How an Ashuar Shaman, whom I’ve never met, brought me to Ecuador

If I am enjoying the delights of Quito at the invitation of the Minister of Tourism for Ecuador (see earlier post) it is ultimately the result of the request made of some American colleagues by an Ashuar elder several years ago.

Achuar Host

Having asked and received help from some Americans to fight the oil rigs encroaching their territory, the Ashuar, a tribe living in the upper reaches of the Amazon had no qualms about extending what we might think to be an impossible challenge to their guests and helpers – to return home and “change the dream of the north”. These so called primitive people, who had lived in harmony with their environment for thousands of years, knew that we, in the north had lost our way and our ability to see the reality the way it is. We need to change our dream – our way of seeing. The Americans – John Perkins, Bill and Lynne Twist co-founders of the Pachamama Alliance –  didn’t flinch and went on to develop The Symposium – a one day program that has now reached thousands of  people in 60 countries for which I was trained as a facilitator. (You can hear about the Ashuar request from Lynne Twist herself – here)

kogi, conscious travel, Tairona Foundation

Kogi – source The Tairona Foundation

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in the way we understand and describe so called reality. Back in 1990 I was deeply moved by Alan Ereira’s documentary about the Kogi,  a genuine lost civilization hidden on an isolated  mountain in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, nearly five miles high, on the Colombian-Caribbean coast. The Kogi emerged from their preferred isolation to say that without thought, nothing could exist. This is a problem, the Kogi said, because we are not just plundering the world, we are dumbing it down, destroying both the physical structure and the thought underpinning existence.They asked Alan Ereira to make a film so that we (the younger brother) would change and then they retreated to their world. Concerned that we didn’t listen and act, they have again come out of isolation some 20 + years later to repeat their message but with more stridency.

So here were two indigenous sources, completely independent of one another, saying what I knew in my heart to be true – unless we change our mindsets, worldviews, paradigms (the name isn’t important), we will continue to create a new problem while trying to solve an old one.

After spending 35 years helping – in my own very small way – tourism to grow based on the industrial model, I began to realize that a course change was needed. Conscious Travel is my contribution to changing the dream of the north by helping the tourism community respond to the Achuar challenge.

Given that context, it is highly fitting that it’s in Ecuador that I can share my initial thoughts about a version of tourism that could be built based on what is emerging as a new paradigm or mindset to replace so called scientific materialism.

Today I gave my first complete presentation on the why, what and how of Conscious Travel to members of the Ministry of Tourism in Ecuador and tomorrow I am privileged and honoured to participate on a panel in the Second International Congress on Ethics and Tourism of the UNWTO called “Conscious Tourism For a new Era” where a fellow British Columbian, Mathis Waeckernagel, President of the Global Footprint Network is keynote speaker.

Encouraged by the enthusiasm and passion of my Ecuadorian colleagues today – they seem to know how to “Ama La Vida” – I have posted up the slide deck and accompanying paper on slideshare, and linked below.

But for those of you with little time on your hands, here’s a sneak preview. As a starting point, I’m suggesting that we replace the 5 traditional Ps that we were taught as a way of implementing the industrial model (shareholder Profit from Product, Position, Price, Place and Promotion) to 7 new, richer, more relevant and meaningful P’s that have the potential to deliver more long-term, sustainable prosperity for many (Plenty derived from People, Place, Purpose that in turn ignites Passion, Protection, Pull, and Pace).

The Old Model

The New Model

A New Model

Executing this alternative approach requires relinquishing many of the values and beliefs that underpin the industrial model and which are now being shown by science and experience to be unreliable, inaccurate just plain wrong. To see my explanation in the slide deck skip to slides 39 – 46 or in the paper, pages 6-11.

Slides Used in Presentation to Ministry of Ecuador

and here’s the

Paper Submitted to Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism

2 Responses to “How an Ashuar Shaman, whom I’ve never met, brought me to Ecuador”

  1. “1. The Current Industrial Model Needs Replacing.”

    Doesn’t it just! But there’s the other angle to this, Anna, which is how tourism has been systemised by technology companies that continue to leech money from local tourism economies when there are alternative low- to no-cost marketing models. That discussion, however, has been in full spate elsewhere so best not to waste this valuable space on it.

    I found your Old Model and New Model diagrams on p5 in need of further development, a little contrived but a good place to start with a clean sheet. You could, for example, just as easily place ‘Wealth’ at the centre of each. By placing ‘Profit’ at the centre of the first with the comment that “(businesses exist to make money)”, oversimplifies the system of wealth creation and serves to put down the idea of profit when it is only just recovering from pinko-lefty politics in many parts of Europe.

    The cutural, environmental and commercial legs of sustainability need to be in balance for communities to generate wealth for the common good and it doesn’t do to leave profit out of the equation. Shareholders are stakeholders too and return wealth to economies through taxation, sponsorships, donations, philanthropy and other innovative ways of wealth distribution.

    By putting ‘Plenty’ at the centre of the new model it could lead to a devaluation of wealth which is based on scarcity; too much of a good thing can be corruptive and bad for people.


  2. Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2012 01:51:43 +0000 To:


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