Incorporating sustainable characteristics into tourism and put them into practice is not an easy topic. Even harder when tourism aims to benefit to the environment and the local communities, and to think about and mitigate its negative impacts. The Tienda de Experiencias Local, in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, tackled very well the challenge to be a responsible tourism ambassador. And as the Heritage Route passed by San Cristobal de las Casas, we had to meet them to share their experience.
The Tienda de Experiencias Local (Local Experience Shop) is developing a new way of discovering Mexico by experiencing the nature and traditions in a sustainable way. As they provide experiential tours that include activities in direct contact with local communities and the natural heritage of Mexico in a positive and responsible way.
”We create sustainable travel experiences that transform destinations”
The Tienda‘s Experience
They are a 100% environmental and socially responsible Mexican company that creates enriching sustainable experiences operated by a team of employees and suppliers committed in promoting local development and the conservation of the natural and cultural diversity of Mexico.
Guided by the principles of sustainable tourism, the Tienda aims to present a new travel option to explore Mexico and later Latin America. It aspires to solve the travel needs and expectations of an ever more demanding market that is looking for direct contact with the local reality and exploring its natural beauty in a responsible way. And after only 2 years of activity, the tourists like this new concept. They are coming about half from Europe, half from Mexico, young couples in search for adventure and authentic discoveries.
By building little by little personal relations with its local providers, it provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.
This certainly starts from the friendship sphere of the Tienda‘s team member, but it is extending little by little to other trustworthy persons, families. That is why the visitors can enjoy a very person-to-person and genuine experience included in the Tienda services and tours. This should engender more respect between tourists and hosts, where long-term connexions between them can appear. Here, the quality is more important than quantity. Bravo! Because so many businesses show the « green flag » whereas they are just green in the title.
What will happen if the tourist demand is increasing? No, they will not send a massive number of tourists at the selected places, shops, trails that are included in the tours and the Experiences, but they will involve new persons and families as new responsible providers contracted by the Tienda, in order to duplicate the positive benefits of the business to other families without damaging the environment, the culture and traditions. On a long-term view, the Tienda’s objective is to extend the network to other regions of Mexico, and later Latin America. Good luck for this starting experience, we wish you a long life!
The Tienda de Experiencias Local is minimising negative economic, environmental and social impacts of its business, and even generating greater economic benefits for local people and enhancing the wellbeing of host communities that take part in the Tienda’s tours and Experiences.
This is very very very different from the business plan of conventional travel agencies!!! Here is an illustration. Visiting and experiencing the Indigenous villages around San Cristobal de las Casas like Zinacantan with the Tienda will cost you 300 pesos (28 euros) whereas it will be only 250 pesos with other travel agencies. There, you could enjoy the handcrafts, clothes, traditional events of the culture of the Tsotsil indigenous community. The difference is, in addition to the difference of quality and authenticity of the tour, that 80% of the package price will be distributed to the various persons/families involved in the pack of the Tienda – among them a family elaborating traditional handcrafts – otherwise the local providers will receive an income only if tourists purchase handcrafts with the other travel agencies, and zero if they do not. This is a huge difference. This the innovative perspective of the Tienda. Compared to conventional tourism agencies, it contributes to the conservation of the environment and cultural heritage and to the improvement of the local people living conditions and wellbeing.
Providers have to be engaged in a process of sustainable development and responsible tourism to be part of the Tienda’s activities packages. For example, touristic centers holding the « Norma de Ecoturismo » label will be prioritized. These providers have to represent the genuine local culture: traditional and quality handcrafts, cuisine, artistic elements, etc. For others packages, providers have to provide a service to enjoy the unique beauty of the local environment, to raise awareness of its fragility. The Tienda’s permanent team is also involved in the ecotourism development in partnership with the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP).
Another concrete contribution to the natural heritage conservation is the compensation of CO2 emissions of some Experiencias by returning a percentage of the packages price to the Scolel´te program of the Ambio NGO cooperative. This program is reforesting Los Altos de Chiapas as a compensation of your carbon footprint (carbon credit).
For all this, we can assure you that traveling with the Tienda will make positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage. For more information about the Tienda de Experiencias Local, visit their website, and experience a responsible travel experience with them.