The small corner of the stars : An initiative for development of local communities in “La Tatacoa”

La Tatacoa is home to numerous fossil deposits, some of which date to the pre-Cambrian period. It is also considered one of the best destinations for astrotourism due to its dark skies, excellent weather and landscapes. The number of visitors during the last decade has been growing, reaching almost 50000 since 2019 when Tatacoa was certified as a starlight destination. However, the majority of the local population remains unknown and indifferent to the richness of their territory in part due to those have remained absent in curricula of schools. This may explain why tourism offers are limited to a few private entrepreneurs that have colonized this depressed rural area under the guise of sustainable scientific tourism. This project is an initiative for unifying natural, heritage and cultural resources of the region with basic sciences in a strategy that can assist the local community in a path towards the recovery of the public observatory (hereafter OATA).

Our goal is the creation of a astrotourism laboratory vinculated to local fauna and flora, astronomy and paleontology. Science clubs of the “Gabriel-Plazas” local school and local authorities work together with the aim to improve the current OATA`s tourist offer and services. We start with a Teacher Training Program (TTP) in basic Astronomy, Paleontology and Biology of Tatacoa to 16 teachers and 9 local entrepreneurs. TTP is aimed to the creation of science clubs with almost 100 scholars that will help in tourist attendance. Entrepreneurs, trained in financial management and marketing by CAM and SENA will be part of administration. We plan to transform a small house close to OATA in the “Small Corner of the Stars”, a point of information and services with paid tourist packages and astro-camping as the main source of income. A committee formed by entrepreneurs, the parent school association, local authorities and CAM will decide the income distribution ensuring science clubs survival.