The Bolivian Network of Community Solidarity Tourism, more commonly known as Red Tusoco, is a Bolivian association that brings together some twenty organisations and companies to develop community solidarity tourism throughout the country. The association supports the development of organisations in rural and indigenous communities in Bolivia that strive to improve the living conditions of their populations by enhancing and preserving their natural and cultural heritage. In particular, it organises training in management and professional tourism skills.
The values shared by the association are fundamental: responsible tourism which implies an ethical compromise between the traveller and the host, solidarity, transparency, independence of the Tusoco Network and its members, equality between genders and generations, fair distribution of benefits and environmental protection.
It was in 2009 that Tusoco Viajes, the commercial arm of the network, was created. This tour operator designs, promotes and commercialises, nationally and internationally, community-based and solidarity-based tourism tours in Bolivia. All of this while generating benefits for the communities where the small businesses involved come from.
Through the project, which was funded with €196,200 by the TDC from 2014 to 2017, Red Tusoco wanted to improve management capacity and quality of services, and facilitate access to markets through the use of new technologies.
The main achievements of the project were:
- Improvement and strengthening of the organisational and management capacities of the Tusoco Network and its 22 community tourism enterprises: through the implementation of regional workshops to support the development of management capacities, on-site technical assistance in administrative management training, a national workshop to strengthen administrative and legal organisation, and workshop sessions with the board of directors for organisational planning and lobbying actions.
- Improvement of Tusoco Viajes’ offer with new tourist routes and products and/or with better services: quality tourist services provided in 10 enterprises; technical assistance for guiding, food, lodging, and offer development services in 20 enterprises and elaboration of an offer design for the national and international markets.
- Adoption of protocols and codes that ensure the quality of products and services provided by the organisation: workshops organised in 5 regions for the design and elaboration of quality protocols and files; national workshops to raise awareness and follow up on the application of quality control systems and codes of conduct; and technical assistance for the application of quality protocols and codes of conduct for each enterprise.
- Improvement of the internal communication of the organisation with training in the use of modern technologies that also facilitate access to markets and improve sales: regional workshops to improve internal communication and training in the use of ICTs, the design and development of promotional material, the modernisation of the website, the use of social networks in promotion in different languages, and participation at national and international fairs.
Thanks to the project, Tusoco Viajes became more and more a reference as a tour operator. The company’s turnover increased significantly, but it still needed to expand its offer, target markets and modernise its promotion and sales, including the use of digital applications.
Communities with small community-based solidarity tourism enterprises will value and preserve their local natural heritage as part of the self-management of their territory. Replication of this model on a larger scale should have positive impacts on the environment.