Food tourism in indigenous settings as a strategy of sustainable development: The case of Ilex guayusa Loes. In the Ecuadorian amazon
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This paper seeks to contribute to the discussion on how to enhance food tourism in emerging, tropical countries characterized by a large number of indigenous groups and a high biodiversity. A sacred plant for the Kichwa indigenous communities labelled Ilex guayusa Loes. (Aquifoliceae) is used as a case study. Twelve recorded interviews with different stakeholders of the Amazon region of Napo in Ecuador were analysed. The results of this qualitative research show that the Western-based theory on niche tourism based on experiential and intimacy theory is compatible with four principles which are related to the cosmovision (worldview) of Kichwa indigenous groups, namely: mutual learning, empowerment, regulated access to intellectual property and community legislation. The framework proposed seems suitable to understand food tourism in an indigenous setting. Furthermore, the integration of Western-based food tourism with an indigenous cosmovision might contribute to a more sustainable land use and more equitable social development.