Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Entrepreneurship / People-First Tourism – NEW this year

Have you ever wondered what happens to the money you spend at the destinations you visit? Unfortunately, a large part of it is leaked out of the community and only a small percentage is retained to support local families or to invest in public infrastructure. Historically, this has been the case of Puerto Vallarta, one of the most important tourist destinations in Mexico. However, this is changing with a wave of bold local micro-entrepreneurs who have been able to turn the tide and earn a livelihood from tourism through offering authentic experiences complementary to the traditional sun, sea, sand and sin appeal of their destination.

In this program, participants will be staying with the community cooperative “Ejido Playa Grande,” a communitarian enterprise created to offer ecotourism adventures and cultural experiences to discerning tourists.  Through this interaction, students will learn how the community generates self-employment and revenues to improve local lives and to protect the spectacular local fauna and flora. In contrast, participants will also have the opportunity to visit traditional mass-tourism sites in Puerto Vallarta, which exclude local people, commodify traditional culture, and hurt the local environment.  Through dialog with our hosts we will seek to facilitate mutual learning, with students absorbing academic and life lessons from our hosts, and with the tourism coop leaders benefitting from our earnest “voice of customer” feedback, strategic market thinking, advice on conservation projects, eco-efficiency ideas, etc.

The goal of this ASB is to provide participants a life-transforming People-First Tourism experience in which they develop a mutually beneficial and rewarding relationship with their hosts, by sharing their insights and expertise with hosts and also by gaining a deep appreciation for the rich traditional knowledge and intriguing lifestyle of their hosts. Through this ASB, participants will observe how complex national and multinational agents can appropriate themselves of cultural and natural resources of subjugated communities; AND they will also observe how our university collaborates with such communities to subvert those forces and enable locals to leverage the economic muscle of tourism to foster equitable and sustainable development.

Important Information

  • Trip dates: March 7-14, 2020
  • Location: Porto Vallarta, Mexico
  • Approximate cost: $1700-$1900
    • Trip cost covers transportation, housing, and meals