Tension is running high, international newspapers are reporting the worst and tourists are asking us the question. THAT QUESTION! We decided to confront it head on and take the time to analyze whether the FARC Rearmament will truly affect Tourism in Colombia.

And it brings us to this burning question:

Will The FARC Rearmament Affect Tourism in Colombia?

Obviously, there are still serious issues in Colombia. Part of the social work side of ecotourism is to create strong local economies which can help bring jobs and opportunities to areas which have struggled in the past. Some of these areas WERE former guerilla strongholds – but by giving these people work we are giving them MORE reasons not to re-arm, or return to their previous occupations. 

There will always be that percentage who feel that they prefer to live their life as a mercenary. We fight for the ones who truly want a change, who want to be at peace, and who are excited to be involved in a different profession.

The Facts

Could the rearming of the FARC affect tourism? The short answer is – it could. But before we let our fears run away with themselves, let’s analyze the facts. The results will speak for themselves, and then we can more effectively answer the question we are all asking ourselves. 

Eco-Tourism in Colombia

For years now, tourists have been coming to Colombia, and some have even decided to come back later and live. Richard McColl, the Bogota/Mompox based journalist and hotelier, is one of those success stories. On his podcast Colombia Calling – Episode 278: FARC Guerillas in Search of Peace, he interviews one journalist/photographer who went out into the jungle to document the guerillas desire to lay down their arms in 2016 during the Havana peace talks. He refers to their overall attitude as simply a “fighting for survival” and how they really have no ideology, their way of life simply IS – and they really just want to do something different.

Tourism in Colombia has always been and will be an adventure because of the risk factors. Fortunately, now and always – the civil war is confined to hotspots with financial gain and promise. Places which are so remote, many city-dwellers forgot that they even exist. These are places which are distinct, heavily guarded and 100% off-limits to regular civilians, much less tourists.

One of the biggest treasures that Colombia offers is a tremendous biodiversity and enormous landmass. In fact, some of the best tourism opportunities aren’t even in the cities – but non-conflict yet formerly affected rural areas. 

Can Ecotourism Help Prevent the Re-Arming of Guerillas?

The answer is a resounding YES! Why are some of these areas struggling? Because, they are poor farmers who lacked the support and intervention of the Colombian government in a country that is big and difficult to cover the areas. This is where the citizenry has the responsibility to step up and speak for the communities which have no voice. 

One of the ways to help support areas which had once been part of the conflict is via Post Conflict Tourism, a type of tourism that shows the places where Colombia is rebuilding in the wake of the peace accord.

“People didn’t feel safe until after the peace accord,” said Daniel Buitrón Jaramillo, who founded the eco-tour company Colombia Eco Travel in 2010. “FARC and ELN [the National Liberation Army] had strongholds in the mountains. They were fighting over control of the area.”

– In Colombia, Adventure Where Rebels Once Ruled by Washington Post

With respect to areas which are currently inaccessible, we now operate in parts of the Pacific Region, Valle del Cauca (near Cali) and even the Carribbean coast. By creating relationships with remote towns and pueblos we are fighting our own war against the guerilla by giving economic opportunities to small towns that the Colombian government simply doesn’t have the resources to provide. 

Already, local groups are taking ecotourism into their own hands. The mission statement for the Asociacion Red Colombiana de Reservas Naturales de la Sociedad Civil (RESNATUR), is that they are dedicated to: “promoting awareness, commitment, and social responsibility, encompass 64,000 hectares of conservation and social sustainability for peace.” [2]

Already many ex-FARC participants are creating their own focus towards ecotourism. In one bold project, they are forming their old camps into tourism hotspots which teach visitors about the local environment, survival and how they once lived in harmony with these ecosystems. [3]

Talking about the jungle skills that many ex-combatants possess, one article by the Independent even goes so far as to say that ecotourism “could be the best way to utilise their unique knowledge and skills, and in the process reconstruct civilian lives, assimilate into society and ultimately subsist.” [4] Articles like this one show that there is no coincidence in the close ties between this style of travel, and Colombian peace.

Why Travel with Colombia Eco Travel?

Each time you choose to take an adventure with us, we are pushing back against the economic need which drives these rural areas to pick up arms and rejoin the fight. It is our own opinion that NOW is the time to come to Colombia and engage in ecotourism! 

In the case that we lose that war, we WILL pull back and put the safety of our tourists first and foremost. But, it is our belief that each tour we sell, each foreign visitor we guide and each village we create working relationships with – is one less brick in the wall of war. 

Will you help us in our mission? Life is a risk – but we have mitigated yours through our careful curation and oversight in each and every tour. 

Don’t run away. Hesitation is nothing more than a lie telling you that you aren’t capable of having the adventure you dreamed of – while giving your power to the people who will only seek to create death and destruction. 

Reach out to us today to create your own eco-tour, and together we will show the world that there ARE opportunities, adventures and progress to be made!

Colombia Eco-Travel – Peace, Safety and Quality

It has always been our number one commitment to ensure that our guests discover all that Colombia has to offer, in the safest way possible. We can even create experiences in offbeat and little-known post-conflict areas for the adventurous – while still ensuring the best outcomes. 

Help us create the peace that Colombia deserves…

The War Stops HERE!

SOURCES: 

  1. Insight Crime https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/major-implications-of-farc-leadership-returning-to-war/
  2. RESNATUR http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLACREGTOPSUSTOU/Resources/Elena_PosadaLCSUW_Translation.pdf
  3. Ex-Farc Pioneer Ecotourism https://colombiafocus.com/ex-farc-members-pioneer-ecotourism-projects-in-rural-areas-of-colombia
  4. Former FARC Rebels Using Jungle Knowledge https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/colombia-farc-rebels-amazon-jungle-travel-guides-tourism-holiday-travel-monkeys-a8615886.html
  5. In Colombia, Adventure Where Rebels Once Ruled https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/lifestyle/colombia-tourism/?fbclid=IwAR3yBfKgs8U8qajm-amNaGKDXIxdKVTgRSmJsUNAzs3upoCPwNWoYVslrRA