Naranjal joins the PREIT-TOUR Project in the first workshop of Social Tourism Enterprises
02 September 2020 - Cuenca Ecuador - On July 25th, the first workshop of "Social Tourism Enterprises" was held in the city of Naranjal, an event promoted by the University of Cuenca in the framework of the project Fostering a platform for research-based education to support sustainable development through Tourism in the Cajas Massif Biosphere Area (CMBA), South Initiative financed by VLIR-UOS, in coordination with KU Leuven.
The event counted with the participation of different actors of the territory, among them the Shuar Community Tsuer Entsa, 6 de Julio Crabber Association, Zhagal Community, Kaluz Inn, etc. Also, the members of the Parish GAD of Naranjal, the Municipal Foundation of Tourism for Cuenca, and the Tourist Operators "Guía Tours" and "Best Experience" were present at the event, to identify future tourist products that can be developed in the municipality.
The workshop had the purpose of generating Inter-institutional Cooperation Agreements and motivating the actors to work together to consolidate a tourist destination in the southern zone of Ecuador, under the component of Social Tourism Enterprises. One of the pillars of the work was to identify the main problems faced by the local actors, as a starting point for gathering information and generating a situational diagnosis of the territory. The event was directed by Freddy Espinoza (Project Director) and Byron Alvarado (Project Assistant), with the assistance of the students of the eighth cycle of the tourism career who are in charge of the fieldwork in the different pilots that are part of the project.
For Hugo Vanegas (owner of the Hosteria Kaluz), this project is a great opportunity to awaken the interest of the residents and work in one direction. "The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone equally, but it is time to take advantage of this crisis to unite the communities, achieve better management of our resources and consolidate tourism products that will allow us to develop our destination". For her part, María Angélica León (Director of the Municipal Tourism Foundation for Cuenca) warned that if the territories do not start working together, it will be very difficult for them to overcome the crisis that has caused the global pandemic.
On the other hand, Freddy Espinoza expressed his feelings of conformity and gratitude for the active participation of the communities, since it is an important step to develop the territories for tourism and to tend to sustainability.
The attendees took advantage of the event to establish cooperation agreements between the University of Cuenca and the following territories: the GAD of Naranjal, the Shuar Tsuer Entsa Community, 6 de Julio Crabber Association, and the Luz y Guía Tourism Cluster. In Naranjal there are 3 of the 9 pilots that are part of this project. As a result of the agreements, the students of Tourism of the University of Cuenca will be able to generate strategies to improve the tourist situation of the territories and consolidate the southern destination of Ecuador. The main strength of the project is the research-based learning, with which students can acquire skills that help them detect the main elements that affect the management of a territory. This project not only has the function of covering the learning needs of the students in the current academic semester, but it also aims to give continuity to the pilots through degree theses carried out by the students.