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More Local, Colombia
In September 2012, I visited Colombia on a research trip for the South American Handbook (Footprint Travel Guides, www.footprinttravelguides.com). In Bogotá I met two members of More Local, an operator which is a member of ECOCLUB.com: Juan Camilo Peña, Director for The Americas of Large Minority (www.largeminority.com), and Nicolás Gómez of More Local (www.morelocal.co), which is part of the Large Minority group.
Large Minority started in Sri Lanka with Lanka Challenge (www.lankachallenge.com). It also has a similar challenge in Cambodia (www.cambochallenge.com). In 2011 More Local was launched in Colombia to highlight authentic, real culture and responsible travel, with year round experiences, in the Amazon, the Coffee Region and around Bogotá.
See www.morelocal.co/why-us/meaningful-travel for the basic principles behind More Local’s experiences. In addition to the projects mentioned on that page, they also contribute to reforestation projects in Antioquia.
Their guides speak German, English and Spanish. French is also spoken. Individuals can join tours or can be catered for on their own.
A couple of general points that Juan and Nicolás made: Colombia is a new market with a lot of potential. There is still some fear surrounding Colombia as a destination, so the first priority is to help get people to go to Colombia.
The government is often not good at following through on investments it makes in tourism. Consequently there is some suspicion among communities when someone offers to bring tourists to them. It can take a long while to demonstrate commitment and build confidence and trust between community and operator.