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Bolivia to improve community-based tourism with IDB $20 million financing

Bolivia will expand community-based tourism with $20 million in financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that will support improvements of tourist attractions, training of microenterprises in poor rural areas and actions to improve social and environmental management of tourism destinations.

The project will give Bolivia’s tourism sector a boost by promoting the country’s living cultures and improving infrastructure at tourism sites as well as the quality of services provided for tourists. The project will increase by 50 percent the number of tourism operators in specific markets that offer Bolivia in their regular packages. In addition, the project will more than triple the number of community members employed in tourism in five touristic areas to 2,500 from 800.

The project will help Bolivia to showcase its natural and cultural heritage with the construction, upgrading and installation of visitor centers, interpretive trails, signs and descriptive panels highlighting biodiversity in the Madidi National Park and the Pampas de Yacuma. In Lake Titicaca region, the IDB will support the construction of an integral handcrafts center, an Andean life and a Kallawaya mysticism center and a multicultural visitor center in Tiwanaku, thus consolidating a circuit celebrating the cultural diversity of the region. It will also support a center interpreting the mining and natural history of the internationally reknowned Uyuni Salt Flats and a science center at the Eduardo Avaroa Reserve.

The IDB will also support training for rural communities, tourism operators, businesses involved in community–based tourism to expand their knowledge of business administration and management, marketing, and quality standards. The Bank will also help finance technical cooperation to promote community-based tourism networks and the participation of communities as suppliers of tourism inputs.

In addition, the Bank will support the marketing of Bolivia as an international tourism destination and finance measures that will improve tourism management at the national, municipal, and community levels. The Bank will help develop regulations and standards with a community approach; design and implement a national registry and system to control the quality of supply and demand; and develop a national tourism information system.

The project will also develop the legal, regulatory, and institutional framework for the socio-environmental management of the tourism sector, including support to create an environmental and cultural heritage protection unit at the Office of the Vice Minister of Tourism. It will introduce environmental regulations for tourism operations in natural areas and finance studies to better protect vulnerable ecosystems in the country.

Of the total IDB financing, $14 million will come from the Bank’s Ordinary capital. This portion has a fixed interest rate, with a 30-year maturity, 6-year grace period and a disbursement period of five years. The remaining $6 million will have a 0.25 percent interest rate and a 40-year grace and maturity periods.

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