The Salar de Uyuni is located in southwestern Bolivia. It is the largest salt desert in the world, with an area of 10,582km², located at about 3,650 meters above sea level. It is called the mirror of the world because of the mirror effect it can produce when weather conditions are right.
It is one of the 25 natural wonders of the world, a tourist site that everyone who travels to Bolivia should visit. However, these millions of kilometers hide another terrible reality in the surrounding communities: it is the poorest area of Bolivia.
In the Salar de Uyuni region, 80% of its inhabitants live in poverty, their work opportunities are minimal. Despite being an area popular with tourists around the world, indigenous populations do earn incomes from tourism enterprises. On many occasions, their only sources of income come from mining and do not provide sufficient resources to live a decent life.
At CODESPA, we want to change this. We want these families to leave poverty behind and leave the situation in which they find themselves marginalized, economically and socially. Therefore, we seek to provide local populations with paths to alternative employment that make them leaders in their communities and improves the incomes of their communities.
Rural community tourism as a source of income
We are helping them to develop and design tourism products and services that allow them to obtain incomes without having to abandon their culture, customs or land. Most importantly, we are converting history and culture into a different, valuable tour experience. How do we do it?
- We help the indigenous peoples to organize and work together, establishing small businesses that provide a coherent set of accommodations, services and experiences for tourists.
- We develop and design, together with them, products that meet the expectations of tourists.
- We offer them support in the sale of their products and services and training in business operations. We train women leaders of the communities in sales and post-sale management techniques, so that in the future they will be able to manage their own businesses.
- We promote partnerships with tour operators, government ministries and other public-private actors in the region to enhance the tourist destination and ensure that community tourism offerings reach those who want to visit the Salar de Uyuni.