Mid-term evaluation of Promoting ecotourism to strengthen the financial sustainability of the Guatemalan Protected Areas System (SIGAP)

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2015-2019, Guatemala
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
06/2016
Completion Date:
09/2016
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
7,000

Share

Document Type Language Size Status Downloads
Download document TdR EvaluaciónMT Ecoturismo.pdf tor Spanish 6006.15 KB Posted 190
Download document RMT Ecoturismo ENG PIMS3374.pdf report Spanish 3645.67 KB Posted 205
Title Mid-term evaluation of Promoting ecotourism to strengthen the financial sustainability of the Guatemalan Protected Areas System (SIGAP)
Atlas Project Number: 00081367
Evaluation Plan: 2015-2019, Guatemala
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 09/2016
Planned End Date: 06/2016
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 1.3. Solutions developed at national and sub-national levels for sustainable management of natural resources, ecosystem services, chemicals and waste
Evaluation Budget(US $): 7,000
Source of Funding: UNDP/GEF
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 19,273
Joint Programme: No
Mandatory Evaluation: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
GEF Evaluation: Yes
Evaluation Type:
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-4
PIMS Number: 3374
Key Stakeholders: National Council on Protected Areas
Countries: GUATEMALA
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

Factsheets are recommended for each of the indicators of the Results Framework during the design of the projects. In this case, four indicators of the Results Framework are proposed to be changed as a way to achieve the desired outcomes. 

  1. Indicator 2. “Total area (ha) protected in the Western Highlands with ecotourism benefits.” After verifying the total area of the pilot PAs and the target of total area (ha) under protection with ecotourism benefits, a change is recommended to be made to the project’s target area as the actual total area of the PAs is different from the information that was considered during its design. It is proposed that the updated area is considered as the target for the indicator rather than the area initially estimated.
  2. Indicator No. 6. “Number of PAs implementing Public Use Plans.” It is recommended that the baseline and target areas are corrected. Although the PRODOC indicates that 4 areas constitute the baseline of PAs implementing public use plans, the reality is that there are only two areas implementing these plans: the Mirador National Park and the Agua Caliente Tourist Site. Thus the baseline should be changed from 4 to 2, and the target from 11 to 9.
  3. Indicator No. 7. “Number of PAs with Unified Registry of Visitors in the pilot areas of the project.” The PRODOC indicates that the baseline is 5 and the target is 10. However, there are only 7 pilot PAs so the target should not, in any case, exceed this number; on the other hand, it was determined that the number of PAs (i.e., baseline) implementing this system at the beginning of the project were 2 instead of 5. To correct this information it is proposed that the baseline be changed from 5 to 2 and the target from 10 to 5. It is noteworthy that the data suggested are the same included in the PIR; thus, this change would avoid inconsistency between the two documents since the data would match.
  4. Indicator No. 14. “Change in the financial gap to cover basic management costs and investments by SIGAP as a result of the increase in income generated by the PAs through gate fees and provision of services.It is proposed that the data for establishing the baseline of the financial gap are reviewed, so that the baseline can be adjusted accordingly using the correct methodology in line with the financial sustainability scorecard proposed by GEF.
2

It is recommended that support should be provided to build and/or improve the minimum tourism facilities to be offered to visitors as a step towards the implementation of the “regulation for the management of visitors activities and the regulation of concession services for visitors in SIGAP” and for tangible justification to charge for entrance to the PAs. This should be followed by a campaign to inform the local populations about the improvements and the general process for ecotourism development.

Due to the importance that local authorities give to the improvement of tourism facilities as a strategy to justify the implementation of entry fee systems, it is recommended that the project provides support in this regard.

 

Pilot areas managers consider infrastructure as a key element for tourism development. The fact that the project provides support for the design of planning tools but not for the improvement of tourism facilities can lead to their skepticism and lack of commitment and, in consequence, to the reduction of the project’s impact.  According to this, following the assessment of needs and tourist products proposed by the visitor management plan for each PA, it is necessary that the project invest in the construction or improvement of tourism facilities to receive visitors.

 

As a final step, it is recommended that after the infrastructure is in place, a communications plan is developed to inform the local population about these improvements and the project process as a way to justify charging entrance fees.

3

A strategic alliance between INGUAT, CONAP, and MICUDE is recommended to be formalized with support provided to the “Green Q Seal” Recognition Program. This formalization should be achieved through a legal instrument that supports the commitments regarding the development of the recognition standard.

Alliances with INGUAT and MICUDE are recommended to be formalized through a framework agreement or cooperation agreement in which the responsibilities of each party are outlined and the time and resources needed to implement the recognition standard are defined. This formal alliance will sustain the development of ecotourism in the PAs and other processes, in addition to institutionalizing them in a coordinated way. This recommendation is made as a support strategy in response to the political instability from changes to the government and to high-level management positions within the institutions.

 

It is recommended that a label or symbol be awarded to the tourism destinations or businesses that implement the best practices proposed by CONAP.

 

It is recommended that the alliance with MICUDE be considered, as this institution is a key ally for the development of ecotourism in nature and archaeological PAs.

 

4

It is recommended that the establishment and implementation of the guide “Sustainable Tourism Best Practices” should be prioritized for tourist destinations and businesses, including the technical support program.

 

The best practices should be basis for the qualification process for sustainable tourism businesses and destinations. The implementation of best practices is required previous to any certification or recognition process. The guide of sustainable best practices can be a useful tool during the different phases of the certification process: a) as training material during capacity building activities; b) as monitoring guide during the process of technical assistance; and c) as analysis guide during the process of evaluation. In addition, the fact that customers can have access to the guides (they should be on-line) builds credibility among tourist because they can consult the documents that establish the best practices criteria.

 

For the above mentioned reasons, it is recommended to ensure a broad dissemination of the guide of best practices and to promote the use of the guide during the certification program as a tool for technical assistance and best practices monitoring and evaluation.

5

It is recommended that as part of the improved second edition of the “Impulsa” Program, a seed fund is included as an incentive for the entrepreneurs and that an agreement between CONAP and the ALTERNA NGO is formalized. The “Impulsa” program achieved satisfactory results regarding the technical assistance provided to entrepreneurs. It has also succeeded in drawing attention to the institutions with capacity to lead the program in following years. However, the 2015 pilot edition was not able to attract investors to support the entrepreneurs included in the program. For this reason it is recommended to strengthen the fundraising and search for investors who financially support those entrepreneurs. It is recommended that a seed fund is established to motivate business owners to initiate a project. In addition, this program should be permanent; for this reason the establishment of a formal agreement between CONAP and the NGO ALTERNA is recommended. This alliance could incentivize private sponsors to participate and invest in the ventures. It is recommended to begin with a business roundtable with the Tour Operators who specialize in nature or adventure tourism, or sustainable tourism in Guatemala (such as Adrenalina Tours, Ciklos Travel, Ek-Chuá, Operador Latino, etc.), to define the needs of the regions and the products that would be of most interest to commercialize. Feedback from these experts could guide the entrepreneurs to better define their products. In addition, it is recommended that the potential financers are involved in the entire process (airlines and tourist associations), they could be part of the selection committee. Finally, the program would be implemented in other more well-known PAs in the tourism sector that are not part of the pilot areas. This might incentivize the investors indirectly to invest in all of the areas. 

 

6

It is recommended that business plans should be strengthened for support and involvement of the local tourism stakeholders, developing and proposing diversification of products for the PAs. In addition, the concept of the tourist destination should be incorporated within the business plans as a way to position, promote, and commercialize ecotourism in the PAs. Finally, a guide to develop business plans should be developed.

It is recommended to integrate the concept of tourism destination into the business plans; this goes beyond the PA since this makes more sense from a tourism point of view and can involve tourism businesses that are in the area of influence and/or within the defined destination. For example, in the area of San Marcos, San Pedro San Marcos, the proximity of the PAs lends itself to being developed for ecotourism as one single destination. In the area of Chicabal, tourism service providers should be involved in Quetzaltenango, Rey Tepepul, and Corazón del Bosque as part of the RUMCLA destination. This approach, defined from the beginning, will allow businesses that are not within the PA but are within the area of influence of the PA to be part of the ecotourism initiatives. This will also facilitate the inclusion of the area that was not declared as a PA as part of Corazón del Bosque.

 

In addition, it is recommended to diversify the tourism products in the area, which should be developed with the participation of local tourism stakeholders with whom alliances should be formed for creating, promoting, and marketing the products. For example, the sale of tourism packages that include a night in a hotel and entrance to the PA and another activity, etc. In addition, it can include other types of businesses that are indirectly associated with tourism such as crafters and farmers, and who can also be invited to be members of the work group. These products can be sold to local and regional visitors as well as in the international market. This would encourage local economic development in addition to involving business owners in the protection of the PAs in their area and promoting the development of ecotourism. The tourism business owners who participate in the development of products would apply best practices and/or be certified through the “Q-Seal” ensuring the quality of services and responsible business practices.

 

It is recommended that the business plans be specific and grounded in the local reality, identifying the diversified products for the different markets and considering the participation of local tourism stakeholders. These plans would be drafted and approved only after the development of the Visitor Management Plans. It is recommended that Business Plan Guidelines are developed to document the process, including the following points: identification of the potential for the area and the potential products to be developed, identification of the existing and potential markets, and the financial projections that will contribute to the financial sustainability of the area. The Business Plan Guidelines are an important tool as they will provide support to the PAs’ administrators, who for the most part have limited training in business development.

 

It is recommended that the market niche of scientific tourism specializing in biological monitoring is explored as some tourism groups are willing to participate in monitoring activities. There are international agencies that specialize in this type of tourism, for example National Geographic has expeditionary trips, as well as the Earth Watch Institute.

 

7

It is recommended that an understanding should be arrived at between the key regional stakeholders and an interinstitutional agreement made for URV management and socialization. Since the URV is a valuable tool that allows the development of different visitor profiles and differentiating between tourism seasons, etc., it should be used to its maximum potential. However, due to conflict of interests among the different institutions, the value of the URV has been diminished. An agreement is recommended to be established to manage the conflict and make better use of this tool. The agreement between INGUAT, CONAP, MICUDE should be resumed and include CECON and INAB, which are managing other PAs.

8

It is recommended that project monitoring by the Co-financiers is strengthen.

It is recommended to build a work group with the co-financing partners that meets periodically to continually monitor the activities in the field.

9

It is recommended that the project timeline should be extended by at least 6 months to complete the implementation of the activities that were begun. 

 

Because of various factors including the low percentage of implementation during the first year; the nature of the outputs, such as the policies and plans that require lengthy time periods for their development; and the change in officials twice during the life of the project, there has been a delay in the implementation of the project and the time that is left is too short to finalize the activities that have been begun. Among these are the implementation of management and business plans, the implementation of new PA fees, the construction of infrastructure, the certification program, and the “Impulsa” program.

10

It is recommended, as a measure to strengthen the development of ecotourism in the PAs, that local tourism business operators should be involved in the positioning of the PAs as tourism destinations to strengthen the financial sustainability and reduce the financial gap of the SIGAP. In this way, incentivize the participation businesses through the integration of a tourist route and its promotion.

Given the national reality of political risk and risk of engaging stakeholders, it is imperative to involve and empower civil society, in this case the local tourism union, in the development of ecotourism activity in the PAs. This consists of approaching local tourism businesses and neighbors of the PAs to have them participate in the project and provide them with incentives to participate in the development of the project, as well as forge local alliances.

 

The social component should be strengthened, more integration among the PA administrators and community officials should be sought. If the local populations are involved, they become empowered to share the responsibility of the management of the natural resources. This participation should be at the planning level. In the PAs where the plans are already developed and everyone participated, a work group could be formed with local business operators with the objective of developing an action plan for the area in ecotourism development, in which the business owners are in charge of specific actions. This empowerment would strengthen the follow-up to the processes and activities underway, despite political changes or the loss of trained personnel at the local level. This work group would also be immersed in the activities to the point of being considered partners and benefiting from the training in key themes of ecotourism, such as the implementation of best practices and “Q-Seal” certification. This training and involvement would also serve to give a competitive edge to the ecotourism-based products and contribute to the economic development of the area. It is recommended that similar processes that are being carried out and that follow the criteria for the development of tourism destinations under the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) or the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST) are considered. The ECST is based principally on the participation of key stakeholders in an organized, systematic, participatory manner; this is defined as follows: “Principle 1 of the Charter: To involve all those implicated by tourism in and around the protected area in its development and management. A permanent forum, or equivalent arrangement, should be established between the protected area authority, local municipalities, conservation and community organizations and representatives of the tourism industry. Links with regional and national bodies should be developed and maintained.”[1]  The charter has been in existence for more than 20 years and is successful in the European PAs with more than 150 areas registered. These areas have interaction with over 50 tourism stakeholders, who work jointly with the PA managers to develop ecotourism.

 

As a result, the tourist routes that are proposed in the project, in addition to being defined and clear in concept, should highlight the work of the tourism businesses that will form part of the project, as they will be representatives of the PAs and work in a coordinated manner for the development of ecotourism of the areas. This will sustain the participation of businesses which may receive support from the project through advertisement and likely by INGUAT.

 

This is a long process but it is possible to establish a base group that drives the process and supports the PA administrator in carrying out the established plans.

 

NOTE: Europarc can consider the possibility of including partners outside of Europe, which would be the only way to closely replicate the ECST. Nevertheless, this is a long and costly process, which is why it is recommended to assess the possibility of making a request to adapt the tool. This could be an opportunity for the PAs in the entire region of Central America.

 

 


[1] European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas, Europarc Federation.  http://www.european-charter.org/become-a-charter-area/the-charter-documents/

1. Recommendation:

Factsheets are recommended for each of the indicators of the Results Framework during the design of the projects. In this case, four indicators of the Results Framework are proposed to be changed as a way to achieve the desired outcomes. 

  1. Indicator 2. “Total area (ha) protected in the Western Highlands with ecotourism benefits.” After verifying the total area of the pilot PAs and the target of total area (ha) under protection with ecotourism benefits, a change is recommended to be made to the project’s target area as the actual total area of the PAs is different from the information that was considered during its design. It is proposed that the updated area is considered as the target for the indicator rather than the area initially estimated.
  2. Indicator No. 6. “Number of PAs implementing Public Use Plans.” It is recommended that the baseline and target areas are corrected. Although the PRODOC indicates that 4 areas constitute the baseline of PAs implementing public use plans, the reality is that there are only two areas implementing these plans: the Mirador National Park and the Agua Caliente Tourist Site. Thus the baseline should be changed from 4 to 2, and the target from 11 to 9.
  3. Indicator No. 7. “Number of PAs with Unified Registry of Visitors in the pilot areas of the project.” The PRODOC indicates that the baseline is 5 and the target is 10. However, there are only 7 pilot PAs so the target should not, in any case, exceed this number; on the other hand, it was determined that the number of PAs (i.e., baseline) implementing this system at the beginning of the project were 2 instead of 5. To correct this information it is proposed that the baseline be changed from 5 to 2 and the target from 10 to 5. It is noteworthy that the data suggested are the same included in the PIR; thus, this change would avoid inconsistency between the two documents since the data would match.
  4. Indicator No. 14. “Change in the financial gap to cover basic management costs and investments by SIGAP as a result of the increase in income generated by the PAs through gate fees and provision of services.It is proposed that the data for establishing the baseline of the financial gap are reviewed, so that the baseline can be adjusted accordingly using the correct methodology in line with the financial sustainability scorecard proposed by GEF.
Management Response: [Added: 2016/09/01] [Last Updated: 2016/12/06]

De acuerdo con la recomendación, se tomarán las medidas recomendadas.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1 With regard to the recommendations a), b) and c), the project will carry out the necessary procedures to request the change of such indicators to UNDP and GEF
[Added: 2016/12/05]
Project Team 2016/09 Completed The three indicators have been corrected
1.2 With regard to recommendation d), the project will review the methodology used for filling the Sheet
[Added: 2016/12/05]
Project Team 2016/09 Completed A new base line and target was calculated. The assistance of an expert in public finance was requested, he was familiarized with GEF’s tracking tools. This person was the Guatemalan coordinator of BIOFIN (http://www.biodiversityfinance.net/)
2. Recommendation:

It is recommended that support should be provided to build and/or improve the minimum tourism facilities to be offered to visitors as a step towards the implementation of the “regulation for the management of visitors activities and the regulation of concession services for visitors in SIGAP” and for tangible justification to charge for entrance to the PAs. This should be followed by a campaign to inform the local populations about the improvements and the general process for ecotourism development.

Due to the importance that local authorities give to the improvement of tourism facilities as a strategy to justify the implementation of entry fee systems, it is recommended that the project provides support in this regard.

 

Pilot areas managers consider infrastructure as a key element for tourism development. The fact that the project provides support for the design of planning tools but not for the improvement of tourism facilities can lead to their skepticism and lack of commitment and, in consequence, to the reduction of the project’s impact.  According to this, following the assessment of needs and tourist products proposed by the visitor management plan for each PA, it is necessary that the project invest in the construction or improvement of tourism facilities to receive visitors.

 

As a final step, it is recommended that after the infrastructure is in place, a communications plan is developed to inform the local population about these improvements and the project process as a way to justify charging entrance fees.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/09/01] [Last Updated: 2016/12/06]

Se realizarán las acciones que se han recomendado.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 An analysis will be undertaken in order to prioritize tourism facilities for each pilot area.
[Added: 2016/12/05]
Project Team 2016/05 Completed The analysis has been done. The prioritization has been agreed with pilot area administrators
2.1 A budget reorganization will be done in order to support pilot areas in the design and construction of basic tourism facilities.
[Added: 2016/12/05]
Project Team 2016/05 Completed The reorganization of the budget has been done and approved through the Annual Operation Plan and its respective budget. Approximately USD 16.000 were allocated.
2.3 Additional fundraising will be explored in order to provide pilot areas with a further support regarding the design and constructions of basic tourism facilities.
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team Co-funding partners and other sources 2017/03 Completed The following additional funds have been raised: - INGUAT has financed the design of Tourism facilities for two pilot areas (Municipal Regional Parks of San Pedro Sacatepequez and San Marcos). - The Asociacion Vivamos Mejor will invest in an ecotourism path in the Mirador del Rey Tepepul - The Municipalities of San Marcos, San Pedro Sacatepequez and Sibinal will invest in the improvement and creation of tourism facilities.
3. Recommendation:

A strategic alliance between INGUAT, CONAP, and MICUDE is recommended to be formalized with support provided to the “Green Q Seal” Recognition Program. This formalization should be achieved through a legal instrument that supports the commitments regarding the development of the recognition standard.

Alliances with INGUAT and MICUDE are recommended to be formalized through a framework agreement or cooperation agreement in which the responsibilities of each party are outlined and the time and resources needed to implement the recognition standard are defined. This formal alliance will sustain the development of ecotourism in the PAs and other processes, in addition to institutionalizing them in a coordinated way. This recommendation is made as a support strategy in response to the political instability from changes to the government and to high-level management positions within the institutions.

 

It is recommended that a label or symbol be awarded to the tourism destinations or businesses that implement the best practices proposed by CONAP.

 

It is recommended that the alliance with MICUDE be considered, as this institution is a key ally for the development of ecotourism in nature and archaeological PAs.

 

Management Response: [Added: 2016/09/01] [Last Updated: 2016/12/06]

Recomendación muy pertinente. Se procederá.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 The project will promote the signature of a collaboration agreement between INGUAT, MICUDE and CONAP in order to establish the basis for the inter-institutional coordination for implementing the certification system (Sello Q-Verde)
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/03 Completed Currently in dialogue with INGUAT, the leader institution in tourism certification. It has been agreed to present the proposal of collaboration to the members of the National Council of Protected Areas in November 2016
4. Recommendation:

It is recommended that the establishment and implementation of the guide “Sustainable Tourism Best Practices” should be prioritized for tourist destinations and businesses, including the technical support program.

 

The best practices should be basis for the qualification process for sustainable tourism businesses and destinations. The implementation of best practices is required previous to any certification or recognition process. The guide of sustainable best practices can be a useful tool during the different phases of the certification process: a) as training material during capacity building activities; b) as monitoring guide during the process of technical assistance; and c) as analysis guide during the process of evaluation. In addition, the fact that customers can have access to the guides (they should be on-line) builds credibility among tourist because they can consult the documents that establish the best practices criteria.

 

For the above mentioned reasons, it is recommended to ensure a broad dissemination of the guide of best practices and to promote the use of the guide during the certification program as a tool for technical assistance and best practices monitoring and evaluation.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/09/01] [Last Updated: 2016/12/06]

Se procederá como indican.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 INGUAT and Guatemalan Tourism Chamber (main private sector representative) will be included in the elaboration of the Manuals of Good Practices for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas. This will reinforce the appropriation of the Manuals and thus, the promotion of their recommendations.
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/03 Completed INGUAT, the Guatemalan Tourism Chamber and the Academic Tourism Commission (which gather together the Universities offering careers in this subject) are actively participating in the revision and elaboration of the Manuals
4.2 Once the Manuals have been finished, they will be launched in a public event ensuring a proper divulgation.
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/02 Completed
4.3 The project will encourage the use of the Manuals through the inclusion of its promotion, in the agreement to be signed between CONAP and INGUAT.
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/05 Completed
5. Recommendation:

It is recommended that as part of the improved second edition of the “Impulsa” Program, a seed fund is included as an incentive for the entrepreneurs and that an agreement between CONAP and the ALTERNA NGO is formalized. The “Impulsa” program achieved satisfactory results regarding the technical assistance provided to entrepreneurs. It has also succeeded in drawing attention to the institutions with capacity to lead the program in following years. However, the 2015 pilot edition was not able to attract investors to support the entrepreneurs included in the program. For this reason it is recommended to strengthen the fundraising and search for investors who financially support those entrepreneurs. It is recommended that a seed fund is established to motivate business owners to initiate a project. In addition, this program should be permanent; for this reason the establishment of a formal agreement between CONAP and the NGO ALTERNA is recommended. This alliance could incentivize private sponsors to participate and invest in the ventures. It is recommended to begin with a business roundtable with the Tour Operators who specialize in nature or adventure tourism, or sustainable tourism in Guatemala (such as Adrenalina Tours, Ciklos Travel, Ek-Chuá, Operador Latino, etc.), to define the needs of the regions and the products that would be of most interest to commercialize. Feedback from these experts could guide the entrepreneurs to better define their products. In addition, it is recommended that the potential financers are involved in the entire process (airlines and tourist associations), they could be part of the selection committee. Finally, the program would be implemented in other more well-known PAs in the tourism sector that are not part of the pilot areas. This might incentivize the investors indirectly to invest in all of the areas. 

 

Management Response: [Added: 2016/09/01] [Last Updated: 2016/12/06]

Recomendación aceptada, se procederá a revisar posibilidades de implementar la recomendación.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 Neither the project nor CONAP are legally authorized to disburse seed capital to private individuals or legal entities. For that reason, the project will explore external fund sources coming from private sector, government institutions and civil society.
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/03 Completed The IMPULSA PROGRAM finished successfully. USD 6,536 of seed capital was included as incentive. The seed capital funds were provided by the ONG Alterna Asociation. In addition, the following incentives were provided by organized partners: • Ministry of Economy: o Three of the IMPULSA finalists will be directly selected to participate in the Ministry’s Program EMPRENDE GT. This program offers a total of USD 200.000 in seed capital for the best entrepreneurs. o Although this program is aimed at all kind of entrepreneurs, thanks to IMPULSA, this year EMPRENDE GT includes a specific section for sustainable tourism initiatives. • The Guatemalan Tourism Chamber: o Offered a one year free membership for the best entrepreneurs. • Due to CONAP’s financial unavailability to give continuity to the program, the project is at the moment negotiating with INGUAT in order to obtain its support for future editions. This negotiation is well advanced and both institutions are currently working in the redaction of a formal agreement.
6. Recommendation:

It is recommended that business plans should be strengthened for support and involvement of the local tourism stakeholders, developing and proposing diversification of products for the PAs. In addition, the concept of the tourist destination should be incorporated within the business plans as a way to position, promote, and commercialize ecotourism in the PAs. Finally, a guide to develop business plans should be developed.

It is recommended to integrate the concept of tourism destination into the business plans; this goes beyond the PA since this makes more sense from a tourism point of view and can involve tourism businesses that are in the area of influence and/or within the defined destination. For example, in the area of San Marcos, San Pedro San Marcos, the proximity of the PAs lends itself to being developed for ecotourism as one single destination. In the area of Chicabal, tourism service providers should be involved in Quetzaltenango, Rey Tepepul, and Corazón del Bosque as part of the RUMCLA destination. This approach, defined from the beginning, will allow businesses that are not within the PA but are within the area of influence of the PA to be part of the ecotourism initiatives. This will also facilitate the inclusion of the area that was not declared as a PA as part of Corazón del Bosque.

 

In addition, it is recommended to diversify the tourism products in the area, which should be developed with the participation of local tourism stakeholders with whom alliances should be formed for creating, promoting, and marketing the products. For example, the sale of tourism packages that include a night in a hotel and entrance to the PA and another activity, etc. In addition, it can include other types of businesses that are indirectly associated with tourism such as crafters and farmers, and who can also be invited to be members of the work group. These products can be sold to local and regional visitors as well as in the international market. This would encourage local economic development in addition to involving business owners in the protection of the PAs in their area and promoting the development of ecotourism. The tourism business owners who participate in the development of products would apply best practices and/or be certified through the “Q-Seal” ensuring the quality of services and responsible business practices.

 

It is recommended that the business plans be specific and grounded in the local reality, identifying the diversified products for the different markets and considering the participation of local tourism stakeholders. These plans would be drafted and approved only after the development of the Visitor Management Plans. It is recommended that Business Plan Guidelines are developed to document the process, including the following points: identification of the potential for the area and the potential products to be developed, identification of the existing and potential markets, and the financial projections that will contribute to the financial sustainability of the area. The Business Plan Guidelines are an important tool as they will provide support to the PAs’ administrators, who for the most part have limited training in business development.

 

It is recommended that the market niche of scientific tourism specializing in biological monitoring is explored as some tourism groups are willing to participate in monitoring activities. There are international agencies that specialize in this type of tourism, for example National Geographic has expeditionary trips, as well as the Earth Watch Institute.

 

Management Response: [Added: 2016/09/01] [Last Updated: 2016/12/06]

Recomendación aceptada.  Se procederán a realizar las acciones y a fortalecer los planes de negocio.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1 The business plans will include: a) Proposals for tourism offer diversification b) A local stakeholders list to be considered by protected area coordinators when establishing alliances. c) Tourism destination definition
[Added: 2016/12/05]
Project Team 2016/05 Completed Business plans are currently under revision and all of them include the requested items.
6.2 Tourism routs will include tourism well positioned and consolidated attractions which are close to the pilot areas in order to promote the idea of tourism destination to the Western Highlands.
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/03 Completed Consolidated tourism attractions were included in the tourism routs. The routs are currently being included in CONAP’s website for tourism (www.turismo-sigap.com)
6.3 Agreements with private sector that included tourism packages will be promoted
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/05 Completed At the moment contacts and negotiations are being established in order to achieve agreements between the pilot protected areas and potential tourist providers, such as tour operators, nearby schools and schools of Spanish.
6.4 The Q-Verde seal is a national initiative led by INGUAT. This institution is responsible for prioritizing the beneficiaries to be included in the program in order to contribute to a nationwide tourism development strategy. For this reason the project can not 100% ensure the inclusion of the private business owners located close to the pilot areas in this program. However, the project will disclose the Good Practices Manuals in order to promote their usage among the entrepreneur signatories of agreements with the pilot areas.
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/04 Completed The good practices guide is currently under final revision.
6.5 The design of a guide for the preparation of business plans is an activity not covered by the project. However, a basic guide for developing business plans will be made. This guideline will establish a) main guidelines for the development of business plans for protected areas with tourism potential; b) relationship and dependence between the Management Plan and the Visitor Management and Business Plan, and c) an index proposing the minimum content that should be included in all tourism business plans of a protected area.
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/03 Completed A basic guideline is currently under construction. The first draft has been already finished Finished.
7. Recommendation:

It is recommended that an understanding should be arrived at between the key regional stakeholders and an interinstitutional agreement made for URV management and socialization. Since the URV is a valuable tool that allows the development of different visitor profiles and differentiating between tourism seasons, etc., it should be used to its maximum potential. However, due to conflict of interests among the different institutions, the value of the URV has been diminished. An agreement is recommended to be established to manage the conflict and make better use of this tool. The agreement between INGUAT, CONAP, MICUDE should be resumed and include CECON and INAB, which are managing other PAs.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/09/01] [Last Updated: 2016/12/06]

Recomendación aceptada.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1 The project will promote the signature of an inter-institutional agreement between the four governmental institution administrators of protected areas (CONAP , CECON , MICUDE , INAB ) and INGUAT in order to reinforce the correct implementation of the Unified Registry of Visitors
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Section of Cultural and Natural Heritage, CONAP 2017/05 Completed The agreement has been drafted and is currently being analyzed by legal departments.
8. Recommendation:

It is recommended that project monitoring by the Co-financiers is strengthen.

It is recommended to build a work group with the co-financing partners that meets periodically to continually monitor the activities in the field.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/09/01] [Last Updated: 2016/12/06]

Se procederá como recomiendan.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
8.1 The Mid Term Review report will be socialized among co-financers
[Added: 2016/12/05]
Project Team 2016/09 Completed The full report was sent. The main points of the report and the management response were discussed in the last co-financers meeting, held in September 2016.
8.2 Regular reposts will be sent to co-financers in order to inform them about the project´s advances
[Added: 2016/12/05]
Project team No due date Initiated QPRs are sent on a regular basis
8.3 An extra effort will be undertaken in order to hold regular meetings with co-financers
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project team and co-financers 2017/03 Completed Due to the agendas of the different institutions, it has been a challenge for the project to carry out regular meetings with co-finders. However the bilateral relation with everyone of them has been stablished for specific activities. In this sense: • The project has closely worked with Helvetas in the tourism development of Volcan Tacana (Municipal Regional Park Sibinal, Canujá Tocapote, los Maijones) • Rainforest alliance supports the project in the spread of the IMPULSA program. • The project coordinates with the Asociacion Vivamos Mejor on a proposal for the construction of a birdwatching path in the Mirador Rey Tepepul. • The implementation of biological monitoring protocols has been coordinated with The Nature Conservancy. In addition, during the last co-financers meeting held in September 2016, the participants committed to attend to a meeting every three months.
9. Recommendation:

It is recommended that the project timeline should be extended by at least 6 months to complete the implementation of the activities that were begun. 

 

Because of various factors including the low percentage of implementation during the first year; the nature of the outputs, such as the policies and plans that require lengthy time periods for their development; and the change in officials twice during the life of the project, there has been a delay in the implementation of the project and the time that is left is too short to finalize the activities that have been begun. Among these are the implementation of management and business plans, the implementation of new PA fees, the construction of infrastructure, the certification program, and the “Impulsa” program.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/09/01] [Last Updated: 2016/12/06]

Recomendación aceptada.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
9.1 The project extension will be requested
[Added: 2016/12/05]
Project Team 2016/04 Completed The project has been extended until October 31st 2017
10. Recommendation:

It is recommended, as a measure to strengthen the development of ecotourism in the PAs, that local tourism business operators should be involved in the positioning of the PAs as tourism destinations to strengthen the financial sustainability and reduce the financial gap of the SIGAP. In this way, incentivize the participation businesses through the integration of a tourist route and its promotion.

Given the national reality of political risk and risk of engaging stakeholders, it is imperative to involve and empower civil society, in this case the local tourism union, in the development of ecotourism activity in the PAs. This consists of approaching local tourism businesses and neighbors of the PAs to have them participate in the project and provide them with incentives to participate in the development of the project, as well as forge local alliances.

 

The social component should be strengthened, more integration among the PA administrators and community officials should be sought. If the local populations are involved, they become empowered to share the responsibility of the management of the natural resources. This participation should be at the planning level. In the PAs where the plans are already developed and everyone participated, a work group could be formed with local business operators with the objective of developing an action plan for the area in ecotourism development, in which the business owners are in charge of specific actions. This empowerment would strengthen the follow-up to the processes and activities underway, despite political changes or the loss of trained personnel at the local level. This work group would also be immersed in the activities to the point of being considered partners and benefiting from the training in key themes of ecotourism, such as the implementation of best practices and “Q-Seal” certification. This training and involvement would also serve to give a competitive edge to the ecotourism-based products and contribute to the economic development of the area. It is recommended that similar processes that are being carried out and that follow the criteria for the development of tourism destinations under the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) or the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (ECST) are considered. The ECST is based principally on the participation of key stakeholders in an organized, systematic, participatory manner; this is defined as follows: “Principle 1 of the Charter: To involve all those implicated by tourism in and around the protected area in its development and management. A permanent forum, or equivalent arrangement, should be established between the protected area authority, local municipalities, conservation and community organizations and representatives of the tourism industry. Links with regional and national bodies should be developed and maintained.”[1]  The charter has been in existence for more than 20 years and is successful in the European PAs with more than 150 areas registered. These areas have interaction with over 50 tourism stakeholders, who work jointly with the PA managers to develop ecotourism.

 

As a result, the tourist routes that are proposed in the project, in addition to being defined and clear in concept, should highlight the work of the tourism businesses that will form part of the project, as they will be representatives of the PAs and work in a coordinated manner for the development of ecotourism of the areas. This will sustain the participation of businesses which may receive support from the project through advertisement and likely by INGUAT.

 

This is a long process but it is possible to establish a base group that drives the process and supports the PA administrator in carrying out the established plans.

 

NOTE: Europarc can consider the possibility of including partners outside of Europe, which would be the only way to closely replicate the ECST. Nevertheless, this is a long and costly process, which is why it is recommended to assess the possibility of making a request to adapt the tool. This could be an opportunity for the PAs in the entire region of Central America.

 

 


[1] European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas, Europarc Federation.  http://www.european-charter.org/become-a-charter-area/the-charter-documents/

Management Response: [Added: 2016/09/01] [Last Updated: 2016/12/06]

Se revisarán las posibilidades para incluir a diferentes actores.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
10.1 Business agreements between pilot areas and private sector will be promoted
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/10 Completed There have been approaches to tour operators and schools with whom negotiations have begun to establish agreements. In some cases the main limitation has been that the entrance fees are not yet under implementation. Offering a preferential price in exchange for a volume of visitors is the main incentive to materialize the agreements.
10.2 Tourism local stakeholders will be invited the presentation of Public Use Plans designed for the pilot areas, in order to promote an integral vision of tourism destinations and to boost the collaboration among the main local actors.
[Added: 2016/12/05] [Last Updated: 2017/12/20]
Project Team 2017/10 Completed The Public Use Plans of some areas are still pending for approval. This activity will be carried out during 2017.

Latest Evaluations

Contact us

220 East 42nd Street
20th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Tel. +1 646 781 4200
Fax. +1 646 781 4213
erc.support@undp.org