In July of 2017, 21 youth leaders from Canada and Bolivia gathered in La Paz, Bolivia, for the 2017 International Seminar on sustainable community tourism.
An extraordinary human adventure
Living up to its reputation, the 2017 International Seminar was an incredibly enriching experience. It provided youth with an opportunity to connect with their peers from different parts of the world, exchange experiences, develop their knowledge and skills, and build their network of like-minded, globally engaged individuals.
Through its field research component, the Seminar in Bolivia also allowed participants to connect with people living in the rural areas of La Paz. Living at the margins of Bolivia’s economy, these communities had expressed an interest in developing sustainable community tourism initiatives and welcomed the Seminar participants for their support in reaching this goal.
This experience was eye-opening for the youth participants. It created space for sharing cultural traditions, livelihood activities, day-to-day struggles, and hopes for a fairer world. Seminar participants also had to face different living conditions, as they stayed in shelters located at 4000 meters above sea level, with limited access to heating, electricity, running water, and food supplies.
A meaningful research experience
The 2017 International Seminar sought to advance sustainable community tourism in two different communities, Papalarama/Chalcaltaya and Llaullini, both located in the rural areas of La Paz.
This ambitious goal required high standards of academic rigour. Once gathered in Bolivia, participants had to manage a busy schedule of classes and workshops that were designed to provide them with the theoretical and practical tools they needed to deliver quality recommendations toward improving or developing sustainable community tourism in the targeted areas.
For five intensive days, the Seminar participants engaged in research activities, conducting one-on-one interviews and focus group sessions with community members to learn more about the challenges they face and identify potential opportunities for tourism activities. The research had to be conducted without having any access to the internet or other electronic devices, as the participants were typically used to in their day-to-day urban lives.
A lot of effort was put into the tabulation of data collected in the field and in its interpretation. Once their research reports were finalized, the participants presented their findings to the local communities and municipal authorities in La Paz.
Today, we are pleased to share the results of Seminar participants’ research, in both official languages. This Research Summary contains an overview of the three research studies that were conducted in the two communities. The three research topics are:
- Youth inclusion factors in community tourism in Pampalarama
- Sustainable community tourism and community participation in Chalcaltaya
- The potential for sustainable and community tourism in the community of Llaullini
Each overview includes a description of the community, explains the topic and objective of the research, methodology, results, and conclusions, and provides specific recommendations that are unique to each case study.
The Research Summary also provides a list of overarching recommendations to improve sustainable community tourism in the targeted areas. From strengthening trust among adults and youth to encourage more inclusive employment opportunities in the tourism sector and reduce the rural exodus; to improving the infrastructure of hostels to make guests’ stay more pleasant; to using cultural wealth as a tourist attraction and as a tool to re-establish the value the local culture that is at risk of being lost, many areas of possible improvement have been identified.
Click here to read the full research summary.
Recommendations can also be accessed through this video.