The Case of Inkaterra
The Case of Inkaterra – Pioneering Ecotourism in Peru
Case Study Summary
Cassandra De Pecol
This case study focuses on Inkaterra Amazonica and how they’ve over the years pioneered a new meaning of sustainable tourism inLatin America. From feeding into cultural needs, to engaging their staff in expert knowledge of their surrounding ecosystem and immense biodiversity, Inkaterra has created a revolutionary market of geotourism within luxury hospitality.
Jose Koechlin, owner and founder has had a natural taste from the beginning for sustainable tourism, and carried this over into Inkaterra, with its three individual hotels located throughoutPeru. The priority was to learn and offer new knowledge the local communities. Inkaterra needed to do this without bombarding upon natural indigenous communities who did not agree with the concept of developing within their sacred and nourished ecosystem. The turnaround involved a new social project involving guest interaction with the Ese’eja – Sonene community. This introduced foreigners to communal living and interaction with the daily hunter and gatherer lifestyles of the Ese’eja – Sonene’s, consisting of food harvesting, hunting and fishing. Another benefit to the communities is the in depth training of locally educated personnel to represent that of Inkaterra. Benefits such as accommodation, food, airfare and insurance are provided to staff of Inkaterra. This, along with educational support, health campaigns, agro-forestry workshops, the raising wild animals and raising awareness of biodiversity are just some of the efforts and programs Inkaterra works with concerning their staff and social communities. However, job positions such as guides are difficult for locals to achieve, as it is law inPeruthat staff guides need to have a five year education to work with any company. There are also concerns in hiring locals from the Amazon communities as their standards don’t match up to that of an operational hotel facility. Inkaterra is working closer with this issue in offering employment opportunities to locals however the rules of the law make these situations difficult to achieve.
Inkaterra works to achieve “authentic nature travel”. This includes research on biodiversity, management of natural resources, conservation of Inkaterras natural reserves, restoration of vegetation and a rescue center for spectacled bears. Because of the rich biodiversity surrounding Inkaterra, some tours are led by experts of indigenous communities who know the land and species. Several emerging environmental projects Inkaterra is working on include; conservation to fight climate change, catch and release fisheries, marine conservation and now scientific college research on new Amazonian species in order to expand its international market. However, there is a lack of funding of local governance of protecting areas of land which results in challenges to sustain the environment of Inkaterra Amazonica.
Aside from gaining positive attention and increased annual revenue from both national international travelers, Inkaterra had a rough start in trying to create a market of its own in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest. They encountered a lack in goods and services to work with within their environment to meet the needs of a luxury hotel. Between the competition from other industries and a growing market, it was difficult to stay true to their conservation strategies. Inkaterra Association as a non profit and Inkaterra Ecological Reserve were developed to aid in this issue concerning resources. Their organizations also helped to benefit the local culture and expand their market.
Jose Koechlin has worked extensively in promoting sustainable tourism and merging foreigners with local communities to expand the meaning of tourism as a whole. Inkaterra has proven itself in not only being sustainable but a knowledgeable, unique and authentic experience for travelers and vacationers alike.