First Choice is working with The Travel Foundation to help Mayan communities in Mexico benefit from tourism.
Mexico product manger Alex Remili has just returned from a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, where she met with Mayan communities to help them sell their goods to hotels.
The Mayan communities, who live in the jungle four to five hours away from the main tourist resorts on the Mayan Riviera, produce items such as jam, soap and handicrafts.
“The communities have big problems with young people migrating,” said Remili.
“We were trying to increase the communities’ economy and help them establish links with hotels. They needed someone who had good contacts with purchasers within hotels who could advise them on the best properties to approach.”
Now Remili is hopeful the communities, still working with a Travel Foundation team in Mexico, will start to supply hotels. “There was lots of interest,” she said.
The trip involved going into the jungle to meet the communities, some of whom had travelled overnight to meet her. She also had to work using a Mayan translator. The communities were also given help in putting together samples for hotels, putting in quality control procedures, helped with pricing and advised which handicrafts British tourists were most likely to buy.
It is part of a wider Travel Foundation programme in Mexico, which also includes working to preserve its underground caves, or cenotes, as well as highlighting to holidaymakers how their donations are being used.
First Choice is now reviewing its excursions programme in Mexico and is looking to include more excursions where local communities benefit from tourism. From this month it is also increasing the donations holidaymakers make when booking a holiday, up 10p per adult and child to 50p and 30p respectively.
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