Punta Brava is a place located between the Tribugá Gulf and Cabo Corrientes, in the Township of Arusí, municipality of Nuquí, department of Chocó, in the Colombian Pacific Coast. This area has a great potential for eco-tourism, since it is located in one of the areas of greatest biodiversity in the planet. This is a place where the tropical rainforest meets the ocean, forming beaches whose width varies over 100 meters, due to tide changes. This area is inhabited by the indigenous community “Embera”, afro-descendants, and communities of mixed race. In the words of one of our guests “this is a place that everyone should have the chance to know”.
The communities inhabiting this area are small and isolated, and, during the past decades, have been affected by violence and drug-traffic.
Punta Brava is formulated as a pilot project, aiming to promote development by means of socially and environmentally responsible tourism. This form of tourism is projected as a trigger for change in small communities with great necessities, located in areas with unspoiled ecosystems. We regard ecotourism as an initiator of cultural exchanges through which diverse productive projects can be activated, either due to the mere presence of foreign visitors in the area -who demand products and services-; or due to the cultural exchange between locals and visitors, which nurtures the local community, and stimulates both groups’ inquisitiveness and initiatives regarding development.
The project aims to affect the community in the township of Arusí, which has a population of approximately 500 inhabitants. Their central means of subsistence are fishing, wood exploitation, agriculture, commerce, and some illegal activities related to drug traffic. The popularity of the latter has increased over the years, due to the lack of possibilities, which young people in the region must face, in addition to the widespread and attractive imagery of easy money.
The general objective of this project is to create alternative sources of income for the community, through productive projects which make sustainable use of the natural resources of the region and the particular forms of knowledge of the population. These projects must be eco-friendly, use raw material from the region, and promote the active participation of various families from the local community.
We intend to fulfill four central objectives:
The first is the eco-hotel itself. Its functioning will activate economic processes, by bringing new demands to the region and providing the infrastructure for productive projects. Also, by bringing foreign visitors who may be interested in making donations, the eco-hotel opens the possibility of obtaining additional resources for these projects
The second objective is the bolstering of productive projects that utilize local raw materials in a sustainable way. For these projects we encourage the participation of several families, who will thereby strengthen their productive capacity for providing the goods and services that visitors demand, and the markets in which these are commercialized. In addition to generating a source of income for the community, these projects seek to actively involve the community, in order that they assimilate the notion of development as an improvement in everyone’s quality of life. We aim to do this through the implementation of programs that strengthen the social fabric in the region. We intend to promote cultural activities that further the recovery of ancestral memory, and which create an environment for children and young people to enhance their knowledge and strengthen their cultural identity.
The third is the creation of educational projects that improve the quality of local education. These projects will be mainly addressed to the early childhood, since we consider children to hold the greatest potential for changing the community’s imagery in the next ten years. One of our aims is to improve the quality of primary and secondary education in Arusí.
Our fourth objective is to promote environmental sustainability. The hotel is an area where local fauna and flora are restored and protected. By these means we pretend to create consciousness in the local community about the ways in which it is possible to sustainably utilize the resources in a place with such biodiversity.
So far we have fulfilled our first objective. The hotel was built with an investment of 350’000.000 COP, and the efforts of hired local workers, using materials from the region. Since the hotel was opened, we have hosted over seventy guests. The hotel’s operation is inclusive with the local community: goods and services are acquired directly from local producers and traders. This has provided the community with a source of income that contributes to improve their quality of life.
Regarding productive projects, we are carrying research on the viability of a cooperation with local indigenous communities for the production of coconut oil, handcrafted smoked fish, sports gear and handicrafts, which are sold directly in the hotel. The production of sports gear is focused on the production of surf boards and artificial bait for sport fishing.