Connecting Local Tourism Products and Services with the Hotel Marina Copán in Copán Ruinas, Honduras

31 Oct 11

The ST-EP project on "Connecting Local Tourism Products and Services with the Hotel Marina Copán in Copán Ruinas" in Honduras has been recently completed after 18 months of implementation made possible by a tripartite alliance between the UNWTO, SNV, and the ST-EP Foundation.

Copán is an ancient Mayan village which has given its name to the current city of Copán Ruinas, which was included on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1980. In 2006, Copán Ruinas received over 150,000 tourists. Nevertheless, the statistics show that only 5% of the working population was employed in tourism at that time.

The purpose of this project was to sustainably develop the tourism supply chain of the destination by connecting the Hotel Marina Copán as well as other tourism establishments of Copán Ruinas with different local microbusinesses. The sustainable tourism practices of the Hotel Marina Copán were evaluated in order to prepare a list of products and services that could be developed by the local microbusinesses. Extensive training courses were carried out to enhance the quality of the local products and the entrepreneurial skills of the15 businesses selected to participate in the project. These activities resulted in the creation of the cooperative Copán Progresa, for the management of the loaned funds and seed capital of the project. Advertising materials were produced for each of the microbusinesses specializing in excursions or in the art of gastronomy, gardening, jewellery, sculpture and ceramics.

This project was fully in line with the good practices recommended by the UNWTO for poverty reduction, namely, supply of goods and services by the poor or by enterprises employing poor people, with the aim of avoiding economic leakages and thus generate higher income for the local economic circuit. The project resulted in benefits for over 300 people. It was successful in doubling the number of employees and turnover of the participating business between 2008 and 2011.

The project also collaborated with the United Nations Programme on "Creativity and cultural identity for local development" in publishing a guide for improved participation by creative and cultural microbusinesses in local fairs and exhibitions.