Marisol Herrera, the CEO and Founder, was 28 when she quit her job at the Ministry of Economic Development in the State of Veracruz, Mexico, and decided to follow her dreams. She had long been fascinated by indigenous arts and crafts, and started by taking Nahuatl lessons (indigenous language) in order to gain a better understanding of her prehispanic roots. She then received a scholarship to take a postgraduate course in Cultural Tourism Management at La Sorbonne in Paris.
She was convinced of the great potential of the tourism industry in Mexico, and knew there were gaps in the market to offer the right product based on Mexico’s cultural and natural heritage, with a sustainable vision. And more importantly, she was aware of the potential impact that the right travel proposals would have on the local communities, empowering them to improve their livelihoods.
In 2011 she founded Totonal, a tour operator committed to sustainable tourism. The initial idea was to highlight the authentic culture of Mexico and shed light on their ancestral roots and the beauty of them. But as her work progressed, she came to realize that the cultural heritage was very much linked with the natural heritage of the land.
She visited over 30 rural cooperatives in different regions of Mexico and worked with the Popolucas, Nahua, Maya, Otomi, Totonac, Huastec, Zapotec, Lacandon communities. On each of those trips, she felt an increasingly strong conviction that her work could become a bridge to prosperity and welfare for those valuable local initiatives that create jobs in rural areas, preserve our forests, jungles and mountains.
Now, in 2016, they are a small team of 7 people distributed in different states. All are very committed to responsible tourism and have the same goal of improving the lives of the communities that welcome us to their houses.