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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Peru: A Brief History

With approximately 500,000 visitors each year, Manchu Picchu is one of the most visited tourist cites in the world. To visit Manchu Picchu is to feel what it must have been like for the Andean people hundreds of years earlier, it is a truly awe inspiring experience. However, for the Andean people, over the past hundred years, many things have changed.

Whereas tourism is the mainstay of Peru’s economy today, a hundred years ago the primarily industries were agriculture and textile production. Agriculture was important because it provided sustenance to the Andean people. Textile was important for them to keep warm, but textiles were also a valuable commodity and had great symbolism within the Andean regions.

During religious practices, cloth was the main ceremonial offering, and was used to show tribute to the elite. The practice of weaving was so sacred to the Andean people that shrines devoted solely to weaving were erected and worshiped. After colonization by the Spanish, Andean people wore woven textiles in assertion of their indigenous identity.

Over time, the Andean people’s lives have changed dramatically. Many have left their communities to seek out work as porters or cooks that cater to the influx of tourists visiting Peru each year. Others have to travel great distances each day to sell goods in city shops and markets, and the ancient tradition of textile manufacturing that was once such an integral part of the Andean culture is now on the verge of becoming extinct.

Tourism: The Sustainable Way

Danielle Weiss, Project Manager for Planeterra Foundation recently spoke with me about their project in Ccaccaccollo Peru.

 Since 2005, Planeterra has been working with the women of the Ccaccaccollo community to develop a weaving project. Three women from the Ccaccaccollo Community took part in a three-month training course held by a local non-profit organization in which they learned ancient weaving techniques including how to dye the wool using native flowers and plants. Each of the three women continued to teach the rest of the women what they had learned and today more than just women have joined together to create the Ccaccaccollo Women’s weaving co-op.

Gap Adventure groups visit this community as part of the Sacred Valley Tour where they have the opportunity to meet the women and learn about all the stages of the weaving process; from spinning the sheep wool, to dying the wool using natural dyes, and participating in a weaving demonstration. Travelers are also given the opportunity to purchase high quality textiles directly from the women who made them.

The Woman’s weaving co-op is an incredible example of just how tourism can be used to benefit the communities that they visit. The women economically benefit from the tourism that the weaving co-ops bring to their region, while avoiding the negative social and cultural impacts of having to leave their communities to find work. Ninety-five percent of all money earned at the co-op goes directly to the women and five percent is given back to the community to ensure its continued growth. The living conditions, healthcare, and educational standards within the community have all increased due to this project, and a younger generation is finding a new sense of pride in their cultural heritage.

Planeterra Foundation is an organization that truly changes people lives!

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Triple Bottom Line: Evaluating corporate performance by measuring environmental sustainability and social responsibility as well as profits.

Until recently, I had hardly ever heard the term triple bottom line being used. However, I believe that I have always lived this philosophy. I think that it is in all of us to do better and to help out where help is needed. For me it wasn’t a choice, it just was!

I have never been a typical traveler. To me travel meant immersing myself in a destination and truly experiencing the culture of the place that I was visiting. For six years of my life, I traveled throughout Asia teaching English, volunteering and working with local businesses ensuring sustainable growth. The thrill for travel has never left, nor has the felling of making a difference in another’s live.  For this reason, I have chosen to complete my education in tourism. I believe that tourism can have a positive impact to developing areas while opening the eyes of the traveler to the real wonders that the world has to offer.

It is no surprise then, that I would be attracted to a company such as GAP Adventures. GAP Adventures are the “adventure people” and they have been “changing peoples lives” for the past 20 years. They follow a core set of values; this rings through in everything that they do, from their initiatives through Planeterra to their overall travel philosophy.

When I feel genuinely inspired about something, I cannot stop researching it, talking about it and sharing what I have learned. Over the course of this school year, GAP Adventures has assisted me many times without ever realising it. For my Entrepreneurship class, I wrote a case study and gave a presentation on Bruce Poon Tip, founder and CEO of GAP Adventures, which received a 100% grade. Most recently during my triple bottom line final exam, the essay question read:

1. According to Bruce Poon Tip, founder of GAP Adventures, “Done right, tourism can be a powerful transformer for sustainability”.

Is sustainable tourism an oxymoron or a vision for the future? What is your assessment? Why or why not?     (42 Marks)

I have never been happier to answer an exam question in my life because I believe that sustainable travel is more than just a vision for the future, it is the future. I answered this question at length, filling the remainder of pages in the exam booklet. I could recount my answer to this question and share it with you, but I feel that Bruce himself would be able to do it far more justice. Below is a video recorded at TEDx Whistler where he answers just this question:

Any more questions?

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