Colombia—Destination Nature Activity (DNA)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2022-2027

Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

Country: Colombia

Solutions: Environment Climate

Coinciding with the Peace Accords, Colombia’s international tourist arrivals surged by 85 percent in the mid-2010s as a new generation of travelers discovered the vibrant flora, remarkable fauna, and unique ecosystems of the world’s second most biodiverse country.

The Destination Nature Activity (DNA) is an innovative new program that embraces the emerging nature tourism industry as a central pillar for the Government of Colombia to achieve its environmental ambitions, while also meeting its social and economic commitments in the 2016 Peace Accord.

DNA conserves biodiversity and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by supporting rural communities to make a living from sustainable nature tourism. Nature tourism is a productive activity that enables sustainable land use and encourages biodiversity conservation, and this activity works with communities to build sustainable business models for Colombia’s nature tourism sector.

DNA is developing an innovative and holistic model based on the concept of Regenerative Nature Tourism (RNT), which arises from the interaction and balance between healthy ecosystems, community well-being, traveler experience and businesses economic sustainability. Strengthening the community’s livelihood and the consequent improvement in their quality of life must be achieved through strategies that simultaneously contribute to biodiversity’s conservation and community well-being, which allows the creation of high added value experiences for people who wish to contribute through purposeful travel.

Sample Activities

  • Design regenerative nature tourism experiences contributing to ecosystem regeneration and biodiversity conservation.
  • Integrate communities into the nature tourism market systems.
  • Provide travelers with authentic experiences to generate demand for nature tourism.
  • Improve local governance and sustainable destination planning and management.
  • Increase public and private investment in nature tourism to generate revenue dependent upon low emissions land use and protecting biodiversity for its suite of ecosystem services.

Select Results

  • Created Descubriendo Destinos, (Discovering Destinations) a Shark Tank-like event where experts evaluate entrepreneurs’ products and services based on innovation, creativity, and alignment with regenerative tourism. The experts are representatives from prominent tourism companies with extensive expertise in developing, promoting, and marketing tourism products, nationally and internationally.
  • Created Metí la Pata (colloquially translates to “I screwed up”) event where nature tourism entrepreneurs share their company’s failures, lessons learned, and insights on overcoming these incidents.
  • Supported the organization of the first Latin American and Caribbean Summit of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council hosted by the Government of Colombia as part of the implementation of the country’s Sustainable Tourism Policy.
  • Developed the first Regenerative Nature Tourism Travel Guide of Colombia.
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