Using tourism to help communities affected by armed conflicts
Interview with Get Up and Go Colombia co-founder Luisa Romero

Learn about Get Up and Go Colombia – a social enterprise creating tourism opportunities for communities most affected by the armed conflicts in Colombia.

Luisa Romero is the co-founder of Get Up and Go Colombia. She is a Civil Engineer, has a Masters in International Tourism Management, and is passionate about social impact through peacebuilding.

🏆 Get Up and Go Colombia won the First Prize in the category ‘Social Startups and Projects’ at the Social Entrepreneurship in Tourism Competition 2020.

How was the idea about Get Up and Go Colombia born?

I was born and raised in one of the regions most affected by the armed conflict in Colombia – Cauca. This context and the different stories of the communities led me to focus my efforts on generating opportunities for change and positive impact in my region and country.

Get Up and Go Colombia was born in 2016, as a way to promote Popayan, the capital city of Cauca. The team started to develop Free Walking Tours, welcoming tourists from all over the world, and over the course of the years, we expanded into rural and indigenous communities developing tourism and educating them.

What is Get Up and Go Colombia?

Get Up and Go Colombia (old.getupandgocolombia.org/en/) generates socio-economic opportunities for the communities most affected by the armed conflict in Colombia through sustainable tourism experiences offered to tourists from all over the world. The income generated through these experiences is re-invested in educational projects for developing tourism in other communities.

What are some projects part of Get Up and Go Colombia. Get Up and Go Colombia has developed tourism in all of Cauca, one of the regions most affected by the Colombian armed conflict. Every time a traveler books a trip with us with our peace guides (old.getupandgocolombia.org/en/places/cauca), most of the money goes to the local families.

Part of the income is also reinvested into educational projects in other communities, such as Tambo (old.getupandgocolombia.org/en/places/purace-park), one of the first communities in Colombia that decided to leave behind illicit coca crops, in order to use sustainable tourism as a new source of revenue. The Tambo community is receiving training in English, tourism, entrepreneurship, and peacebuilding by Get Up and Go Colombia.

Also, Get Up and Go Colombia is currently developing virtual experiences guided by their communities and peacebuilders from countries in conflict such as Syria through a project called Exchanges for Peace (www.facebook.com/GETUPANDGOCOLOMBIA/posts/2753227591660630).

How has COVID-19 impacted your business?

COVID-19 has been challenging for the tourism industry in general. In the beginning, we were not able to operate. However, we found new ways to work on our educational social tourism projects by using virtual sessions.

We also developed virtual tourism experiences with peacebuilders from other countries in conflict such as Syria and Palestine, and we are currently developing virtual experiences with our communities. This has been a time to get us equipped with digital and organizational tools, as well.

What are your top 3 tips for other social entrepreneurs?

My advice to other social entrepreneurs would be:

1. Stay connected with your community and those communities who are facing challenges. You will always find ways to turn those problems into solutions by using your passions.

2. Find those skills that might even seem opposite and combine them to create impact, such as I did by mixing up my civil engineer profession with tourism to create a virtual reality tour in an indigenous community that generated opportunities for them.

3. Trust your team and work along with them along the way. Your impact will expand by working together with people who you can learn from and share your knowledge continuously.

Watch the video to learn more about Get Up and Go Colombia:

– Thanks, Luisa, for sharing your story!

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1 month ago

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