Charting the Course: Transformative Journey from Village Enhancement to Sustainability

By Geovanna Robayo Guerra, Ms. In Sustainable Tourism Management 


The path towards sustainability presents opportunities and challenges for the people in villages undergoing the Upgrade Villages Programme by UN Tourism. This initiative addresses challenges and seizes opportunities to create actions that appeal to tourists who value culture and nature.

Within the Upgrade programme, enchanting rural locations exist where communities share their culture through stories, traditions, and festivities. These villages boast exclusive products globally, produced, transformed, and certified for their origin. Bella Vista, renowned as the “capital of yerba mate” in Paraguay, Trevelin, known as “the mill town” in Argentina, and Ninhue, a certified village for the origin of the Chilean traditional hat called “chupalla”, stand out as unique and authentic communities embraced by this programme. These are the villages I had the opportunity to visit as a mentor for the Upgrade programme.


Photo caption: Visit to the regional government office of Ñuble, Ninhue

Within this framework, improvement actions tailored to the reality of each village are proposed. For Bella Vista, Trevelin, and Ninhue, tourism emerges as a mechanism to generate opportunities that promote sustainable tourism and optimize development opportunities for the local population.

Currently, these villages need to enhance their promotion strategies, strengthen marketing mechanisms, and integrate job opportunities, especially for women and youth involved in rural tourism activities. Also, during the mentoring process, the need for planning and monitoring tools for tourist demand was prioritized to guide specific actions for the promotion of rural tourism and the sustainable development of populations.


Photo caption: Vineyard Escuela Vieja in Ninhue

In this regard, improvement actions arise from articulating the needs, criteria, and expectations of local actors; who interconnect in the tourism value chain of each village. Therefore, implementing the UN Tourism mentoring process encourages the active participation of private and public stakeholders.

In the cases of Bella Vista, Trevelin, and Ninhue, the commitment and participation of the technical team at the government and municipal levels stand out. These technical teams facilitated a favorable environment for the mentorship, allowing a technical space to reflect on the improvements needed and the ways to implement them.


Photo caption: Snapshots from Bella Vista

For villages, it is important to have continuous improvement processes that serve as a path of learning and development of local skills. If you are a conscious tourist seeking the best travel options, choose your next trip sustainably and support UN Tourism in being part of actions that are improving people’s lives.

(Disclaimer: Please note that the guest contributor of this article is a designated external expert who was engaged by UN Tourism for participation in the mentorship program. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of UN Tourism or any affiliated organizations.)