Interview with José Koechlin von Stein of Inkaterra Hotels about Tourism, Conservation and Community Development in Peru

How do you create a strong destination brand - so strong that well-meaning and well-paying visitors are attracted by what you offer, without you having to invest too much in promotion? That's the one million dollar question for destination marketers. What I've learned during the many visits, interviews and meetings as editor of The Place Brand Observer over the last years: it really is down to individuals. Changemakers who have innovative ideas and bold missions - like José Koechlin von Stein with his Inkaterra Hotels: five-star luxury retreats at the service of wildlife conservation and community development in some of Peru's most remote areas.

During my visit of Peru I had the great fortune to experience three of the Inkaterra properties first hand, all of which have impressed me both for their professionalism and quality, and their sustainability impact.

We already published an interview with José Koechlin on Sustainability-Leaders.com, but his work is relevant also from a placemaking point of view.

José, together with your wife you are Peru’s leading hotel developer dedicated to sustainability and conservation. Do you remember what led you to focus on responsible tourism?

After co-producing Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) to promote tourism through film, I wanted to keep working in the Amazon rainforest. The way to achieve my goal was to invest in a field that would conserve biodiversity, and tourism seemed the right path to do so. I realized that sustainable travel is not only a source of inspiration – it is the most effective way to raise awareness on our planet’s natural resources.

My wife Denise is the architect and designer of each Inkaterra hotel, all inspired by local cultures and built with native materials in harmony with the environment, providing each property with a personality of its own.

Briefly, can you tell us what Inkaterra stands for, as brand - its main characteristics and philosophy?

Inkaterra tries to demonstrate that biodiversity conservation can be a profitable endeavor, with a positive impact on the development of local communities. Since we pioneered ecotourism in Peru, back in 1975, we try to achieve this goal. We work under a holistic approach to create added value in remote natural areas. We produce scientific research as a basis for biodiversity conservation, education and the well-being of local communities.


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Florian Kaefer

Founder and editor of The Place Brand Observer. Loves Nature and discovering the world - one place at a time. Believes in the power of storytelling to connect people, to spread ideas and to make this world a better place for all. Founder of the Sustainability Leaders Project.