Assessing the potential of eco-cultural tourism and community participation: Case study in Cartagena - Colombia = Evaluando el potencial de turismo ecológico- Cultural y participación comunitaria: Caso de estudio en Cartagena – Colombia
As a response to the negative impacts of tourism a new sustainable tourism has arisen, specifically eco-cultural tourism. This new tourism preserves and strengthens the cultural components of local communities together with the natural environment surrounding their settlements. Utilize both as touristic attractions generating job opportunities and environmental conscience among locals and tourists. Implementing Eco-cultural tourism through community participation allows creating win-win situations among the stakeholders involved, especially the less advantaged ones. This study focus on a case study of the communities La Boquilla, Marlinda and Villa Gloria settled in the northern area of Cartagena-Colombia. Their settlements are surrounded by a very biodiversity-rich area, considered one of the greenest spots of the metropolitan area of the city, the Juan Polo Marsh. The aim of this study is to examine the stakeholder’s perceptions in regard to utilize the community participation approach for developing eco-cultural tourism as a holistic strategy for taking advantage of the economic, social and environmental assets enclosed in the study area’s natural system. It was found that there are very positive conditions for developing an eco-cultural project in the study area and tremendous assets that would enhance very interesting project results. Theoretically the initiative is supported by the stakeholders interviewed and the legislation. However, several obstacles must be overtaken in order to even start the negotiations for the preliminary planning. To proceed with more complex project phases it is highly needed that the governmental sector guarantees the recognition of basic human rights to the local communities.
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