Community-based tourism organisation of the Province of Chimborazo (Ecuador)

Domestic role of community-based tourism
Few countries can claim as many natural and cultural riches as Ecuador. Its four main assets – the coast, the sierra, Amazonia and the Galapagos Islands – constitute four ecosystems that are home to an almost infinite biodiversity. 25% of the population comprises native communities with ancestral traditions and a strong identity, which helps Ecuador to pioneer community-based tourism. The transversal and multiplier nature of tourism has made tourism a fundamental part of the country’s development strategy, as it generates investments, boosts GDP and fosters the emergence of new sources of decent work to increase the living standards within local communities. In addition, the Plan Nacional para el Buen Vivir 2013–2017 considers community-based tourism as a transversal axis in a social economy at the service of the people.  

CORDTUCH – Community-based tourism organisation of the Province of Chimborazo

The Corporación para el Desarrollo del Turismo Comunitario de Chimborazo (Cordtuch) unites 11 community-based tourism initiatives in five cantons of the Province of Chimborazo. The Province of Chimborazo is home to tourism attractions such as the Reserva de Producción de Fauna Chimborazo, the Parque Nacional Sangay and the Tren (Empresa Nacional de Ferrocarriles del Estado).

Cordtuch targets both domestic and international visitors of protected natural reserves, railroad aficionados as well as people who are attracted by community-based tourism.

But Cordtuch has much work to do, because a study on the unmet demand in the Province showed that the organisation only draws some 0.95% of tourism in the province.

The initiatives of Cordtuch members boost the local economy and generate employment through preservation of ancestral know-how and the cultural patrimony of the Kichwa Puruwa people which allows the development of intercultural relations with tourists visiting the region. They also contribute to growing awareness about and protection of the natural resources as a means for the population to live in a healthy and stable environment.  These initiatives have allowed the development of further activities such as artisan workshops, medicinal plant processing centres, Andean camelid management projects, plant nurseries, a cultural museum, agro-ecological farms, reforestation projects promoting native trees, and the conservation of the páramo – the high-altitude biotope – and of micro watersheds. To strengthen the Cordtuch’s activities, a commercial and technical branch was created to commercialise tourism services offered by its members: the Operadora de Turismo Comunitario Puruha Razurku. 

Improving the community-based tourism offer 

The project financed by the Trade for Development Centre aims to consolidate small community-based tourism businesses. It provides support to (1) improve the general management capacities, (2) the development of the tourism offer on local, regional and international markets by implementing quality improvement and control systems through sustainable tourism certification, and (3) the participation to commercial fairs in view of presenting the community-based tourism offer.

Among the concrete and tangible achievements, the following are noteworthy:

  • Production of a book of Andean fairy tales with the collaboration of the Natural Resources Faculty of the University of Rio Bamba. (Ecotourism classes). Each community was able to pick a fairy tale which was written down and presented in a watercolour drawing. Students of the University participated in the story-telling evening sessions in the communities to revive forgotten stories and to put them down in writing. Not only is cultural heritage appreciated, it is also shared across generations within and outside the community.
  • Cordtuch produced a house style manual to strengthen Cordtuch’s business image in its 11 communities and to support the signboarding needs of the community centres. The goal is to provide tourist and situational information, ecological and cultural backgrounds, or information on how to prevent risks. The manual clearly defines the standards and technical norms for texts, logos and signboard construction. This covers the use of colours as well as materials. This manual was shared with Ecuador’s authorities in view of a national rollout. Discussions are ongoing.