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ECOTOURISM: Growing With Nature Poverty Alleviation and Environmental Conservation. By: Dr. Mina T. Gabor Chairman , Ecotourism Society of the Philippines Foundation President , Philippine Small and Medium Business Development Foundation, Inc. Honorary Consul , Republic of Maldives.

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ecotourism growing with nature poverty alleviation and environmental conservation

ECOTOURISM: Growing With NaturePoverty Alleviation and Environmental Conservation


Dr. Mina T. Gabor

Chairman, Ecotourism Society of the Philippines Foundation

President, Philippine Small and Medium Business Development Foundation, Inc.

Honorary Consul, Republic of Maldives

based on the generally accepted definition
Based on the generally accepted definition:

Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that will encourage environment education, appreciation and conservation, in order to sustain and improve the lives of the local community.


Early in 1992 Healey suggested the following clarificatory definitions

  • Nature/Eco/Sustainable Tourism Definitions
  • Nature Tourism denotes all tourism dependent on natural resources.
  • Ecotourism – denotes nature tourism that is responsible, conserves the environment, and sustains the well being of local people
  • 3. Sustainable tourism denotes all types of tourism, whether natural or human resources that contribute to sustainable development.
factors that led to ecotourism
Factors that Led to Ecotourism

Early writings on conservation and travel began to appear in the 70’s. Peter Thresher in 1972 and later David Western and Wesley Henry in 1979 suggested that tourism in national parks need not conflict with conservation uses. These three authors were all working in Kenya where tourism to national parks was already attracting significant foreign exchange.

In 1981 Thresher wrote his groundbreaking article on the economics of a lion in 1981. He concluded that over it’s lifetime a lion will draw US$ 515,000.00 in foreign exchange alive and well for wildlife viewing. In contrast its value was only US$ 8,500.00 as a hunting or sport resource and up to US$ 1325 as a commercial skin.
In the late 1980’s a number of trends coalesced. These new trends were also reflected in conservation reports, such as Elizabeth Boo’s 1990 report “Ecotourism: Potentials and Pitfalls”.
  • Karen Ziffer’s Ecotourism: The Uneasy Alliance stated that ecotourism’s goal is to capture a portion of the global travel market by bringing visitors to natural areas and using the revenues to fund local conservation and local economic development.
early tourism market
Early Tourism Market
  • The early ecotourism marketplace were the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, Kenya and NEPAL. In fact some of these places argued they were already using ecotourism principles for 20-30 years before we even began to use the word ecotourism.
  • In 1991, the Ecotourism Society in the U.S. was founded and defined ecotourism as “responsible tourism to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well being of local people”.
In 1992 the Philippines recognizing the importance of Ecotourism Bidded to host World Expo 2002 with the theme”Ecotourism Growing with Nature”
In 1998 The United Nations Declared 2002 as the:


environmental impact
Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of tourism development in natural areas is cause for serious concern. In some popular destinations, the natural attractions of the area- animal habitats, forests, reefs and wetlands – have been destroyed due to overbuilding and irresponsible development.

But today, many tour operators in destinations as diverse as Sabah, China, Philippines, Brazil, Belize and Antarctica are realizing the value of conservation and are working to improve the environment.

Ecotravelers can encourage those efforts by learning more about the environmental impact of tourism and by making informed travel choices that support conservation and preservation of the natural wonders of the earth.

what you can do to help preserve the environment

What you can do to help preserve the environment

Choose destinations that are not overcrowded or overdeveloped.

Select responsible tour operators and guides who are aware of

environments concerns and who contribute financially to

conservation and preservation efforts.

Seek out responsible, environmentally-sensitive accommodations

Follow all advisories, rules and regulations regarding

protected areas, water sources or wildlife habitats.

Take nothing in with you and leave behind only footprints.

If reviewing wildlife, never touch, chase or harass animals or marine


Support the work of conservation and preservation organizations.

global tourism trends

According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO)

a total of 924 million tourists visited various destinations worldwide in 2008.

Total foreign exchange receipts (excluding airfares) was about US$1.02 trillion.

30% of world export services

Of these numbers, nature travel or ecotourism as it is commonly called now, accounted for 20-30% of travelers.

stimulus to travel

Stimulus to Travel

Australia - $900 to qualified families,

“AUSTRALIA” movie “Greatest Job in the World”

New Zealand - $5.0 mill for Auz incentives

Vietnam – 50% discounts; VAT reduction;

VOA + exempt

China – Travel Coupons = domestic focus

India – Visit India 2009 = Buy 1 get 1 free


Japan – “Have more Fun” FIT China,

Taipei, HGK

Singapore – “Fly on US” ½ mill free


Chinese Taipei – Free gifts, vouchers,


Thailand – MegaFam trip; “Amazing

Value” MICE


National Tourism Policy Act 2009

  • 1 Tourism Promotions Board (TPB)
    • (Philippines Convention & Visitors Corp)
    • Market & Promote Philippines
  • 2 Tourism Infrastructure & Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA)
    • (Philippines Tourism Authority)
    • Designate, regulate, & supervise Tourism investment projects in Enterprise Zones

Source: WTTC Jan 2009


Barriers to Travel







Terrorism 1.89

Infectious diseases 1.91

Racial discrimination 2.10

Natural disaster 2.18

Airport delays & hassles 2.40



Travel Survey 2009


Deters me

From visiting


Consider Changing



Does Not affect

My decision

ecotourist profile
  • Gender:

Mostly male

  • Age:

young (89%) 35-54 years old

  • Education:

university graduate

  • Income:

high income bracket

  • Trip duration:

8-14 days

market for ecotourism


asian ecotourist
  • Will travel in larger groups
  • Will demand higher degree of comfort than the western ecotourists
  • Will be more interested in ecotour day trips while lodging and dining in comfortable resorts
ecotourism and poverty
  • Wild and natural areas are normally surrounded by marginal land and marginal communities.
  • strict limits to encroachment
  • low volume/high volume
  • Example: High volume/day excursions
  • international agencies are increasingly looking to
  • tourism to assist in poverty alleviation
  • Example: assets of the poor include
  • wildlife and culture
  • creation of employment at all skill levels
  • extent of linkages to existing local economy
  • extent of local/non-local ownership of tourist
  • enterprises (small scale and low risk)
philippines keeping pace with sustainable ecotourism development

PHILIPPINES: Keeping Pace with Sustainable Ecotourism Development

7,107 islands

5th in the world and 2nd in Asia in terms of endemic animals

25th in the world and 8th in Asia among plant-rich nations

17,500 kms. Of coastline

Philippines is part of the coral triangle together with Indonesia and Malaysia

30 million hectares of terrestial and wetland ecosystems

110 diverse dialects

Total visitor arrivals to the Philippines as of December 2008 was 3.091 million of these 22% were nature-based ecotourism travellers or around 660,000 and still growing.

Whale Shark Capital of the PhilippinesTime Magazine: “ The Best Animal Encounter Destination in Asia” 2004


Donsol once a sleepy town from the province of Sorsogon, south of Manila, now registers 11,000 tourists with P50 million in earnings. The main draw to visitors 65% foreigners are the whale shark (RhincodonTypus) locally known as Butanding, (not only to see but to have a chance to swim with the so-called giants of the sea.

First sighting in 1998 President Ramos issued an E.O. banning the taking, catching, selling, purchasing, poisoning, transporting or exporting of the whale sharks and manta rays.

The “Butanding” Ecotourism Development project was soon established.

when looking for accommodations note that a good ecolodge should
When looking for accommodations, note that a good ecolodge should:
  • Provide comfortable rooms and common areas that reflect local designs and heritage
  • Offer a natural setting that has been carefully preserved retaining indigenous landscaping
  • Use local, sustainably harvested and/or recycled building materials.
  • Purchase foodstuffs from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen.
  • Use renewable energy and environmental sensitive water and waste disposal systems.
  • Offer many opportunities for interaction with local owners, managers, staff and guides.
  • Employ and train local workers.
  • Offer a variety of excursions and educational materials to natural and cultural sites.
  • Support and be supported by the local community and businesses.
what you can do to help sustain local economies
What you can do to help sustain local economies
  • Choose locally-owned and operated lodges, hotels and tour guides.
  • Support tour companies and accommodations that employ local people and purchase local products.
  • Eat in local restaurants and shop in local markets.
  • When purchasing souvenirs, support the work of local craftspeople and artisans.
  • Pay access fees to protected sites. Your money supports local efforts to conserve those areas.
  • When paying local people for their goods or services, make every effort to offer a fair price.
what you can do help preserve the culture
What you can do help preserve the culture
  • Seek out tour operators and accommodations that are sensitive to the local culture
  • Educate yourself about your host country’s customs before travelling.
  • Remember that you are a guest and behave accordingly.
  • In many countries, modest dress is important. Check local conventions and dress appropriately.
  • Be sensitive to where, how and when you take photographs. Always ask first.
  • Be respectful of local people’s peace, privacy and land. Ask permission before entering buildings, shrines or sacred areas.
  • Learn a few words of the language and use them when meeting people. Speaking to local people in their language will demonstrate your respect for their culture.
  • Attend local cultural events. Your support helps performers preserve their heritage.
  • Learn more about the cultural impact of tourism and how to travel responsibly.
asian pent up desire to spend


Asian Pent Up Desire to Spend
  • Branded Goods
  • Luxury products
  • Medical Tourism
  • Gaming & Entertainment
  • Art & Culture
  • Sports



A New Thriller in Manila