Strengthening community tourism projects

Lourdes Aguilar

Community-based tourism is a local development strategy in which communities, through their organization, play a central role in the development and management of their resources. Through community tourism, it is possible to contemplate landscapes, conserve biodiversity, learn about different cultures and improve the economic development of the communities by generating productive activities and sources of employment. 

Despite the vicissitudes and crises faced by the Guatemalan population in an impoverished country, there are inhabitants of communities that find the strength to defy fate and preserve natural resources. They join hands, and form groups, cooperatives or associations to embark on a path that is far from easy and many times they do it without government support. Through the union, they create initiatives that transform through caring for and contemplating the landscape, the birds, the forests, or a lake. 

To strengthen these ventures, ENTRE MUNDOS is carrying out the project “Strengthening community and tourism capacities in the western highlands of Guatemala”. This project supports six community organizations in the western highlands of Guatemala to improve their organizational and community tourism capacity. Over three years, ENTRE MUNDOS will accompany these six organizations with training processes, small grants, volunteer support and exchange and visibility activities for their tourism project. 

Let’s get to work 

Currently, the ENTRE MUNDOS team is working on a diagnosis of each of the projects to know their situation and identify the most urgent needs. ENTRE MUNDOS plans to provide support to the projects to improve their infrastructure or increase their service capacity. In addition, through this project, ENTRE MUNDOS is carrying out virtual diploma courses to support grassroots development in the western highlands. So far, two virtual diploma courses have been conducted, addressing the topics of community organization and participation and gender equality and equity at the community level. Different organizations from the departments of Quetzaltenango, Totonicapán, Sololá, Huehuetenango, San Marcos, Quiché and Chimaltenango have participated in these activities. 

Now, what are the initiatives that are part of the selected tourism projects? In the next editions, we will tell in-depth the story of the community tourism projects, the services they provide and the oasis they offer for the population to escape from the stress of the city and connect with nature.

But now, we tell you the name of the initiatives, their location and their purpose. 

Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura IMAP: interested in promoting community-based tourism and sustainable entrepreneurship on the shores of Lake Atitlán in San Lucas Tolimán. 

Asociación Sostenible Para el Desarrollo Integral y Turístico de Loma Linda (ASODILL): wants to promote ecotourism in the village of Loma Linda, El Palmar Quetzaltenango. 

Asociación de Campesinos Forestales Buena Vista (ADECAF): wants to develop community tourism in some villages of Todos Santos Cuchumatanes, Huehuetenango.. 

Cooperativa Integral Agrícola Atitlán El Paraíso Tz’utujil, R.L. (COATITLAN, R.L.): Seeking to promote community tourism with a focus on the coffee value chain in Santiago Atitlán. 

Asociación de Desarrollo Agroforestal Integral Sostenible (ADAFIS): Promotes sustainable tourism in Unión Reforma, Sibinal, San Marcos and offers activities such as bird watching.


Volunteers support 

An important pillar of ENTRE MUNDOS is the volunteers, who will also be present in this project. Between 2023 and 2024, alliances will be created with some regional universities through an individual and group volunteer program to support the communities. 

In general, this initiative seeks to improve the infrastructure, services, promotion and visibility of the tourism projects, as well as to improve their organizational capacities through training processes on different topics, so that they can develop their business plan.