Natives ban tourists from Amazon village


Tens of thousands of backpackers are drawn to the area around Nazareth every year, drawn by ecotourism and the chance to see the age-old traditions of native people.

But the 800 inhabitants of the village, close to the Amazon river and a 20-minute boatride from the nearest larger town, are fed up with the tourist influx.

Elders say the backpackers – who have increased fivefold in eight years – line the pockets of travel agencies but do not benefit the local people, most of whom are Ticuna Indians.

Following a meeting of villagers, it was agreed that guards should stand armed with sticks and only allow in tourists with prior invites from villagers, who must show ID cards.

“We had lots of problems. People came, left their rubbish behind, garbage bags, plastic bottles,” said Grimaldo Ramos, a villager.

“Now the tourists can’t just come as they please. They need the permission of the assembly.”

There are also concerns that indigenous children may forget the customs of their ancestors as they copy the speech and dress of western visitors.

The Ticuna people are one of the most endangered communities worldwide, with the United Nations putting numbers at around 30,000.

A local authority spokesman in the town of Leticia, on which the local indigenous community depends, said that “no study has yet shown any negative impact on the environment due to the rise in tourism.”