Tourists Barred from Remote Colombian Amazon Village
While most vacation hot spots are doing backflips to attract tourists, Nazareth, Colombia, a lush village near the Amazon River, has yanked the welcome mat from under would-be visitors.
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Not only are tourists not encouraged to traipse through the jungle Amazon village, known for its astonishing species of flora and fauna, but tribal guards are on hand to bar the entrance to all but invited guests, reports the Daily Mail newspaper.
Why the about face?
For one thing, the village's tiny population – about 800 at last count, and comprised mostly of Ticuna Indians – is clinging precariously to its cultures and traditions amid the onslaught of gawkers eager to encounter the dolphin, monkeys, rare birds and plant life so abundant in the region.
Last year a deluge of some 35,000 tourists swamped the village and its surroundings, and tribal elders fear their influence will erode their ancient and endangered traditions.
Past tourists also didn't make any friends by taking photos, asking intrusive questions and leaving a lot more than their footprints behind, according to locals who complained of littering.
To add insult to injury, locals don't benefit economically from the influx of tourists, they said. Villagers complained that travel companies garnered the lion's share of the tourism dollars spent in the region.
"What we earn here is very little. Tourists come here, they buy a few things, a few artisan goods, and they go. It is the travel agencies that make the good money," said one of the village's elders.