What is Co’ox Mayab?
Co’ox Mayab, meaning “let´s go to the Mayab” in Mayan language, is a union of social enterprises committed to the promotion of a sustainable, responsible, solidary, fair and conscious tourism in Yucatan. Through the promotion, commercialization and training of initiatives dedicated to alternative community-based tourism in the Mayan region, we aim for:
- Responsible tourism that considers good tourist practices that reduce the negative impact it generates.
- A solidary encounter that opens the approach between social reality and coexistence, promoting an intercultural interchange.
- Fair trade where public and private institutions, as well as local organizations participate, to assure an even distribution of the benefits generated by tourism.
- A conscientious form of travel as an experience that contributes to personal growth through contact between visitors, locals and biocultural heritage.
What is a social enterprise?
A social enterprise is an enterprise related to the economy that parts from a collective vision of resource management, decision making, work, profit sharing and solidarity with local development, while it keeps a cooperation relationship with the public and private sectors, taking advantage of the economic benefits for investment, training and promotion of the initiatives.
Similarly, social enterprises promote control and domain of the means of production and mainly the control of land, the generation of self-employment and self-management enterprise improvement, in order to increase the quality of life of the members and the community where it is established.
What is alternative community-based tourism?
This type of tourism is conformed by two main components: (1) alternative because it includes activities focused on the valuation and conservation of nature and local culture, maximizing the economic benefit for the local people and minimizing the negative impact on the environment. These activities are commonly carried out in areas away from mass tourism. (2) Community-based because it is practiced in rural contexts under collective organization models, whose ultimate objective is to improve the living conditions of local societies and its consequent empowering that promotes a conscient change that tends to a better control, self-esteem and decision-making power of these groups.
This way, through alternative community-based tourism experiences it is possible to admire and discover the regional flora and fauna diversity with the immersion into natural areas for activities like birdwatching, trekking or camping, as well as learning about the local culture, in this case the Mayan culture of the past and present, visiting archeological zones, museums, colonial cities and towns, participating in workshops and tours that help get to know the lifestyle of the rural areas and contributing to the sustainability of community-based enterprises that have opted for tourism as a way of self-employment that contributes to the community´s development while sharing and preserving nature and the local culture.
What is our work?
The initiative has three main objectives:
- The promotion of initiatives in Yucatan dedicated to alternative community-based tourism and the furtherance of good tourist practices by tourists and host communities.
- The commercialization of tours that facilitates the social enterprises that are part of the initiative access to the international, national and regional markets through strategic alliances with enterprises dedicated to the offer of services conceived under a sustainable focus and according to the organization´s values.
- The constant training of social enterprises dedicated to alternative community-based tourism in the region, promoting the sustainability of practices and local development through tourism.
How did the initiative begin?
The initiative parts from a analysis made in 2014 as part of a joint work between the Alternative Community-based Tourism Council of Yucatan (COTACY), the Autonomous University of Yucatán (UADY), the Yucatan’s Tourism Promotion Secretariat (SEFOTUR), the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) and the civil association Act Locally for an Ecological and Responsible Tourism (ALTER), where the problems related to the enterprises’ low levels of profitability and competitiveness, together with a reduced visitor flow that all led to the project’s failure, were identified.
This way, in 2015 arises the proposal to create Co’ox Mayab, integrating community-based social enterprises to strengthen the organization’s touristic practices.
In 2016, after its formal constitution and thanks to the financial support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Fomento Social Banamex A.C., the initiative established an operative base and a work organization conformed by the members of the social enterprises that integrate the initiative, specialists and tourism researchers as well as students from national and international universities, to consolidate an intercultural and interdisciplinary work model.
In 2017 the strategic alliance for the strengthening of alternative community-based tourism in Yucatan is created, with combined efforts of institutions like UADY Foundation, ADO Foundation and the National Institute for Social Development (INDESOL).