sustainability of community-based tourism

GIZ-led project aims to support the sustainability of community-based tourism in Ecuador


The German Technical Cooperation (GIZ), through its program titled, “Protection and sustainable use of natural resources – Bioeconomy,” aims to reinforce the value chain of sustainable tourism in those regions where there is intervention. This project was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ, abbreviation in German). The GIZ is managing this project with the support of GITEC GmbH and WWF-Ecuador. The goal is to promote the creation of touristic circuits that favor the inclusion of small- and medium-sized businesses, communities, and individuals looking to improve living conditions by diversifying their economic revenue streams. 

The main goal of the project is to strengthen, spotlight, and promote community-based tourism online. These products are based in Manabí, Santa Elena, Pastaza, Morona Santiago, and El Oro Provinces.

Wanderbus (INNTRAVELEC S.A.) is an Ecuadorian tour operator that offers community- and family-based experiences that are off the beaten path of conventional tourism activities. Wanderbus is the only B Corp certified tour operator in Ecuador, meaning it is a company that considers its operations’ long-term impact on the community and the environment. Wanderbus earned this certification through its work to bolster community-based tourism efforts that reinforce the value chain of sustainable tourism.

The project’s framework spotlights touristic products that operate with all of the biosafety protocols in 10 indigenous communities; five of which are based in the Amazon region and another five along the Coast. In order to meet sufficient standards of quality, community-tourism service providers receive training. This part of the project relies on collaborative efforts with the Ministry of Environment and Water (MAAE), the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur), and Decentralized Autonomous Governments (GADs).

Wanderbus is making its e-commerce platform available to all participant communities so that they may promote and sell tour packages and products that can be reached via the company’s preexisting operations and routes. In order to make this happen, the customer service, biosecurity, and operations aspects of tourism products and services must comply with essential standards. 

The GIZ is quite interested in ensuring that communities with sustainable tourism activities have access to the marketplace. For this reason, the project aims to improve the sustainability and social fabric articulated through community-based tourism activities. By addressing the sustainability of operations, diversification of revenue streams, and access to commercial platforms with greater reach, the project aims to increase the resilience of these communities, which have been impacted by the temporary absence of tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and natural disasters.

The addition of new, sustainable, community-based tourism experiences on the e-commerce platform responds to the current demand for services that tourists can reserve and purchase online, with support and follow-up provided by Wanderbus. The positioning of these touristic destinations is also reinforced through digital content creation (blogs) featuring recommendations and key information.