A 2-hour debriefing session yesterday afternoon with all of the students led to some specific decisions in terms of how we want to be working here in San Antonio, and with the artisan groups that we met on Wednesday. We’ve decided to move forward under the budding local program of Community Tourism. San Antonio’s mayor shared that this is a priority of his office, and he would be interested in whatever feedback we can give him.
So, the students have decided to move ahead with this, and not only focus on community tourism, but invite as many people from San Antonio to participate in defining these terms for their municipality, and in terms of what roles they can play.
Our students have designed flyers to promote two information sessions – Friday and Monday at 3pm, during which we will present the idea and facilitate a brainstorming session on how this initiative can impact the community, and how each person can prepare, and benefit from, a potential influx of tourists. Currently, tourists are dropped off on the main square, in which they sit for a while, before wandering into the one artisan market that exists in town, and then return to sit in the park, before hopping on a bus to return to the touristy city of Antigua.
Some potential deliverables and activities for next week may include:
Working with workshop participants to develop, design, print, and distribute a multilingual map of San Antonio that orients tourists in the town and points to some interesting destinations and activities
Creating a media kit about San Antonio (the place, the people, their traditions) via a digital storytelling workshop using Flip cameras
Teaching a pricing and design strategy workshop for artisans to keep in mind what types of products are more likely to sell (while still receiving a fair wage for their work), as well as what types of services could be offered (spend the morning cooking with a local family, learn how to weave, walk up the mountain and chop some wood, etc.)
Developing guidelines for the municipality, and its residents, to keep in mind when adapting their activities to tourists (making sure they are not demeaning themselves nor their culture, and not artificially creating culture)
Running a workshop on how to exploit tourists – possibly the most controversial of our ideas, students are very interested in making our community collaborators very aware of how tourists may try to exploit them, their culture, or even their image