“No one knows Bolivia better than we do.” This is how REMOTER Bolivia Milenaria presents their 25 years of local expertise to anyone looking for authenticity in Bolivia.
Janette Simbron, anthropologist and the company’s founder, with whom we had the privilege of talking for our interview of the month, explains how to best translate the spirit of her largely-unexplored country into genuine, ethical, luxury experiences.
1-What is Bolivia Milenaria’s perspective on the country today?
Our perspective starts from connecting with the country’s essence. And in order to access its bare authenticity you have to be passionate about it. We, the founders, are very proud to be bolivians. For us it is a country full of opportunities. Firstly because it still gets very few tourists, around one million passengers per year, which makes Bolivia still pretty much unexplored. Secondly, because we are genuinely enthusiastic about our own culture and local Lifestyle, which added to the key access makes it possible to craft authenticity. And last but not least, we are nature lovers ourselves, which brings naturally our third pillar to the operation with is integration with the local landscape and this becomes true when we state that what we offer is “not for someone to be in nature, but to become nature” during one’s journey.
2-Positive Impact is always a common value to all REMOTERS and each of us are taking action perceiving different strategies. How are you guys working on this locally?
We’re striving to develop our country, so everything we do also sees enhancing economic development and the standards of living of our people as our most important goal. If we don’t take action to develop local tourism, we won’t have the right conditions to do our work either. For example, when we provide training to our partners, we don’t care if they’re going to work with another agency or operator because, at the end of the day, our main goal is to help develop Bolivia through Bolivians, and we know that tourism can be a great source for social transformation.
We also believe that if you want to do it right, you have to do it yourself. So, because we’re a small business, we’re able to stay very close to our own operations and do as much we can in-house. That way we guarantee that we’re delivering everything that we believe in.
3-The root of inbound operation is Experiential Travel. How do you partner with local communities to guarantee what you call Ethical Luxury?
70% of Bolivian territory is occupied by indigenous tribes, which makes experiential travel a blue ocean for people like us, who work seriously to design experiences connected to local cultures. It’s all about facilitating real cultural encounters with real people. When we approach a new community to partner with us on our itineraries, we do all the training with them to educate them on the tourists they will receive, but we don’t instruct them how they should behave or present themselves. We want to keep all communities exactly as they are and to show the way they live. So if locals are wearing I Love New York t-shirts, we understand that this is part of their culture now and never try to stage anything.
4-Can you tell us more about your operations at super remote locations?
When we started to develop a new experience and find a perfect stunning view location, we got a bid divided thinking “it should never have lodges here and neither people’s footprint in such paradises like this”. That is when we start working with glamping structures. By setting up an entirely removable “Elegant Pasis” as we call them, we stay in peace that we leave no footprints behind and also give back to nature by contributing to its maintenance. We currently work with 6 National Parks. The other aspect of providing that type of experience is that we manage to influence travellers’ mindset too. Many times, after having such a close coexistence with nature, many people become much more eco conscious. Not to mention the social impact too, when we partner with local communities we are at the same time bringing opportunities for them as well as preserving the environment. Community based tourism has always been part of our why we founded the company since the beginning.