Who are you? Brief description of trips you offer.
My name is Jascivan Carvalho and I am the General Manager of Tropic
Journeys in Nature as well as the Executive Director of the ecotourism
foundation Conservation in Action, that I also helped to
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to develop some practical and
theoretical skills: the ability to create projects around development opportunities;
the capacity to conceive of businesses and make them happen; the
capability to strengthen alliances amongst actors from different sectors
and the ability to articulate proposals that address specific needs. I
also have a profound knowledge of the tourism business and
its multiplier effect, its value chain, and how the business activity can
be linked to an effective model for promoting conservation, improving
economic benefits for local communities and supporting protected
My motivation is challenge, the desire to support people and their
communities and to protect environments. I am also motivated by the search
for opportunities to improve my knowledge and ability to support
ecotourism businesses, development and conservation. Some good examples of
the expeditions we have developed are the award winning Huaorani Ecolodge,
our Galapagos Walking tours, and most recently our Waponi network
of ecotourism enterprises and our ´Ecuador off the beaten´ path programs.
2. How do you define Responsible Travel?
For me Responsible Travel is four things: support for and protection of
the environment; support for local people and their communities,
represented by non intrusive programs; respect, support and promotion of
distinct cultures, above all indigenous cultures in the Amazon region;
ethical treatment of all business partners and clients; and finally
a determined effort to provide clients with exceptional
We are fans of Responsible Travel and Sustainable Tourism concepts and try
to apply them in every step we take as an organization. My objective is to
share what we do to promote and develop Responsible Travel
in Ecuador. Our idea is to provide small, community operated
eco-tourism destinations that are dedicated to social and environmental
improvement with the kind of support they need to survive in a very
Our operations provide a bridge between communities and their projects and
the market. Through Tropic, Journeys in Nature, we provide the opportunity
for community projects to work together to increase sales.
Importantly our platform offers a central marketing point and a guarantee
of quality for national and international operators, as well as providing
training and quality management expertise to the communities
themselves. The objective is to combine quality and marketing.
We see ourselves as an important element to make Responsible Travel
function in practice.
3. What does your company do to make sure it travels responsibly?
Tropic is a private company that specialises in responsible,
community-based eco-tourism. Tropic was founded in Quito, Ecuador in 1994,
to demonstrate that sustainable and culturally sensitive tourism
could be a viable business model.
Tropic set out to do this by pioneering indigenous community tourism with
the Huaorani people of the Amazon. Over the years the company has been a
consistent partner and promoter of tourism initiatives with other
indigenous communities, such as the Siecoya, Cofán, Siona, Achuar and
Quichua. Tropic also works with community tourism initiatives in the
Galapagos Islands and the Andean and Pacific coast regions of
Ecuador. Between 10 and 20% of the company’s profits are donated to the
Conservation in Action Foundation, which supports indigenous community
initiatives such as the establishment of the Yame Forest Reserve in
the Amazon, producing a guide to community based Eco-tourism, providing
training in community legal rights regarding oil exploration, etc.
4. Tell us about a successful initiative. And an
unsuccessful one - what did you learn?
Our emblematic and most successful experience is Huaorani Lodge, a
community based initiative where the community itself owns and now
operates the local infrastructure. The lodge took years to plan, consult
and finally operate. It is now in its third year and besides having won
various international awards is increasingly successful on an economic
On the other hand most community projects lack the capacity that Tropic
has provided in the Huaorani project: i.e. the capability to develop but
also to market their packages. And since its inception Tropic has
been committed to providing this type of support in order
to develop and promote local initiatives as a way to protect
environments and sustain local communities and their cultures.
The success of this process at Huaorani Lodge, has given rise to the
belief that these initiatives can work, and have a positive impact
environmentally, economically and socially. Consequently we have been
working with other community initiatives in a number of parts of Ecuador
in order to strengthen their skills and to bring them together in a joint
initiative to improve tourist packages and market products. We are
now working on a formal sustainable tourism network, WAPONI, which will
put Tropic and its partners in a leadership role in this area of tourism
in the country and perhaps in the region.
Regarding failures, I don't really have a sense of a project being
unsuccessful but I do recognize that each project and each community is a
new universe and due to that we may have made a few mistakes in our
approach, taking for granted a few elements that needed more
explanation, understanding and even regulate expectations from all parties
5. What’s some advice you can offer to travelers wanting to
I think this is a common advice for travelers but worth to repeat -
investigate your provider´s credentials, see what other clients have to
say, and look carefully at the operation´s raison
d’être reason to be before purchasing a responsible
One of the fundamentals of the community projects organised or supported
by Tropic is the ability of local communities to raise income levels by
selling products both directly and indirectly to travelers. For
example, apart from organizing and supporting the building of structures
such as Huaorani Lodge, owned by the community itself, we have encouraged
efforts to increase income in a number of different ways: by organizing
opportunities for direct sale of handicrafts and explaining the importance
of the sale of crafts to communities.
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