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Pandemic recovery by strengthening resilience of sustainable community-based tourism in Peru

Posted Monday 21 February 2022
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Within the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, tourism is one of the most impacted sectors, affecting economies, livelihoods, public services and opportunities on all continents. IUCN country projects in Peru and Viet Nam aim to bridge the gap created by the pandemic on tourism in and around priority protected areas. In each country IUCN will specifically address tourism sustainability in the context of fair and effective management of selected protected areas, building sustainable tourism products to support post-COVID-19 recovery, and increasing resilience to future impacts to the tourism sector, including through diversifying skills and work opportunities.  

 In Peru, we are supporting pandemic recovery by strengthening resilience of sustainable community-based tourism in Peruvian protected areas and indigenous co-managed communal reserves, including Amarakaeri Communal Reserve and Río Abiseo National Park. 

 Amarakaeri Communal Reserve is situated in Manu Province in the Peruvian Amazon. Its large area of 402,336 hectares includes a great diversity of ecosystems, habitat and natural and cultural values representative of the Amazon biome. It contributes to the protection of the Madre de Dios and Colorado river basins and forest catchment. It is an IUCN Green List site, recognised for its fair governance, effective management and successful conservation outcomes. Amarakaeri is home to Harakmbut, Yine and Machiguenka indigenous people among the local communities residing here. As a communal reserve, established in 2003, it is co-managed by a local association on behalf of the national parks agency SERNANP. Sustainable tourism development has been low-key but offers a vital income source to the communities in Amarakaeri and along the value chain in the region. Although visitation in 2019 reached 500 per year, there had been a steady increase, and expectations for the tourism sector were high. The majority of visitors are international guests who enjoy a range of guided treks, homestays and guest house facilities in community hamlets in the Park. More than 300 people are directly engaged in the local tourism value chain, the majority of them are women. However, with the pandemic’s arrival, the Amarakaeri closed off the community and has to rely on subsistence, savings and limited relief efforts to survive the pandemic episode. 

 Río Abiseo National Park is a World Heritage Site and an IUCN Green List candidate site, situated on the Eastern slope of the tropical Andes, protects the headwaters of three major rivers of the Huallaga Rive system, a major Peruvian tributary to the Amazon. The park is home to an impressive number of rare species, including Spectacled Bears, Giant Armadillos, Jaguars, at least five different primates and hundreds of bird species. A small ecotourism zone of 2,300 hectares is dedicated to local business operators and closely managed by Park staff. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the park received about 1,200 mainly domestic visitors, with a steady growth in international tourism. However, 2020 saw these numbers completely crash, with little more than 100 guests. This has made a dramatic impact on the local economy for ten communities in the immediate vicinity, affecting more than 1,800 people and resulting in some unsustainable exploitation of forest resources and other activities that were mutually curtailed with the declaration of the site as a World Heritage. At that time, support for tourism was provided as a potential alternative. It is vital that support for these communities helps relieve the impacts of this period, and provides support for the return of a viable tourism product and a nature-based economy 

 Planeterra’s project team is working to implement training and development needed to action the community’s vision for sustainable tourism in the national park; particularly, through community-based tourism initiatives. Read more about their work in Rio Abiseo here and stay tuned to learn more about Vietnam’s sites!


This project is implemented with support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Photo by: Íñigo Maneiro

Copyright: SERNANP

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