Cancun and the Riviera Maya are tourist destinations that grew very quickly and for this reason, a large number of new employment and business opportunities were created. But for some who live in rural areas, often with low levels of literacy and minimal knowledge of the Spanish language, employment has been largely limited to lower-paying jobs in coastal hotels. These positions often require leaving the community and living in Cancun. As a result, the cultural cost of tourism has been, in some cases, a progressive loss of identity and place, the disappearance of cultural traditions and the breakdown of families.

In response to these issues, the Travel Foundation created two projects that demonstrate how to enable small community businesses to access the tourism market, while staying in their communities. The first is called Pithahí Jungle Jams. This is a group of Mayan women based in Chumpón (more than 250 km from Cancun), they make a variety of jams from locally produced fruits. The second is called Much Kaab. It is a beekeepers cooperative based in “Los Juárez”, 60 km from Cancun, which produces honey-based products, including shampoo, soap, creams and lip balms.

What was done was:

Capacity building: The two groups were supported to develop their businesses by providing training in marketing, administration, accounting, information management and teamwork.

Product development: An important part of the skills development was to allow the two groups to develop products suitable for the tourism market. This included how to test products and build a strong brand, as well as how to comply with legal, health and safety requirements.

Environmental protection: Much Kaab was supported to improve their beekeeping practices to protect and conserve the endangered Melipona bee.

Improved infrastructure: both groups were supported to upgrade their kitchen/production areas to international health, safety and hygiene standards.

Building Links with Hotels: A critical success factor for the project was facilitating a dialogue between these small community groups and large corporate organizations. Support was provided for the creation of purchase agreements with hotels that are renewed annually, underpinning the long-term sustainability of the project. In addition, we worked with the hotels to encourage them to change their hiring policies.

For inquiries on this topic, contact:
Romina Tricarico (RIL): romi.tricarico@admin



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