Passage Rio Negro

Emerging Markets, Research, Resiliency, Strategy

Passage Rio Negro

Passage Rio Negro is a project that focuses on a small region of the Amazon Rainforest and strives to work with that community to design and build innovative itineraries for the emerging, community-based tourism industry there. Passage’s travel itineraries blend high tourism standards, community well-being and compliance with the Rainforest Alliance’s eco-certification. The itineraries act as a marketing tool, industry forecaster and local system integrator for tourists in the region. Differing from traditional travel package offerings, Passage employs an in-depth, interactive, constantly evolving approach to scheduling, services and activities. This level of flexibility allows community owned businesses in the Rio Negro to build capacities over time and shape market infrastructure during the industry’s formative years.

Project Team: Mike Varona / Hygor Goellner / Silas Meirelles / Michelle Costa / Sean Baker


Passages was built in collaboration with the Sustainable Amazonas Foundation (FAS). FAS built and manages the Bolsa Floresta Program (PBF), which is the largest program of payment for environmental services in the world. In addition to offering activities for the promotion of education and health in the rainforest, the organization fosters community empowerment. The PBF promotes the involvement of families in reducing deforestation, by providing an income supplement payment for locals to promote forest conservation. Passage Rio Negro supports the goals of the PBF and helps participants build economic independence through local tourism. Over the course of the project we worked to develop a strategy that shifted a portion of PBF financial support towards seed funding for sustainable businesses.


Over the course of four weeks we worked with community leaders, educators, environmental engineers and experts from FAS to run a series of workshops with the residents of the Rio Negro region. The aim of these workshops was to encourage and enable creative and independent development of local tourism offerings. These workshops allowed residents to develop concepts for businesses that were inspired by and built on their own tacit knowledge and resources. Rather than open the expected souvenir shop, a life-long fisherman developed a business plan around taking tourists on his boat for a few days a week. These concepts were community sourced within the region in order to establish the content for community managed itineraries.