Diversification of income streams for a new model of ecotourism in the Amazon forest

Diversification of income streams for a new model of ecotourism in the Amazon forest

Transforming Vision Into Action - On the Ground

16 December 2020

During this pandemic, we have been able to see how dependent we are on other countries to be able to function. This experience should lead us to reflect on the level of autonomy of our operations. Becoming autonomous is probably one the most challenging goals our civilization has to achieve. Indigenous people from the Amazon have lived in an autonomous way for generations; they could probably have the key for us to find the solution.

We have worked for seven years with natives of the Amazon to involve them in the development of our project and trying to understand their vision of life. The way local communities live in harmony with Nature inspires us to improve onsite resources and to develop our own model for the operation of Nomad lodges Amazonas, based on an autonomous management of our needs. As the Nomad Lab is located in a very isolated place, we designed an all-inclusive solution for our customers. Nevertheless, our vision has allowed us to diversify our sources of income and to create separate profit centres for better revenue management and control of income and costs.

At Nomad lodges we are ninety percent autonomous in terms of energy thanks to a vast network of solar panels, rainwater collection and three sources of drinking water located on the ninety-six hectares of our private reserve. During the construction, ninety percent of the materials, all the furniture were made on site by the local community. Seventy-five percent of our staff are from local communities and ninety percent of the food and drink are produced locally. We are therefore almost completely autonomous for the hotel operation. This is how we realized that being autonomous gives us more potential for diversification in terms of revenues. For example: F&B, transports, excursions, waste management, SPA treatments, cosmetic production, furniture production, energy production, brick production, handicraft production and agriculture can all  represent a significant part of our turnover.

The Covid-19 experience has showed us that a business plan based solely on hotel nights would threaten the viability of a property and that it is absolutely necessary to diversify income streams by developing derivative products or related activities. These activities were developed thanks to the solutions created by our exchange platform where Community, Students and Professionals worked together.

With more than a third of local inhabitants being children, our project was naturally oriented towards younger generations from its beginning. In fact, local children and our own children will be the ones to enable change to happen and Nomad lodges grow and achieve our environmental impact. With the rise of generations Y & Z and the growing awareness about the need for sustainability, we felt it was important to integrate students in our development model to stay tuned with new trends in sustainable development. Our first experience with students from the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), revealed the full potential of having students on board for the success of our project became obvious. We also received Alumni with different skills and background to help us develop specific aspects of our sustainable development such as waste management.

Working with communities and students brought huge inspiration and innovative ideas on how to create a new model of autonomous ecotourism. We also needed more experience and skills to complete our research. In 2016 we became a member of The Long Run to share our vision with professionals and peers about a better future for the new generation, conserving land and cultures through scalable hospitality and tourism projects. This helps to build on existing experience, accelerate knowledge transfer. Students, Alumni and peers will help Nomad lodges to become a scalable project able to adapt to environmental, sociocultural and societal conditions and find solution for the new normal. Our goal is to establish the project as a replicable global model of ecotourism built on respect that celebrates the spirit of the Amazon.

This article for Transforming One Planet Vision into Action has been brought to you by Nomad Lodges is the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism. Since 1987, we have helped businesses, communities and governments to deliver clean, safe, prosperous and healthy destinations for travellers to visit, live, work and play. We understand the value of big ideas and the importance of clear communication. We know that what can be good for the planet is also good for business. Visit Nomad Lodges website.