Tourism in protected areas faced significant changes in the past fifty years. The inclusion of local populations as a strategy for conservation of biodiversity and natural resources gained force in the early 1990s when areas of high biological interest in tropical areas included the community development approach for ecotourism planning. In Brazil, Mamirauá Institute for Sustainable Development – MISD pioneered the implementation of such an approach in the Amazon with Uakari Lodge, that started operations in 1998. MISD believed tourism could be an efficient strategy to develop an alternative professional activity at its surrounding villages in Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve which, combined with the traditional fishery and agricultural occupations, promote community development.
In a recent study for the Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), Gustavo Pinto, former operational manager at Uakari Lodge analysed the last ten years (2008-2017) of economic impacts of tourism at Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve to eleven local communities that work at and co-manage the initiative. The result shows that, from 2008 to 2017, the lodge generated approx. R$2.8 million (or equivalent US$700 thousand) in direct economic benefits to Mamirauá communities, besides other measurable and unmeasurable indirect incomes to the population. An average of 83 families were connected to ecotourism activities annually, and their medium income was of 4.16 minimum salaries per year. The average individual income at the municipality where Uakari Lodge is located is 0.5 minimum salaries monthly, which demonstrates the importance of tourism to related villages.
Ecotourism is an effective strategy for economic development for the communities connected to Uakari Lodge – so visiting Mamirauá Reserve is a guarantee the money invested in the trip is bringing social and economic positive impacts for locals – besides reducing the extraction of natural resources in the area.
(Credits: Adam Preiss, Gui Gomes)