You mean, besides this?
|Playa Santa Cruz, Ometepe, Nicaragua|
|Learning basket weaving in Balgue, Ometepe, Nicaragua|
Tourism is increasing as international travelers discover that Nicaragua is no longer the war zone we heard about as recently as the 1980s. As more foreigners visit, Nicaraguans very much want to share their country, but sometimes don't have the resources to do so the way they would like. In many places where a boom in tourism has happened, this results in large companies buying huge plots of prime land to make resorts. The community feeling is lost, and while community members can get jobs, they have no ownership over the tourism in their area.
|Barcelo Hotel and Resort, Montelimar Beach, Managua, Nicaragua|
|Proposed route of the Nicaragua Canal, to be started in late 2016|
Latin American Association of Ports and Terminals
Another challenge, likely easier to overcome, is the lack of education for local tourism guides. Although primary, secondary, and higher education are free, most families cannot afford any form of higher education due to the time and travel expenses. With only a handful of bookstores in the entire country, and with almost a complete lack of country-relevant nonfiction books on conservation and natural history topics, even self-education can be hard to achieve in Nicaragua. Many people who normally would make a living by farming or running a small store discovered early that they could easily get $5 to $10 to lead a tourist up a mountain, which was a lot of money - but that tourist is often hoping for an educational experience, and is usually relying on their guide to have some first aid experience. Here is where our experience and training from working with the US National Park Service, as well as many other educational organizations, can come in handy.
|Kate working with Nicaraguan community members as a Green Empowerment volunteer, 2011|
|Guias Unidos and Cooperativa Guias Turistico de Ometepe, 2012|
We would like to help support and link other organizations doing work on the island and in the country as well, with the hope of strengthening the voices of Nicaraguan communities and conservationists. After talking with several people from several organizations, the obvious thing lacking in unifying their efforts is time and resources, both of which we hope to provide.
There is a lot of work to be done, and we're looking forward getting started this summer!