Federico Magri has used his marketing expertise and his passion for nature to greatly increase the eco-tourism of El Bolsón in the Rio Negro province of Argentina. He also promotes a healthier lifestyle and the principles of ecology.
In this candid interview, we managed to coax Federico Magri to tell us more about his favorite hiking grounds, the people of El Bolsón, and how he hopes eco-tourism will look like within the next decade.
Federico, Argentina has many natural and cultural attractions that are driving a growing tourism industry. Through your determination and social media drive over the last few years, you and your company, El Bolsón Trekking, have managed to increase the visitors to the region of El Bolsón by 30%. Can you tell us more about what makes you so passionate about this past of Argentina?
Situated in Northern Patagonia, El Bolsón incorporates dramatic scenery, glacial lakes and dedicated people who love their district. Its winters are cold, but because its location is lower down and the area has many valleys, they set in later than the rest of the region. This allows for a longer hiking season. Some of the shelters that are on lower elevations are open all year round to tourists.
I had been visiting the area for many years before I decided to start El Bolsón Trekking and felt that it was a pity that not many people knew about the physical beauty of the area, or its potential for year-round eco-tourism.
Your social media accounts have 300,000 active followers and are visited by 2 million people monthly. What is the secret to attracting so many followers?
There is no secret. I am communicating what I do almost daily myself, hiking the beautiful trails in the area. I am also showing them the causes that I believe in, living a healthy life and promoting the need to conserve our environment.
You are obviously really at home when you are out hiking in the area. Do you like to be alone or do you prefer to be in a group?
Invigorating walks in nature are a great way to achieve peace of mind and a healthy body. I enjoy the camaraderie of trekking in a group. Whether visitors are here on their first hike or have been before, they are always as awestruck by the scenery as I am; I never tire of it. I enjoy solo hikes; these help me remove any negative energy and I always come back replenished with a positive vibe.
Federico, how has the increased tourism affected the local community?
The town of El Bolsón has always attracted visitors, even though initially it was mostly locals and in smaller numbers. This is a community of hardworking and innovative people that create interesting arts and crafts, make organic preserves and beverages and love their region. The increase in tourism has widened their horizons and generated more jobs for them too. They are as passionate as me in preserving this beautiful ecosystem for future generations. We work together to communicate and promote this goal.
Which are the most popular activities with tourists to the area?
The choice of activities ranges from least to most challenging and there is something for everyone. Trekkers have the choice of taking shorter hikes, and spending the night in comfortable accommodations in town, or to stay in campsites and shelters. Forests, rivers, mountains and waterfalls abound and besides trekking and climbing, there are also water sport opportunities which include swimming, in the warmer months, and rafting.
Federico, in our final question we want to know what you think the biggest challenges of eco-tourism are and what its future looks like?
One of the biggest challenges to eco-tourism is that there is no consistent policy on conservation commitment. Care has to be taken to ensure that the resources of an area are not affected by visitors and their activities.
The future for eco-tourism can be very bright if everyone works together to ensure that it’s well coordinated. Governments also have a huge role to play, because they need to offer the right incentives to encourage conservation. Tour providers and tourists are also major role-players and have a lot to offer by way of conscious efforts. We all need to work together to ensure a better world.
More about Federico Magri: