23 Jul / 2004
communities place their bets on sustainable rural tourism
A group of Lenca Indian communities from Lempira
department are betting on sustainable rural tourism as the best
alternative for improving their standard of living. The communities
- which include San Sebastián, San Manuel Colohete,
San Marcos de Caiquín, La Campa, Gracias and Belén
- have joined forces to create the COLOSUCA Tourist Circuit,
aimed at drawing a steady flow of tourists to this part of the
country and using tourism revenues to fight poverty - which
is high - in the area.
The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and the Honduran
Institute of Tourism have identified the COLOSUCA Circuit as one
of the countryâ€™s greatest potential draws for tourists interested
in ecology and eco-adventure. The COLOSUCA zone was selected for
its wealth of cultural and natural resources, not the least of
which are access to Celaque National Park, the regionâ€™s
history as home to the countryâ€™s first national capital,
rich architectural offerings (especially churches) from the 16th
and 17th centuries and a vibrant community of Lenca Indians living
out their traditional customs and producing hand made pottery.
The new circuit is part of the Honduran governmentâ€™s ongoing
policy to promote the tourism sector. It has been designed to
take advantage of a variety of initiatives aimed at encouraging
rural tourism in an area of great historic heritage, and making
sure that tourism is sustainable. The COLOSUCA circuit is part
of the larger Lenca Route, which is a complete and coherent regional
initiative that gives new value to the zoneâ€™s natural and
cultural resources and Lenca culture. The project is also designed
to lessen the gender gap and increase womenâ€™s access to
development opportunities and social and community progress.
The key segments of the initiative include strengthening the management
and promotion of tourism, conceptualizing and developing the tourist
circuit, protecting and promoting the zoneâ€™s cultural heritage
and basic social infrastructure, encouraging sustainable development
and improving the quality of life of the local population.
The vision of participating communities is to create a regional
agency to coordinate the efforts of all related local sectors
and society at large in order to ensure that development be sustainable.
Another goal is to manage and implement a plan that involves the
wide participation of local governments and community members
in order to ensure the rational use of the zoneâ€™s resources.