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The Meaning of Eco-tourism & the Community’s Understanding. John Ap & Dora Pang The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Introduction. Eco-tourism Helps educate the community to protect & conserve the environment through travel

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The meaning of eco tourism the community s understanding l.jpg

The Meaning of Eco-tourism &the Community’s Understanding

John Ap & Dora Pang

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


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Introduction

Eco-tourism

  • Helps educate the community to protect & conserve the environment through travel

  • Create & maintain a sustainable environment for residents, tourists, & the next generation

  • Community should be aware of it & have

    positive attitudes towards it, otherwise depletion of the environment through mass tourism continues


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Issues

  • Numerous definitions & no agreed definition

  • Concept of “sustainability” has problems

  • Ignorance & abuse of the concept exists

    • any nature-based or nature-related tourism constitutes eco-tourism

    • marketing to the mass market

  • Ap & Mak (1999) suggested even people in the tourism industry do not understand what sustainable/ eco-tourism really means


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Definition of Eco-tourism

Martha Honey (1999) defined it as:

  • Travel to fragile, pristine & usually protected areas

  • Helps educate travelers

  • Provides funds for conservation

  • Directly benefits economic development

  • Political empowerment of local communities

  • Fosters respect for different cultures

  • Fosters respect for human rights


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To examine Hong Kong residents’ perceptions towards eco-tourism travel & their level of interest in it as a form of pleasure travel

Study Purpose


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Findings

  • Awareness of eco-tourism (n=241)

    • Heard of eco-tourism: 35%

    • Aware of eco-tourism & have taken part in ecotourism activities: 19%

  • Knowledge of eco-tourism (n=241)

    • Learning about the environment: 47%

    • Building environmental awareness:32%


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Awareness of Eco-tourism Objectives (n=72)

ObjectivePercentage

1) Learning about the environment64

2) Building environmental awareness43

3) Minimizing negative impacts on the

destinations visited21

4) Traveling to nature-based destinations 7

5) Providing direct financial benefits for

conservation 1

6) Political empowerment of local communities 0

7)Fostering respect for different cultures 0

8) Fostering respect for human rights 0


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  • Interest in Eco-tourism (n=241)

    • Interested in knowing more?

      Neutral48%

      Interested37%

    • Will take overseas trip in near future +

      interested in taking part in eco-tourism?

      Neutral35%

      Interested/ V.Interested57%


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  • Reasons for participating in eco-tourism?

    • Chance to get close to nature

    • Chance to understand the natural

      environment

  • Why not interested?

    • Lack of time

    • Boring

    • Lack of information


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  • Barriers in taking an eco-tourism trip:

    • Lack of information about destinations

    • Tour costs

    • Safety

    • No companions interested in going with me

    • Lack of time


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Discussion & Conclusion

  • Low level of awareness & knowledge of eco-tourism

  • Little or no recognition of the: financial; cultural; empowerment; & human rights aspects

  • Most showed indifference towards it

  • Respondents engaged in the tourism field possessed limited knowledge & it was no better than the general public’s knowledge  further education is obviously needed

  • There is market potential for eco-tourism


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