Baños: natural resources, culture, craftsmen and cooperation opportunities. An integrating vision
Last Friday 13th November, students of the second pilot course in research-based learning from the University of Cuenca visited the Rural Parish of Baños. 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 territories 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 Piedra de Agua Spa, where Martha Rengel (Spa Administrator) explained to the students the complex's management model and the strategies implemented to tackle the health crisis caused by COVID-19. Martha also explained the policies implemented by the manager to integrate the residents of the parish, including financial incentives for students from the parish, purchase of products from local residents, and preference for hiring residents from the parish.
The second visit was to the facilities of the GAD in Baños, where the students had the opportunity to talk to Esthela Loja (Director of the Tourism Department of the Rural Parish of Baños) to learn about the tourism strategies carried out by the public sector of the parish. In this case, the students understood the importance of integrating the public, private and resident sectors into the management of tourism, as it allows for the equitable development of the whole town.
The last part of the day focused on visiting some of the parish's craft enterprises, including a workshop of keyrings and home decorations, a factory of handmade soaps and aromatic candles, and a workshop of basketwork utensils made from the fibre of duda. Unfortunately, the pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the craft activity and tourism in the parish. Consequently, the Parish Government of Baños intends to work with these local actors to give greater recognition to the parish's craft activity, through the implementation of digital communication channels.
It is important to note that the visits are made so that 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 tourist activities.
Photo credits: Byron Alvarado Vanegas