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Ecotourism and Natural Resources Management. International Seminar on Forest Administration and Management October 10-11, 2007. Dr. Denver Hospodarsky Dr. Marty Lee School of Forestry. Ecotourism:

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Ecotourism and Natural Resources Management

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Ecotourism and Natural Resources Management

International Seminar on Forest Administration and Management

October 10-11, 2007

Dr. Denver Hospodarsky

Dr. Marty Lee

School of Forestry

  • Ecotourism:

  • “purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the culture and the natural history of the environment; taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem; producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of the natural resources beneficial to the local people.” – Ecotourism Society

  • “environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features—both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations.” – IUCN Commission on National Parks & Protected Areas

  • “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people.” – The International Ecotourism Society

Ecotourism Fact Sheet(Source: The International Ecotourism Society –

  • Size: Largest business sector in the world economy – employs 200 million people, generates $3.6 trillion in economic activity, accounts for 8% of jobs worldwide. If tourism were a country, it would have the 2nd largest economy, surpassed only by U.S.

  • Growth:1950 – 25 million tourism arrivals; 2004 – 760 million tourism arrivals; 2020 – forecast to reach 1.56 billion international arrivals.

  • Importance to developing countries: Tourism is a principal “export” for 83% of developing countries. For the world’s poorest countries, tourism is 2nd most important source of foreign exchange, after oil.

Tourism Typology

Tourism Typology, con’t.








biological diversity and natural resources

economic/infrastructural growth




Ross & Wall 1999

  • Finding Balance Between Conservation and

  • Tourism is Challenging!

  • High expectations about what ecotourism can produce as well as concerns about the challenges it can create. Ecotourism has both costs and benefits. What are they?

  • Ecological:

  • Aesthetic:

  • Economic:

  • Social:

Ecotourism Planning(From Boo, E. 1993. Ecotourism planning for protected areas—see attached article)

“Ecotourism Diagnostic and Planning Guidelines”

  • Designed to help parks and protected areas determine their relationship with tourism

  • Can be used:

    • to help protected area managers evaluate the issues of ecotourism

    • as a tool for a more formal planning process that would result in an official ecotourism strategy for an area

    • as a framework for a planning process but does not detail how to implement these strategies

“... having an ecotourism development and management strategy will allow protected area managers to either encourage or discourage ecotourism as appropriate, both in terms of numbers and activities.” (p. 17)

Ecotourism Strategy

  • Phase One: Assess the current tourism situation and potential

  • Phase Two: Determine a desirable tourism situation and identify steps to reach this situation

  • Phase Three: Write an ecotourism strategy document

Phase One: Assess the Current SituationSources: original research, interviews, secondary data

A series of questions to guide assessment of current situation:

Within the Park Boundaries

Natural Resources:

  • Why was the park established?

  • Describe the natural resources in the park. Intact? Threatened (tourism, logging, mining, poaching)?

  • Inventories of area’s flora and fauna available? Needed?

  • Which sites and/or wildlife are biggest current and potential tourist attractions?

Visitor Information and Use Levels:

  • How many people visit the park each year? Estimate?

  • Ratio of foreigners to nationals?

  • Any other demographic information available about visitors?

  • What do visitors do? Activities, popular areas, money spent (how much and where)

  • Existing, potential markets?

    Park Infrastructure:

  • List all infrastructure in the park (visitor center, trails, restrooms, etc). Are these being used? Condition?

  • Educational materials available? Source? Audience?

  • Which facilities contribute financially to the park? To the surrounding residents? How?

    Park Personnel:

  • How many park personnel are directly involved with tourists? Jobs? Volunteers or salaried? Funding source?

  • Type of training received

  • Number of park personnel needed to adequately protect natural resources?

Bridges Outside Park Boundaries

Interactions With Local Communities:

  • Identify local individuals, communities, and NGOs involved with/affected by tourism to the park

  • Costs/benefits of tourism for these people?

  • Types of tourism businesses, other products, services that involve the local population

    Regional (Within Country) Infrastructure

  • Accessibility of the park?

  • How do foreigners get there? Nationals?

  • Road conditions?

Other Regional Attractions:

  • Other tourist attractions in the region?

  • Existing tour packages that include the park?

  • What population centers are within 150 kilometers of the park?

    National Perspective (Legal, Policy, Budgetary)

  • Rules and regulations, legal documents that regulate tourism activities in the park?

  • Who is responsible for establishing and monitoring tourism policies? (e.g., park service, tourism officials)

  • Is there a system for collecting entrance fees? Where does the income go?

  • Source of funding for a national park service? Adequate?

Private Sector Involvement:

  • How is the private sector involved with tourism in the park?

  • How does the park select tour operators/companies? Foreign or national?

  • Involvement in conservation?

  • Does the park/government have policies, regulations regarding private sector involvement in the park?

Class Exercise: Phase One: Assess Current Conditions

  • We are going to work together on this first phase – developing the beginnings of an ecotourism strategy or plan

  • Think about a park or protected area in your country – it could be a national park, a private reserve, a biosphere reserve

  • Write down the name of that area and keep it in mind as we assess the current conditions. We will share as a group as we go. Sections to complete and discuss:

    • Natural Resources

    • Visitor Information

    • Interactions with Local Communities

    • National Perspective

    • Private Sector Involvement

Phase Two: Determine Desirable Tourism Level and Create a Plan

  • Workshop(s)

    • Objectives:

      • Bring together representatives from many sectors (park representatives, local community, tourism industry, ministry of the environment/tourism, conservation community)

      • Build a coalition – form an ecotourism committee

      • Identify preferred ecotourism development scenario

      • Determine a strategy for pursuing scenario

Phase Two: Determine Desirable Tourism Level and Create a Plan

  • Ecotourism Strategy

    • List of activities needed to develop ecotourism in the park

    • Include a monitoring system – a dynamic process

Strategy Elements:

Park Natural Resources:

  • Set up ecological impact monitoring mechanisms

  • Conduct inventories for wildland sites, ecosystems, species

    Visitor Information and Use Levels:

  • Create a system to record visitor statistics

  • Plan a series of visitor surveys

    Park Infrastructure:

  • Create a master plan

  • List priority activities, implement (use local products, services)

Human Resources:

  • Decide skills needed, hire necessary personnel

  • Implement necessary training

    Park and Local Community Interactions:

  • Continue interactions with local communities – what role do they want to play

  • Community representatives on ecotourism committee; regular meetings with communities

    Regional Infrastructure and Interactions

  • Needed regional developments (roads, clinics, accommodations, etc).

  • Lobby appropriate groups (government, private sector) to develop needed infrastructure.

  • Coordinate with other nearby tourism attractions – “regional’ tourism

    National Perspective:

  • Name party (individual, agency, consortium) in charge of tourism management in the park

  • Determine an entrance fee (different for foreigners and nationals)

  • Determine budget allocations within the park

Private Sector Interactions:

  • Decide which tour operator is best to collaborate with; role of the tour operators.

  • Enlist tour operators to learn more abouttourism demand (demographics, etc. of visitors)

  • Decide how to promote and market the park.

    Your assignment: Who would you include as representatives in forming an ecotourism committee for your park or protected area and why?

Phase Three: Write an Ecotourism Strategy Document

  • Record, publish, and distribute the strategy document

    • Potential funding sources, donors, investors

    • Becomes the official ecotourism plan for the area

    • Changes must be approved by the ecotourism committee

    • Incorporated into the overall management plan for the protected area

    • May be useful to hire a consultant for this phase

“Ecotourism will be a successful industry only if natural resources are protected. And natural resources will be best protected if there is a management strategy in place, and park managers and local communities take a lead role in the process.” (Boo, 1993, p. 31)

References and Sources of Information

  • Boo, E. 1993. Ecotourism planning for protected areas. Pp. 15-31 in, Lindberg and Hawkins (eds) Ecotourism: A guide for planners and managers, vol. 1. North Bennington, VT: The Ecotourism Society.

  • Lane, M. C. 2000. Affirming new directions in planning theory: Comanagement of protected areas. Society and Natural Resources 14:657-671.

  • Lindberg, K. and D. E. Hawkins. 1993. Ecotourism: A guide for planners and managers, vol. 1. North Bennington, VT: The Ecotourism Society.

  • Lindberg, K.; M. E. Wood; and D. Engeldrum. 1998. Ecotourism: A guide for planners and managers, vol. 2. North Bennington, VT: The Ecotourism Society.

  • McNeely, J. A. 1994. Protected areas for the 21st century: working to provide benefits to society. Biodiversity and Conservation 3:390-405.

  • Ross, S. and G. Wall. 1999. Ecotourism: Toward congruence between theory and practice. Tourism Management 20:123-132.

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