FINAL COUNTDOWN! SEE HOW MUCH WE'RE WILLING TO SACRIFICE TO MAKE THIS CAMPAIGN SUCCEED: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E7-DWIzENc
Hi. We’re Kyle, Jack and Adam, and we are the Co-Founders of Keteka.com
Keteka is a community-based adventure travel guide that leverages the global Peace Corps Volunteer network in order to promote beautiful developing tourism communities all over the planet. There are thousands of underdeveloped, rural communities in the world that have the potential and desire to benefit from tourism, but lack access to tourists. At Keteka, we provide an opportunity for developing communities that are rich in both natural and cultural resources to put themselves on the tourism map.
Keteka is committed to promoting sustainable tourism in the communities and countries in which Peace Corps Volunteers serve. The Peace Corps is currently in 76 countries, with an average of 105 volunteers in each country. Over two years, these volunteers acquire extensive knowledge about their host communities and countries, and Keteka believes that knowledge can be valuable both for the communities and the adventurous traveler.
The Impact of Tourism in Developing Areas
After two years each working on tourism in rural communities, we have worked towards and seen first-hand the positive impact that responsible tourism can have in communities. In Jack's Peace Corps community, participants in a tourism group made 33% more than the average regional annual income; in Adam's community, after two years, a community-based tourism group grew from $80 in savings to nearly $14,000. Additionally, these benefits came primarily from the efforts of the community members, which is a crucial part of development. (Read Our Commitment to sustainable tourism)
Besides our personal experiences, the experts agree that tourism is a crucial form of economic development. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that developing countries receive about 30% of tourism expenditures worldwide and in 46 of the 50 least developed countries, tourism is the primary source of foreign exchange. The UNWTO and other organizations, such as the Center for Responsible Travel, additionally agree that community-level tourism is a great way to increase employment and bring much needed revenue to poor rural communities.
The initial idea was simple: Provide a space where communities and their Peace Corps Volunteers can upload information about their area, and where tourists can access information on the most authentic destinations and experiences worldwide.
With this idea, the three of us (PCVs at the time, living in 3 distinct rural areas in Panamá) decided to start building a website that would fulfill this notion, despite the fact 2/3 of us didn’t have electricity and none of our communities had Internet access. Notwithstanding our lack of access, over the past year we have been successful in garnering support and participation from volunteers in multiple countries, and have established the foundation for a thorough, dynamic and sustainable travel guide at www.keteka.com.
Now that we have completed our services, we want to realize the potential for Keteka to be a sustainable tool for tourism development. And this is where YOU come in!
Your generous contribution will help improve and expand the Keteka Network of developing communities and off-the-beaten path destinations. The majority of the funds will go towards expanding and establishing the Keteka network in the other countries where volunteers serve. We started in Panamá, now we want to reach the rest of the world. We plan to have fully incorporated at least 12 countries by the end of 2013.
Other Ways To Contribute
We know that not everyone is in a position to contribute monetarily at this time, but if you believe in our cause and would like to support tourism in the developing world here are a few things you can do:
1. “Like” our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ketekatravel
2. Tell your friends about the site (www.keteka.com) and the campaign
3. Join our mailing list for updates on our developments and new off-the-beaten path destinations to discover. Click here to sign up.
What does “Keteka” mean?
The word keteka means, “to get close to” in Ngäbere (pronounced ‘nawberry’) – an indigenous language of western Panamá. At keteka.com, you get the opportunity to venture away from conventional tourist destinations, and get closer to a country’s culture, people, and adventures.
The Keteka Mission
To provide thorough and accurate information about the countries and communities in which Peace Corps Volunteers serve, and to make this information accessible to travelers with a desire to interact with natives, engage the local culture, and venture off of the beaten path.
Kyle, Jack, and Adam all served two years in different rural communities in Panamá and all worked primarily on sustainable tourism during that time. They all saw first-hand the positive impacts of tourism at the community level: more jobs, more money circulated, more cultural exchange – more opportunity. In their second year of service, they realized that there are 75 other Peace Corps countries in the world, all with many communities similarly qualified and similarly eager to benefit from tourism. Keteka is the database and the tourism guide that will help Kyle, Jack, and Adam help the over 8,000 other Peace Corps volunteers in the world help their communities realize the opportunities of community-based tourism. (Read more about the founders)
Hand-made, organic, extra dark chocolate bars from the indigenous village of Rio Oeste Arriba in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
Making the chocolate:
The packaged product:
Hand-woven bags made by indigenous Panamanian women from locally grown leaves and dyes: