Friday, January 25, 2013

La Vida Nica - A Three Week Trip through Nicaragua

I recently got married and had the pleasure of planning my and my new husband's honeymoon. If you know me, you'd know how much I love planning pretty much anything, a wedding, a birthday party, and most especially a trip. This could explain why I love my job as a tourism development consultant so much - it's essentially helping communities and entrepreneurs plan for tourism!

For our honeymoon, I was posed with the following question: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? The options and possibilities were endless! That feeling is one of the best feelings to experience.

We had a small set of criteria that needed to be fulfilled in our chosen destination:
- For me - culture, history, nature and price
- For my husband - sun, beaches and good weather
Not a very specific list, but it was a starting point. 

I started off my research as most people do these days, the internet (what did we do before the help of Google?). I also got some recommendations from friends who have traveled a fair bit. The options started rolling in. . . Indonesia, New Zealand, Columbia, Costa Rica, Morocco. We eventually decided on Nicaragua. When we began telling people we were travelling to Nicaragua for our honeymoon, the amount of people that asked 'why?' became comical (even from the Canadian Customs Official on our way home!). When replying to these people, we provided them with typical answers, and primarily those points found in our set of criteria: cheap, good weather, etc. Having spent 3 full weeks in Nicaragua, I can now say it is so much more than that. 

Another common comment we heard when telling people of our pending travel plans was, 'Isn't it dangerous?' Well, it isn't the '70's anymore and the civil war has long been done. Nicaragua is truly an interesting country to visit and has something for everyone: colonial towns, beautiful beaches, good surf, an interesting history, protected nature reserves, one of the most active volcanic regions in the world, good food and unique cultures (and even a resort or two if that's what you're interested in). The tourism industry in Nicaragua is still in the 'developing' stage and you can get easily spoiled by vast beaches that are empty except for you and your footprints.  

In the next few days, I hope to share some of our experiences in Nicaragua, and hopefully shed some light on what seems to be a misunderstood country. 

Gracias! ~ Jessica

Pimachiowin Aki Tourism 2013 Sharing Session

Clinton was invited to inspire and assist with facilitating the Pimachiowin Aki Tourism Sharing Session on January 10th, 2013. This event was part of Pimachiowin Aki’s AGM and was well attended by community leaders, Elders, aboriginal tourism business owners, entrepreneurs, researchers, and invited guests with background and experience in tourism development.

The purpose of the event was to share information on planning directions, activities and events related to tourism, learn from aboriginal tourism elsewhere in Canada and abroad, and identify needs and priorities to support sustainable tourism in Pimachiowin Aki. Clinton shared stories on what he’s learned over the past years and continues to learn about indigenous tourism projects in Canada and abroad and how these experiences shaped a model for aboriginal tourism development. Our Pando Terra model uses indigenous ways to create sustainable tourism development – using 7 holistic elements it empowers, encourages and supports the community and its members first; positive economic development will follow.

Pimachiowin Aki is already well on their way to establishing sustainable tourism opportunities for their region and it was great to hear about some of the challenges and opportunities they faced along the way. There are some great leaders and business mentors that will continue to pave the way for aboriginal tourism development in the region and we wish them all the best.

More information on the Pimachiowin Aki World Heritage Project can be found at

If you would like to hear more details about our Pando Terra model contact