What impact have you had on your clients and the tourism sector?
Our clients experience the region's biodiversity directly from those that live there. They are informed about the significance of conservation from youth who pride in their community's natural wealth. As a result, our clients leave with a greater understanding of the importance of conservation as well as greater appreciation for what Guaruma is doing, both through its education program and through its tourism services.
The guided tours have led to an increased interest in the Cangrejal watershed as a tourist destination both for locals living in La Ceiba, the nearest city, and for international visitors. Apart from regular workshops to train new guides, Guaruma is active in promoting the area through other Guaruma activities such as the students' work in photography and design.
Since the creation of Guaruma services, the organization has held various workshops in order to train interested guides and refine their skills and knowledge.
To improve the aesthetic appeal of the trails, Guaruma has developed interpretative signposts at each stop. In addition, it has also expanded its main trail to include other areas and species.
In order to promote these activities, Guaruma works with hotels and ecolodges in the area as well as organizations in La Ceiba.
Efforts to promote the region as a destination are expected to provide more tours, thus helping to generate more income for guides and the eduction program (indirectly through tours).
The increase in work will appeal to other interested students and possibly expand to communities where Guaruma also plays a role.
The overall result will be increased awareness of the benefits of nurturing the watershed's forests and river.
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
In the first year efforts should be focused on promotional activities as well as the development of trail signposts and news trails.
Between the first and second year, additional workshops should be organized to improve skills, develop new ideas and recruit new guides to the project.
As the project gains momentum, and on the condition that there are regular visitors in the area, Guaruma services can expand to other communities of the region. Other services can be added to the existing ones, catering to the interests of visitors. For example, long excursions and horseback riding.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
Without proper promotion of the region as a destination, there will not be enough visitors to maintain the project. Guides will have no incentive to maintain their trails or refine their guide skills.
Without sufficient funding, trails cannot be developed nor can guides be properly trained. In addition, trails are situated on private property. While Guaruma maintains agreements with property owners, there is always the risk that property is made unavailable.