One of the latest development projects CEF is supporting is the promotion of community-based tourism in the canton of Sigchos – a small region located in the Ecuadorian Andes and around 40 miles South-West of Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

Although very remote, Sigchos is a very special place with a large number of natural and historical points of interest. Its Inca legacy, the natural hotsprings and waterfalls, the archeological sites, the fabled Inca Trail, the breathtaking landscapes and friendly people, these are just some of the many charms of this magical place. And, unlike so many other places, it remains largely unknown and virtually untouched.

The inhabitants of this region know they have a lot to offer to the world… and they are eager to discover what the world has to offer them. That’s why, while they carry out a feasibility and market study to kick off a community-based tourism enterprise, they asked us to support them with English instruction. And so we did.

At the beginning of this summer, we hired an Ecuadorian English teacher called Noemi Sisalema. Noemi has developed a unique English Instruction program adjusted to the language levels of the participants but with a focus on the acquisition of specialized language skills related to the promotion of community tourism.

Noemi has been teaching English to 46 students, including among them local public service workers, tour guides, owners of the small businesses establishments in the area, and even farmers. They were distributed in different levels according to their language skills and have been promoted to upper levels as they increased their learning and improved their English.

Public presentations, fundraising activities, and Community Tourism training have all been part of the first term of this course,which finished in October 2017. A total of 54 hours of English instruction have been completed and a new class has been opened in the small community of El Salado with 8 new students.

So far, more than the 80% of the students have achieved the goals for each level and passed the first term. At CEF we couldn’t be happier for such an achievement! And we are very grateful for the support of the Municipality of Sigchos which is contributing facilities for the classes, and accommodation and meals for our English Instructor.

We are currently assessing the possibility of extending the English classes in this region during the first months of 2018. The purpose is to build on the current program’s success and to improve the potential for of a healthy community-based tourism sector in Sigchos, which residents feel is a key to a sustainable and prosperous future for the area. We’ll provide updates on this when the time comes.

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