The T.E.A. was founded in 1990. The idea came out of
a series of workshops on eco tourism in Punta Gorda
and the group organised themselves to build five guesthouses
in Mayan villages with virtually no funding, out of
materials gathered from the surrounding jungle.
In 1995 the group received financial support of US $26,193
from USAID and the Ministry of Tourism and Environment which
bought the materials to build eight more guesthouses, again
the communities provided the labour for free. This time,
the Mayan communities were joined by Barranco, a Garifuna
fishing village on the coast.
In 1997 the group received the ToDo prize for Socially
Responsible Tourism in Germany, recognising the efforts
of all the T.E.A. members involved with the program, a total
of over 100 families.
The structure of the T.E.A. is based on sharing the benefits
of tourism as widely as possible around the community. The
Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary are elected for each T.E.A.
village every two years. In addition to this members vote
on a district level and this board oversees the running
of the program, ensuring guesthouses maintain certain standards
and that the tourism is distributed as fairly as possible
amongst the villages.
A rotation principle is used throughout the organisation.
From the guides to the food providors to the entertainers
and the villages themselves every effort is made to distribute
the oppurtunities to as many families as possible. At the
moment an average of 7-9 families are involved in each village.