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Market Ready Tourism Impact Measurement: Local Business, Global Impacts

Adventure and experiential tourism is a growing sector that, with proper management, can generate significant impacts on the well-being of local communities and the regeneration of their natural areas. However, we face considerable systemic barriers: more than half of the world's 85% of experience providers in Mexico are not prepared to connect with this market.

In this scenario, 2014 saw the emergence of the model Market Ready Tourism (MRT) co-created in partnership with Indigenous Tourism Assocaition of Canada, Small Planet y La Mano del Mono as a catalytic model to guide adventure and experiential tourism businesses and destinations to be ready and connected to markets, encouraging the sustainability of the sector. To date, Market Ready tools have strengthened more than 650 companies operating in 100 natural areas in more than 15 countries. However, it is important to recognize that this positive impact would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of the communities who have been the authors of their own development and sustainability in their undertakings. 

Local Business, Global Impacts

In this article we explore the impact achieved by local companies that have participated in the strengthening program "Growing Sustainable Destinations and Market Ready." The impact measurement was conducted in partnership with Alternaa leading organization in Central America in the promotion of social business, market research and the impact measurement learning community integrated by: Credicampo (El Salvador), Cunori-ProMipyme (Guatemala), Filantropis (Guatemala), La Mano del Mono (Mexico), Plan International (Guatemala), ASOREMI (Guatemala) and Women's Law Center (Honduras). 

How was Market Ready Tourism's impact measurement performed?

Companies in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, strengthened with the model Market Ready Tourism (MRT), participated voluntarily in a process of evaluating the impacts generated by each one of them. During this study, we also investigated how the model contributed, or not, to the occurrence of these impacts. This measurement allows us to recognize both the direct impact of the companies and the indirect impact of the model. The participating companies are transitioning from a "visitor ready" profile to a "market ready" profile based on profiles of the Market Ready Tourism Model

The measurement process was carried out through virtual sessions, telephone calls and a follow-up channel via WhatsApp during the months of January, February and March of this year. 

In 2022, twenty (20) companies joined the measurement. By 2023, the number of companies convened increased to forty-one (41), highlighting a notable increase in the percentage of interest in knowing their impact. In addition, it is relevant to note that 88% of these participating companies are currently operating, and more than 85% indicated that they do so formally, i.e., they have a legal status.

Business-driven jobs after Growing Sustainable Destinations and Market Ready Tourism

A comparative analysis was conducted on the employment opportunities generated by the companies in 2022 and 2023. These results reflected the growth of the sector and the evolution of employment practices.

In 2022, the 20 participating companies created a total of 324 jobs. Of these, 32% corresponded to female employability, indicating that approximately 104 women were employed by the group of companies. However, only 18% of the jobs had statutory benefits, which is equivalent to about 58 jobs with formal benefits. In addition, 66% of the positions were performed under verbal contracting, indicating that some 214 workers did not have written contracts, which implies informal working conditions.

By 2023, with the significant increase in the number of participating companies (65)the total number of jobs monitored increased significantly, reaching 534 people. However, jobs with legal benefits were maintained, suggesting that, despite the growth in the number of jobs, a smaller proportion of these were formalized with legal benefits. In other words, each company generated an average of 8 formal jobs.

It is important to note that, despite the challenges, there has been a significant change in the nature of the work, as the number of employees has increased. 20% in full-time jobs in 2023 compared to 2022, accompanied by a 20% decrease in part-time jobs. This shift indicates a move toward more stable positions and potentially better working conditions, highlighting a positive aspect alongside the sector's persistent informality.

"La Mano del Mono has supported us with several courses for growth and I have nothing left to say but thanks for the community projects." 

Amatlatzcas Expeditions

Female Employability 

One of the most outstanding achievements is the significant increase in female employability. At 2022the 32% of the workforce in the participating companies was made up of women. For 2023, this percentage increased significantly at the end of the 45%, reflecting the commitment of the model Market Ready and companies to promote gender equity in tourism. This increase in the participation of women in the labor force of companies after participating in the Market Ready Destination Crops The positive and lasting impact of the training and market connection initiatives driven by the model is evident.

To achieve this progress, specific activities designed to integrate and enhance female participation in specialized training were implemented. Selection criteria were established that favored the inclusion of women and facilitated the attendance of female participants in the workshops by offering childcare services so that they could bring their children. In addition, female participation in the workshops was closely monitored to ensure equality of voice and opportunity.

How is this female employability taking place?

In the analysis of female employability within the participating companies, a strong presence of women in leadership roles was observed. A significant percentage of this female workforce, approximately 75%, occupies managerial positions, indicating that women are not only starting businesses, but are also assuming leadership roles within them. This figure highlights the presence of women in business leadership roles, reflecting a growing gender equity in business. Prior to this measurement, women's main roles were in cooking and handicrafts. 

"My thanks for dedicating all your time and effort to provide entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow their business." 

- AdAnna Natural Cosmetics

Business Performance and Financing

The model Market Ready has been crucial in strengthening the entrepreneurial capabilities of the participating companies. At 2022, only the 18% of these companies were considered consolidated. For 2023, this percentage grew significantly to 42%, which demonstrates that more companies are achieving greater stability and success in their operations.

This strengthening is also reflected in total sales. In 2023, the companies showed an annual growth rate of 45% in revenue generation compared to 2022 after cultivation, highlighting the positive impact on their process improvements. However, these data reveal a very important pain of the sector: although there is an increase in sales, the gross amount of sales per company is low. In other words, the leading nature tourism companies have a very high potential to increase sales, but this requires better preparation and greater connection with the market.

Environmental and Social Impact

The Market Ready model has also promoted greater awareness and responsibility in terms of environmental and social impacts. In 2022, 100% of companies reported implementing practices that generate positive socio-environmental impacts. In 2023, this commitment was maintained, demonstrating a growing dedication to sustainability and environmental protection. These increases reflect the model's success in integrating sustainable and responsible practices into business operations, contributing to the well-being of communities and the environment.

The comparative analysis of the Market Ready Tourism model between 2022 and 2023 reveals a remarkable evolution in its impact and effectiveness.Participants consider that the Model supports them in developing their skills and tools to boost their businesses and better welcome visitors, evaluating with a 4.5 in 2022 and 4.6 in 2023 (out of 5) the value received by the program. Most notable was the significant increase in the likelihood of recommending the program, with a score of 9.37 out of 10 in 2023, compared to 9.00 in 2022. These results suggest increased satisfaction and confidence in the program in its second year of implementation.

"To congratulate the organizers of the Market Ready (La Mano del Mono) model because it is a program aimed at community entrepreneurs, those people in the communities who dare to form a business to improve the quality of life of their people and at the same time protect the environment."

Amanalco Expeditions

Conclusions on the evolution of the adventure and experiential tourism sector

In the last 50 years, 50% of the forests in Latin America have been deforested due to extractive economies such as cattle ranching and extensive agriculture. In addition, 50% of the rural and indigenous population has migrated from their lands, where 80% of the region's biodiversity is conserved, for lack of economic opportunities. However, the nature tourism market, a sustainable economy, is growing at a rate of 20% annually, which represents a significant opportunity for sustainable development.

The Market Ready Tourism model and communities have proven not only to strengthen individual entrepreneurial capabilities, but also to promote positive environmental and social impact within the sector. The integration of sustainable and responsible practices and business initiatives for community benefit suggest a commitment to sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.

This evolution is contextualized in a broader environment of strengthening of the adventure and experiential tourism sector. The increase in business participation reflects an increase in entrepreneurial activity and commitment. Furthermore, it is encouraging to note that, along with this growth, the female presence in business and leadership roles has remained constant, with women occupying managerial or decision-making positions.

Through the Growing Sustainable Destinations program, the Market Ready Tourism model has been instrumental in providing destination managers (including international cooperation, national and subnational governments, and international NGOs) with the tools and strategic information needed to invest efficiently in the sector. As a result, nature destinations now have digital tools that enable them to strengthen their ability to attract visitors and deliver high-quality, safe, cost-effective and sustainable experiences. This has led to more efficient and meaningful investment in nature tourism businesses, promoting a sustainable economy that contributes to the conservation of natural areas and the well-being of local communities.

Local Business, Global Impacts

It is crucial to recognize the effort and dedication of the companies and communities that promote these ventures. Thanks to its commitment to sustainability, the Market Ready Tourism model implemented by La Mano del Mono (LMDM), through strategic alliances, has strengthened business capacities, contributing to the regeneration of natural areas and the well-being of local communities. The collaboration of partners such as USFWS, Fundación Azteca, GIZ, Sustentur, Chujum Lab, SECTUR, CONANP, INGUAT, CONAP and the communities demonstrates a growing commitment to biodiversity and corporate social responsibility. Market Ready Tourism is a reliable, cooperative, precise, measurable, easy to follow, globally replicable and scalable model, promoted in Latin America by La Mano del Mono (LMDM) through strategic alliances. 

This article has been elaborated thanks to the co-creation of Alejo HeymoThe Operations Circle coordinator; Mauricio Miramontes, coordinator of Alliances; and Viviana Vásquez DuqueLa Mano del Mono Communication Leader (LMDM).

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