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Nature-Oriented Tourism in Ecuador: Applying the Value Chain & Nature, Wealth, & Power Frameworks

Nov 16, 2006
institutional sponsor: 
United States Agency for International Development


Robert Fries and Marcela Correa presented “Nature Oriented Tourism in Ecuador.” The seminar was the 15th installment of the Linking Small Firms to Competitiveness Strategies Breakfast Seminar Series sponsored by the USAID Microenterprise Development office.

They discussed lessons learned from their research concerning the relationship between conservation and tourism, as well as the integration of the two frameworks. In May 2006, a team of researchers conducted an assessment of nature-oriented tourism in three locations in Ecuador: Mindo, Puerto Lopez and the Napo River basin. These sites presented a range of both geographical destinations (sierra, coast and Amazon) and natural resource ownership models (public, private and community lands). In conducting the assessment, the team applied elements of two frameworks — Nature, Wealth and Power, which considers the ecological, economic and social factors and benefits involved in natural resource management and nature-based enterprise; and the Value Chain Approach, which examines opportunities and constraints facing key businesses in an industry, and the critical factors affecting their competitiveness.

Ecotourism was initially selected for analysis because of Ecuador’s comparative advantages in this area, the significance of tourism to Ecuador’s economy, and ecotourism’s potential to provide both economic opportunities and incentives for conservation in rural areas. The analysis was expanded to include other nature-oriented tourism operations in the selected zones, as the line between ecotourism and these other businesses is not clearly drawn by the tourists who buy their products and services.


Robert Fries

Robert Fries is Vice President of ACDI/VOCA’s Program Services Division. For more than 10 years, he managed projects in Latin America focused on the expansion of rural financial services.

Over the last five years he has helped to develop tools and conducted research in the area of rural finance and has designed ACDI/VOCA’s database for tracking the financial performance of their financial institution partners. Fries is the author of “Basic Guidelines For Effective Rural Finance Projects,” a resource on the World Bank’s web-based Guide to Developing Agricultural Markets & Agro-Enterprises, and two rural finance research papers. He is also co-author of the publication: “Making Rural Financial Institutions Sustainable” (2000) a guidebook on fundamentals of planning, organizing and operating rural financial institutions to assure that they will be sustainable.

Marcela Correa

Marcela Correa is an Economist within CARANA Corporation’s Latin America and Caribbean Team where she contributes to evaluation, research, analysis, and project management efforts. Ms.

Correa’s areas of expertise include value chain research, micro, small and medium enterprise development, monitoring and evaluation, and primary research including survey and questionnaire design and in-depth interviewing. Recent assignments include conducting a value chain analysis of the ecotourism industry in Ecuador and leading the economic impact assessment team for the Grenada Business and Agriculture Revitalization Project. Ms. Correa holds a Master of Science in International Development from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and an AB in Sociology from Harvard University.