Wege Prize 2018 - Circular Tourism Mexico (1st Place) Final Presentation and Q&A
So next to the stage we want to welcome million. OE jewelry Agha and he is presenting, for the team super laudatory smo mahakal he comes to us from Monterey Institute of Technology, in Mexico, emiliana. Welcome. Well. It feels nice, actually. It. Feels also very nice to be here with a whole team over here. Was. Very close, well. Best of luck thanks, so much. Hi. Well I'm Amelia no I'm representing, my team today as. I said most of us are here I'm very happy for that and I. Want to start by telling you the story about el, venti. So. Al dente it's a small Mayan community, in the rainforest I think of Calakmul, which is in the Mexican southeast now. For the last few decades there, have been basing their economy on logging. On cattle, breeding and in, palma production, now. Six years ago mayan, ruins were discovered, inside their. Territory, so. Suddenly the, small, dirt road that was only used by them was, used by two buses that came full, of people straight. To the rainforest and the ruins without, even stopping by the village so. There. Is one woman Donna, Rosa and she saw the huge opportunity this. Represented, for creating a sustainable, income for, the whole community so. She. Started organizing, everyone her, son became a birdwatcher, one. Of the hunters became a hiking guide all the artisans, got, together and built a little workshop and she, even got funds from the government to, build accomodation, so. It was a an indigenous, tourism cooperative, now, the big, day of the opening arrived and. No. One showed, up nor. In the whole year and today. It has been three years since, they, launched this project and they have received nothing, but a couple of tourists and the. Critical thing here is that the case of Donna Rosa and del veinte is not one isolated. Rare case it's actually just one of at least two thousand in the in us tourism cooperatives, in Mexico that are struggling to take off. In. Mexico 70%. Of the indigenous land is considered as of high conservation priority. So, they are living in the ecologically. Richest, areas of the country, however. 73%. Of them still, live with an income under the poverty line and at. The same time this is happening we have in the country. Fast-growing. Ecotourism industry, that. Is wearing at a rate of 17. Percent. Yearly. So. Do. You see the problem here it's a it's a, massive, ecotourism, industry a multi-millionaire, ecotourism industry that, could be improving the lives of millions, of people while, assuring conservation. But. Because it is based on an extractive, system, it, is wasting, all the regenerative potential, of a circular economy, so. After, seeing this we, built an interdisciplinary team, and we started visiting, those co-ops. Understanding. What their main challenges, were and. We. Realized well we asked ourselves first a question how can we create a bridge that connects indigenous. Trees cooperatives, with, all these travelers, are looking for authentic experiences. And. After. Doing, all this. Well. There's a picture of the visits. Well. Anyways. There. We go we realized that they have everything you would think essential, for success because, they have the natural. Capital they. Have the cultural capital the, human, capital as well they, have the organization. On capital and. They. Even have the infrastructure. There. We go but. We found that they have two massive obstacles, that keep them away from success in.
First Place they are not designing attractive, trips because, they, have, no ways of knowing what. Is it that the tourists, want and then. They, don't have they're, isolated, therefore they don't have the critical mass they, know how or the tools to market themselves to. To wider markets, oh. There. We go I'm sorry. Yeah. So, after. Knowing this we started designing. And, we. Hit people from the community and based on their traditional, practices and we, made route obeah so. Route appiah is a platform, that gives, all, these indigenous terms cooperatives, the tools that they need for, creating. And selling their experiences, in an effective way and all. Based in a circular economy perspective. So. There. We go. Yeah. So we have three tools for, creating value for for, the communities in Utopia the first one is creating, attractive experiences. So, we helped them create, attractive. Experiences, we designed a low-cost, process, of remote, co.design, that. Allows them to. Actually. Well. What we do is we collect data from the tourists and then. We. Translate. All these to specific metrics, and then. The co-op's can use these metrics to track your improvement, like for example they can see how other coops that's called hi in those specific areas are achieving, so and they. Can also try to improve their their, own their. Own services, and then. Secondly we invest in communities, that are engaged, in conservation so. This diagram that I'm about to show you if. Maybe. You can help me with a. Yeah. Next, one next one next, one. There so I'm just gonna leave those here so. The this. Is might look a bit complex, but it's, actually very simple it means that 10% of all our income is, being. Held. In a fund that periodically, rewards, communities, that. Are engaged, in conservation through. Some, kind of specific indicators. So. You can think of it as a mechanism to naturally, invest in the, ecosystems, as if, they were natural. Infrastructure, for tourism any. Presentation so, and finally we, can connect, coops with loyal and profitable, markets and using. A web-based. Platform and some other channels, can, please present excellent we. Can connect them with, international. And international, markets that, individual, communities, had not been able to achieve on their own so far, so. And. This is all possible because. Well. It's actually economically, self-sustained. And this. Is possible because by taking out of the value chain the external. Operators, and retailers, a lot, of resources are unlocked while. Increasing the local economic spillover, so. This. Allows us because sometimes they take two up to ninety percent of the income so by doing this this allows us to charge, a commission straight, to the tourists on top, of the price already, established, by the local code. Now. This, whole change in the value chain has. A much, deeper implication. Than. Just. More money for the locals. Because. It, is a whole paradigm. Change in the way tourism, has historically. Been done within indigenous communities, because. We. Do not seek to be a business, that brings tours to, see indigenous, communities we. Seek to be a collaborative, tool built. As a platform cooperative, that. Creates communities, are capable, themselves, to, create and operate their own tours and, this. Change in paradigm is very, important, for understanding why. We can build a path for a circular economy, here's. The next one because. When it is the community, itself, that. Is gaining economic income and, recognition. From, keeping its ecosystems, and traditions, alive then. A whole process starts, first there, is a revaluation. Of the natural, and cultural. Capitals, then. There is a reinvestment, of effort, and resources to.
Preserve, That capital, and then. There is a regeneration, of the, capital and. Next. One please this whole thing started last, year at the beginning of last year we, did a lot of field and theoretical, research but, as soon as we could we start prototyping and, validating, and so. Far we have validated with 106. Travellers and. We have created an income of almost 4500, US dollars and almost. Functional, prototype, prototype, platform, with weeks. And a lot, of Google Forms as well a lot and, most. Importantly, we have created, a very solid network of, seven communities, that, are very motivated. Very engaged and are giving very good services, right now so. We. Have learned a lot of each trip we have done with the communities, it has been very important for redesigning our whole model and if. You're wondering how these whole things looks like actually, we. Pre-prepared. A one-minute video just, give you a quick, insight. So. This is a little bit of we have been doing with seven, communities, but, for next year we want to have 25 communities and, we want to have a fully functional platform, that actually allows, us to give them full services, and we think we'll be making around 40 thousand US dollars monthly, for the whole network if we achieve this, actually. Our dream, in the long term it's, really, changed the whole system, because, we know there are millions of people out there and. They're looking for trips their authentic, connection, with people and we, know how hard it is for them to find the communities, their destinations, and we know how hard is for the communities, to. Find them so, this is the reason why we are building route Opia so. Well. Thank, you very much in the name of all of the team our. Mentors, that are watching us right now and of course all our partners, in the communities, that. Will show them that video later made and. Yeah. Thank you very much and specially for the Whydah foundation. Thank. You million oh great, work we'll have judges prepare, some questions, in. The meantime okay how do I become one of your prototype travelers, going. Right away. We. Heard that you have a blog. That you publish on your travels, yeah you talked about that yes it's actually called, tribal. Without being a tourist and, I started like three years ago and it's. All because I think it's, very important when you travel to have this deep. Connection with a place you're actually, staying and like, actually, creating awareness of the situation of the country especially if it's a developing country I think yes, so this, blog I write these are the stories and challenges, that the people that have hosted me around, the world are are. Facing, and yeah. Edwards. Account trouble. Without being a. That's. An incredible. Thanks, good for you so I'm curious have. You have, you gleaned any great stories already, from your prototype, travelers of experiences, that they've had or, ways, that they feel more deeply connected to the culture yeah. We actually have, a lot we we've, learned something that was very surprising and is that what. They value the most because, they love the waterfalls, they love the nature, you know watching monkeys.
In Their worldliness and everything but, what they Bundy the most is that they're actually able to sit in the table with the people from the place and just you. Know understand, and hear how, people understand. The world in completely, different ways, that. Sometimes. They, do or we do so. I think that's the thing they value the most that's beautiful, it's very rewarding, as well very. Wonderful, Thanks. Judges, are you ready for some questions. Great. Take. It away a game good luck. Okay. Emily I know it was a super, presentation, thank you very much, you've. Said you've described the circular economy in, a way that a lot of people don't. And by. Focusing, on cultural, aspects. Most. The time people would look at a circular economy and, I'll talk about say, regeneration, of the soil talk, about flow, of materials, you, tell me a little bit more about you your thinking, and how you've applied the circle economy to the project yes, for sure so I think two basic pillars, of circular economy are. Keeping. The resources, at their highest values, and, also. Being. Regenerative. By design so, the current extractive, system on tourism in Mexico and I think in a lot of developing countries is that they're extracting, a lot of value from the, ecosystems. And the cultural, heritage of other of the cultures the local cultures but they're mostly not giving anything back to this system so, this is a slowly depleting, the, the. Traditions. And the co systems and this is translated. In the in practical, like people, don't speak your language anymore. Kids someone to learn, the. Ethnic. Languages because they. Don't give it any value so, we, are like closing the loop of the circular economy because. Not only in the, Nanak. Need economic sense they are receiving money for preserving their environment, and their traditions, but also they are seeing these people coming from the other side of the world and wanting. To learn they their, language is wanting to see how, they do their traditional. Dressing. For example all of the timur addressing traditional. Dresses from the communities. We visit so. I think this is how the culture, can also be regenerated. By tourism, i. Have. A question, about concert i actually have two questions about, the consequences, assuming. That you're successful, what. Are the external tourist, operators that. Currently exist how are they gonna react because you know they will yeah. So. How will they like the competitors, kind of react to this yeah because this is gonna cut into their money. In, a serious way yeah, well i think they won't be happy. Yeah. That's for sure, well. For. Example one, of our communities, we should be they are very. Close to Cancun actually in the Rivera Maya they, have been for the last five years being, with.
An Agreement, with a Italian. Company that charges around, 80 dollars for, taking tourists in quad and they go into their jungle and they see everything and then they go in one day and from, those eighty dollars they give the community for, US dollars so. Yeah. They're not gonna like it but I mean, also it makes it they come in the communities are gonna be there competitive, because they're gonna maybe. Have smaller. Margins but they're gonna like employ, a lot of the people of the community so even. If they. React the. Co systems is not there's the, cultural. Heritage all the activities is not there so yeah. I think we're prepared for that well. The following, question is about the the, competition. Between these. Indigenous communities, then because you're setting up a situation where, they. Will be for the first time competing with each other within, the system, for, the same tourists, and how. Do you keep that competition, healthy, and not unhealthy. Okay. That's uh so, first, the. Network is nationwide, so. We. Don't have any case yet where they have very similar value, propositions, we have some that have very, nice hotels, that have fun, being funded by the government others, only have a little camp chart where you can go and put your tent so, we don't have that yet but in the long term in case we would start, having that we. Will be. Built as a platform cooperative, that. Was actually a concept that we got from Alisha that was very useful thanks so much and, this, makes us sign bios's, so, you know if they are member owners because, they own some shares of the whole network and not only of their projects, they will have very strong, incentives, to, make everyone success so they. Can also make some meals so it cannot be just one community maybe we can make. Trips that are like hey visit these four, communities, and then everybody wins a little bit thank. You. Yeah. My question is so so, success, for, you in this project, do, you have an idea of how. Are you gonna cap some of this because because, you're dealing with conservation, you're dealing with all you know with with. You. Know remote, areas, that you're gonna be trying to go to do you are, you concerned at all because I mean it sounds, like a great idea. That, could really take off. What. What do you see as. Being the, the maximum, you, know in terms of your success of this where will you say enough. Sit off like we you know we don't want to, continue, in this path because, we're starting to affect. The the area or, the environment. Yep. So. Rennell. Mexico. Has a very. Big tourism, industry. Last year we broke record for example we know there's last, year 40 million tourists, came to Mexico of course, we know that's not the cap because most, of them are going to their. Research and all-inclusive there's, no doubt that we have not found very accurate, that on how many actually. Adventure. And ecotourism. Travelers, are going to Mexico, we, have the number that in a couple of years ago it was. 3,500, million u.s. that just eco and adventure tourism we're making in Mexico so, that will be our cup and I. Think it's very important, to note as well that all the communities, they already have these projects, developed. Ecotourism. Projects, so they have all their. Charging. Capacity, I think that determining which charging, capacity, studies. Made so, what happens is if they're starting to increase their demand and there is trying to have a lot of tourists, well they can play with a quality, price. Spectrum. Right so they can start offering more. Premium service and maybe lower. A little bit volume, so, they, have that training most, of the cases. Thanks. You've. Talked about regeneration. That, there's a problem of the, lack of the regenerative, aspect, of ecotourism. What. Does success. Look like in, terms, of regeneration. With, your solution. Ok. I'm. Gonna give you a very very quick example of how. We think. We achieved regeneration, in one cycle of these tours in one of the communities we, have been working in we. Made a trip and in the surveys general, comment of all the tourists was, that it was very nice everything but they had a lot of trash surrounding. The village because, they all the trash they dumped it in one side so. We gave this report to the community, and they, said well we want to receive tourists we want them to go happy so they sent us pictures later that they use the money part. Of the money they earned to, hire a truck and all the community, clean, that whole part of the jungle and then. It's, clean and the next group is going to have a very clean jungle so that's just in a very very very short term how we regenerated, a small part of the young I was just beside of the jungle I mean, of the alil village but. In the long term it, looks like well, they have this massive areas of native ecosystem, if.
They're Gaining economic. Value, from keeping them alive they. Are not going to have, any. Reason to cut them down and put palm oil trees for example and this, is actually been tested in Mexico, will have prototype. Dad in a big scale because well we don't have the funds, to, do that yet but, in Mexico there's something called Environmental, Services payment. And, he has worked pretty well so they give them money, from the government to preserve some areas of, their native ecosystem, and it has worked very well so that's why we think it's gonna help. Thank, you binding, time I have other questions but I'm gonna let. Ya. Building on that theme I really. I think the. One of the strongest, parts is the idea that providing. A platform for your actual you. Know community. Members to choose and actually participate in creating, local value and I think one, question I have in that is that how, are you going to you say you're going to. Encourage. Or, support. Investment. In communities, or tourism, in communities, that, do. Conserve. Their their ecosystem, that do actually, yeah. Put. Value back into ecosystem, services how, are you going to make those choices, I'm just, curious of like actually, being able to say monitor, or provide feedback or, understanding. What's, the kind of. How. Are you going to make. Sure that, that happens, in, terms of. Yeah. Making sure that the communities, who are part of it are putting. Money back into ecosystem, services, what's the mechanisms, you're gonna use yeah. That's been one of the challenges we have developed, some indicators, so far we want to keep, them as low cost as possible so, so far we have used. Indicators. Are easily, verifiable, by towards themselves so for example do. They have, good waste management, is, the is it clean are they sourcing all from local materials and, not buying plastic, things from outside and also, and I think that's going to be the most important part is, they're subtle little images, forest, mass the, government already has that it's, free available, for free so, you, can actually track very accurately, and and well. How well preserved echo, system is right. So we have 30 seconds left I want to sneak one more in which is maybe, maybe. Somewhat different of a question, safety. So. There. Are reports, and certainly. The US media is not the best source, of this but, how. Will you ensure safety, of these of, these foreigners. That are coming into very. Remote, areas, of Mexico. Given. Some of the dynamics, that have been at play there for many years yeah, so safety. Is one of our main concerns. Mexico. Actually, we, are working in areas that are safe, for, example because the violence, in Mexico is very focalized, for, example Campeche which is a state. In which Dona, Rosa is she, has a crime, rate of point 86, per. 100,000. Habitants and thus, lower. Than any state in the US for example so. It's actually we're, working in a very safe and.
Then. We, are going to also be providing reviews, systems, and. You. Know like direct, connection, with the communities because when you go with the locals, well they know where to go they know where. We just shouldn't go. They. Know how to get there and they're the first ones interested, in keeping you well. I'm happy thank. You. Thank. You.