El Carlos Eco touristic and Archaeological Center
This initiative includes ex-guerrilla, ex-paramilitary and displaced people; the region had been included in the Tourism, Peace and Coexistence Committee within the Touristic Development Plan
El Carlos is a village in Necoclí municipality in the Uraba region, which is located in the north of Colombia, in the Antioquia state next to the Panama border in the Caribbean Ocean. The Abibe mountain chain and the Atrato river are its main limits, and the banana crops the main economic activity.
The Ecotouristic Center is managed by a Cooperative – COOTUCAR- in El Carlos town – conformed by ex-guerrilla, ex-paramilitary and displaced people -since 2005, focused on rural tourism with cabins made of local materials and traditional techniques. There is a restaurant and an archaeological interpretation centre. There is a mud volcano and the beach nearby the main town: Necoclí. The local culture is rich; the main Festival in Necoclí is the Bullerengue Festival – an African Colombian music and dance. Different institutions have supported the community: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the National Prosperity Department mainly; and in the process of implementation, the community has been developing different relations with touristic stakeholders in the region. The Vice ministry of Tourism choose what is called the Uraba region – where is located the project- as one of their pilots in the Touristic Development Plan within the Tourism and Peace Strategy
Communities are involved in the process and one of the main challenges is to insert this kind of initiatives into the value chain locally, nationally and internationally
The communities involved are mainly in the rural areas where the rates of poverty are high, this is a great opportunity for them to reduce poverty, generate employment within the communities and include in the process farmers, women, young people and minorities.
In the case of the cabins, those are locally made and bioclimatic trying to reduce air conditioner use. Through the process, there has been training in energy and waste management. At the restaurant it´s important the use of local products and minimizing waste and use of disposable utensils
The cultural and local values are reinforcing through the archaeological site, the tours and the food at the restaurant where one of the main dishes is made of the plantain flower specially made at El Carlos.
Through the project, there was an opportunity for people involved in the conflict to participate in legal activities. The Tourism, Peace and Coexistence Committee represent a great opportunity too, to integrate communities into the value chain in the region trying to ease conflicts and promoting prosperity through tourism for everyone.