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The MIF and G Adventures team up to promote sustainable, community based-tourism in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru

Feb 25, 2013

The Multilateral Investment Fund, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, is partnering with small-group adventure travel tour operator G Adventures in a $1 million initiative that will promote sustainable, community-based tourism in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru. Within each of these four countries, the initiative, managed by G Adventures’ corporate foundation, Planeterra, will develop tourism products, services and small businesses in communities that have not historically benefited from the travel industry.

Five main community-based tourism projects will serve as central hubs, to which micro and small businesses will be linked. These five projects are: a coffee cooperative tour and restaurant in San Miguel de Sarapiqui, Costa Rica; community homestay accommodations in San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala and Nicaragua’s Ometepe Island; a community farm-to-table restaurant in Sacred Valley, Peru; and a sustainably-managed campsite for trekkers in Lares Valley Peru, an alternative route to the Inca Trail for reaching Machu Picchu.

“Tourism is one of the largest industries on the planet. Vital to the livelihood of 85 per cent of developing nations, it creates employment opportunities, battles poverty and strengthens economies,” said Paula Vlamings, Executive Director of Planeterra. “Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on developing community-based tourism worldwide with little benefit to the hosting communities. The tourism industry has not traditionally been involved in international development activities. Where it has, it was only engaged at the very end, yielding high failure rates and unsuccessful projects. In order for community-based tourism development to be sustainable and effective, the private sector, specifically tour operators that possess the market power, must be engaged at the beginning and throughout the entire process.”

While numerous efforts have been made to create alternative travel markets for such community based tourism products (including in past MIF projects), most have had limited success, as it takes significant resources in infrastructure, communications, and marketing to establish a new tourism destination. . By partnering with a major market tour operator for the first time, the MIF will be able to build on the platform of G Adventures’ existing tour operations to better channel its resources to ensure that MSMEs gain access to a ready market, capabilities and the tools to serve the market demand.


Industry leader G Adventures is a natural fit for this project. Their approach to sustainable tourism, coupled with their operations experience and marketing expertise will undoubtedly provide the much-needed demand and market to ultimately bring visitors to the tourism projects,” says Betsy Murray, MIF Costa Rica Senior Specialist. “We hope this initiative will motivate other institutions in the donor community and tour operators to collaborate to find sustainable solutions in the tourism industry.”

The anticipated results of this intervention include an estimated 40 per cent increase in patronage of businesses in the project. In cases where businesses will go from zero or negligible customers to 50-100 travelers a week, the percentage of revenue increase will be much higher. Furthermore, at least three small or medium-sized businesses will be developed at each of the five hubs to provide supplementary services such as tours, supplying produce and food, laundry, entertainment, and more. Each of these providers will receive small grants as seed funding and training to launch their businesses.

About the Planeterra Foundation

Established in 2003 by adventure travel tour operator G Adventures, Planeterra is a non‐profit organization that supports social and environmental solutions in destinations around the world via its global network of travelers. The foundation focuses on local education, health, small-business development, emergency relief and conservation work. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org.

About G Adventures

G Adventures is a Canadian small-group adventure travel tour operator offering affordable small-group tours, safaris and expeditions to more than 100 countries on all continents. Powered by an international team of passionate travelers, the award-winning trips embrace authentic accommodation, exotic cuisine and local transport to put travelers on a first-name basis with the planet’s people, cultures, landscapes and wildlife. The intimate, authentic and sustainable approach to small-group travel introduces travelers to the highlights of a destination while offering the freedom to explore it on their own. For more information please visit www.gadventures.com.

About the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF)

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, supports economic growth and poverty reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean through encouraging increased private investment and advancing private sector development. It works with the private sector to develop, finance, and execute innovative business models that benefit entrepreneurs and poor and low-income households; partners with a wide variety of institutions from the private, public and nonprofit sectors; evaluates results; and shares lessons learned. For more information, visit www.fomin.org.

Approved Amount: US$ 639.250.00

Approval Date: September 13, 2012

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