Marcello Gandolfi

“ Tourism industry, in every community, will always gather promoters and opponents. It is very important to understand the reasons that move some people to refuse tourism, clarify misunderstandings and plan how to include them into the destination ”

Marcello Gandolfi is a Community Based Tourism Expert specialised in designing, managing and implementing tourism and development programs in close partnership with civil society organisations, private and public actors of the travel industry value chain. Based in Lima, between 2010 and 2013 he implemented a sustainable tourism program linking 3,000 tourism SMEs to the main tour operators in the Andean region. Funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and CAF, the program established the first regional route of Sustainable Tourism in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador and generated 1.5 million euros in sales of community tourism experiences. As Project Director of CODESPA Foundation since 2013 he is responsible for the global implementation of economic development programs in 11 Asian, African and Latin America Countries. Key projects at CODESPA involved designing a method for integrating communities into tourism value chains (RUTAS) and the MICE sector. The relevant training, marketing and quality standards that he developed are now in use by local governments and Ministries of Tourism. Since 2017, as an UNWTO Academy Trainer, he teaches public officers of Latin America Ministries of Tourism on how to integrate communities with tourism. Mr Gandolfi holds a BSc in Economics and International Organisations Management (Luigi Bocconi University), a Master of International Development and Cooperation (University of Bologna) and a Master of Business Administration and Emotional Intelligence (EAE Business School of Barcelona). 

Ecoclub: What attracted you to Community Based Tourism (CBT) and what is your personal, short definition of CBT? What is its unique selling point?

Marcello Gandolfi: I was firstly attracted to Community Based Tourism for professional reasons. I am an economist working on market-based solutions for poverty, and I saw tourism as a great social and economic development opportunity for vulnerable communities living close to main travel destinations. To me, CBT is a type of tourism that involves local communities managing and developing their own tourism industry, whereby travellers can experience the community's way of life and consider their impacts upon the destination they are visiting. Its unique selling point nowadays is CBT match with XXI century travellers’ mega trends: human connection experience, cultural heritage discovery, active tourism and learning, will to have a positive impact into destination.