HANDBOOK OF ECOTOURISM IN PROTECTED
AREAS OF VIETNAM
FUNDESO
José Jiménez García-Herrera
Handbook of Ecotourism
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HANDBOOK OF ECOTOURISM IN PROTECTED
AREAS OF VIETNAM
1. Introduction ........................
Handbook of Ecotourism
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4.2.3 Energy management .....................................................................
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HANDBOOK OF ECOTOURISM IN PROTECTED
AREAS OF VIETNAM
Countryside development and ecotouris...
Handbook of Ecotourism
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The structure of the handbook contains two parts; a conceptual one,
dedicated to previous ...
Handbook of Ecotourism
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1. INTRODUCTION
1.1 Biodiversity and Conservation
With regard to biodiversity, Vietnam can...
Handbook of Ecotourism
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 New bird species have been added to the bird list of Vietnam:
Garrulax ngoclinhensis and...
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species of collembola, 145 species of acartia, 200 species of oligochaeta, 307
species of ...
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 50 sea snakes, 4 tortoises, 16 sea mammals.
Vietnam is considered a nation of various an...
Handbook of Ecotourism
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 Rapid population growth (1.8% annually on average) leads to free
migration and developm...
Handbook of Ecotourism
Página 11
Vietnam, 2003). It is estimated that 58% and 73% of rare and endemic plants
and animals r...
Handbook of Ecotourism
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- Using land and planned forest areas under strict protection in
national parks for leasi...
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Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, provinces and companies also
invest in touris...
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1.2.2 Definition of Ecotourism and Ecotourism development views in
PAs
A growing segment ...
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resources, or, in other words, to avoid deteriorating protected areas due to an
inadequat...
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 Generate sustainable and equitable income for the local communities
and for as many oth...
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PARTICIPANTS in the Stream on Building Broader Support for Protected
Areas at the Vth Wor...
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2. ECOTOURISM AS A CONSERVATION TOOL
2.1 Previous considerations
As it happens in other p...
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visit to a protected area is a challenge under the perspective of environmental
education...
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the activities that the ecotourist will carry out during their his/her stay in
Vietnam. S...
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Ecotourism companies should focus its attention on the ones that work in
protected areas,...
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2.3.1 The role of Ecotourism in protected areas
The treatment of nature tourism in protec...
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 It can provide financial resources for the conservation of other
protected natural area...
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But ecotourism has also an economic value of its own. Such value has
several components (...
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vehicles; excessive infrastructure development for the visit and
lodging installations (r...
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However, even with low levels of trampling, most of the vegetation cover is lost
and the ...
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Environmental factors
Through control exerted by means of recreational use site selection...
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concentrated within them, represents a contention method very well used in
some parks of ...
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interaction, optimal for the mutual resolution of management and operative
problems. Work...
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impacts. We recommend developing and applying a process of ecotourism
monitoring formed b...
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The first methods created to deal with tourism impacts were based upon
the concept of car...
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tourism, and that the key target of visitor monitoring is to keep the impacts at a
predet...
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With the management of public use in protected areas we face a typical
management paradox...
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QUALITY UPGRADING AND LEARNING (QUAL) PROCESS
TO DETERMINE RECREATIONAL CARRYING CAPACITY...
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These methodologies have been well received by a variety of
researchers (Boo, 1995; Harro...
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The need is evident to combine the demands of the ecotourism industry‘s
market with the e...
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2.4.6 Creating economic incentives for conservation
Several fundraising systems are avail...
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for camping, fishing, diving and similar articles. The use of a tax per bed can
also be c...
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2.5 Ecotourism and local communities
Getting the community involved is an extremely compl...
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2.6 Ecotourism and NGOs
Non government organizations play an important role in ecotourism...
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local communities, if ecotourism is to become an economic reality, and not a
more or less...
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3. ECOTOURISM PLANNING
3.1 Ecotourism planning
Ecotourism cannot be developed everywhere....
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6. Are there reasonable expectations of having the necessary funding
available for the de...
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 Means of access and telecommunications‘ network.
b) Requirements for ecotourism:
 Land...
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This section must revise the natural resources (species, communities,
ecosystems, biophys...
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 Who manages the area? Is the management system effective?
 How much staff does the pro...
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the roads to your site? Is the lack of accessibility an obstacle for the
growth of touris...
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam
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Transcript of "Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam"

  1. 1. HANDBOOK OF ECOTOURISM IN PROTECTED AREAS OF VIETNAM FUNDESO José Jiménez García-Herrera
  2. 2. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 2 HANDBOOK OF ECOTOURISM IN PROTECTED AREAS OF VIETNAM 1. Introduction .................................................................................................................. 6 1.1 Biodiversity and Conservation ......................................................................... 6 1.2 Ecotourism...................................................................................................... 12 1.2.1 Current development of ecotourism in NPs and other PAs........................... 12 1.2.2 Definition of Ecotourism and Ecotourism development views in PAs......... 14 1.3 Ecotourism requirements................................................................................ 15 2. Ecotourism as a conservation tool........................................................................... 18 2.1 Previous considerations.................................................................................. 18 2.2 Ecotourism stakeholders................................................................................. 19 2.3 Ecotourism and protected areas...................................................................... 21 2.3.1 The role of Ecotourism in protected areas.............................................. 22 2.3.2 Benefits of Ecotourism........................................................................... 22 2.3.3 Negative environmental impact.............................................................. 24 2.3.4 Measures to minimize environmental impacts ....................................... 28 2.3.5 Carrying capacity.................................................................................... 29 2.4 Government organizations and ecotourism .................................................... 35 2.4.1 Coordination of development in the tourist industry.............................. 35 2.4.2 Promoting planning ................................................................................ 35 2.4.3 Monitoring.............................................................................................. 36 2.4.4 Marketing aids........................................................................................ 36 2.4.5 Supporting education, research and training .......................................... 36 2.4.6 Creating economic incentives for conservation...................................... 37 2.5 Ecotourism and local communities................................................................. 39 2.6 Ecotourism and NGOs.................................................................................... 40 2.7 Ecotourism and tourism industry.................................................................... 40 3. Ecotourism planning................................................................................................... 42 3.1 Ecotourism planning....................................................................................... 42 3.2 Previous site requirements.............................................................................. 43 3.3 Resource inventory and diagnosis.................................................................. 44 3.4 Plan monitoring .............................................................................................. 52 4. Ecotourism management ............................................................................................ 54 4.1 Ecotourism activities ...................................................................................... 54 4.1.1 Previous visitor instruction..................................................................... 54 4.1.2 Visitor Centers........................................................................................ 55 4.1.3 Interpretive paths.................................................................................... 57 4.1.4 Wildlife observation activities................................................................ 59 4.1.5 Ecotourism guides .................................................................................. 60 4.2 Ecotourism lodging ........................................................................................ 63 4.2.1 Selecting the site..................................................................................... 63 4.2.2 Architectural and building design........................................................... 64
  3. 3. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 3 4.2.3 Energy management ............................................................................... 68 4.2.4 Water management................................................................................. 69 4.2.5 Sewage management .............................................................................. 70 4.2.6 Solid waste management ........................................................................ 70 4.3 The role of local communities........................................................................ 72 4.3.1 Benefits for conservation........................................................................ 73 4.3.2 Benefits for local communities............................................................... 74 4.3.3 Risks and impact reduction .................................................................... 76 4.3.4 Community partaking............................................................................. 78 4.3.5 Relations between community and business .......................................... 79 4.3.6 Interaction between visitors and local culture........................................ 80 4.4 Quality and client care service........................................................................ 81 4.4.1 Previous activity preparation.................................................................. 81 4.4.2 Visitors’ expectations ............................................................................. 83 4.4.3 Offer flexibility....................................................................................... 84 4.4.4 Visitor’s suggestions and comments ...................................................... 84 4.4.5 Staff training........................................................................................... 86 4.4.6 Quality plans........................................................................................... 89 4.5 Promoting ecotourism projects....................................................................... 89 4.5.1 Market studies ........................................................................................ 89 4.5.2 Promotional programs ............................................................................ 93 4.5.3 Team work.............................................................................................. 98 5. Conclusions ................................................................................................................ 99 6. References and bibliography .................................................................................... 100
  4. 4. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 4 HANDBOOK OF ECOTOURISM IN PROTECTED AREAS OF VIETNAM Countryside development and ecotourism are priority issues for the Spanish cooperation in Vietnam alongside the conservation of the environment and natural resources. From the start of its activities in this country, FUNDESO has worked and continues to do so with a particular interest in these subjects. The project ―Training for the development of ecotourism in the protected areas of North Vietnam‖, financed by the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation, is based upon these topics. One of its main parts is to issue a handbook on the development and management of ecotourism, seen as a practical tool for the daily use of all the parties involved. Currently, ecotourism plays an important role in many nature conservation projects and in the development of landscape. The ecotourism objectives related to protected areas are the following:  Ecological and cultural compatibility of tourism development as a basic condition.  To help finance the management of the protected area.  To generate income for local population.  To promote the acceptance of nature protection as an indirect result of economic effects. The reason for such strategy, mainly oriented to nature protection, is the extremely delicate situation of protected areas (as well as of the protection of the nature in general) in developing countries. The financial difficulties, the poverty and the non-acceptance of protected areas by the local communities have created a general agreement in the conservation sector towards the need of dealing with this issue. This can be seen in examples, such as Convention on Biodiversity (Article 10), or national strategies, action plans and national reports to develop the Convention. Ecotourism can play an important role in this scenario. However, it cannot be used as a marketing tool, to make benefits taking advantage of the social concern about the environment, nor trying to sell it as an ideal solution for some communities in need to diversify their economic resources. It is to be regarded as a specific attention to a part of a market in order to make it viable while keeping the environment and the natural resources a priority, both, inside protected areas and in general.
  5. 5. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 5 The structure of the handbook contains two parts; a conceptual one, dedicated to previous questions and definitions as well as planning, and a second part, about effective ecotourism management. It should be stressed that technical work and political action are both key to effective ecotourism management. And such conviction is the guideline of this handbook.
  6. 6. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 6 1. INTRODUCTION 1.1 Biodiversity and Conservation With regard to biodiversity, Vietnam can be considered one of countries fascinating scientists. As released in the latest reports in the past ten years (Nguyen Xuan Huan, 2003), new species have been found in different areas of Vietnam. Flora  7 new species of plants and 1 genus: Livistona halongensis; Impatiens halongensis, Chirieta hiepii, Ch. modesta, Ch. halongensis, Paraboea halongensis; and Alpinia calcicola were found in Halong World Heritage site in 2000.  5 new macro algae species: Sargassum tsengii, S. bangmeianae, S. baorenii, S. hieui, S. buui were discovered in the coastal areas of Vietnam in 2001.  9 new seeweed species: Neomartensia flabelliformis, Gibsmithia hawaiinensis, Dictyurus occidentalis, Dasya crouaniana, Caulerpa nummularia, C. urvilliana, Tydemania expeditionis, Udotea flabellum, U. velurina were found in Truong Sa Islands. Fauna  In the period 1999 - 2000, three new fish species were found in Vietnam. They are Pareuchiloglanis songdaensis, Opsariichthys songmaensis, Opsariichthys dienbienensis. Sao la Pseudoryx nghetinhensis
  7. 7. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 7  New bird species have been added to the bird list of Vietnam: Garrulax ngoclinhensis and Actinodura sodangonum in Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve (Kon Tum); in Van Long moutains (Gia Vien - Ninh Binh).  What astonishes the world in the period between 1992 and 1997 are three big mammals and three small mammals found in Vietnam: - Saola ( Pseudoryx nghetinhensis ), 1992 - Giant muntjac ( Megamuntiacus vuquangensis ),1993 - Truong Son muntjac (Canimuntiacus truongsonensis), 1996 - Pu Hoat muntjac (Muntiacus puhoatensis), 1997 - Tay Nguyen civet (Viverra tainguyenensis ), 1997 - Khting Vor (Pseudonovibos spiralis), in Central Highlands in 1994. However, latest research reveals the need to check the reability of its discovery in Vietnam.  Some animals that have been considered extinct were caught in November 1988 by camera traps in Cat Tien National Park, it is Javan Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus).  A population of 135 sarus crane (Crus antigone) were seen in wetland meadow in Kien Luong Nature Reserve (Kien Giang) in 1999 - 2000. Accordingly, it can be estimated that the number of sarus crane in Vietnam is about 500 – 1,500, which is the largest one in the world. New statistics of new species added to the scientific world and Vietnam as mentioned above show that the fauna and flora in Vietnam have not completely discovered and they are various in forest ecology, fresh water ecology, marine and coastal ecology. Forest ecology: According to the latest statistics, Vietnam has more than 13,766 plants, of which 10% are endemic. There are nearly 300 mammal species and subspecies, 840 bird species, 120 amphibians, 260 reptiles, 5,155 insects, 113
  8. 8. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 8 species of collembola, 145 species of acartia, 200 species of oligochaeta, 307 species of Nematoda; 10% of these are endemic mammals, birds and fish. Fresh water ecosystem: Fresh water bodies possess various kinds of plants and animals, including alga, weed, wetland plants, invertebrates and fish.  Alga (Phytoplankton, Phytobenthos): 1,402 species are discovered.  So far 792 invertebrate species have been found. Noticeably, among Crustacea, 54 species and 8 breeds are firstly seen in Vietnam. In particular, among 57 species of crabs and shrimps, 6 breeds and 31 species (accounting for 54.4%) are firstly discovered. So are 43 species (29.2%) out of 147 shells and three breeds, which are typical for Vietnam and Indochina. This proves the high diversity and endemicity of these species in Vietnam.  There are 546 species and subspecies of domestic fresh water fish of 228 breeds, 57 families and 18 orders. The number of fresh water fish species of Vietnam is estimated to likely rise to 700. Marine and coastal ecology:  Research on Vietnam marine so far has discovered 10,837 marine species of the following groups:  Plants: 537 alga species, 667 seaweeds, 15 sea grasses, 94 species of salt marsh of 72 branches and 58 families.  Floating animals: 468 species.  Benthos: 6,377 species, 225 sea shrimps, 298 hard corals of Scleractinia of 76 breeds and 16 families.  Seafish: 2,038 species of 717 breeds and 178 families.
  9. 9. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 9  50 sea snakes, 4 tortoises, 16 sea mammals. Vietnam is considered a nation of various and abundant natural resources, ranking one of 16 countries of highest biodiversity in the world. Several reasons have caused the deterioration of its natural resources and biodiversity loss, especially the reduction of rare species of high economic values. According to the estimates, about 28% of mammals, 10% of birds and 21 of reptiles are threatened (The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 2003). The Red Book of Vietnam published in 2003 lists 450 rare plants and 407 rare animals as endangered species at different levels. The biodiversity loss in Vietnam can be mainly caused by:  The degradation and loss of habitat: deforestation activities such as logging, flash and burn cultivation, reclamation for agriculture land, wars, natural disasters such as floods, storms, droughts, climate changes and pest. The forest area in 1943 was 14.3 million ha with the coverage of 43%, however the total area of natural and plantation forests now is 9.3 million with the coverage of 28% (Ministry of Forestry, 1995). The development of road systems, irrigation systems of dikes and lakes, hydropower stations and power line systems has reduced the area of forests, separating ecologies and making it easier for people to access forests which results in considerable threatens to biodiversity.  Overexploitation, disastrous exploitation and unsustainable biodiversity resource use prompts from the pressure of population growth, poverty and commercial purposes.  Environmental pollution is caused by industrial waste, mineral exploitation, agriculture chemicals, urban waste, oil pollution in estuaries.  Exotic fauna and flora importation is out of control. These occurrences come from the following reasons:
  10. 10. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 10  Rapid population growth (1.8% annually on average) leads to free migration and development of new economic zones. Deforestation in Central Highlands to plant industrial crops and coastal mangrove forest clearing for marine husbandry results in rapid reduction in forest area.  People living in areas of high biodiversity still live on exploiting natural resources, their economic condition is low and the number of poor households remains high.  People‘s awareness of natural resource protection and biodiversity conservation remains low. Their participation in biodiversity conservation is not considerable and effective.  The enforcement of legal regulations regarding biodiversity conservation is not effective because of the shortage of monitoring and coordination among sectors and local agencies of different levels in implementing guidelines and policies. Biodiversity Conservation in the form of both in-situ and ex-situ draws much interest of Vietnam very early. This can be seen from the early establishment of Cuc Phuong National Park in 1962 and other botanical gardens and zoological gardens. Especially rescue centers are set up in Cuc Phuong National Park, Soc Son, Da Nang and Hochiminh City and so are stations that functions as protecting fauna and flora genetic sources for Vietnam Being aware of the importance of biodiversity, Vietnam sighed an international convention on biodiversity in 1993 and the President of Vietnam approved the convention in October 1994. The Prime Minister also approved the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) on 22 December 1995. Vietnam signed the Convention on International Trading in Endangered Species (CITES) on 20 January 1994. The strategy on protected area management to the year 2010 was approved by the government 17 September 2003. The Central Truong Son biodiversity conservation program during 2004-2020 was issued on 22 March 2004. It can be said that Vietnam has involved in most of international conventions and issued legal documents, ordinances, regulations, decrees etc. on biodiversity conservation. So far Vietnam has established a system of protected areas, including 68 wetland protected areas, 15 marine protected areas, 126 special use forests in which there are 27 national parks, 49 nature reserves, 11 species and habitat protected areas and 39 landscape protected areas (The Socialist Republic of
  11. 11. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 11 Vietnam, 2003). It is estimated that 58% and 73% of rare and endemic plants and animals respectively are located in protected areas (VNPPA, 2001). A great challenge to biodiversity conservation in Vietnam is the disastrous activities of local communities living in and around protected areas. They hunt and trade wildlife as well as collect timber, firewood and non-timber products. Burning beehives causing several forest fires is a serous threaten to biodiversity. The reality of establishing protected areas has led to the subsistence loss of local communities and the illegal exploitation of natural resources remains a problem. Consequently, it is very important to have policies for buffer zones to ensure the balance between conservation, economic development and life stability of local people. It is necessary to enhance and organize biodiversity awareness education among local communities and commune authorities. At the same time there is a need to develop and complete institutions and organization to attract the participation of local communities living in and out of buffer zones of protected areas in biodiversity conservation and ecotourism. Protected areas serve the purposes of biodiversity conservation, scientific research and recreation. Tourism brings a considerable income to support conservation and local community development. In order to further develop tourism in special use forest, the government issued the following articles in the Regulation on Special Use Forest Management approved on 11 January 2001:  The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development issues or coordinates with other ministries and relevant agencies to issue regulations on tourism organization (ecotourism, cultural tourism, recreation) based on the principle of encouraging tourism activities that do not impact nature conservation and the environment;  Tourism activities within special use forests must be conducted in the frame of projects approved by special use forest management boards based on the principle of not impacting the special use forest conservation purposes;  Special use forest management boards are able to organize or sign contracts to let organizations, households and individuals organize services or ecotourism.
  12. 12. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 12 - Using land and planned forest areas under strict protection in national parks for leasing and contracting purposes that may change the natural forest subsequence is restricted. - All tourism activities that use or create the income must follow the existing financial management regulation; most of the income from tourism activities is returned to special use forest management, protection and development;  Excursions and tourism activities in special use forests must be organized by the management boards or co-organized with other cultural and tourism agencies. 1.2 Ecotourism 1.2.1 Current development of ecotourism in NPs and other PAs Despite a great potential, ecotourism in protected areas in Vietnam is just at the beginning of development. Most of activities are spontaneous without specific products and target visitors. There has been no investment in advertising, researching the market and technologies serving ecotourism. Both contents and manners of organizing ecotourism in national parks and other protected areas belong to ecotourism-oriented nature tourism. The ecotourism development in protected areas in Vietnam is not corrective to its potential. The main reason for constraint of ecotourism development is the absence of collaboration between authorities and various sectors in the development of policies and ecotourism planning. Tourism industry is related to numerous sectors, so it requires a close cooperation between stakeholders for its development. Most of tourism activities in PAs are spontaneous without specific products and target markets. There has been no investment in promoting and developing technologies serving ecotourism (Le Van Lanh, 1999). Considering both contents and manners of organizing tourism in protected areas of Vietnam is belong to ecotourism-oriented nature tourism. Some national parks have their own tourism sections or centers for ecotourism and environmental education to operate their tourism activities. Research and plan for ecotourism development have been conducted in some national parks such as Cuc Phuong, Ba Be, Ba Vi, Tam Dao, Bach Ma, Cat Tien, Tram Chim, etc. Previously, tourism infrastructure in national parks was channeled by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. At present, the
  13. 13. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 13 Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, provinces and companies also invest in tourism infrastructure in national parks. Thua Thien Hue Province and the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism invest 11 billion dongs in underground power cables to the mountains to avoid affecting 50 ha of forest and the landscape of Bach Ma National Park. The park is now mobilizing capitals to build nature trails, improve waterfalls, set up water supply systems for tourism sites. In Ba Vi National Park, many companies are allocated forest areas for protection and management to serve tourism development. Thanks to the financial investment and protection, the forest area has been recovered and developed more rapidly that those areas out of tourism sites. At present, visitors to national parks are able to access forest ecologies, plants and some insects only. They rarely see wildlife in forest. It is only in Cat Tien National Park when some visitors luckily see some big mammals like deer, wild pigs, civets, weasels, porcupines at night. Cuc Phuong and Ba Vi National Parks have set up sub-wild areas to protect animals and serve tourism purposes. The primate rescue center is an attractive site to visitors in Cuc Phuong National Park. Wetland ecological areas with various species of birds and aquatic entities also draw great attention from visitors. Xuan Thuy wetland reserve with mangrove forest ecology are habitats of crabs, shrimps and hundreds of bird species, especially black-faced spoonbill. Van Long wetland reserve (Ninh Binh province) possesses limestone forest ecology. Visitors can watch groups of Delacour langurs and water organisms, water birds such as common coost. Tram Chim National Park is a nature protected area of Dong Thap Muoi ecology with the endemic species of sarus crane that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Well known marine areas such as Cat Ba, Ha Long, Hon Mun, Con Dao and Phu Quoc have been making their plans on marine resource use to develop attractive tourism services. To introduce to visitors natural resources, especially their fauna and flora, Cuc Phuong, Cat Ba, Ba Be, Bai Tu Long, Bach Ma and Cat Tien have built their own visitor centers/information centers and nature trails with interpretation signs. Through exhibits such as specimens, ecological models and information and objects displayed in these centers, visitors are aware of biodiversity and the significance of national parks. Botanical gardens in national parks have various plants that visitors can see without trying hard to discover in forests. This is also a good place for environmental education for visitors.
  14. 14. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 14 1.2.2 Definition of Ecotourism and Ecotourism development views in PAs A growing segment can be found within the tourism sector; that of nature tourism and/or ecotourism, the annual growth rate of which is between 10 and 30%, while traditional tourism grows an average of 4% (Reingold, 1993). But let us set bounds to the concepts we are using. Nature tourism is the tourism based on visiting natural resources, and is closely linked to ecotourism, as it is based upon the same resource, but it doesn‘t necessarily involve conservation or sustainability. This is the kind of tourism that exists currently in many natural areas without the establishment of a plan, or the promotion of conservation measures. As for ecotourism, the most accurate and complete definition from my point of view would be that of Honey (1999) ―the travel to fragile and pristine areas, usually protected, with the objective of causing low impact and at a low scale. It helps educate the visitor; it provides funds for environment conservation; it directly benefits economic development and sovereignty of local communities, and it promotes the respect for different cultures and for human rights‖. Protected areas contain many of the most important tourist attractions in the world. These attractions can either be one or more rare, endemic or gaudy flora or fauna species, abundant wildlife, high diversity, singular or spectacular geomorphologic formations, or historic or contemporary cultural expressions, unique in a natural context. This makes them good tourism receivers as long as these attractions can be offered. Therefore, the link between tourism and the (well) protected areas is unavoidable. In Vietnam, an important part of the tourism is attracted by the news about the biodiversity of the country, recent fauna findings, and wonderful sights. However, at this stage it is superfluous to think only in terms of ecotourism, since, if looked upon with its most restrictive definition, the ―ecotourism‖ visitors that will be received by Vietnam‘s protected areas in the near future will only be a part of them all. A large proportion of the tourists attracted by a natural environment are not actually looking for a ―total immersion‖ experience, but wish to stay in a city or make short visits to observe nature. Although such experiences are not generally considered ecotourism, their effective management can provide a way of living to a relatively large number of people. Obviously, we cannot let trees prevent us from seeing the forest by adopting an extremely reductionist point of view. The need is clear to organize nature tourism in order to make it really sustainable and close to the ideological definition of ecotourism, as the most important challenge we face is to prevent that the different participating agents degrade the potential tourist
  15. 15. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 15 resources, or, in other words, to avoid deteriorating protected areas due to an inadequate approach of tourism. This requires a strategic plan to develop tourism, that should identify the different types of places, product addresses, development requirements, management restrictions and planned investments. A very important aspect to consider while designing is the need for local population to see a direct relation between the protection of resources and the benefits that flow towards the community. Lastly, it is necessary to highlight that ecotourism studies usually refer only to that which is demanded from the visitor. Actually, an ecotourism project must be properly conceived and organized, and should furnish an attractive offer to be able to meet the demand. Tourists play the main part in ecotourism projects, and therefore should be the major focus of attention. One should delve into the tourist‘s (in this case the ecotourist‘s) opinion about the installations and the obtained experience, in order to improve and adjust the programs. This fully connects with what have been pointed out by several authors (Quach Mai Hong, 2003) to be the main difficulties for the development of ecotourism in Vietnam: (i) lack of knowledge about ecotourism (ii) lack of training in ecotourism staff;(iii) difficulty in achieving environmental protection in the face of poverty and (iv) lack of funds to improve tourism installations. 1.3 Ecotourism requirements Ecotourism represents an excellent way to help both, the local communities and the protected areas involved. It is an ideal component in a sustainable development strategy in which natural resources can be used as tourism attractions without damaging the nature of the area. As an important tool for protected areas‘ management and for development, ecotourism must be developed adapting to circumstances. The following elements are crucial for the success of an ecotourism initiative. Ecotourism must (Drumm, 2002):  Have a low impact on the natural resources of the protected areas.  Involve participants (individuals, communities, ecotourist, tourism operators and government institutions) in the planning, development, carrying out and follow up stages.  Respect local cultures and traditions.
  16. 16. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 16  Generate sustainable and equitable income for the local communities and for as many other participants as possible, including private tour operators.  Generate income for the conservation of protected areas.  Educate all parts involved in their role in conservation. Some authors (Denman, 2001) complete these requirements with the need to add to the visitor‘s experience the knowledge and appreciation of the native culture. However, a basic aspect is frequently forgotten, the consideration of ecotourism as an economic activity based on traveling to or visiting natural areas with the purpose of enjoying and appreciating nature. There can not be ecotourism if there is no (well preserved) nature to enjoy, as well as a nature-based attraction to offer.
  17. 17. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 17 PARTICIPANTS in the Stream on Building Broader Support for Protected Areas at the Vth World Parks Congress, in Durban, South Africa (8-17 September 2003): RECOMMEND that the tourism sector, including appropriate institutions, associations, and operators, work together with protected area managers and communities to ensure that tourism associated with protected areas, in both developed and developing countries: a) Respects the primacy of the role of conservation for protected areas b) Makes tangible and equitable financial contributions to conservation and to protected area management. c) Ensures tourism contributes to local economic development and poverty reduction through:  Support to local small and medium sized enterprises  Employment of local people  Purchasing of local goods and services  Fair and equitable partnerships with local communities; d) Uses relevant approaches that encourage appropriate behaviour by visitors (e.g., environmental education, interpretation, and marketing) e) Uses ecologically and culturally appropriate technologies, infrastructure, facilities and materials in and or near protected areas f) Monitors, reports and mitigates negative impacts and enhances positive effects of tourism g) Communicates the benefits of protected areas and the imperative for conservation h) Promotes the use of guidelines, codes of practice and certification programmes RECOMMEND that key decision-makers work with the conservation community, including the IUCN WCPA Task Force for Tourism and Protected Areas, to ensure that tourism a) Supports the sustainable use of natural and cultural heritage b) Supports local and indigenous community development and economic opportunities  Provides political and financial support for the establishment, extension, and effective management of protected areas  Supports implementation of relevant international agreements, national legislation, and guidelines on protected areas  Fosters respect and stewardship for natural and cultural heritage through visitation and education  Promotes the use of culturally appropriately participatory processes THEREFORE RECOMMEND to key international and national agencies, local authorities and the private sector to support research and development to: a) Understand the links between tourism, conservation and community development b) Establish reliable data on protected area tourism c) Determine optimum types and levels of protected area visitation d) Promote appropriate monitoring and evaluation e) Promote effective management Foments the creation of politics on tourism in the protected areas f) Encourage policy development on protected area tourism Offer proper services of education and interpretation g) Provide appropriate tourism training for protected area personnel h) Provide effective interpretation and education i) Understand visitor experiences, behaviour and impact j) Develop appropriate tools and techniques for sustainable finance of protected areas through tourism ENCOURAGE dissemination of these recommendations and coordination of their implementation by the IUCN WCPA Task Force for Tourism and Protected Areas
  18. 18. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 18 2. ECOTOURISM AS A CONSERVATION TOOL 2.1 Previous considerations As it happens in other parts of the world, tourism in Vietnam will end up playing an important role in protected areas, and these will, for one reason or other, end up needing the financial contribution that tourism can generate. Since this conservation-tourism binomial must work in a regulated context, such as protected areas, development guidelines should obviously be established. These guidelines will, in the end, constitute a fundamental part in the concept of nature tourism, and their final objective will be the creation of an ecotourism industry, with all its characterizing features. Ecotourism is thus, above all, a strategic alliance between tourism and the environment (Buckley, 1999), also described by the Ecologically Sustainable Development Working Group on Tourism (ESDWG 1991) when it suggested that ―the idea of a symbiotic relationship between tourism and the environment is foreseen in ecotourism‖. This political and economic alliance must involve all public and private agents and NGO (Non Government Organizations) in order to be really effective, since, alike any business activity, it is difficult to launch, and more so to keep running in a sustainable way. The double face of ecotourism, practically and theorically at the same time, calls for flexible management, which adapts to reality and coexists with it. Having the objectives clear is as important as bearing in mind that they cannot be turned into dogmas. It is obvious that not all public use in protected areas is going to be ecotourism; however, this public use will have to be controlled, managed and channeled to make it compatible with the conservation of the natural resources. The same can be said regarding the duration of tourist‘s stays, usually a classic reference to measure ecotourism. And so, under the perspective of biodiversity conservation there is very little difference between tourists coming to be inspired by nature for an hour or for a week. Moreover, the tourist that comes for a ―total immersion‖ experience flies in the same plane, uses the same roads, stays at the same hotel, and eats in the same restaurants as those who come to be inspired during just an hour. At this stage we should notice that what needs to be supported are ecotourism initiatives and not other forms of massive tourism; even though we can not underestimate other formulas that do not exactly match the profile classic ecotourism; the challenge is to manage these visits in ways compatible with the conservation of the protected area and look within them for profits for the local community. Also, we cannot forget that any
  19. 19. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 19 visit to a protected area is a challenge under the perspective of environmental education. In this country where nature is one of its main calling cards, all tourism must be considered as a bet for biodiversity conservation; and precisely in as much as management is properly focused, flexible and with instruments to direct future business activities, will we have achieved our objectives. 2.2 Ecotourism stakeholders To begin the planning of the ecotourism project, we must know the stakeholders that will be involved and be aware of how they are going to influence the decisions taken at the beginning and during the project. These stakeholders are not isolated entities, but a set of institutions, groups or individuals that must work together, integrating the benefits furnished by each one. A –non exhaustive- list of these key stakeholders is as follows: Relevant ministries and agencies The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in coordination with Ministry of Fishery, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Finance, and Vietnam Administration of Tourism develop and pass legislation upholding the principles of cooperation and identify responsibilities for ecotourism in Pas, and develop a mechanism for sharing benefits from tourism and investing in the management and conservation of biodiversity in PAs. The Management Boards The Management Boards are responsible for managing all ecotourism activities in PAs. Their main tasks are managing and protecting diversity as well as protecting the nature in general. Travel agencies International and local travel agencies offer packages to the ecotourist, in which the ecotourism company will have the opportunity to promote its project by negotiating with them. The agencies will make the bookings and will design
  20. 20. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 20 the activities that the ecotourist will carry out during their his/her stay in Vietnam. Sometimes, a fee must be negotiated in order to be included in the services of a travel agency. Tourist guides Guides are basic in an ecotourism project. They are the face of the company in front of the customer. They need to be well trained, sensible to the needs of the customer and with good communication skills to make the activity and unforgettable experience. Along the handbook, many of the tools guides must use for the success of the project are considered, as well as the different company procedures, associations, local basis, etc. Financial institutions Both national and international financial bodies are going to receive demands for funds to initiate the projects. Ecotourism companies will need to contact public and private bodies related with tourism in order to obtain the information about institutions than can support the project. VNAT (Vietnam National Administration for Tourism) VNAT is the public agency for tourism in Vietnam. It has an active role in the management of tourism in protected areas. This institution is crucial to adopt and circulate at a national scale an adequate planning and design of ecotourism activity, although the creation of a forum for inter-departmental discussion with the MARD is a must, in order to agree upon the criteria and to carry out a truly sustainable management of tourism. Local communities Local communities inside and in the surroundings of the protected areas must actively participate in ecotourism management. Local residents will be the people in direct contact with the tourists. Many times they are not prepared for it, so they must receive training and aids to direct the businesses. Local authority must play a main part in ecotourism, as it must balance the different interests to ensure sustainable development. Some authors (Vourc‘h & Denman, 2003) advise local authorities to consider the development of a sustainable tourism strategy in the context of Agenda 21. Non Governmental Organizations
  21. 21. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 21 Ecotourism companies should focus its attention on the ones that work in protected areas, as they have experience in their management. The NGO can provide information and give technical support in the development of the project. NGO linked to development activities can use ecotourism as a tool to promote the development of communities neighboring the protected areas. Tour operators Tour operators are organisms that specialize in dealing with tourist packages. The company manager can establish a partnership with them to provide a joint service. Receptive tourism operators, as the term itself says, are those domestic ones which receive the ecotourists. Emissive tourism operators are those working in the tourist‘s country of origin, promoting his/her traveling to another country. Tourists Tourists play the main role in ecotourism projects and the greatest attention should be focused upon them. It is crucial to know what the tourist, in this case ―the ecotourist‖, thinks of the installations and the experience in general, in order to improve and adjust the programs and the infrastructure. They must be taken into account from the very planning of the project to the carrying out and control of it. We have to insist: tourists play the main part in the project. Forgetting it will mean failure. 2.3 Ecotourism and protected areas One of the differentiating features of ecotourism is that it takes place in pristine, beautiful and little altered areas. And it is obvious that most of the places that meet these requirements nowadays are protected areas. In countries with low population density we still find possibilities to carry out ecotourism activities in non-protected areas, although most nature tourism- ecotourism happens in National Parks. Despite this, we have to insist that the requirement for these activities is not to happen in areas of high biodiversity, but in areas of ―natural environment‖.
  22. 22. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 22 2.3.1 The role of Ecotourism in protected areas The treatment of nature tourism in protected areas must be completely integrated in territorial management, as much as wildlife management, threatened species‘ recovery or environmental education are. In the first place, because it is unavoidable, as tourism ends up being such a powerful transforming agent that channeling it is necessary in order to guarantee the conservation of resources. Secondly, because it is very convenient, as it can be used as mechanism to obtain income for the protected area and/or for the local communities. Both goals must be managed from the same administrative realm, and under the same perspective, as advised by the Durban Congress, so that tourism can become an instrument for conservation and support of the protected areas. 2.3.2 Benefits of Ecotourism The existence of ecotourism derives not only from a tourism demand of approaching nature, but also from its active use as a conservation tool in protected areas, since it implies obtaining certain benefits for the conservation of the protected areas, as implies to obtain the following benefits:  It implies the need for conservation of certain areas, and this conservation must be effective so that the tourist continues to desire visiting them. This protection also includes biodiversity conservation.  It furnishes economic earnings to the country, the region, the local community, and, in particular, the protected area, providing resources for conservation. Tourism in and around protected areas must be designed as a vehicle for conservation: building support; raising awareness of the many important values of protected areas including ecological, cultural, spiritual, aesthetic, recreational, and economic values, and generating much needed income for conservation work for the protection of biodiversity, ecosystem integrity and cultural heritage. Tourism should also contribute to the quality of life of indigenous and local communities provide incentives to support traditional customs and values, protect and respect sacred sites, and acknowledge traditional knowledge. RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE Vth IUCN WORLD PARKS CONGRESS
  23. 23. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 23  It can provide financial resources for the conservation of other protected natural areas lacking tourism, be it because they are unknown or because of their fragile ecological balance.  It can make protected areas more profitable, and thus encourage government or private investment in the establishment of other equally protected areas.  It can contribute to conservation if it is used as a tool of environmental education, that sensitizes visitors, so they learn to conveniently value Nature, and respect not only the area they visit but also any other natural area.  It gives local communities alternatives to the extractive activities that damage the ecosystems and endanger the natural resources.  It offers the ecotourist a gratifying experience, which s/he will want to repeat somewhere else, thus contributing to conservation of Nature in other places.  It can help conservation in other countries that see that the experience succeeds in neighbouring countries. ―Ecotourism is an idea, a concept that is challenging tourism as we have known it. Defined most succinctly as ‗responsible travel to natural areas, that conserves the environment and sustains the well being of local people,‘ ecotourism fundamentally reshapes the basic precepts behind tourism, which is quite simply travel undertaken for pleasure. Nature tourism, which is frequently but erroneously considered the same as ecotourism, is defined as travel to unspoiled places to experience and enjoy nature. Its close cousin, adventure tourism, is described as nature tourism with a kick—nature tourism with a degree of risk taking and physical endurance. Nature and adventure tourism focus on what the tourist is seeking. In contrast, ecotourism is qualitatively different. It focuses on what the traveller does, plus the impact of this travel on both the environment and the people in the host country. Ecotourism posits that this impact should be positive. Ecotourism is not, therefore, simply another niche market within the tourism industry. Rather, ecotourism is a philosophy, a set of practices and principles that, if properly understood and implemented, will transform the way we travel.‖ Ecotourism—Linking Tourism and Biodiversity Conservation (Honey 2002))
  24. 24. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 24 But ecotourism has also an economic value of its own. Such value has several components (Preece and Van Oosterzee, 2004):  Direct use values, such as those derived from recreational and educational experience in natural areas.  Option values, comprising the value placed on having an opportunity make use of natural areas at some future stage.  Vicarious use values, referring to the value derived from knowing about the direct experiences of other people.  Existence values or the value associated with the knowledge that natural systems or species continue to exist.  Bequest values or the value derived from the ability to bequeath natural assets to future generations.  Quasi-option values, which refer to the value obtained from delaying exploitative actions to learn more about the potential threats or risks to natural areas and the strategies or management practices that may be put in place to avoid or minimize adverse impacts. 2.3.3 Negative environmental impact Research on the impacts of tourism is beyond the reach of this handbook, although we can mention two kinds of impact: the one caused by tourism in general, and the one caused by the ecotourist in use of the protected area. A risk that often shows up when resources available for tourist projects increase without proper management is the creation of certain infrastructures to attract tourism, while causing harms and damages that can get to be irreversible. This fact, far of being an exception, happens quite often. Impact of tourism in general A description of all possible impacts derived from tourism would be very extensive, as it includes as many aspects as any other realm of development. Potential impacts of tourism in general can be as varied as: 1. Upon the soil, sea and landscape: beach deterioration by ships; pollution; rubbish dump; erosion on hiking paths; erosion by 4x4
  25. 25. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 25 vehicles; excessive infrastructure development for the visit and lodging installations (roads, power lines, water pipes, buildings, gravel pits, etc.) 2. Upon the water: pollution; aquifer overexploitation, etc. 3. Upon the vegetation: firewood over exploitation; harm to vegetation caused by trampling in the proximities of the paths; plant picking; vegetation damaged by camping activities, fires, etc. 4. Upon the wildlife: damage on coral reefs; fisheries overexploitation in estuaries and lakes; disturbances in areas of animal reproduction; nuisance to wild animals, introduction of alien species, etc. Obviously the role of the Administration is to put those techniques in place that allow to avoid or minimize the impacts caused, basically through previous evaluation of the environmental impact generated Impact of ecotourism use A frequent impact of ecotourism use in protected areas is the one caused by trampling. This example will also help us look at the application strategies. Initially, with very low levels of trampling, only particularly fragile vegetation can be damaged.
  26. 26. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 26 However, even with low levels of trampling, most of the vegetation cover is lost and the organic surface (such as leaves and little branches) results pulverized. With a moderate intensity of trampling, all vegetation is lost except the most resistant plants, and the mineral ground gets exposed as the organic layer is eroded. With higher intensity of trampling, mineral ground gets exposed to erosion and compacting, thus exposing trees roots as well. Studies on the impact generated by visitors on the paths have documented that impact on the resources is related in a non linear way to the level of use, so that at very low levels of use a great impact occurs, and with great increase in use additional changes are small, which could be represented with a curve similar to the one in the graph. Some impact determining parameters, such as vegetation regeneration in the first phases, resulting very much affected for very low levels of use. In contrast, mineral ground exposure occurs later in the progression of impact, and, with use, the relation adopts a more linear shape. Most impact evaluation parameters, such as vegetation loss, present an intermediate response. An important implication of the use/impact relation is that most of the uses must be eliminated to achieve significant reductions in most kinds of impact originated by recreational use. However, although adjusting the level of use is crucial to regulate recreational impacts, research has shown the importance of many other factors. Three categories of acting factors have been described, as well as their potential for manipulation by managers: the factors related to use, environment, and management. Use related factors Managers can influence certain factors related to the use that prove relevant in recreational use impacts. As mentioned, the peculiar use/impact relation implies that managers might be forced to reduce the use at the very low levels in order to achieve significant reductions for many types of impacts. Research has also proven that some types of use (for instance horses or 4 wheel drive vehicles) impact more than others (for instance hiking). Managers can forbid certain uses or restrict them to more resistant places, or to sites designed to carry higher levels of impact. Many impacts are the result of ignorant or careless behavior. Managers can educate and control visitors in order to reduce high impact behavior (such as starting fires, cutting trees, shortcuts outside the paths) and to promote low impact behaviors. Finally large groups have more resource damaging potential than the same number of individuals in smaller groups. Limiting the size is usually unavoidable to minimize impacts. The best group size is generally less than 12 people
  27. 27. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 27 Environmental factors Through control exerted by means of recreational use site selection and pathway design, managers have the possibility to minimize the impacts, promoting recreational use in the more resistant places. For example, research has shown considerable variability in the resistance to trampling depending on the kind of vegetation. Grass cover in sunny areas is often more resistant to trampling than nemori plants. The resistance of vegetation to trampling also varies with the season of the year. Vegetation is more likely to be damaged during the growing season and when the soils are damp. Equally, soils differ in susceptibility to trampling, according to texture, organic matter, and humidity Management factors Visitor and site management techniques are the final group of factors available for the managers to minimize impacts. We have already seen how the use/impact relation limits the effectiveness of use reduction as a management action. We find two opposed management strategies:  Dispersion: due to the relation between use/impact and different factors of behavior, this strategy has succeeded only in areas that receive low use. Most visitors prefer excursions along established paths. Mountain areas and/or those with dense vegetation can limit the visitors’ possibilities to hike outside the paths. Usually, established paths are more comfortable and less demanding. Finally, water and other landscape attractions will always attract a higher number of visitors than other less interesting areas. In general, management efforts to modify these natural trends won’t succeed.  Concentration: is the opposite strategy to dispersion, and offers a more satisfactory way of minimizing impact. For example, consolidated paths, the use
  28. 28. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 28 concentrated within them, represents a contention method very well used in some parks of Vietnam. 2.3.4 Measures to minimize environmental impacts The management of biotic and abiotic resources is implied in all aspects of any economy considered sustainable under an ecological perspective, and tourism is not an exception. The management of these resources is not easy, neither conceptually nor to achieve in practice, and it requires the development of national strategies and their application. It is often considered that a representative nature reserve system is essential for the tourism industry and for the conservation of biodiversity, but it is also widely accepted that it alone is not enough. As mentioned previously, the system of reserves will never be large and continuous enough to preserve the global biodiversity within it. The management of biodiversity must cover the whole territory. Thus, the management of tourism impacts on biodiversity conservation must be extended beyond the boundaries of parks and reserves. Tourism industry has both the obligation and the need to communicate ecologically sustainable practices, and managers of protected areas will need to maximize the number of tourists that receive this messages. After all, tour guides have a wide audience, and an extraordinary chance to teach more people about the environment in Vietnam, than all universities and the majority of schools. Their role in biodiversity conservation has been underestimated for a long time. The tourism industry must get involved producing its own guidelines, seeking direct and frequent advice from the managers, learning about the impacts, and notifying pertinent authorities about the problems that may be identified. There will never be enough resources to properly manage the impacts without the complicity of the users. Achieving this also requires a change in the way authorities work. Even though managers are (and must be) the only authority in the park, there are cases where tour operators can detect and identify problems on site fast and effectively, given their continuous presence upon the territory and their easy contact with the customer. Some environmental problems that operators can identify are negative changes in the quality of a site, wildlife behavior, state of vegetation, practices by tourists, and many others. The management must establish consulting systems with all actors involved in the protected area. Effective means to face this are workshops and training courses, directed either by the park managers or by associations of tour operators. These events produce not only not the training itself, but also facilitate a bi-directional
  29. 29. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 29 interaction, optimal for the mutual resolution of management and operative problems. Workshops must be short and frequent, face key problems, ways of identifying them, and ways to solve them. 2.3.5 Carrying capacity Introduction Initiatives to reduce negative impacts of visitors‘ presence in protected areas began with the determinations of the visitor carrying capacity and the imposition of limits to the admissible number of tourists. This methodology, useful as first step, revealed itself excessively simplistic and some other better ones came along after it. One of the most accepted is the so called Levels of Acceptable Change (LAC), because it is flexible, it can cover a wide variety of repercussions and it requires the participation of the stakeholders, including the local community. We must emphasize that any carrying capacity estimate that does not consider the visitor‘s experience among its variables will be insufficient. At the end of the day, in ecotourism we work with ―customers‖, and their level of satisfaction is crucial for the future. In order for the ecotourism operation monitoring to be totally effective, it must include environmental, experimental (o psychological), economic, socio-cultural, and managerial (or infrastructural) ―The amount, kind and distribution of use that can occur without leading to unacceptable impacts on either the physical- biological resource or the available wilderness experience‖ (Stankey et al., 1990). Definition of wilderness carrying capacity CARRYING CAPACITY  simple concept - difficult to implement  dynamic nature of ecosystems makes it difficult to calculate  it can be increased/decreased by management actions/human use  it is NOT a fixed value  is different for different uses  varies spatially and temporally  product of value judgement as well as scientific evidence
  30. 30. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 30 impacts. We recommend developing and applying a process of ecotourism monitoring formed by the following steps: 1) Forming a coordination commission integrated by protected area directors, ecotourism managers and representatives of NGO and of local communities. 2) Holding a community meeting with the purpose of educating local residents in the repercussions of ecotourism and its monitoring, and getting them involved. 3) Defining both impacts and indicators to be monitored 4) Selecting measuring methods 5) Defining the boundaries or margins of acceptable changes, with contributions from the stakeholders 6) Designing a monitoring operations plan. 7) Training of staff, managers and community representatives in techniques for monitoring, data analysis, and implementation of management changes. 8) Data monitoring and examination. 9) Presenting the monitoring results to all stakeholders. 10) Evaluation and spreading of the monitoring program. At the beginning of ecotourism programs or activities, the impacts of the projects are scarce or minimum. When data about the basic conditions, that would allow to establish a comparison, are few, or simply do not exist, it can be difficult to perceive the first symptoms of negative impacts. A study of the basic data is rarely carried out at the beginning in developing countries, since time, budgets, and technical resources are limited, and the needs are not perceived. Often, when serious impacts get exposed, questions are raised and management measures are considered necessary. However, as pointed out by Buckley (1999) once the negative impacts have turned outstanding, the options to easily eliminate them diminish. It gets difficult, from a political point of view, to reduce the number of visitors or limit their activities or both. Another alternative, the ―hardening‖ of environment, or making it more impact resistant, requires higher expenses in infrastructure and the consequent maintenance of it, and in some cases, the management will not reach to compensate for the losses. If the impacts would have been gradually measured from the beginning and fast measures would have been put in place to reduce them, the harm would have been smaller, or would have not existed. The establishment of a monitoring program at the beginning of the projects, and the collection of basic information are useful to make an early change alert available, which allows for the fitting establishment of management programs. In any case, ecotourism management is only another aspect in the management of protected areas, and as such must it be treated in zonation, a powerful tool to avoid or deal with impacts. Monitoring methods
  31. 31. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 31 The first methods created to deal with tourism impacts were based upon the concept of carrying capacity. There are several definitions of carrying capacity, as per how and where the concept gets applied (see Ceballos- Lascurain, 1996 or Boo, 1995), but generally speaking, it is a measure of the volume and kind of use that can be sustained by an area and its surrounding community before the impacts become unacceptable. Ceballos-Lascurain (1996) and Cifuentes (1992), offer methods to measure them and examples of their application. The use of strict numeric limits for visitors is considered to be a simple and direct solution to reduce tourism impacts. Different carrying capacities have been defined in relation with tourism:  Psychological carrying capacity: is the level where visitors will be satisfied with the experience and will wish to come back.  Social carrying capacity: is the level where the local community is going to agree with the project and accept visitors.  Structural carrying capacity: is the level where structures are going to be able to meet the order to satisfy the tourists’ needs. However, researchers and managers that are familiar with the dynamics of impacts caused by visitors (Stankey y McCool, 1972; Lindberg and others, 1997; Borrie and others, 1998) defend that there is no clear and precise relation between the number of visitors and the impacts, and that there are many other factors that influence the form and the place of those impacts. Furthermore, a variety of mitigation strategies and tactics can be applied (Marion y Farrell, 1998), which are useful to increase the number of visitors while simultaneously reducing negative repercussions. Hence, simply quantitative restrictions applied within the framework of carrying capacity analysis, are no longer considered appropriated or precise, as currently more sensible and specific methods are available. Having said that, it is important to take into account that the term ―carrying capacity‖ is still of common use and continues to be useful to refer to the concept of setting limits for tourism in order to reduce negative impacts. In fact, as the term is understood worldwide, it has created awareness about the importance of monitoring these repercussions (Lindberg, McCool y Stankey, 1997). Facing the disadvantages of the first, strictly numerical, methods of limiting impacts caused by visitors, more qualitative methodologies have been designed. The oldest one of these uses the concept of Limit of Acceptable Change, (LAC), which recognizes that there will be a change as a result of
  32. 32. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 32 tourism, and that the key target of visitor monitoring is to keep the impacts at a predetermined level. This and other similar methods fix rules or scales of acceptable changes and describe a methodology for the definition of those rules, the measurement of the impacts, and the definition of management strategies for the follow up of negative impacts. Different methodologies can be consulted in:  Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) – Clark, R.N. y Stankey, G.H., 1979. ―Determining the Acceptability of Recreation Impacts: An Application of the Outdoor Recreation Opportunity Spectrum". In: Proceedings: Recreational Impact on Wildlands. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. Report No. R-6-001-1979. Seattle, WA.  Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) – Stankey, G.H. y McCool, S., 1972. ―Managing for the Sustainable Use of Protected Wildlands: The Limits of Acceptable Change Framework‖.  Visitor Impact Management (VIM) – Graefe, Alan R., Kuss, Fred R. y Vaske, Jerry J., 1990. Visitor Impact Management: The Planning Framework. National Parks and Conservation Association, Washington, DC.  Visitor Experience and Resource Protection (VERP) – Hof, M. et al., 1993. VERP: A Process for Assessing Visitor Carrying Capacity in the National Park System. U.S. Department of Interior, National Park System, Denver, CO  Tourism Optimisation Management Model (TOMM) – Manidis Roberts Consultants, 1997. Developing a Tourism Optimisation Management Model (TOMM). Manidis Roberts Consultants, Surry Hills, NSW, Australia.  Quality Upgrading and Learning (QUAL). QUAL processes incise in two aspects of the quality of the visitor’s experience: the reasons for choosing the specific site for the desired activity (see what is important to the visitor during his/her experience), and the changes observed in the area in those aspects considered important for a user that repeats the visit. - Chilman, Kenneth; John Titre; James Vogel; Greg Brown, 2000. Evolving Concepts of Recreational Carrying Capacity Management.  www.prr.msu.edu/trends2000/pdf/chilmanCC.pdf.  A chart can be seen in the table QUALITY UPGRADING AND LEARNING (QUAL) PROCESS TO DETERMINE RECREATIONAL CARRYING CAPACITY. Visitor perception can help us direct management to improve it. An example of testing through consultation can be the one carried out among users of New Zeeland protected areas (Higham, James E. S.; Anna M. Carr & Stephanie Gale, 2001) that is shown in the table of Respondents’ views on making tourism attractions in New Zealand more environmentally friendly
  33. 33. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 33 With the management of public use in protected areas we face a typical management paradox:  Impacts affect the visitor’s experience  Their reduction would improve the experience However, it is obvious that impact management, which proves essential to improve visitor experience, also ends up restricting his/her possibilities of using the area. This then affects the visitor‘s experience negatively. This is one of the principles of: A solution is never good enough for everyone. We have to accept that solutions rarely work without affecting something or creating other problems General comments Frequency Percent Smaller group numbers. Limit numbers on tours in fragile areas 129 20.9 Public education 105 17 Increase awareness of adverse visitors impacts 101 16.3 More rubbish bins and recycling opportunities 92 14.9 Better public transport, fuel/energy efficiency 54 8.7 Restrict development 36 5.8 Keep attractions as natural as possible 23 3.7 Promote activities that do not consume natural resources 22 3.6 Recycling/composting/limit packaging 20 3.2 Enforce rules to discourage littering 20 3.2 Be aware of the potential impacts of tourism 19 3.1 Keep it honest and less commercialized 17 2.8 Educate tourists, operators, local residents on sustainable tourism 16 2.6 Produce fewer brochures and pamphlets 11 1.8 Buildings/signage should blend with surrounding environments 10 1.6 Respondents’ views on making tourism attractions in New Zealand more environmentally friendly
  34. 34. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 34 QUALITY UPGRADING AND LEARNING (QUAL) PROCESS TO DETERMINE RECREATIONAL CARRYING CAPACITY Step I. Management Goal: Quality Recreation a. Operational definition of ―quality recreation‖ (Wagar 1966) 1. Provide a range of recreation opportunities. 2. Zoning different activities in different places. 3. Specify management practices by zones. 4. Interpret area attractions. 5. (Survey visitors for perceptions of conditions) b. Obtain consensus on management goal  Determine interest groups involved  Identify area changes or issues of concern  Determine appropriate planning process  Consider level of planning effort needed Step II. Inventory Existing Conditions a. Reconnaissance of area  Maps, preliminary examination of ecological characteristics  Special significance or importance of area  Examine patterns of use, types of users  Examine area history, records, management practices b. Comparison of area to other recreation areas  Use Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) land classification system or equivalent c. Divide management area into subunits  Use Recreation Area Division and Subdivision (RADS) system  Identify Travel Pattern Concentrations (TPC) recreation settings and priorities for management attention d. d. Measurements on priority subunits  Site analysis of TPC patterns of use, impacts  Assess site impacts  Visitor observations, counts, interviews Step III. Analysis of Alternatives a. Locate study area on ROS classes framework (or equivalent)  Indicate relative abundance of areas in ROS classes for the region  Assess implications of changing study area conditions into another class, in terms of relative abundance  Find out what area visitors perceive as the existing range of opportunities for their activity/experience b. Determine if there are area aspects of uniqueness or fragility (determined by inventory, visitor perception) c. Other factors to consider: visitor safety, legislative mandates, etc. d. (Public review and discussion) Step IV. Objective-Setting and Implementation a. Select desired recreation opportunities/set of conditions to be achieved or maintained as management objectives  Specify indicators of desired conditions (social, ecological, managerial) to achieve or maintain b. Develop interpretive plan to highlight area significance, and to direct use to particular places c. Select management strategies, techniques, prepare plan d. (Public review and discussion) e. Implement strategies/techniques to achieve objectives f. Communicate progress in achieving programs and objectives Step V. Monitoring and Evaluation a. Periodic remeasurement of key indicators of desired conditions b. Evaluation of indicator data on changes occurring, achievement of objectives c. Decisions to take management actions to deal with changes or to begin process of replanning
  35. 35. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 35 These methodologies have been well received by a variety of researchers (Boo, 1995; Harroun and Boo, 1996; Ceballos-Lascurain, 1996; Borrie and others, 1998; Harroun, 1994; Marrion and Farrell, 1998; TES, 1998; etc.). Especially useful are Harroun and Boo‘s studies (1996) because they analyze these methodologies with a view to their application in developing countries. 2.4 Government organizations and ecotourism 2.4.1 Coordination of development in the tourist industry Coordination and development of the tourism industry, which in Vietnam is a responsibility of VNAT, is a general policy, the physical basis of which is the whole country. We should, however, stress the idea, dealt with along this handbook, that it is essential that the responsibility and the control of tourism activities in protected areas be wholly exercised by the directors of the protected areas and never by other departments or local authorities. Current situation seems to be far from ideal; we find massive tourism in protected areas and with a lack of management of such tourism in order to channel it so that the conservation of the resources is assured (we need to notice that when ―massive tourism‖ is mentioned, it is not an excessive number of visitors that is meant, but an inadequate use of the protected area). It is also essential to create MARD-VNAT-MoF-MSE-Local Authorities joint committees, leaded by MARD. These organizations should act as dialog and problem-solving forums with a minimum number of participants, and their objective must be to act as an advisory body so that the management can adopt decissions after listening to the other parties. As mentioned previously, biodiversity conservation policies –and also ecotourism- are not limited to protected areas. In fact, these are insufficient for the conservation of many threatened species. It is therefore necessary to increase the resources dedicated to conservation of Nature in general, and , in particular, to fighting illegal traffic of species (Buckley, 1999), a very serious fact that, aside from being a brutal outrage upon the conservation of endangered species, also seriously undermines the possibilities of ecotourism use in the country. 2.4.2 Promoting planning
  36. 36. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 36 The need is evident to combine the demands of the ecotourism industry‘s market with the environmental assessments, in order to create economic models for regional development. Wherever significant environmental impacts are expected, as would be the case of protected areas, development proposals should undergo environmental impact assessment.In some cases, this may imply producing recommendations to modify the proposal; in others, its plain rejection. In spite of their evident weaknesses, environmental impact assessment procedures are a basic tool to study the incidence of projects. It is recommended that regional planning be developed with participation of government agencies and local governments in whatever may imply promotion and management of ecotourism. This requires the development of information and data collection systems, and the modeling and design of participative planning processses. Something similar should be done with the private sector when it comes to approving the development of infrastructures in the protected areas and their areas of influence, assessing both, the investment and the awaited environmental impacts. 2.4.3 Monitoring Public authorities have the responsibility to maintain data bases and information systems that relate physical environment to biodiversity. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are particularly useful in supporting planning, since they incorporate the data upon a spatial base. 2.4.4 Marketing aids A fundamental role of governments is to collaborate through general and specific tourism advertising campaigns. Coordination with the industry is important for this. Marketing must continue to promote Vietnam‘s rich diversity. This requires informative advertising and educational programs. Such strategies could also be carried out jointly by the government and the tourism industry. 2.4.5 Supporting education, research and training Research must be integrated in natural resources and protected area management. As mentioned, education and training should be basic components in a national strategy, strongly focused upon the interrelation between tourism training and ecological management.
  37. 37. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 37 2.4.6 Creating economic incentives for conservation Several fundraising systems are available to promote biodiversity conservation starting from the tourism industry. The methods to increase tourism incomes vary from direct payment to indirect rates and taxes upon goods and services related with tourism. Entry fees for protected areas The main goal of national park and reserve management is the conservation of biodiversity, even though some expenses derived from public use also exist, such as the construction and maintenance of infrastructure: paths, sanitation, lodging, etc, which are added to the needs in monitoring, research, and wildlife management. Most economists working in the realm of nature conservation-tourism speak up for a ―pay per user‖ system to cover the management and protection costs of natural areas. Such funds may be obtained through fees for park use or annual permits. In some cases, they are not feasible, especially in large natural areas with few visits, since the management itself of the charging system may cost more that the income obtained. Commercial licenses The ―pay per user‖ principle should be extended to commercial operators, through license fees and a realistic leasing and concessionaire charging system, following a market analysis. For instance, the exclusive rights for certain operations within park boundaries can be offered to the private sector through an auction. Furnishing goods and services The goods and services offered in the parks should operate on the basis of assigning net income to conservation measures. The marketing of products and services specifically associated with ecotourism could help fundraising, through educational programs, consulting services, books, videotapes, paintings and photographs. Indirect taxes Funds for environmental protection may be obtained from taxes upon materials used in outdoor recreational activities and tourism, such as equipment
  38. 38. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 38 for camping, fishing, diving and similar articles. The use of a tax per bed can also be considered. Tourists usually understand it as a component of their tourist package. Airport taxes are another potential source of income. Earmarking An important principle that must be observed is that of maintaining the goal of the funds obtained from tourism. They should be specifically assigned, with the purpose of establishing and maintaining natural environments. People are frequently willing to support conservation causes if some guarantee is given that their money will really be spent on these programs. Donations Donations from the public may be sought through fundraising for specific causes. A classic example is the use of some kind of sponsoring or symbolic adoption of animals, be it for conservation programs or for rehabilitation in centers. Certificates, badges, and other identification reinforcing systems may be used. This requires that tourists be able to make direct contributions to specific sites. The industry can generally be an important source of donations. Corporations frequently make significant contributions to reinforce their corporate image and publicize their engagement with Nature conservation Depositing bonds Bond deposits may be introduced for the private operators who offer routes in natural areas, or build and manage infrastructure. They are useful in evaluating the environmental damage caused, so that the necessary rehabilitation will always be covered. The usual contract is a capital or financial guarantee that will remain in the protected area manager‘s hands as a condition for each valid license. Investing in conservation in private lands Introducing economic incentives for the conservation of biodiversity in private lands is more complicated, especially if a link between nature conservation management and ecotourism is sought. The private sector can see a direct commercial value in the development of ecotourism activities in private lands, and thus facilitate adequate investments in Nature protection.
  39. 39. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 39 2.5 Ecotourism and local communities Getting the community involved is an extremely complex issue, and a very important one for the ecotourism initiative to be successful. Even though the options and solutions are going to vary among the different areas and communities, an important principle is to work with the existing social and communitarian structures, even if these can change alongside the challenges posed. It is also very useful to identify the leaders and people with management capacity. The main goal should be to make sufficient benefits, equitably distributed within the community. Gender problems can also be significant, and ecotourism may provide employment opportunities for women. However, it should not be overlooked that IWO estimates in 1983 indicated that one third of the world‘s labor force in the tourism sector was made up of women. According to more recent estimates, the rate of women working in the tourism sector (without considering the informal sector) has grown to 46 per cent, while in the restaurant and lodging sector they represent approximately 90 per cent of the total number of workers (IWO, 2001). They occupy the lowest levels of the professional structure in the tourism job market, with little career perspective promotion opportunities, and low remuneration levels (some estimates point out that women‘s salaries are as much as 20 per cent lower than men‘s). In many developing countries, the larger incidence of unemployment among women is attributed to their scarce qualifications and low social condition. Furthermore, they are usually the first to be affected by personnel reductions due to recession or adjustment to new technology. It can also be mentioned that the majority of the workers in a subcontract status, or with temporary, casual or part-time jobs are women. Thus, the attention to this more sensitive group should be a priority. It is important to remember that ecotourism is a business. Without prejudice to the support of community initiatives, sometimes it may turn out more feasible for ecotourism to be developed by private companies and investments, within a structure where the community has access to the benefit, and retains the power to decide upon the level and kind of tourism in its area. There are several ways of relating the private companies with the community, such as, for instance, through the concession system, or through agreements that make training and capacity building possible for community members.
  40. 40. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 40 2.6 Ecotourism and NGOs Non government organizations play an important role in ecotourism. Their presence may be motivated by some of the following reasons: 1. Working in biodiversity or environmental conservation. 2. Working in sustainable development at the local scale. The roles that they can play are very diverse, and are listed below, without meaning to be exhaustive: 1. NGO can act as a link between other actors in the context of ecotourism, for example: between the communities and the tourism industry, between the directors of the protected areas and the communities. This role is particularly valuable, given that NGO are perceived as neutral actors between competing interests. 2. NGO can achieve better results for conservation when they associate with community-based ecotourism companies or with private tourism companies. 3. NGO can play as main actors in training, as well as in spreading information and technical experience. 4. NGO, in agreement with Public Administration, can develop ecotourism certification programs, precisely by using their status of independence from industry. 5. NGO can work together with protected area administrations to develop some aspects of ecotourism programs, such as interpretation or environmental education programs. The NGO generally obtains external funding, and carries out activities according to a jointly agreed action plan 6. Under exceptional circumstances, NGO can provide ecotourism services. It is not a desirable situation, as it would be competing against free enterprise with advantage. In general, the role of NGO is to promote the development of ecotourism through its integration with local communities, the private sector of the tourism industry, the protected areas and other actors. 2.7 Ecotourism and tourism industry Entrepreneurs (companies) are essential in order to achieve the goals of conservation through ecotourism. They must establish contact and collaboration mechanisms with NGO, with the directors of the protected areas, and with the
  41. 41. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 41 local communities, if ecotourism is to become an economic reality, and not a more or less abstract concept. In a situation of full ecotourism development, tourism industry will become one of the most important defenders of protected areas, and this process should be fostered by establishing adequate mechanisms for the communication and cooperation between protected area directors and tourism operators. The companies implied are: 1. Travel agencies. They are the wholesalers, and deal with massive tourism. Generally, they sell the programs of tour operators who specialize in a region or activity. 2. Tour operators. They can be divided into origin and destination operators, depending on whether they are located at the customer‘s starting or receiving site. The massive use of the internet is displacing origin operators. The destination operator is the one to hire services, and the one that truly ―manages‖ tourism. 3. Local services providers. These are the companies that provide services to the customer, Such as lodging, restaurant, souvenir sale, and, for example, guided visits to protected areas. This is the group ecotourism companies fit into. The entrepreneur is a basic figure for the development of ecotourism. His opinion, worries, and suggestions should be considered as basic pieces of the activity to be carried out, informing about potential markets, advising about customer preferences, offering services and training, and occasionally financing projects. A very special situation of tourism industry participation is the management of lodges or hostels in the protected areas, which is usually established through a concession system. It is one of the most extended ways of tourism industry participation, and may contain several forms of compensation, such as reversion clauses upon the buildings or improvements made, the payment of a fee, the obligation to hire staff from the local communities, organizing training courses, etc.
  42. 42. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 42 3. ECOTOURISM PLANNING 3.1 Ecotourism planning Ecotourism cannot be developed everywhere. As any other business, it is ruled by the law of offer and demand. It has to be an attractive offer, and meet certain requirements, in order to work. Not every place is valid. It should be taken into account that most of the ecotourism businesses that fail do so because of miscalculation in the inflow of visitors. The tourism entrepreneur or promoter may use the following as a preliminary poll: 1. Is there some natural or cultural attraction potential in the area? Some examples can be:  Endemic or rare species, such as the silver pheasant or the muntjac  Charismatic species, for example, the tiger, the whale shark, or the elephant.  Attractive and well preserved habitats, for example: coral reefs, primary tropical forests.  High diversity rates of birds or mammals, for example, more than 300 species of birds, or more than 100 species of mammals.  Spectacular geomorphologic formations, for example: high or spectacular waterfalls, caves.  Historic or contemporary, nationally or internationally recognized, cultural manifestations, such as temples. 2. Can visitor accesses be established easily? 3. Can it be protected from visitor impact, maintaining an acceptable conservation level? 4. Is the area free of security problems that cannot be effectively controlled by the area administration or the local authorities? 5. Does the protected area have an administration capable of effectively managing the launching and monitoring of an ecotourism program?
  43. 43. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 43 6. Are there reasonable expectations of having the necessary funding available for the development of ecotourism? 7. Are protected area directors, tourism operators, and communities willing to adjust to the requirements of ecotourism, for example low impact, small groups, impact monitoring, working and engaging with the community? 8. Will visits improve the situation of biodiversity, or reduce the threats to the object of conservation? If the answer to the questions is positive, we may continue to work in the design of ecotourism in that place, and go on to the next stage, site selection. Obviously, some of the questions posed may have negative answers that may be solved in the future. Only then will we reconsider the project. 3.2 Previous site requirements Before launching an ecotourism project, we must study the local conditions of the area, and the fulfillment of a series of basic requirements. It is important to avoid time and money losses, as well as not to raise expectations, if the concurrent circumstances make failure foreseeable. A previous feasibility assessment should be made before embarking the community upon an ecotourism strategy. Some premises are related to the situation at a national level, and others are local conditions of the area targeted by ecotourism. The main aspects to be studied are the following: a) Adequate conditions for the launching of a tourism business:  An economic and political framework that ensures commercial possibilities and the necessary safety for the investment.  A national legislation that allows the benefits of tourism to revert to local communities.  A sufficient level of property rights within the local community.  High levels of security for visitors. We need to stress that the image projected of the country or region is often as important as reality.  Relatively low health risk, and access to basic medical services and drinking water.
  44. 44. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 44  Means of access and telecommunications‘ network. b) Requirements for ecotourism:  Landscapes, flora or wildlife attractive or interesting enough to attract specialists or visitors in general.  Ecosystems capable of absorbing at least a certain level of managed visiting without suffering damage.  A local community aware of the potential opportunities, the risks and changes that may come with it, and interested in receiving visitors.  The existence or the possibility of setting up potential structures for effective decision making (governance) within the community.  The inexistence of obvious threats to the indigenous culture and its traditions.  A previous market study that reveals a potential demand, as well as effective means to meet this demand. 3.3 Resource inventory and diagnosis Once the preliminary poll mentioned in heading 3.1 is surmounted, it is time to start a detailed inventory of the existing resources and situation, as well as to compile the information of interest, in order to carry out an adequate diagnosis. The indispensable information to be collected is exceptionally well described and specified in Ecotourism Development–A Manual Series for Conservation Planners and Managers (Drumm & Moore, 2002), which is transcribed in what follows, with some minor changes. These authors classify it in several sections, named Natural Resources; Cultural Resources; Protected Area Management Situation; Visitation Patterns; Activities and Infrastructure; Tourism Policy and Planning; Communities; Strategic Alliances; Marketing and Promotion; Opportunities and Difficulties. A series of questions is posed about each one of these sections, the answer to which will be of use to establish the diagnosis. As means for collection, the authors recommend:  Revision of existing materials  Field work  Interviews, questionnaires, and polls  Consulting meetings and workshops 1. Natural resources
  45. 45. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 45 This section must revise the natural resources (species, communities, ecosystems, biophysical features such as mountains, rivers, lakes, etc.) that are real or potential attractions for visitors, or that may be affected by the use made of them.  Which are the main natural resources of the area? Are there any plant or animal species attractive for visitors? Are there any ―attractive‖ or ―charismatic‖ species in the area? Have species‘ inventories been carried out? If so, describe their contents.  Which are the endangered or threatened plant/animal species or communities? Where are they located?  What are the main landscape attractions of the protected area?  Where are the best preserved sectors of the protected area? 2. Cultural resources This section must define the historic, archaeological or cultural sites that can act as attractors, or that may somehow affect the way in which ecotourism is conducted.  Are there any historic sites within the protected area, or in the surrounding areas capable of being used as tourism attractions? Do these same sites show any significant difficulties for their protection?  Is it necessary to involve other institutions to excavate, restore, protect or interpret these sites?  Do any indigenous or traditional local cultures exist, that should be considered and respected in the development of ecotourism? To what point will the hopes and culture of local populations allow their engagement in ecotourism 3. Protected area management  Is the area protected? If so, what is its history? When was it declared a protected area? Which has its protection status been? Why is protecting it considered important? Is there an effective protection? If not, what are the lacks?
  46. 46. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 46  Who manages the area? Is the management system effective?  How much staff does the protected area employ? Describe their functions. Do they work full time or part time? Do they live within the area or outside of it? Are there any volunteers working in the project?  Is the current number of employees adequate to cover the present and future management responsibilities?  Which are the main threats to the protected area?  Has any planning been carried out? Are there any pressures due to economic development? Which resources are affected by these threats?  How urgent and severe are these threats? What strategies are used to face identified threats? Are these strategies effective? If not, explain why.  Describe current impacts of tourism. For example, can soil loss or compacting be noticed in the paths, due to tourist passing? Is there more garbage? Has any attempt to quantify these impacts been made? Are there any formal impact assessments? If so, describe them. What are the projections of potential impacts?  Is there any monitoring system in the protected area? If so, describe it. Is it effective? If not, explain why. 4. Visitation patterns, activities and infrastructure Given that visitors‘ interest and demand will impulse any future ecotourism program, it is essential to completely understand the nature of the current and potential use made by visitors. Much information about it is not likely to be available; in this case, the effort should be made to develop a visitor profile poll, be it with current visitors or with visitors to nearby tourism attractions.  Which are the most important attractions in your protected area? Why do people visit them? Other than natural resources, are there cultural resources or other attractions that interest them?  How accessible is your site? Which are the main kinds of transportation: bus, boat, car, airplane, or other? What is the state of
  47. 47. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 47 the roads to your site? Is the lack of accessibility an obstacle for the growth of tourism?  What do the visitors do in the protected area? How long do they stay? Do they come to relax, or to perform a specific activity? What kind of food and drinks are available in the area? Do they buy souvenirs? If so, what do they buy? Describe a tourist‘s day.  Are there any visitation statistics of the protected area? If so, describe the data collection system. How many people visit the area each month? Each year? What is the percentage of foreigners and nationals? Regarding foreigners, what is their nationality? What languages do they speak and read? What are the growth trends? What are the estimates about future visitor trends?  Do the majority of visitors come in groups or individually? If the visitors come in groups, of what size? Do they make reservations in advance? Once they are in the protected area, do they travel independently, or with guides? If they use guides, are they protected area employees, or external guides?  Has any poll been carried out among visitors? If so, when were they, and with what method? What was learned about the visitors? Why do they come to this protected area? What do they want to do? What do they like and what don‘t they, about the area and its installations? Do they think that the services offered are adequate? Did they give any suggestions for improvements?  What are the economic effects of visitors in the protected area? Do they pay an entrance fee or use fee? Do they buy goods and services in the protected area? Are there any private sector businesses in the protected area? Does the area have any kind of concession system? If so, describe them. Do the visitors go to the local communities besides visiting the protected area? If so, which are the communities, and what kinds of activities and infrastructure are offered? How do the communities value these visits?  What kind of tourism infrastructure does the protected area have? Is there a system of paths (trails). Are there any tourism installations? Describe each one of them. How are they maintained? Are they in good condition, or do they need repairing? Are the installations adequate for the demand.  Describe the protected area‘s interpretation programs. Is there any interpretation on the paths? Do the tourists go on self guided

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