Community-based Tourism in Suriname?

By: Tania van Velthuizen in collaboration with Jack from Alandistravel

June 2022

I think this caption raises many questions such as; what is community-based Tourism, is this a part of sustainable Tourism, what is sustainable tourism, and do we have community Tourism in Suriname? Want to know the answers..keep on reading!

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Community Tourism in Suriname, why?

As we know Suriname has a lot of small communities throughout the country. They could benefit from tourism as a form of income because employment opportunities are usually low. Mostly elderly, women and children stay back and the men go out of the community to work.  Community-based tourism is 1 of the 10 types of sustainable tourism explained by Rocio Haro, who wrote an extensive article about it.

Firts proces of making Cassava bread

What is community-based tourism?

Community-based tourism is a more human form of tourism. Everyone involved in the development and management is from/native to the local population. This results in a large part of the economic benefits being received directly by the local population.

There are different definitions but for me, 3 main goals are essential when talking about this type of tourism: tourism is initiated by a community, effectuation should be done by members of the community and last but not least the financial benefits go straight to the community.

tourists in village Semoisi

Sustainable tourism, what’s that? 

‘Traditional models of tourism are becoming unsustainable. Is sustainable tourism the alternative? As early as 1987 we saw the very first definition of sustainable tourism: “[tourism] that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Brundtland Report. 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development.

Sustainable tourism aims to not only reduce or completely eradicate the negative impact of tourism, but to develop its positive impact on an environmental, social, and economic level.’

traditional home of the Maroons

 What is the Relation between Sustainable and community-based Tourism?

Community-based tourism is 1 of the 10 types of sustainable tourism. Other types of tourism are;  Geo tourism, Agro tourism, Cultural tourism, Eco tourism and Rural tourism. Geotourism promotes activities based on learning the geographic value of a destination. Cultural tourism is inspired by the appreciation of culture in any of its manifestations. The purpose of ecotourism is to enjoy, appreciate and study natural attractions. Tourist activities without altering the natural areas where it takes place. Rural tourism is developed in agricultural areas. Tourists can interact with the community by sharing traditions and customs (both ways!). Another modality of rural tourism is agrotourism. Agrotourism takes place in agricultural areas and is complemented by further activities based on local agricultural practices and livestock handling.

Indigenous kids dancing

Could community-based tourism be a source of income?

I think it could and actually I can prove this! In 2014 I visited my friend Fina in her village Semoisi (a Maroon community on the upper Suriname River) and saw that tourists from a neighbouring resort made a Village walk while the village gain nothing from this. I spoke to Fina about it and we initiated a project with the local NGO and authorities and trained 52 villagers in Community based tourism. The villagers are still the owners of this ongoing project.

Indigenous leaders in Suriname

Yes, they can!

A couple of villages in the interior of Suriname already invite tourists into their villages but this is not done from community-based thinking. And yes I think with more help, training and a lot of patience Community tourism can be a source of income. Also with the above knowledge combination may be possible, Cultural with Geo tourism or Eco and Community based tourism? Especially the communities based outside the capital city of Paramaribo where the employment rates are low.

a monkey in Suriname

Do you want to visit the village of Semoisi? Eat traditional food, dance to local music and swim in the River? Check out our 4 day trip to Semoisi.

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Tania van Velthuizen is the owner of Pejego Tours. She was born and raised in Suriname. She studied Surinamese law and loves to travel. Before going to Europe, she worked at the Ministry of Regional Development, so she visited every bit of the Amazon rainforest. At the time, she fell in love with everything it had to offer, including the Amerindians and the Maroons, the fauna and the flora. She also wrote a book on the land rights of Indigenous people and the descendants of the Maroons.

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