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Drugs & 
      Local Tourism

Locals blame tourism for the drug epidemic

Once a world-wide model for local tourism as additional income, the people of Prainha now live almost exclusively from local tourism. However, if the legally established “RESEX” rules continue to be ignored, then “local” tourism will be put into question anyway. In addition, there is another contemporary problem.

Meanwhile, not only are the youth consuming drugs, but also some local fishermen are using new designer drugs and crack. Without disclosing names, Lindomar, a local activist and a member of the “old” residents’ association, blames the emergence of the drug mafia in the village on the foreign tourists.

"Where there are drug users there is also a trade!” And yes, – the state of Ceará is the main international narcotics distribution centre in the whole of Brazil.

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Illegal land sales are causing local tourism to move further and further away from village life. Visitors with holiday homes bring cheaper food from the city with them, they cook for themselves, they rent out their houses to the disadvantage of the local guesthouses, shops and restaurants.

If you ask the people of Prainha today what the future looks like, the answer is: “like the nearby mass-tourism resort of Canoa Quebrada”.

Only 20 years ago the people of Prainha shuddered at the idea of their village becoming like the mass-tourism resort of Canoa Quebrada 80 km away. Back then they had witnessed how the fishermen there sold their beach huts cheaply to investors, lost their livelihoods and from then on only got their crumbs as photo motifs or luggage carriers. Their children were exposed to prostitution and drugs.


The only difference between the two fishing villages in terms of tourism development is in the very nature of the landscape.

The bay of Canoa Quebrada is situated between steep cliffs which also do not completely protect the beach from the sea. But no houses have been built on the seafront and the relatively simple tourist beach restaurants are easy to reconstruct. The large shifting sand dunes are also behind and above the village and do not threaten it.

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Prainha do Canto Verde, on the other hand, has a flat, open and unprotected beach and the houses are partly threatened by shifting sand dunes. So, ironically, thanks to its position the village is at least protected from large-scale projects for hotels which cannot be built on the shifting sand dunes. What cannot be prevented, however, is an asphalted tourist (booze) mile, as has become standard in Canoa Quebrada.

The old concept of local tourism 

was based on participatory, shared income

At the beginning of the century an approach to local tourism was set up under the leadership of René Schärer with financial help from various European NGOs; it blends in with the environment and the culture of the local fishermen. The ideal tourist back then was someone who adapted to village life, felt comfortable in the simple accommodation and restaurants, and ideally spoke Portuguese.


The longstanding alliance of several villages and “RESEX” on the coast of Ceará called “Rede Tucum” [Tucum Network] has indeed theoretically survived the pandemic and local politics, but meanwhile the ‘participatory’ aspect has disappeared; the homepage has not been properly maintained for years and the NGO “Terramar” mentioned above is concentrating more on the threatened land rights of the traditional peoples in Ceará instead of promoting a local tourism program and the “RESEX”.

2015: Excerpts from the DOK:

"Trouble in Paradise" by Charlotte Eichhorn

In 2014, Shaila, then a student and now a teacher, made the small comparative study on behalf of an NGO about the situation back then both in the relatively protected Prainha “RESEX” and in a neighbouring village, and her findings have since caught up with the present-day reality. There is no longer any great difference between the two villages.

International awards for socially responsible tourism back in the days:

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Ökotourismus: Prainha do Canto Verde


UNO: Jahr des Ökotourismus

Charlotte Eichhorn wurde für den Beitrag ausgezeichnet.

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