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  • Writer's pictureByron Alvarado Vanegas

Tourism and Mental Wellness, an opportunity to develop tourism products in nature areas

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

Last February 9th, the PREIT-Tour research group held a meeting with tourism officials and tourism entrepreneurs of the Municipality of Limón Indanza in order to strengthen inter-institutional collaboration to create tourism products related to mental wellness in nature areas.

The meeting was held in the framework of the project "Mental well-being based on nature tourism experiences in scholarship students of the University of Cuenca and Azuay", which is led by researchers from the two universities mentioned above. The meeting began with an explanation of the results obtained from the study carried out in May 2022. In this research, the team used the DASS21 instrument (anxiety, stress and depression analysis test) to collect data from scholarship students of the Universities of Cuenca and Azuay. After a rigorous analysis, 70 students were selected to participate in a field trip to the Tinajillas - Río Gualaceño Municipal Conservation Area in Limón Indanza, with the objective of testing how outdoor activities in natural spaces can contribute to the reduction of psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and depression.

The results obtained showed that activities in contact with nature have the capacity to reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression in people suffering from these disorders. With this preamble, the research team presented the potential that the Municipality of Limón Indanza has to develop tourism products aimed at treating psychological disorders in people, due to the natural resources that the locality possesses.

After presenting the results of the project, a round table discussion was held in which representatives of the public and private sectors had the opportunity to present their perceptions of the study. There was also a debate on the municipality's needs in terms of tourism capacity. The meeting ended with different agreements promoted by the different stakeholders. One of them was the commitment to training in customer service, marketing and product creation. As a result, the research team and members of the municipality agreed to conduct the training sessions in the coming weeks.

In conclusion, this project demonstrates how research and outreach activities can promote local development through sustainable tourism. In addition, the meeting with tourism officials and tourism entrepreneurs of the Municipality of Limón Indanza has opened an opportunity for the development of tourism products that promote mental well-being in nature areas.

Photo credits: PREIT-tour and University of Cuenca

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