Sapal Weavers Association

A workshop in a small village: will tourists visit remote areas?

Now that you know about Community-Based EcoTourism (CBET, see here), let’s talk about Community-Based Rural Tourism (CBRT). What is the difference? They both aim at creating additional revenues to the community but CBET promotes and conserves natural resources while CBRT is based on the transmission of ancestral skills and traditions. The CBRT is a Community development approach that strengthens the ability of rural communities to manage tourism resources and ensure maximum community’s involvment and participation, thus spreading the benefits among the stakeholders.

Welcoming notice made by the weavers

If it is “rural”, then it must be quite difficult to reach. Indeed, going to Sapal in Guimaras Island, where we wanted to meet the Sapal Weavers Association (SWA), was a challenging trip! There is no real road and no public transportation so you need to hire a private tricycle.

The baryos

The SWA was created in 2006 and gathers 34 women and 17 men of the Sapal community. There are two main sources of livelihood. The main income comes from the sale of the products: mats, slipers, bags, laptop bags…They sale it in a shop downtown or send it to malls in several cities of the Philippines.

The weaving

The additional source of income comes from the visits of tourists. In fact, the SWA is a pilot of a broader CBRT project that aims at bringing tourists to rural areas to learn about the culture and the way of life of rural communities. In Sapal, the weavers are explaining and showing tourists all the production process. The products are made from baryos leaves, which are grown in nearby plantations. They will dry, color, weave and sew the leaves to get the final product. As a visitor, you can try weaving on your own if you wish. One weaver needs two days to finish a 48*75 inches mattress and the average earnings per worker is around 500 pesos per day (above the minimum wage).

The products of the SWA

The association is currently working on a package tour of one day that would include a performance of community dances, a visit of the workshop, a carabao ride (Filipino buffalo), a lunch prepared by the community and a visit of the plantations of baryos. There is also a possibility for visitors to stay overnight in a homestay, six households have been trained on how to host tourists.

The main issue right now is the marketing of this destination for tourists because the offer must be attractive for tourists to venture in such a remote place!

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