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Tourism projects in Latin America and the Caribbean

Prodetur Nordeste: The IDB has supported the socioeconomic development of Brazil’s northeast through two loans for the Tourism Development Program (PRODETUR).

The first loan, approved in 1994, for a total of US$ 400 million, upgraded and expanded eight international airports, built or rehabilitated 877 km of highways and access roads, provided access to drinking water and sewerage services to 1.1 million people, undertook conservation work on 22 cultural heritage sites, and began efforts to conserve protected areas. An ex-post evaluation of the project showed that the operation had attracted US$ 4 billion in private investment, created one million jobs and increased tourist inflows to the region from 6 million to 12 million visitors between 1994 and 2000.

In order to consolidate and expand the efforts undertaken, the Bank approved a second loan in March 2002 for a total of US$ 400 million, with a mandate to improve the quality of life for the permanent population living in selected destinations and put mechanisms in place to ensure sustainable and responsible tourism.

Chiloé and Palena: In 2003, the Bank approved a US$10.5 million loan to support community-based tourism development in the provinces of Chiloé and Palena in Chile’s southern Lake District.

The Project has restored eight wooden churches, which are main tourist attractions and included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The churches were designed using the same techniques used by shipbuilders in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Nails and other building elements, normally made of metal, are made of wood in the churches.

The project trained 97 local people and entrepreneurs in tourism guiding and tourism management, in order to provide them with new economic opportunities.

The Program targeted five areas: quality and environmental control; community and local business training; assistance to small enterprise; improvements to attractions; and infrastructure.

The Maya Biosphere Reserve

In 2006, the IDB and the Global Environment Facility GEF approved two projects (a $30 million loan and a $3.6 million grant, respectively) that are helping Guatemala advance in its efforts to protect and sustainably develop the Maya Biosphere Reserve, Central America’s largest protected area. The reserve, home to a complex system of natural forests, magnificent archeological sites and unique biodiversity, has come under pressure from a proliferation of illegal and non-sustainable settlements and economic activities. About 85,000 people live in the reserve.

The actions financed by both the IDB and the GEF are part of an ongoing plan to strengthen participative conservation and transform the northern department of Petén, where the reserve is located, into a top sustainable tourism destination to reduce the pressure of agricultural expansion and other economic activities in the reserve. About 300,000 tourists visit the reserve every year. The IDB is supporting the creation of five tourism circuits backed by the Guatemalan Tourism Institute, involving and benefiting local communities. The Bank is financing the construction and equipment of museums and a school of community tourism, the restoration of archeological sites and a road signage plan for highways and tourism circuits in Petén.

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