Tourism and Community: An Ecuadorian village builds on its past
Chris Hudson, University College London
An archaeological project and village museum established in 1990 have helped catalyze a remarkable process of cultural awareness and community development in the village of Agua Blanca on the Ecuadorian coast over the past twenty-five years. Tourists to Agua Blanca can visit the archeological site and museum, observe the national park's distinctive flora and fauna, camp, hike, swim in the sulphur pool, stay in village homes, buy locally made handcrafts and eat in the community restaurant. 25 villagers now work as local guides. Visitors to Agua Blanca have increased by an average of 22% per year since 2000. All these initiatives have been set up by the village itself in collaboration with local, national and overseas agencies. Moreover, the community organizes its tourism business in a way which aims to spread the benefits of tourism to as many households as possible. Agua Blanca's experience shows that much can be achieved through growing confidence in cultural identity, and that there are alternative ways of managing and assuring local benefits from tourism.
Chris Hudson is a museum designer based in London. Starting work at the British Museum, he has worked on a variety of projects in the UK and South America, which include Kilmartin House Museum (Scotland), Sutton Hoo Interpretation (Suffolk), and the Prehistoric Wiltshire galleries (Devizes). He originally went to Latin America in 1976 to co-ordinate the British Volunteer Programme in Ecuador. As well as designing and building the Casa Cultural Agua Blanca (Ecuador) he also designed the Museo Arqueologico del Banco del Pacifico (Guayaquil, Ecuador), Salango Museum (Ecuador) and the Ollantaytambo Community Museum (Peru). He is an honorary lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL (London), where he contributes to the Public Archaeology MA.
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