in many places, but the level of success (community benefits) depends on leadership and livelihood approaches of the community as well as the stakeholder scenario. And certainly, it will be a different "can of worms" in each place.

JAN

febo
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Communities and comunications

Post by febo »

Community base ecotourism success is about 90% communication, but not from the community to the outside, it is mainly the lack of internal communications inside communities the fact that stops long term ecotourism and any kind of development projects in developing countries.

While most of the training programs offered are just focusing on technical abilities it is often forgotten that community goals when deciding for an ecotourism project in stead of an agricultural or timber project are closer to a social process in which local groups are at the end looking for internal cohesion and recognition, this implies a great effort for consultants to start a step behind what they thought was the beginning of an ecotourism project.

If we can just see that ecotourism projects are closer to local needs related to migration, gender, and recognition than just

Miker
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Post by Miker »

Good morning my name is Mike Robbins and I am a tourism consultant based in Toronto, Canada. I would like to discuss the concept of community-based tourism development through a case study in Canada

febo
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How do we know a community is back by the others inside

Post by febo »

We first know that a project is backed by a community once it appears as a collective effort, How to know that? Just go there and talk to different people on different times, is not that they are not honest but local assemblies are the most difficult decision making systems, once approved it will be closer to reality, but certainly that is far away from success, since communal land tenure represents one of the most conflictive areas at least in Mexico, most of these initiatives remain as internal projects where community try to find the main support from the inside, so the end point in many cases is not ecotourism itself but with the time it can become an important or even a flag project as it happened with San Nicolas, now Amatlan and many other projects, what we see at the end is that communities perceive ecotourism more as a tools to fix other problems than just as a way to start a green business.

I would suggest for every one interested on community decision making to assist at least once to a communal assembly.

kurtkutay
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Demand for Indigenous/Community-based Tourism

Post by kurtkutay »

If there be any question about it, I can say that more meaningful "authentic" cultural tourism is in high demand in the ecotourism segment of the adventure travel market.

For years we have seen how backpackers often penetrate rural environs before organized adventure travelers, and may community-based tourism initiatives, especially local private projects (ie. homestays, guide services, etc) get started based on backpack/indendent travel. So, I suppose there is a market and development opportunity for that, with its benefits and pitfalls of course.

But, if we are talking about more organized, potentially more lucrative and maybe more consistent, up-market ecotourism there is real interest and opportunity. We know from research presented at the ATTA conference by a MI State Study commissioned by the ATTA that cultural interests are strong in consumer demand.

However, I know from our experience in the Maasailand Safari project that there is also corresponding media interest in cultural tourism, especially when it is legitimately tied to conservaton and sustainable development. We received abundant notoriety this year including the Conde Nast Green List award because of this focus.

Any ways that we can bring about more people to people interactions on our adventure and ecotour programs the more good will come out it between hosts and guests, as well as interest in the media and marketplace which subsequently generates more business.

Nicole Haeusler
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Post by Nicole Haeusler »

SUMMARY

Nicole Haeusler
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Post by Nicole Haeusler »

FYI - I am going to summarize the important comments given yesterday, on Monday, in my next summary! It is really not so easy to summarize all these importants aspects- but I am looking forward to read some more of these highly interesting contributions!

febo
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How to implement work with communities

Post by febo »

There is certainly a different way to approach while planning CBT than usual strategies for any other tourism business. Communities will be more open to hands on labor in stead of theory planning workshops which frequently becomes an important factor for failure, locals simply bore if not working on the field, the strategy we have found the most effective to link communities in to real tourism business has been Balams trail building school where we physically approach to the market needs through users paths, also it give us the possibility to gather local work force and environmental concerns in to a real building situation, this has worked in general well IF tourist are already arriving to the place we are working, if we are planning ahead for future situations where tourism is expected to arrive it becomes more difficult.

Which has taken us as a consultants to the regular condition that we only work in communities where tourism has already arrived, on the step right before tourist arrive governments have a greater role to play and plan basic scenarios.
www.balam.org.mx

Meganew
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Post by Meganew »

I would just like to post an inquiry in this section. Last year at the World Tourism Policy Forum, the World Tourism Organization launched a very ambitious project ST-EP that is designed to encourage community-based pro-poor tourism through private donations and investment, I believe.

I checked their website on the WTO site and it has not been updated at all for one year - the last I looked.

Could Nicole or someone else update us on this effort, let us know how it might be rolling out, and how it might direct investment in community based projects in future? Will there be an effort to partner with the private sector for example?

I would also greatly appreciate a similar kind of update from our friends at SNV on how SNV is approaching its mandate to work with tourism and poverty alleviation, and what types of methodologies are presently in favor there. Thanks!

Megan

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