V-Conecta: Bridging Communities for Collective Well-Being

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Responsibility Preserving cultures

Ten countries, 18 community representatives, and one goal:
To transform tourism for the well-being of communities. 

This was the goal of V-Conecta, an event that was organized by V Social in November 2023, in Manizales, Colombia. It was the first in-person encounter of Latin American community-based tourism organizations we work with— a significant milestone in V Social’s network.

The aim was to bridge communities in Latin America within our community partner network. Along with Travolution Colombia, we prepared an impactful, unforgettable encounter, meant to be owned and driven by the communities who attended. To ensure that participating projects demonstrated significant motivation for the meeting—given the considerable financial commitment for V Social, a small NGO with limited resources—we put out a call for applications. The response exceeded expectations, with numerous videos showcasing each community's interest in joining us, and letters informing us of who from their group was nominated to represent the community.

Individual Participants as Voices of Many


Each individual who came to the event represented a community and stood for a number of people. These groups all navigate distinct realities and confront diverse challenges in their respective communities and territories, but are united by a shared commitment to the well-being of their communities. Tourism has emerged as an effective force in this collective pursuit.

A space for collaborative growth

Recognizing the potential of mutual learning, V Social aimed to support these organizations by fostering connections and allowing them to share their diverse experiences. Our goal was to create a space for collaborative growth among the projects scattered across Latin America. For V Social, we wanted to put the needs and perspective of the communities we work with at the heart of our decision-taking and resource allocation, so that our projects are designed in collaboration with the people they support. 


A few weeks later, we welcomed participants in Manizales, their excitement palpable after long journeys. For many, this was their first time leaving their home countries, creating an atmosphere charged with nerves for all involved. The initial encounters at the airport marked the beginning of lively exchanges about travel experiences and anticipation for the days ahead.

Tourism is about Human Connections

Workshops took place over the next two days, followed by interaction with the local community-based projects Escopetera & Pirza and Ecorrieles. Recognizing that community-based tourism thrives outside office spaces, we dedicated time to being on the ground, fostering human connections.

V-Conecta visit at Ecorrieles


Addressing Key Themes in Community Development

At Ecoparque Los Yarumos, surrounded by Yarumo trees and fresh air, with a breathtaking view of Manizales, we conducted sessions identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each project, uncovering parallels, and collectively addressing challenges. Key themes included ancestral and Indigenous knowledge, generational transitions and youth engagement in community development, fair distribution of tourism industry income, gender equality, leadership dynamics in community organizations, quality management, safety, and resource scarcity.


V Social's Public Debut at Palabreando: Indigenous Community Tourism in Latin America

After days of intense workshops bonded the group, we extended the meeting to share the experience with the public. A consortium of representatives from Latin American community-based tourism projects participated in the event "Palabreando: el turismo indígena y comunitario en América Latina," organized by Travolution and supported by V Social and Chec, Colombia's largest hydroelectric energy provider. Hosted by the indigenous "Resguardos" of the region, this event facilitated and expanded robust discussions, knowledge exchange, and exploration of innovative approaches to Indigenous and community-based tourism in Latin America.


The participants' overwhelming engagement allowed us to make the most of our time together. The result was individualized tasks for each person to take home and implement in their projects. For V Social, we gained clear insight into how to address the urgent problems of the communities within our means. Many tasks lay ahead for the coming year, accompanied by the surge of energy and motivation carried by participants and the V Social team from the inaugural V-Conecta.

Looking ahead, we hope to establish V-Conecta as a recurring event in the future, so we can continue to bring together the perspectives of organizations from across the region, let the projects we work with grow and learn from one another, and put the voices of the people we support at the center of all we do. 



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