Andean Alliance’s Community Centre in the foothills of the Andes
Project Cordillera is a group of adventurous professionals motivated by the idea that tourism can be a mutually beneficial experience for both visitors and locals of a place. This idea is represented by the phrase “sustainable tourism,” a type of development that seeks to maximize positive tourism-related impacts to a destination in a way that does not sacrifice future generations’ ability to enjoy those same destinations. Positive tourism impacts can be economic growth, social and cultural interchange, and environmental preservation. Tourism can inevitably bring negative benefits to a tourism destination as well. Increasing numbers of tourists can disrupt local life, displace existing non-tourism related businesses, and create pollution. Although challenging, attempting to create a net positive impact is often a more realistic, systems approach to quantifying tourism impacts, which Project Cordillera hopes to do through its social enterprise in Huaraz.
Project Cordillera has been working closely with Andean Alliance, a local NGO that has a community center in the middle of two distinct Quechau-speaking communities just outside of Huaraz. Quechua is the second official language in Peru and spoken in the country’s more isolated areas in its rainforests and the Andes Mountains. Andean Alliance especially focuses on programs that benefit the local women and youth.
Sustainable tourism begins with recognizing that the future direction of a place (in this case Huaraz) should be determined by the people who live there. Sustainable tourism also tries to incorporate members of a community that may have historically been excluded or disenfranchised from taking part in economic opportunities like tourism. As Project Cordillera begins to measure the tourism impacts of its social enterprise, they are focused on working with Andean Alliance to be inclusive and provide economic opportunities for these historically poorer and ostracized populations.
In a couple days, I will head out with Sam Williams and Sam Gibbons Frendo (aka “Willy” and “Gibbo”) to visit the community center, meet with Andean Alliance, and build relationships with the youth who are learning how to be mountain guides in their own backyard. Guides are in high demand in Huaraz because of the amazing trekking, mountaineering, and outdoor activities. Tourism is a large and continuously growing sector for Huaraz, and Project Cordillera provides outdoor adventure travel experiences that are high-quality, safe, unique and very inclusive of the local population. I have yet to see an organization in Peru that embodies the sustainable tourism concepts as much as Project Cordillera in trying to create a net positive impact to tourists and the local community alike.
Follow Erin’s blog to find out more about her travels and work with Project Cordillera!