Guatemala Community Tourism Alliance
Region: Latin America + Caribbean
Areas of Focus: Economic Development
Dates of the project: 2006-2012
Guatemala, for hundreds of years a center of the powerful Maya culture and economy, struggles with poverty and the residue of a decades-long civil war. The advent of a free-trade agreement encompassing Central America, the Dominican Republic and the United States has helped spur foreign investment, but the benefits have been slow to reach many rural communities. Tourism has the potential to change that: It already accounts for nearly one-quarter of Guatemala’s gross domestic product and 15 percent of the jobs. Counterpart International aims to aid communities in reaping the benefits of tourism through ventures that conserve biodiversity.
What We Do
This project strives to create and support community-based tourism enterprises in rural areas and link them to the country’s broader tourism trade. These small and medium-sized businesses enhance the community’s capacity to co-manage and conserve cultural and natural resources.
By attracting travelers to explore the beauties and cultural heritage of Guatemala, Counterpart helps Guatemalans build their economy. With the right tools to prevent habitat destruction and displacement of wildlife, Guatemala can improve its long-term stability.
The project gives community-based tourism businesses access to marketing, product design and financial services while strengthening support for and participation in the conservation of biological diversity in and around tourism sites.
Following five years of implementation, the project has generated over $6 million dollars of additional sales, created 6,692 new jobs and strengthened 1,245 small and medium enterprises.
Counterpart became a key partner of the Tzolojya Community of Municipalities (Mancomunidad) in the implementation of the scenic tourism route, covering the municipalities of Sololá, San José Chacayá and Santa Lucía Utatlán. The route has been planned and designed as a series of stops on interesting points with cultural, natural and landscape highlights along the main roads of the region. Through its in-house team of interpretive and design experts, Counterpart supported the design process for the route’s logos and branding elements and the Living Museum included in the route
Counterpart has supported Candelaria Camposanto community in the implementation of a project for infrastructure improvement, funded by Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo (INGUAT). Counterpart’s support has included participation and technical advice on aspects such as proposal structuring and negotiation and supervision of the bidding process.
Marketing and promotional strategies and activities were designed and implemented engaging both existing and new beneficiaries. Many of the activities implemented during this quarter are based on identified needs for businesses prior to anticipated closeout of the Community Tourism Alliance. Beneficiaries have been properly informed about imminent closeout of the program on September 30th. This information has led to updated technical assistance plans and activities and to requests from many beneficiaries to identify alternative sources of funding that could support continued technical assistance under the Counterpart model. Counterpart supported Tornado’s Excursions in the design of their brand and applications for business cards, an advertisement for a local magazine and a promotional-tourism map of San Pedro La Laguna. Tornado’s Excursions is one of the new businesses created as a result of this program.
Counterpart continued to support INGUAT, the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and the 2012 Committee, in promoting and maximizing the potential of Guatemala as the epicenter of the 2012 Maya commemoration date. During this quarter, Counterpart continued to lead the implementation of training workshops about the Maya 2012 commemoration. Two training workshops were held in Sololá. The first workshop was carried out with 17 members of the Atitlán Tourism Guides Network (10 men and 7 women). The second workshop was held with representatives of the Sotzil Cultural Center including 14 men and 7 women.
As part of the technical assistance to Oxlajuj B’atz’, an association supporting women handicraft producers in Solola, Quiche, and Totonicapán, a new logo and brand were produced for a new women’s producer group located in Totonicapán, which became incorporated into the association. Additionally, 24 labels were redesigned to best promote sales by the other 11 groups in the fair trade store of Oxlajuj B’atz’, ensuring timely and fair payment for each woman producer.
The program generated total sales by beneficiaries of $23.18 Million ($7.11 Million from artisan products).
The program facilitated the allocation of $1,496,033.65 in loans for tourism and handicrafts initiatives.
The program leveraged in excess of $12 Million in private and government contributions for expansion and strengthening of activities.
On March 15, 2012, Counterpart International won the award for Best Video and/or Podcast Program at the PR News Nonprofit PR Awards for our multimedia package on Sustainable Livelioods in Guatemala. Board member Judith H. Whittlesey accepted the award on Counterpart's behalf. Congratulations to everyone involved! Take a look at it here.
On March 11, 2013, Counterpart International won Honorable Mention for Best Video at the PR News Nonprofit PR Awards for our video on Crafting a Better Future for Guatemalan Artisans. Congratulations to everyone involved! Take a look at the video here.