Angel Conservation
SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

Fundacion Etnika / Angel Conservation are well aware that the aforementioned models and programs need to work within a sustainable tourism framework that empowers the Pemón and provides them with economic and environmental benefits. In order to achieve these elements one has to adopt a support mechanism for education – both for the Kamarakotos and the general public.

The sustainable tourism program has two primary educational objectives:

   
a.

Education of the Kamarakotos, to prepare them for the forthcoming collaboration they will soon have with the wider world, including, in a sense, their entry into the ‘responsible tourism industry’.

b.

Outreach, directed to the greater public, which is often not familiar with indigenous cultures generally and the Pemón in particular. Outreach objectives are described as follows:

 
i. To raise awareness about indigenous cultures and peoples and efforts underway across the world to protect and sustain indigenous cultural heritage and life.
ii. To assist in making the program sustainable by attracting financial support from foundations and others through the creation of a visible presence as a forum for education about the region.
iii. To prepare those members of the public who will visit the area to recognize they are visiting a fragile ecology and help them understand the impact outsiders will have.
iv. To reach those who are most interested in learning about and possibly traveling to the region: museum -goers, academics, anthropologists, etc.
PROGRAMS TO REACH SUSTAINABLE TOURISM OBJECTIVES

There are two Pemón lodges / communities that have worked for some time with tourism in the region that we will be working with – Kavak and Uruyén, as well as Santa Marta (a local village in close proximity). They are for the most part empty and not receiving tourists on a regular, let alone regulated, basis. Their guiding skills knowledge of their surroundings and cultural heritage, are limited. They have virtually no access to communication tools to be able to connect with the outside world, and their location is in one of the most pristine environments on the globe and must be protected from mass tourism.

The following programs have been designed to correct the present conditions by means of education at two levels:
 
1. LOCAL
The approach is to operate from a model of collaboration and community centered participation continually seeking to develop community leadership as the future caretakers of their own cultural needs and prosperity. The programs will include:
a. The cultural identity programs that cross over into sustainable tourism.
  See Cultural Identity section previously.
b.

Interpretation Project

  Already in phase two of its implementation. Through collaboration with Angel-Eco Tours, Inc. (specialists in ecotourism to the region) a Professor of Biology from Chicago, Anthony Ippolito, spent a week with the Pemón in Uruyén and Kavak before leading an educational tour to Angel Falls. Two of the “student” guides he spent time with accompanied the seven-day tour.

The goal is to educate the local indigenous communities on the unique ecology and geology of the region and finer points that relate to tourism – this is a very broad description of a very involved project. Although intimate with their surroundings and familiar with the importance of the ecosystems around them, the Pemón lack the depth of education and interpretive skills needed to deliver an emotional and intellectual experience to visitors to the area. A structured format and training from professionals of various disciplines is needed to integrate the local Pemón’s knowledge into a broader context and understanding of the area. This will incorporate many of the initiatives mentioned in Stage 1 above, such as the setting up and promotion of craft workshops and relating the original / authentic tribal dances as told by the elders, very different to those practiced in the present day.

National and international experts on interpretation and trail development will spend time with prospective Pemón tour guides and other stakeholders in the communities to educate them on the local ecology, history and intricacies that appeal to a broad spectrum of visitors to the national park area. This will of course feature the workshops at the proposed Cultural Centre / Community Centre as well as information regarding early explorers to the region.

2. OUTREACH
Two Outreach Objectives are described below:
c. Web Communications:
 
i. Angel Conservation / Fundacion Etnika in collaboration with Angel-Eco Tours, Inc and NaTour Communications plans to create an international multi-lingual e-newsletter distributed throughout the ecotourism industry and other related outlets using their established database.
ii. The creation of multi-lingual web sites that will feature the progress of the Project – an interactive educational tool.
iii. We will create literature, which is both, available in print and also web enabled (available over the internet) which will be distributed to visitors prior to arrival to the destination.
d.

Curriculum Development:

 

Tours of noted places are often prepared as an afterthought, designed chiefly to build attendance in numbers. In the unique instance of an indigenous institution, in the midst of the living culture being described, what visitors see and hear should be based upon a well-thought out curriculum, balancing the visitor’s interest in learning about the past with the community’s interest in preserving its heritage. The development of such a curriculum, unquestionably a give-and-take process, would proceed as part of the feasibility study and building culturally sound and sustainable eco-tourism interpretation that protects and supports the interests of the indigenous community.

 
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