Tourism is a tool to integrate the cultural heritage, the conservation of biodiversity and the defense of the rights of indigenous peoples, says Ricardo Campos, president of the board of directors of the Indigenous Tourism Network of Mexico (RITA) in an interview with Efe. ).
"What we are looking for is community development with identity, with tourism as a showcase," Campos details.
Tourism, biodiversity and culture
RITA is an association of community organizations that offer tourism services with an indigenous identity. It brings together more than 100 organizations in 16 states of Mexico and with the presence of 17 indigenous peoples such as Purépechas, Totonacos, Mazahuas and Lacandones.
Campos explained that through RITA, a dignified life is sought for the communities without losing their identity, in contrast to the cases in which "tourism has been an activity that has negatively impacted biodiversity and culture."
An example of this is the Mayan area, with "a high rate of tourism but also a high level of loss of language and biodiversity due to mega-tourism projects."
Through RITA "we seek to integrate ourselves into this sustainable but tourist development, which allows us to maintain our identity and development as peoples", adds the manager.
"We focus tourist activity towards the construction of a platform for the development of indigenous peoples, generating sustainable economic mechanisms that conserve and take advantage of the use of biodiversity."
Increased awareness of tourists
Campos acknowledged that sustainable tourism is making a comeback compared to the traditional one, since a change is perceived towards a less aggressive tourism to our natural environment.
“There is a greater awareness on the part of national and foreign tourists; for this reason the demand has grown ”, he indicates.
He added that new tourism financing projects must include a concept more focused on local development.
According to Campos, “I don't know
e tries to generate projects that may have a negative impact on identity or on the form of community organization ”.
He stressed that tourism projects have to contemplate what the communities do in their day to day with the maintenance of their culture, their biodiversity and traditional knowledge to integrate it into the tourist activity.
He mentioned that one of the main challenges is to connect this concept of indigenous development in the National Tourism Strategy, in addition to strengthening and promoting the promotion of RITA's tourist destinations.
He emphasized that although during this holiday season the greatest influx is to the Mayan zone, there is also a high demand in cultural tourism sites such as Teotihuacan, in the State of Mexico; the Sierra Norte de Puebla, and Capulálpam de Méndez, a magical town in Oaxaca, which are part of RITA.
Campos pointed out that women, men and young people participate in the Network with different economic undertakings not only tourism, and also work for the conservation of flora, fauna and traditional knowledge such as ancestral medicine, as well as the rescue, conservation and revaluation of cultural practices such as music, dance, literature, parties and ceremonies.
Productive activities generated from field work are also practiced, such as the sale of honey, vanilla, coffee and products from the milpa.
Campos expressed his concern about the factors that discourage the arrival of tourism such as natural events (volcanic and seismic activity), insecurity and excessive diffusion that focuses the focus on particular sites in Mexico and takes away attention to others just as important.
The tourist offer that RITA offers is enriching, Campos pointed out, since the visitor or tourist can know the living indigenous culture of the communities, share their history, their community practices and their culture, and enjoy the great natural wealth of Mexico.