Naranjal, learning experiences and links with the territory
Last Saturday, 7th November, students of the second pilot course in research-based learning from the University of Cuenca visited four territories in the Canton of Naranjal. The visit was carried out as part of the Tourism Planning course, which aims to provide students with the necessary tools to create the situational diagnosis of the communities integrated into the PREIT-Tour project. The students were accompanied by Byron Alvarado, as a project assistant.
The day began with a visit to the 7 Cascadas community, where Julio Urrutia (official community guide) explained to them the mechanisms of tourism management in the area and the strategies implemented by local actors to reactivate tourism in the context of the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 virus. They then took a tour of 5 of the 7 existing waterfalls, where the students were able to observe the local tourism resources. The students appreciated the biosecurity measures implemented in the community.
The second territory visited was the 6 de Julio Compound, where the students learned about the main economic activity of its inhabitants, which focuses on crab collection. Victor Hugo (a member of the community), shared with the students the crab collection process prior to its commercialization in the market. This visit was one of the most enriching, as the students understood the importance of linking the economic activities of the population with the implementation of tourist itineraries to allow the development of the town.
The third visit was to the Kaluz Hostel, where the students understood the importance of private initiatives for the dynamisation of the territories. Afterwards, they visited the Shuar Tsuer-Entsa community to learn about the tourism management mechanisms that the community implemented. In this case, the students learned that tourism should not be a central element in a territory, even more so if there is no integration between local actors.
The last visit was to the Zhagal hot springs, where the students observed the community's tourist complex, which is the main undertaking of its inhabitants. In this case, the participants entered the facilities and were able to observe the measures implemented by the inhabitants to face the health crisis and reactivate tourism in the area.
It is important to note that the visits are made so that the students can detect problems or shortcomings in the territories, and then propose strategies for action to improve the reality of the communities and promote local development through the implementation of tourism activities.
Photo credits: Byron Alvarado Vanegas