Coming to Guatemala is helping the local economy, we thank you for that. But think for a moment, do you know the people? Many touristic products bypass the locals, drop tourists off at a certain attraction and bring them back with the tourists avoiding eye contact at all costs.
One way to not make your visit go unnoticed, is actually participating in something that’s called community-based tourism. Those projects are mostly organized by local communities that want to receive visitors. Tourism can be a great source for income, apart from their main business which could be for example coffee planting.
The Chicabal Lagoon near Quetzaltenango and the Coffee cooperative near San Juan La Laguna are prime examples of great community tourism projects that are made to benefit all the families participating in the project. Chicabal does it by asking an entrance fee and the Coffee cooperative runs some tours talking about the process of making the coffee. The tours are guided by the locals. Some communities allow visitors to actually stay in their houses with the local people. This provides for exciting conversations and maybe even their first words in the indigenous language.
You do not need to spend all your time on volunteer in Guatemala. Just by spending a bit of your hard-earned money on an unbelievable experience, helps the local people forward. Tourism is not a damaging business if done right.