Planeterra and its parent company, G Adventures, worked with the MIF on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala to develop a home-stay program and visitor centre for groups that provides access to the tourism market to a small village, San Juan La Laguna, that has traditionally lacked opportunity to benefit from sustainable tourism. Initiatives related to the home-stay program include small businesses to supply the tourism industry and environmental and social grants as part of a sustainable solution to protect the destination. Guestrooms and remodels to 17 families' homes are were completed in 2013, and a customized training program was completed in 2014 for all participants in the program to help develop their businesses. The 2nd phase of the project, which included the granting of small business development funds to microenterprises linked with the community tourism program as well as grants to mitigate environmental impacts related to tourism, also completed in 2014. The "Posadas Mayas" Home Stays are included on several of G Adventures itineraries now, and expanding.
There are opportunities to be involved through funding initiatives within this project. Donations or grants made to Planeterra for this project will supplement the funds provided by MIF and G Adventures to provide additional seed funding for small businesses, infrastructure needs, and social & environmental grants.
The Mayan Community Homestay project is located in the iconic destination of Lake Atitlan, in the village of San Juan La Laguna. San Juan is smaller than many villages around the lake, with about 3,000 inhabitants.
Travelers can experience first hand the daily life and culture of their Mayan hosts. As travelers visit their art and handicraft workshops, medicinal herb gardens, and tree-planting ceremonies, tourism is making positive contributions to the community without leaving a negative impact. This community is a living example of the benefits that responsible tourism can generate.
Planeterra and G Adventures are supporting conservation initiatives for sustainable development in the area. These projects aim to increase income for indigenous people, conserve their cultural heritage and support the long-term health of the picturesque landscapes that the tourism industry relies upon.