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Handbook of Ecotourism in Protected Areas of Vietnam


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  • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.   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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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
  • 48. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 48 excursions? Are there any information or visitor centers? What materials are available? Are there any guides? Do visitors take advantage of these programs? Is interpretation a priority for the protected area‘s management agency? Is it for the visitors? How would you value the effectiveness of the interpretation carried out?  Besides Nature, are there any other attractions for visitors in the area: cultural ones, pieces of heritage, etc.? Describe these attractions. 5. Tourism plans and policies  Does the protected area have a management plan? If so, does it include a section on tourism activities?  If so, describe its contents. What are the existing tourism plans for the area? Is there a zonation system? Is the management plan effective? If the answer is negative, explain why.  Is there a national tourism plan that includes nature tourism or ecotourism? If so, describe that section. Are there other national plans that include nature tourism or ecotourism?  Is there any other kind of declaration, decree, law or policy that affects tourism in the area? These can be at a national, regional, or local level. If so, describe them, and describe their relation with tourism.  Are the decisions that may affect the protected area or the tourism made in a participative way? Are there any other options for participation in the planning and decision making about policies at the local, regional and national levels?  Are you satisfied with the existing, ecotourism-related plans and policies? Is there a system of entry fees? Is it effective? What happens with the money collected through entry fees and other permits? Are there any policies regarding private sector activities in the protected area? If so, describe them. If not, should there be any? How would you change current plans and policies?  Is there any legislation regarding the protected area pending of approval? If so, describe it. Are there any possibilities of you participating in that process? Will it be a good opportunity to help shape the direction of ecotourism in the area?
  • 49. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 49 6. Communities The local population can have an enormous influence upon any protected area management activity; this is especially true in the case of ecotourism. There must be a relation of help between the protected area and the adjacent communities, since each one benefits from the other. Local communities should get involved in any ecotourism activity in the protected area, and viceversa. But making this relationship work in an optimum way is difficult and complex. It is almost as important to have detailed information about the communities surrounding the protected area as to understand the natural and cultural resources located within it.  Are there any communities within the protected area or in the surroundings? At what distance are they from the area? What is the size of each community? Describe the economic activities of each community. How are their members organized? How does leadership work? Does the group have other significant characteristics?  What is the history of the relations between the communities and the protected area? Has there been much interaction? Has there been tension between residents and protected area staff? Is there a history of competition between them both for the natural resources? If so, describe it.  Do local residents visit the protected area? If so, what attracts them? What do they do? Have they encountered difficulties to enter the site due to the increase in visitation?  Are local residents involved in the nature tourism activities? If so, describe the engagement in general. Is this engagement recent, or does it have a long history? How did they get involved? Was it a planned activity or did it happen spontaneously?  Describe the kinds of tourism businesses in the nearby communities: hostels, restaurants, guide services, craft shops, taxi companies and others. Do they offer employment opportunities for local residents? How many residents own or manage a business? Are the tourism businesses in the area profitable? Are the products they use local or imported? How are these businesses promoted among the public?  Aside from economic impacts, what other impacts do residents face with nature tourism? Have there been any social changes? If so,
  • 50. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 50 describe them. Has there been any negative environmental change, such as an increase in water pollution? Has there been any positive change, such as better conservation efforts through cleaning campaigns? In what other ways has tourism affected the area?  What are the residents‘ plans for nature tourism? Are there any efforts to organize, discuss or deal with tourism issues? Is there any tourism association or cooperative dedicated to them? Is there any formal planning process within the communities? Do you know whether residents wish to dedicate themselves to tourism, or instead discourage it, in their communities?  Which are your current means of communicating with residents in order to deal with these issues? Is there an established forum? If not, can you create a communication system? 7. Strategic alliances  Do you maintain any active strategic alliance with local residents? For example, the manager of the protected area can recommend the visitors a certain hostel because he knows that the owner will furnish the guests some kind of interpretation. Strategic alliances can be formal or informal. If you have strategic alliances, describe them. Who started the relations? Are they successful?  Do you maintain an active strategic alliance with government officials? Do you maintain any strategic alliance with tourism agents? For example: Do you exchange information? Who started the relations? Are they successful?  Do you maintain an active strategic alliance with scholars/ scientists? Can they, for example, carry out research in return for a charge free place to station at? Do scholars/scientists approach you, or do you approach them? Describe the relation. Who started it?  Do you maintain an active strategic alliance with actors of the tourism industry? What is your relationship with local and international tourism operators? Do you maintain strategic alliances with those who develop tourism? Do you maintain strategic alliances with those who deal with transportation services? Describe your relations with the parties involved in the tourism industry.  Do you maintain active strategic alliances with NGOs? These can either be local or international, and specialized in conservation,
  • 51. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 51 community development, tourism, or other nature tourism related issues. Do you maintain formal contacts, or informal agreements? Why and how were these strategic alliances formed?  Of all strategic alliances, has anyone been especially successful? Why? Has any one of them not worked at all? Why? 8. Marketing and promotion  What are your current marketing activities? Have you studied why visitors come to the area? Why they go to nearby places? Do you target special groups? What groups take part in the marketing activities?  Is the protected area known or unknown? Is it known within the country? And abroad?  How is the area promoted? Is it promoted as part of a national or regional tourism campaign? Do international NGOs promote your area? Does the tourism industry? Which are the formal means of promotion? Have you quantified the incidence of informal promotion means? Are there other ways of promoting the protected area? 9. Opportunities and obstacles  What new opportunities will affect tourism demand? Consider the issue of transportation. For example, is there any new airline service in the country that may yield more visitors? Were any of the roads to the site recently paved? What other transportation related issues affect tourism?  Have there been changes in the situation of natural resources? Are the threats greater? Has the government recently improved the protection status of the area? Have you received new funds for the management of the protected area?  What has happened with advertising? Has an article about the protected area been recently published in any popular magazine? Did a tourism operator start any new excursion on the site?  Is there any new attraction that can bring additional visitors to the country? How will this affect the protected area? Are there other
  • 52. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 52 tourists visiting the region that may be attracted to the protected area?  What has happened, or is likely to happen, that can affect the incidence of tourism?  Is there any obstacle for the growth of tourism that must me considered? For example, has there recently been a political conflict in the area, or is the potential there for it to happen? Is the area considered stable? Is there, or can there be political violence?  Has your area undergone any natural disaster, such as a hurricane? Were there any damages?  Is the national currency considered stable in the international market? Has it suffered changes that may discourage the visit of tourists? A tool that turns out to be essential is the GIS, since, ecotourism being a basically spatial issue, it can be transferred to the computing realm, and simulations or projections can be carried out, or it can even be used as a tool for making multiple criteria decisions.(Obadiah, 2000). Depending on the results of the survey, the ecotourism project will or will not be launchable, according to realistic business perspectives; the available resources and their real appeal, options and conditionings will be known, as will the options of influencing the decision making that may affect the project, and the risks assumed. It is absolutely essential to carry this survey out in a proper way. Ecotourism is a business, and should be based upon offering a real product to a public demanding it, and under attractive and competitive market conditions. 3.4 Plan monitoring In order to monitor an ecotourism project, monitoring should be conducted upon how its launching has influenced: 1. Improving the natural resources’ state of conservation 2. Obtaining a high level of satisfaction in customers 3. Generating income for conservation 4. Benefiting local communities
  • 53. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 53 Monitoring carrying capacity is a usual way of studying the state of the natural and social resources involved in public use activities. However, it is not only the management of the experience offered that will count in the degree of the user‘s satisfaction, but also -and above all- the guide‘s treatment, the comfort of the installations, and other service related matters. Thus, monitoring should also fall upon these issues. Mark (1995) recommended using indicator measurements such as satisfaction-enjoyment, education learning, attitude-belief change and behavior- lifestyle change of visitors to minimize negative impacts from ecotourism. Oliver (2001) has suggested other parameters in ecotourism monitoring. These include:  Amount of budget per capita allocated by government for conservation and environmental management purposes  Percentage of the protected areas’ surface in the country  Ratio of number of tourists to the number of local residents  Evolution of the number of tourism enterprise  Number of tourism enterprises that posses an eco-label  Number of tourists per surface of protected areas  Number of rare species in ecosystems that are ecotourism destinations.
  • 54. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 54 4. ECOTOURISM MANAGEMENT 4.1 Ecotourism activities Ecotourism activities in protected areas are based upon three pillars: Visitor Centers, Interpretive Paths, and Ecotourism Guides. Also to be mentioned is the previous education of visitors, which must be dealt with thoroughly, and the interpretive brochures, the making and design of which is an art of its own. ―Remote‖ tourism enjoyment should also be mentioned, such as that of students, handicapped persons, etc., based upon multimedia applications, virtual reality, etc., through the internet or in autonomous platforms. 4.1.1 Previous visitor instruction Previous education proves essential in order to produce the minimum impact possible upon the natural and cultural environments, and to guarantee the users the enjoyment of the planned activities. The relevant information should be furnished by the tourism operator, since it has to be marked out for each destination. Goals  To offer educational materials about the sites and human groups contemplated in the ecotourism activity, aside from emphasizing the importance of contributing to the conservation of the places to be visited.  To inform about the range of natural and cultural phenomena to be observed.  To inform, ahead of time, about the possible negative effects that their visit may cause to fragile sites, in order to minimize negative impacts during the trip. Information to be communicated  Data about the communities and ecosystems to be visited, through informative brochures. The importance should be stressed of reading all the preliminary information about the sites before leaving, including selected bibliography and reviewing supplementary materials for each destination to be visited. These materials should be very well produced.  Objective and well based information should be used, through examples of the phenomena likely to be observed by visitors.
  • 55. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 55  The general ethical attitudes of the trip should be remarked, as far as they influence tourist behavior within the natural areas and with the local cultures.  Information should be furnished about the most adequate equipment, clothing and personal items for the places to be visited, including the use of repellents.  Warning should be given about the inconvenience of carrying disposable materials that can contribute to aggravate the problem of waste overload in the region. If visitors insist in carrying disposable articles, it is there responsibility to take them back out of the area.  Warning should be given about the purchasing of products with forbidden or illegal handling.  If it is the case, information should be furnished about accidental carriage of foreign or exotic species into the ecosystems visited. Benefits for the visitors  They will have the chance to learn about the range of existing opportunities to observe wildlife, as well as to learn about the local communities.  They will become aware of the personal responsibility in reducing the impacts upon the environment and the local cultures before they visit them.  They will bring the clothing and utensils adequate or in tune with the ecosystems and cultures they visit.  They will be ready to live the experience. 4.1.2 Visitor Centers These are buildings with different interpretive techniques, dedicated to motivating protected the visitors of a protected area. Their philosophy is usually to ―retain‖ the visitors in the periphery of the protected area, and make him feel that he is in it, as well as to communicate some very basic ideas. They normally act as the visitors‘ first contact with the protected area, so the first thing to achieve is that the Center becomes a compulsory gateway, with its entrance visible and well marked.
  • 56. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 56 Let us consider some previous questions about interpretation. Interpretation is the communication way that connects visitors with resources. Good interpretation is a bridge between people and new and fascinating worlds. It yields new knowledge, new visions, new enthusiasms and new interests. Seeking to interpret a protected area within four walls is, from our point of view, a mistake. Let us no longer speak of Interpretation Centers, let‘s speak of Visitor Centers, in consistence with the principle defined by Freeman Tilden: ―The final goal of interpretation is not instruction but motivation.‖ Intending to overload the visitor can be counterproductive, since it can make him/her walk away from the Center without receiving any message at all. According to the mentioned author, the accumulation of information is not interpretation, even though interpretation obviously implies information. It is adequate to point out that motivating a visitor does not require large buildings nor costly audiovisual material. From our point of view, a Visitor Center can not ―compete‖ with the protected area in attention or playing the main part. It is enough for it to have an adequate design and a clear idea to transmit, and to use the most impacting techniques to reach the user. Interpretation intends to provoke changes in attitude, and induce changes in behavior. It seeks to excite the receiver. That is why it needs to generate positive, pleasant and unforgettable experiences, staying away from instruction and indoctrination. It is never a question of ―obliging‖ the visitor to interpret everything. It‘s about reaching the tourist through the sensitive and affective world. Let us remember the rule of learning: in average, we retain 10% of what we hear, 30% of what we read, 50% of what we see, and up to 90% of what we do. It is important for visitors to do things Interpretive contents I. Any interpretation that does not somehow relate what is being displayed or described to something within the personality or experience of the visitor will be sterile. II. Information, as such, is not Interpretation. Interpretation is revelation based on information. But they are entirely different things. However, all interpretation includes information. III. Interpretation is an art, which combines many arts, whether the materials presented are scientific, historical or architectural. Any art is in some degree teachable. IV. The chief aim of Interpretation is not instruction, but provocation. V. Interpretation should aim to present a whole rather than a part, and must address itself to the whole man rather than any phase. VI. Interpretation addressed to children (say, up to the age of twelve) should not be a dilution of the presentation to adults, but should follow a fundamentally different approach. To be at its best it will require a separate program. TILDEN'S SIX PRINCIPLES OF INTERPRETATION
  • 57. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 57 A usual problem in the designing of Centers is an excess in contents. The contents to be offered must be selected, choosing the most important ones. These can be easily obtained by considering the following items: 1. Special or rare natural or cultural resources 2. Specially attractive places, from a scenic or landscape point of view. 3. Main visitor attraction 4. Activities preferred by visitors 5. Other attractive feasible activities, that are compatible with conservation. 6. Use of natural resources: compatibility and problems 7. Experiences in style 8. Previous knowledge of the area by visitors 9. Residents‘ knowledge and attitudes towards the area 10.References to visitors‘ attitudes regarding the conservation of the area 11.Management of the protected area 4.1.3 Interpretive paths Concept Paths are a way of knowing natural areas. They are very important in order to facilitate movement within the area while protecting natural resources and providing the ecotourist with an educational and exciting experience. They are tracks open to pedestrian use by visitors. They are used both, in the company of a guide-interpreter and self guided. Their installations should be minimal (including signposting). They must allow users to have a perception of well preserved Nature. They are incompatible with the existence of degraded areas, or of areas under too visible management actions. Advantages:  Visitor freedom  Very close up enjoyment of the area (being able to walk on, smell, see, feel the protected area)  The visit can be an intense personal experience, with a sense of solitude, and requiring a certain physical effort. Disadvantages  Risk of erosion  Difficulty to control
  • 58. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 58  Depending on topography, the user might walk off the paths and affect other sectors of the natural area. The goal of interpretive paths is that the tourist gets to know the site with the help of a guide, or, if they are self guided, that s/he receives an explanation of the way through pamphlets and signs. They must seek maximum satisfaction of the customer. Even though a whole handbook could be written just on paths, we will recall a few generalities: Planning an interpretive path: To design an interpretive path: a) What do we want to tell the visitor?  We must collect information about the area, endangered species, easy- to-watch specimens, and security in the area.  We should not intend to communicate ―the whole‖ protected area. It‘s a matter of developing partial aspects.  We need to determine the kind of path to be designed, once we know what resources and kind of terrain are available, and who it is aimed to.  The key points of the path will be selected. Between 12 and 30 points must be located for interpretation. It is also necessary to put up a map, on the site or in the brochure that explains the whole route, the name, the points considered, and the duration of the course.  The path will be completely defined: give it a name and indicate the most significant features that will be seen, and the general topic. b) How are we going to build the path?  The construction method will depend on the type of terrain and the path‘s intensity of use. For paths used by less than 10.000 visitors per year, and in areas with a smooth slope, concrete may not be necessary.  Auxiliary works (boardwalks, bridges, stairways, etc.) must meet the security requirements, and at the same time be as adapted to the environment as possible.  Instead of placing explanation placards along the path, it is recommended to just place numbers, which will correspond to those in an indicative pamphlet.  Curves, and not only straight lines, must be included in the course, to make it more fun.  We must avoid elements (wastebaskets, benches, tables, etc.) that stand out too much because of their materials, shapes, or colors. c) What are the limitations or conditionings?  The path must be previously studied through GIS, thus optimizing the elements to be covered, and designing layouts with minimum slopes.
  • 59. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 59  Afterwards, it is proper to retrace the path with Global Positioning System (GPS) al along the course, in order to control the length, as well as the time it will take visitors to complete it. We should bear in mind not to produce a very monotonous and long path that could bore visitors. It is very important that paths are closed to vehicle transit.  There should be parking spaces close to the beginning of the course.  We must consider that, in average, people are not willing to walk more than an hour.  Departing intervals should be defined for groups, to avoid them meeting along the way.  The path should be built keeping the destruction of vegetation to the minimum.  We should try to make it circular, so that the ecotourists arrive at the starting point without going through the same place twice. 4.1.4 Wildlife observation activities Wildlife observation is one of the main activities to be carried out by nature tourists. Some issues that should be considered have been underlined by several authors (Woods, 1999):  Visitors want to see the animals from close by, and they frequently like to touch them and/or feed them.  From this starting point, one must decide how to approach the problem. The priorities must be to minimize the impacts upon the animals, as well as maintaining people’s safety.  Managers much use the natural environment as much as it is convenient for the visitors’ enjoyment. Revegetated areas should be created in the vicinity of the Visitor Centers, seeking maximum naturalness, and with trees that make shady Pedestrian paths must be closed to vehicle transit
  • 60. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 60 areas possible. During the visits, users should be allowed to eat or rest in the natural environment.  In all situations were people can be close to fauna, managers must study how to improve safety.  In the case of animals being kept in captivity, if they cannot be kept in large enclosures, and with excellent care, they must never be exhibited. Visitors strongly dislike seeing animals in inadequate captivity conditions.  Education and interpretation play a vital role. Managers must look for whatever might impact their visitors through education. If the visitor cannot get to see the animals from close up, how can the experience be substituted for? Managers must also consider those features of the animals that are most attractive for people, as well as the topics of interest as a basis for interpretation, or as a suggestion to improve interpretation.  Guides are the best method of interpretation. Specialized, knowledgeable and interested guides are generally the best way to convey information to the visitors. 4.1.5 Ecotourism guides The ecotourism guide in a protected area is an essential element of nature interpretation. It is necessary to make a short statement about interpretation: Interpretation inspires, instead of teaching. While its goal is to transmit information, its message must reach visitors‘ hearts, as well as their minds. What interpreters do is to communicate, but through their warmth they should convey affection for the protected area, and conviction of the need to preserve it. They should develop knowledge, appreciation and understanding in the visitor, without the burden of excessive information. In other words, the interpreter must give the minimum information with the maximum impact. Technically, interpretation is defined as ―the human activity that translates the means of expression of Nature into the everyday language of the area’s visitors through specialized communication techniques‖ (Moore, 1985).
  • 61. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 61 The profile of a guide should bring together the following conditions:  Great knowledge of the place, in particular of the area‘s natural resources.  Knowledge of the addressee group, and of its cultural characteristics.  Ability to communicate his/her knowledge to the visitors.  Ability to speak in the visitors‘ language.  In certain occasions, the psychological knowledge to meet the needs and requirements of each member of the group. The guide’s goals are:  To prepare the tourist for meeting the local cultures, and the site‘s flora, fauna and ecology, facilitating the approach and optimizing the enjoyment. Therefore, the following techniques/tools will be used: - Offering good quality orientation. The number of guides should be in tune with the fragility of the environment visited. - Offering good quality interpretation all the time, including the characteristics of local cultures and the description of the site‘s natural history. To stimulate the interaction with the local population, closely watching this contact in order to prevent cultural blunders. - Offering succinct explanations before each stop, that include: behavior rules, restricted practices and off-limits areas; alerts about fragile and threatened species; distances to be kept with local flora and fauna; as well as the site‘s own regulations. - Make the most of the travel and waiting times to talk objectively with tourists about the issues of local interest. One example of fact versus interpretation: FACT: Yellowstone has around 10,000 thermal features. Its roughly 300 geysers make up 2/3 of all the geysers in the world. It also includes one of the world's largest volcanic calderas which measures 28 by 47 miles. INTERPRETATION: "Yellowstone is, for its area, the most interesting place in the world. It is situated at the very heart of the continent, where the hidden pulses can be seen and felt to beat. The geological pages constitute a book, which being interpreted will reveal some of the mysterious operations of nature." "Say Something that Matters: The Philosophy of Interpretation" (Carol A. Shively)
  • 62. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 62  To reduce the impact of visits upon the natural environment. Therefore, the following techniques/tools will be used: - Explaining local regulations to the visitors - Obtaining and distributing available rules for each natural area visited. - Receiving direct recommendations from the protected area staff. - Informing the visitors about the adequate behavior on the paths, in the camps, with the wildlife, and with the threatened species, as well as the correct management of waste and activity leftovers. - Informing the travelers about the different levels of difficulty in each excursion, in order to prevent possible damages to the environment produced by a lack of experience or by ignorance of the procedures in little known terrains. - Informing the tourist about what exists, but not guaranteeing that s/he will see all of it. For example, informing the tourist that there are tigers, but that only with luck will they be able to see them, and explain why. - Warning about the inappropriateness of collecting souvenirs from the natural areas, such as animals, their remains, or traces of their activity, even in the cases when such practices are allowed by local authorities. - Dissuade from purchasing crafts produced with materials coming from endangered natural resources.  To reduce the impact of visits upon local cultures. Therefore, the following techniques/tools will be used: - Interpreting the values of local cultures and their own history. - Having a list available of the guidelines designed by the company about the area to be visited. Obtaining and distributing guidelines produced by the local communities themselves, when possible. - Warning about the risks the tourist is exposed to in a certain place. - Infusing into the tourists the tolerance for the cultural differences, and their temporary adoption of local habits, as well a wise approach. - Informing about the best way to take pictures or film scenes. - Informing about the best way to acquire goods or services, as well as responding to the situations that may arise.
  • 63. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 63  Cooperating in monitoring the incidence of tourism. Therefore, the following techniques/tools will be used: - Estimating the total number of groups that visit a site simultaneously. Counting Carrying out counts of the people on the paths or trails within the protected areas, and being aware of the sites with an accelerated growth in visitation. - Notifying the authorities if the number of visitors is growing in an alarming way. - Carrying out a close monitoring of the negative environmental impacts, including the erosion of paths, inadequate waste management, water pollution, wild species‘ harassment, or the presence of wild animals that have turned abnormally shy or aggressive. Notifying the authorities about these facts. - Cooperating with the area managers in the monitoring of key and indicator species, or offering logistic help to researchers who work in projects about tourism impacts. - Designing itineraries and special offers to avoid overloading popular destinations, especially those lacking adequate management. - Being alert about situations of accumulated cultural impact, and working to prevent them or diminish them. The indicators include: inflated prices in communities‘ goods; locals‘ hostility against tourists; black market, drug smuggling and/or prostitution at the service of the tourism industry. 4.2 Ecotourism lodging 4.2.1 Selecting the site In the first place, we have to decide whether the lodging should be placed within or outside the boundaries of the protected area. Both possibilities have pros and cons. As a rule, tourism lodgings should not be created inside small protected areas (less than 20.000 hectares). Having said this, we must mention the main advantage: the feeling of proximity the visitor gains. The main disadvantage is the distance from the local community, which will thus probably see its source of income diminished. As a suggestion, high prices (for example 100€ per person per day) can be set for interior lodges, so that the turn dissuasive.
  • 64. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 64 In the case of creating lodging within the protected area, a site must be selected where environmental impact will be the minimum possible. An essential factor to be taken into account is observable landscape, which will be determinant for success. If lodgings outside the area are chosen, the first choice is whether to build them in local villages or nearby, or to count on the community to arrange some outbuildings to welcome visitors. This last way is probably the one that has worked best, even though it requires training and financial support for local population to be able to undertake the improvements. 4.2.2 Architectural and building design No specific and concise rules exist in the country about the buildings to be set up in a protected area, so it will be the promoter‘s responsibility to create an infrastructure that guarantees the minimum environmental impact. The ideal would be that the respective authorities would generate rules and regulations that clearly indicated the parameters within which future ecotourism installations should be designed within a protected area. We can discern several models of general design. The ―classic‖ hotel is based upon a marked hierarchy of edified forms, with modification of the outside environment (yards substituting for native vegetation), and use of foreign shapes. The ―community‖ lodging could be looked upon as a small village, with dispersed unitary buildings following the traditional type, where vegetation connects the units. A third kind would be the lodging that firstly seeks the link between visitor and nature, in a way that basically fosters harmony and solitude. The general design rules (adapted from NPS, 1994) would be the following:  Be subordinate to the ecosystem and cultural context o Respect the natural and cultural resources of the site and absolutely minimize the impacts of any development.  When designing buildings, local construction techniques should be used (or, this lacking, finishes with local techniques) and use native cultural images when possible, and provided that their use is respectful with the conservation of natural resources.  Use architectural shapes that are in harmony with the natural landscape, designed with environmental criteria, and avoiding the superfluous, and excessive comfort or
  • 65. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 65 luxury. Make use of landscape architecture; the materials should ―blend‖ into and be in harmony with the environment.  It is desirable that the buildings‘ style is similar to that of the local inhabitants‘ homes. The buildings should be spread out enough to allow the natural growth of vegetation and the wildlife‘s movements.  Altering animal‘s transit areas should be avoided. Building should take place in the most recondite and hidden places possible. The natural ecosystem should be kept as little perturbed as possible, instead of seeking a very flashy architecture. Competition between the natural environment and the buildings should never be provoked.  Furniture and equipment should preferably be manufactured with local products, the use of which does not affect the conservation of natural resources. It should be recalled that not all local elements are of sustainable use. Sometimes, artificial materials are more adequate.  It is always preferable –with the exceptions mentioned- that the building and decoration are carried out with local materials and labor force (including local artists and artisans.)  Local decoration, goods and services should be purchased, so that the tourists feel a ―local flavor‖.  Reinforce/exemplify appropriate environmental responsiveness o Educate visitors/users about the resource and appropriate built responses to that environment. o Interpret how development works within natural systems to effect resource protection and human comfort and foster less consumptive lifestyles. o Use the resource as the primary experience of the site and as the primary design determinant  Enhance appreciation of natural environment and encourage/establish rules of conduct.  Create a "rite of passage" o Develop an entrance into special natural or cultural environment that emulates the respectful practice of removing shoes before
  • 66. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 66 entering Vietnamese home . . . leaving cars and consumptive values behind.  Use the simplest technology appropriate to the functional need, and incorporate passive energy-conserving strategies responsive to the local climate.  Avoid use of energy intensive, environmentally damaging, waste producing, and/or hazardous materials. o Use cradle-to-grave analysis in decision making for materials and construction techniques  Strive for "smaller is better" optimizing use and flexibility of spaces so overall building size and the resources necessary for construction and operation are minimized  Consider "constructability" striving for minimal environmental disruption, resource consumption, and material waste, and identifying opportunities for reuse/recycling of construction debris.  Provide equal access to the full spectrum of people with physical and sensory impairments psychological conditions while minimizing impacts on natural and cultural resources Also, the design should  Consider phasing the development to allow for monitoring of resource impacts and adjustments in subsequent phases.  Allow for future expansion and/or adaptive uses with a minimum of environmental demolition and waste materials; and components should be chosen that can be easily reused or recycled make it easy for the occupants/operators to recycle waste We will also take into account the following considerations for the development of ecotourism infrastructure of the project (adapted from Ceballos, 1998 and Pérez, 1998): Design specificities:  Installations must be available for cleaning activities (boot cleaning, outside showers, raincoat hanging areas, etc.) Remember the specificities of the activities to be developed and build the necessary auxiliary installations.  It is useful to have coverings to shield tourists from rain.
  • 67. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 67  Sometimes, it will be necessary to build boardwalks, or apply surface treatments to the paths communicating the installations.  Storage installations should be provided for travel equipment such as suitcases, bags, backpacks, rubber boots, hats, etc.  Signs with the adequate environmental behavior codes, for both tourists and employees, should be posted in visible places of the lodge.  Tourists must be offered a space with reference materials (books, publications, species‘ lists, maps …), comfortable furniture for reading and reviewing, as well as a notebook for important fauna and flora observations, that must be periodically reported to the protected area management.  Always have a complaint and suggestion book available.  Depending on the case, take into account seismic considerations in the design, as well as precautions against other natural disasters. Building specificities regarding fauna /flora/ landscape:  Artificial lighting of the complex should be strictly limited and controlled, in order to avoid the interruption of the nocturnal light cycles of plants and animals. Light pollution will be avoided through the use of directional lamps.  Design should consider the aspects necessary to minimize the entrance of insects, reptiles and rodents, and set up mosquito nets on the beds.  Under certain circumstances, when it appears interesting to attract certain fauna to the installations for it to be observed by the visitors, the building characteristics will adapt to the needs of the fauna (openings in the buildings, supports for nests, etc.  If the restaurant is outdoors, and the health legislation allows it, one possibility is to attract the birds from the surroundings giving them small amounts of food in nearby, specifically arranged places. Food can be modified each day, thus allowing the clients to see different species. Interpretive equipment:  Always try to include interpretive elements for visitors in the ecotourism complex, even if they are small and modest, but make them attractive and didactic, such as scale models, diagrams, wildlife and flora photo, craft samples and others.
  • 68. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 68  Place discreet tags on the ground to identify trees and shrubs that are close to the lodgings, in order to gradually familiarize the tourists with the species they will find in the interpretive trails.  A very extended form of interpretation in the Anglo-Saxon world is the guide‘s talk about the natural resources or their management. They therefore use small (20 to 30 people) outdoor amphitheatres. Lodging would appear enriched with this possibility, by taking advantage of moments when no other activities can be developed.  We need to emphasize sanitary installations (toilets and showers). They must be properly built, guarantee privacy, and always be in an optimum state of cleaning and attention. It is also essential to avoid sources of unpleasant sounds or smells close to the installations. It is fitting to offer several levels of lodging. Visitors will seek the best quality service they can afford with their money. They will not necessarily seek the cheapest option. 4.2.3 Energy management How to make use of solar energy If sufficient sunshine is available at the site, make use of solar energy. It can be used for:  Heating water with coils placed on the ceiling and keeping the water in tanks that maintain the temperature.  Solar cells to convert solar energy into electricity for use in the different activities (basically lighting and small appliances). How to make good use of wind If your ecotourism complex is in a very windy place, make use of this force of nature to generate electric energy through small windmills. Placing the installations Place your complex in a way that makes natural ventilation of the buildings easy. Study the direction in which winds blow, and design the
  • 69. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 69 buildings with it in mind. You will thus save energy in the future, minimizing the use of air conditioning. Save energy Some advisable measures to reduce energy consumption are detailed in what follows:  Use minimum energy consumption bulbs. Avoid the use of fluorescent lamps.  Use air conditioning only in places where computer equipment is kept, and when absolutely necessary. Use only ozone – friendly air conditioning.  In certain areas (such as rest rooms) you can install timed switches. You can also install switches that are activated by the user‘s presence (with a card, for example).  Place a list of energy-saving recommendations for the visitor in each room, including the request for the user to turn everything off and close the curtains when leaving the room.  Keep all maintenance and service appliances off when not using them.  Reduce night lighting to the minimum needed.  Stimulate attitudes among your employees that contribute to save energy.  Carry out trimester maintenances to verify all forms of energy use, and keep your employees informed about them.  Use isolating elements in building. 4.2.4 Water management Making use of rainwater Rainwater can be captured from the building roofs with gutters, and driven to collecting tanks. During the rainy reason, making use of this will provide you a less expensive option. Do not forget that mosquito proliferation and bacterial pollution must be controlled in the tanks. Saving water Apply the following measures to reduce water consumption:
  • 70. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 70  Specifically train your employees in possible water saving measures, especially those applicable during cleaning.  Minimize water in the kitchen. Do not use water to defrost food.  Inform about how to reduce water consumption in the guest‘s rooms, and ask for the visitor‘s cooperation. Use on-demand sheet and towel washing: o Towels: For towels, put up a sign in the bathroom, saying that if the guest doesn‘t want the towels changed, they should be left on the rack where they were found, and if they are to be changed, they can be left anywhere else. o Sheets: For sheets, place a card on the night table or close by, saying that if sheets are not to be changed, the card should be left on the pillow.  Conduct regular follow-ups of the water conduction systems, to avoid leaks and losses. Repair faults immediately.  Sow native species in the yards, which require as little water as possible. 4.2.5 Sewage management The management of sewage usually implies problems that are difficult to solve. Water is normally poured into a set of several watertight underground containers (commonly three or four). Wastewater undergoes a digestion process, and the water obtained in the last tank can be reused for irrigation, while the organic matter mud from the two first ones can be periodically pumped out and used as crop field fertilizer. Since the digestion process is based upon bacterial activity, the use of cleaning liquids such as bleach, that can eliminate the fauna from the digesters, should be avoided. In certain occasions, the purified water (which will still hold a high content of nutrients) can be flushed through a green filter of vegetation, that can retain this excess of phosphorous and nitrogen. 4.2.6 Solid waste management We will be facing a fairly complex problem of solid waste management, due to the scarce available technology and the foreseeable growth of the waste per person. You should launch a solid waste management plan. One of the
  • 71. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 71 main complaints from the tourists is that of filth in places such as beaches and public facilities. Do not let this happen in your tourism complex. Waste management We will base solid waste management upon the principles of reducing their production, reusing whatever we can, and recycling as much as possible:  Reducing: reduce the amount of material used. Use what is necessary, and try to be more and more efficient to consume less.  Reuse: Ask yourself whether the product you are using can be reused, and if not, ask yourself whether others exist that could be.  Recycle: Use recyclable products as much as you can. Look for recycled goods‘ buyers in your area. Join forces with other complexes if possible, to negotiate larger volumes. Measures to follow  Carry out a regular monitoring of the amount of garbage your complex produces, and adjust the amount of products you purchase, and serve in the restaurant. That way you will be able to minimize the waste produced.  Separate the kinds of garbage: organic, paper, cans, glass, plastic, and dangerous waste. Have marked containers available for guests and employees to dump the garbage in the right place, and make separating easier.  Make compost will all organic residues, including those coming from kitchen and gardening. The excess of compost can be sold as fertilizer, or serve local farmers who grow fresh food for the complex.  Consider spaces and installations for garbage collecting and separating in the design of the complex.  Take inorganic waste to an adequate dump.  Reuse cans, bottles and plastic whenever possible.  Use returnable bottling in restaurant and bar services whenever possible.  Preferably buy food fresh, instead of canned or frozen. Try to buy larger quantities of fresh food from farmers who produce organically, and if this is not possible, try to look for suppliers who produce without using pesticides. This way, you can enter a healthier food market; consider that ecotourists will feel much better if they consume this kind of food.
  • 72. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 72  Never purchase or serve food made of endangered species. Use wholesale dealers, thus minimizing packaging waste. Bear the product‘s expiry date in mind, and the number of tourists that will visit your complex during the season.  Suggest your guests to carry the garbage (such as wrappings) coming from materials brought in by them back to their home and leave it at regulated areas.  Serve seasonings, sugar, etc. in refillable containers.  Do not use disposable plates or cups, in particular plastic or cardboard ones.  Also reduce the use of products in the office, for example, minimize the use of paper.  Set up permanent dispensers in the rest rooms, that can be refilled. Make sure the articles are biodegradable. Avoid paper towel dispensers.  Put up signs in the rooms, inviting guests to reduce waste production. Remind them not to dump garbage in the paths and surroundings.  For non recycled waste, use compacters to form waste blocks. When you have a considerable amount, you can pay a collecting truck to take them to a proper dump. 4.3 The role of local communities The role of local communities rests upon three basic pillars, without which ecotourism will not be able to operate properly.  Capacity building. The population is normally not aware of the impact of tourism upon the environment and their own culture. They don‘t clearly know the tourist‘s requirements either. The responsibility of capacity building can be assumed by NGOs, Public Administration, or tourism entrepreneurs.  Steering. The community cannot be left on its own in planning and management. This responsibility must be exercised and leaded by the Administration, which must itself count on public partaking bodies. This takes us to the next pillar:  Cooperation. Through these public partaking bodies, the community must be fully integrated in the decision making, planning and management tasks. (Nguyen van Lam, 1999). Promoting participation is essential.
  • 73. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 73 Participation must take place at different levels, depending on the real rights of the local communities. A basic aspect never to be overseen is participation in the planning process, since it implies the development model to be carried out in that territory, and the community will necessarily be one of its main actors. On the long run, it is always desirable that the main roles in business belong to the community. This will normally require a long time for company projects, but small individual businesses such as selling products or crafts, which require little investment, can be established with a minimum support. 4.3.1 Benefits for conservation In showing the community the benefits obtained from the conservation and improvement of the area‘s natural resources, one will be promoting their interest for environmental conservation. The local population must participate in the project, not only for obvious reasons of fairness and equity, but also for the valuable knowledge they can put into management, guidance and understanding of the area. The entrepreneur must show the community the economic reasons to preserve it. An example can be that of the hunters. These people, dedicated to subsistence hunting, will have a fine knowledge of the wildlife and its natural environment. They will be able to use their ability to find shy or rare species, which will be highly valued by ecotourists. In trading the gun for the binoculars, many local inhabitants with limited viable economic options will gain a new life option. This way pressure upon the area‘s natural resources will be reduced, since alternative income sources will exceed subsistence needs. Outlined, the benefit for Nature conservation and the managers would be (Eagles et al, 2003):  Promoting conservation  Fostering heritage appraisal  Generating income(obtaining profits or reducing operational expenses)  Generating employment  Learning  Building alliances with the local community  Developing long term sustainable economic activities  Managing resource extraction  Fostering research
  • 74. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 74  Creating a positive experience  Making visitors repeat 4.3.2 Benefits for local communities Income There are two conditions for local communities to obtain significant economic benefits: the first one, to have products and services available to be acquired by tourists; the second one, that the outflow of obtained capital is minimal. Regarding the first one, when communities engage in ecotourism, it is possible to generate new income sources for the community through individual employment opportunities. This income can be generated through the establishment of fees, making lodging or guidance services available, preparing and serving meals, selling crafts, etc. It is probable –and desirable- that this income reduces the dependence from unsustainable activities. Minimizing the outflow of the obtained capital is more complicated, especially at the beginning, since the investment will frequently be coming from outside the community. Some guidelines to increase the income of local communities are (Eagles et al, 2002):  Increasing the number of visitors can sometimes turn out counterproductive, due to the negative effects we may have.  Extending the stays: this increases the possibilities of goods and services‘ acquisitions.  Attracting markets with higher acquisitive power: it will be achieved through different marketing and advertising techniques.  Increasing the sales per visitor. This is achieved by increasing and improving the offer of locally manufactured goods.  Offering lodging. Thus retaining a substantial part of the benefit generated by tourism, and increasing the time of stay.  Offering guides and other services. Normally, more than one service will be hired.  Celebrating events. Art, folklore, and festivals will act increasing the number of visitors, and hence the economic benefits.  Purchasing services and products from the community. Equal opportunities
  • 75. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 75 A very special aspect to be considered is the possibility of achieving equitable partaking of the whole community through ecotourism. Gender problems can be significant, since women frequently have difficult access to paid jobs under the same conditions as men. Ecotourism must include among its conditions the fostering of equal opportunity partaking. For example, women‘s work in the ecotourism project should not be identified with certain activities determined by tradition or socio-cultural restrictions. Equal opportunities should guarantee access to all jobs according to capacity and the free market‘s laws of offer and demand. Service improvement As communities receive new incomes, the possibility exists to improve health and education services. These shares can have the long run effect of improving awareness about conservation within the community and reducing the threats. Better health services can improve the community‘s attractive conditions, and give it additional advantages to attract tourism. Cultural exchange Visits to native and traditional communities can become a main attraction in a trip to a natural area. Natural attractions are increased for tourists if they can relate to them through the eyes and words of the people living in those areas. The opportunity to learn from a traditional culture is more and more the result of the interest shown by the visitors, especially if previous foreign attitudes tended to despise it. Nevertheless, the success of such visits depends upon local residents feeling strengthened, and in control of the process and the situation. The need to offer something ―authentic‖ should also be pointed out. The offer of cultures or goods that have lost their identity is like offering a road to climb a mountain: it loses all its interest for ecotourism. Cultural exchange must be especially careful. If there is a very strong contrast between the ―rich‖ visitor and ―poor‖ local, there is a real risk of cultural absorption and loss of the local community‘s identity. Making sure this doesn‘t happen is a responsibility of the Administration. Ecotourism entrepreneur’s contribution to the community The ecotourism businessperson (entrepreneur) must contribute services and support in different activities. Among these practices, we can mention the following (Wight, 1999):
  • 76. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 76  Carrying out the proper actions so that the project contributes to improve the region it operates in.  Supporting, being sympathetic, and contributing with the local communities and events (such as donating awards, or developing infrastructure).  Establishing reasonable access fees to his/her complex and/or ecotourism activity. Managing these fees in dongs.  Provide local community institutions and groups with ecotourism activities that are cost free or have a discount.  Offer some kind of cooperation way for local school students.  Participate in local agencies and associations.  Offer facilities to carry out community activities and events whenever possible. 4.3.3 Risks and impact reduction Potential negative impacts Potential negative impacts that can take place upon the local population are of three kinds: increases in financial and economic costs; social costs; and excessive concentration in the activity, leaving the community overexposed to fluctuations in tourism demand.  Increase in financial and economic costs. It is generated when the demand of basic services grows, which usually originates increased costs. For example, it can increase the number of foreign owners, and make housing more expensive. It is a true and serious risk, since in that situation the population can look for other, unsustainable ways of income. The possibility of cost increase must be counteracted with the benefits obtained.  Social costs. Visitors can ―compete‖ for recreation areas and other services. Occasionally, the economic activity itself can generate great social differences, crime and marginality pockets. The possibility of crime increasing with the amount of visitors and the population tending the services should also be taken into account. Measures should be carried to extremes in order to prevent every form of sexual exploitation.
  • 77. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 77  Excessive concentration of the economic activity: It is not advisable for ecotourism to become the only activity in the community. It should be a complementary activity that seeks socio-economic wellbeing: it can be the main one, but not the only one. We must remember that tourism in general suffers sudden fluctuations many times due to external factors that can prove uncontrollable. In the case of a market fall, the population would be exposed to a very serious crisis. Reducing the impacts upon local cultures The first thing to show the local communities is respect. Therefore, provide the ecotourists with the information necessary to show respect and sensibility. The ecotourism businessperson must see about minimizing the impact of the visitor upon the local cultures through informative materials, explanatory talks, giving examples, and undertaking corrective actions. Bear in mind that the local community must reaffirm its values prior to the arrival of the tourists. It is recommended to hire a social worker to prepare the community making it aware of the importance of its values, and of not letting them change because of the tourists‘ pressure. The guides in charge of the activity must comply with the following points:  Interpreting the values of local cultures and their own history.  Having a list available with the rules and advices about the cultural realm of the area visited. The optimum is to have rules produced by the local communities themselves, whenever possible, or at least to consult the rules with them, before their distribution.  Infuse tourists tolerance of the different cultures, and even temporary adoption of local customs, as well as a sensible approach.  Informing the visitors about the best procedures to take pictures or film scenes.  Informing the visitors about the best procedure to purchase goods and services
  • 78. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 78  Explaining tourists the appropriate way of approaching the local community.  Making the visitor understand the local cultures, also avoiding the intromission in native resident‘s private lives. Protecting the local culture Visits to places with access restricted because of cultural sensibility should be avoided. Sometimes, the community can be more sensitive, and the tourists can get to influence it. In these cases, the community needs to be ready for the contact with people alien to its environment. It is not superfluous to call attention upon the inadequate exhibition of local communities as if they were simple, more or less colorful attractions. Respect for dignity must be above all. Sometimes, there are communities who are not interested in cultural exchanges with foreigners. In these cases, contact should be avoided, and even the development of any ecotourism project can be unsuitable. 4.3.4 Community partaking When a decision has to be made that can affect the community, its way of life, its culture, or its future, it must be discussed with them, and an agreement should be reached. Regarding other issues, it is also, discussion is also fitting and advisable, since communities can provide very useful suggestions, derived from the better knowledge of the place, and can warn about the existence of situations that may not be known to the promoter. Information and training The businessperson must exchange information with the community. Bear in mind that the exchange of information is an empowering mechanism with which the community is going to feel well, since it is being taken into account. Regarding training, the idea is to help change those practices you consider inconsistent with Nature conservation, that can take place in agriculture, cattle raising or fishing, and also improving public services, health, education, and drinking water. It is most likely that the local population has no experience in handling visitors adequately. They need help in developing those skills, as could be, in the case of guides, training in communication techniques, seeking a better
  • 79. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 79 relation with tourists. In the end, it is about creating a culture of service, where the tourist is very well treated. Training must not generate differences in the fate of the jobs to be performed by the community. Capacity building must train staff at all levels, including training for management itself. It is not a question of keeping the community employed, but also of making it possible for them to be protagonists in the future. Contact with tourism: a community decision When it‘s about the kind and level of contact with tourists, the community must have the last word. (The Nature Conservancy,1995). One must explain to them what they will obtain wih the project, so that they can evaluate their benefits. Vague information can not be given, what they really are going to get must be stated, in order to avoid misunderstandings in the future. If it is the case, it is useful to negotiate between the parties to achieve a mutual agreement. Hiring local personnel Hiring local personnel is one of the pillars of ecotourism. By hiring local people as workers, or hiring their services for different activities, you will be contributing to the general wellbeing of the region. On one side, you will be distributing wealth, and on the other, people will see their traditions and culture valued, and their self esteem will be increased. It is very important for hiring conditions to be looked upon by the authorities, in order to guarantee that the services are paid for properly. The benefits for the businessperson will be to have labor force and services available, and to create links with the community. It is a good idea to organize the community for it to create associations; this way the businessperson will hire the services from the group and not directly from the individual, which will probably save him/her labor difficulties. 4.3.5 Relations between community and business The different options that have been used up till now for the relation between community and company, as well as the results obtained from the experience are (Denman, 2001): 1. Private tourism companies that employ local personnel. Even though it is a useful type of employment, it is very important to
  • 80. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 80 keep away from deficient salaries and conditions, and to make sure that training, even in administration, is offered the local population. 2. Local individuals who sell products and crafts directly to the visitors, or through the tourism companies. This has proven to be a good way of spreading the benefits within a community. 3. Private tourism companies (internally or externally owned) that have received an operational concession from the community, in exchange for an amount of money and participation in the income. Many examples exist in which this option has given good results. 4. Local individuals who have links with a larger community and who administer their own small tourism enterprises. Success is variable, and the lack of training and business knowledge has proven to be the weak point. 5. Companies owned and run by the community. Sometimes they suffer from a lack of organization and incentive, but this can be overcome with time. It is the Administration‘s role to foster and develop the relations between the community and the private company. This includes:  Establishing training mechanisms so that the communities can be able to effectively defend their rights and improve their negotiation capacity.  Make sure that the agreements offer the private companies enough incentive, and recognize the commercial realities they face. The agreements should be transparent, simple, and applied consistently, minimizing administrative burdens and uncertainty.  Establishing committees where the population, tourism operators, NGOs and the Administration participate, thus ensuring the interpretation and application of the agreements, and creating communication channels with the local population. 4.3.6 Interaction between visitors and local culture Interacting with the community is something that tourists seek and value a lot. Part of this makes the foreign tourist decide to come and live a new experience. Therefore, the businessperson is advised to:
  • 81. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 81  Have a list of the local activities such as festivals or celebrations, and inform the tourists about them.  Distribute information about the cultural resources. Explain the tourists the behavior and attitude they should have in sacred or worship sites.  Provide with lists of restaurants, detailing the kind of cuisine served.  Spread the knowledge of the community‘s history, so that people become interested in visiting it. A recommendable way of doing it is through publications or exhibits in Visitor Centers.  Promote the acquisition of crafts manufactured according to the principles of ecotourism, in local shops.  Always reject buying objects made of threatened species or other ―charismatic‖ species with ecotourism value, even if they come from traditional activities.  Inform about distances and time needed to get to the place, and of the unsafe areas, if any. 4.4 Quality and client care service Quality in customer service is a responsibility of the tourism entrepreneur and/or promote, that must be permanently watched by the Public Administration, or in cooperation with NGOs, through quality or certification plans. In general, the activity of the ecotourism company must be based upon the following principles: 1. Transmitting a positive attitude towards all the participants in ecotourism. 2. Identifying the customer‘s needs. 3. Meeting the needs effectively. 4. Working with each client, giving him/her an individualized treatment. 4.4.1 Previous activity preparation Good service to the client must begin before his/her arrival. The businessperson must bear in mind that the goal is to satisfy the visitor‘s needs, and must seek the right market to achieve this goal while satisfying the
  • 82. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 82 individual needs of the visitors. We recommend to design an environmental code and a goal handbook for the company, and to make it known as considered appropriate. Maintaining a customer service line Many visitors have doubts before they get to the place, that need to be answered. The businessperson must therefore maintain a customer service line.  S/he can have a telephone service operating 7 days a week, with a wide schedule. This will work for visitors who are already in the country, or who are willing to make international calls before their arrival.  Have an exclusive e – mail account to answer customers‘ doubts prior to their arrival at your place. Go through it constantly during the day, and give immediate response to the doubts that arise.  Have bilingual service available. Attention must be paid within 24 hours of receiving the question. If you are overloaded with messages, prepare a message telling your customer that his information is being processed, and that s/he will soon get an answer. If your project is small, and you don‘t have the capacity for this, associate with others, and seek to minimize costs. Promotional materials Have explanations in promotional materials (brochures, web pages and videos) that represent the experience the tourist will undergo. These materials should reflect the following elements: (Wight, 1999):  Main activities to choose from  Educational and interpretive services offered  The region‘s natural and cultural values  Equipment and infrastructure used  Steps to prevent damages to the environment and the communities visited  Suggestions on clothing and articles to bring  Itinerary of activities  Suggested reading
  • 83. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 83  A page with questions on allergies, physical condition, food restrictions and special services required  Expenses, payment procedure The goal of all this information is for the visitor to arrive prepared for the experience s/he is about to live. Ask yourself what you would need to know before arriving at your activity, and give your customer that information. Information must be updated according to new questions and suggestions received. 4.4.2 Visitors’ expectations Offer reality The businessperson must, above all, be realistic. You must offer the ecotourists what you can give them. You should never offer what you cannot provide, since you will disappoint the customer, who will feel unsatisfied. You have to be especially careful with the issue of wildlife observation. Don‘t say you are going to see animals that have a very low probability of being encountered; announce the possibility of seeing them, and say that it won‘t always be possible. You should never announce things that you will not be able to see. This instruction should be carefully observed by the guides. A very recommendable alternative is to use footprints, tracks, or dens as ecotourism resources. Surprise the customer The businessperson should use surprise to his/her advantage. Not everything that is going to happen should be said, so that becomes your trick. Thus, you will be able to surprise with details that were not included:  Wonderful views  Souvenirs not include in the plan  Presentations by native local communities  One extra meal or drink  Bottles of water  Information packages
  • 84. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 84 Review your advertising periodically Places‘ conditions change, which is why the advertising means used, such as brochures and web pages, should be constantly updated. You should take sufficient time to see how thing are on the site, and how they are expressed in the advertisements, so that they match. New services incorporated to the offer should be added to the advertisements. 4.4.3 Offer flexibility The businessperson must consider that people with different needs are going to want to live the experience that is being offered. S/he should prepare different packages for the different types of needs, in order to satisfy them before and during the experience. (Wight, 1999). Before the tourists arrive at the place, you must take the opportunity to find out what they want by carrying out polls. You should be ready to respond quickly to changes in the market and to suggestions. Services must be adjusted so that a family with persons of different ages can carry out the activity. This way, you will take advantage of large groups, and the whole family will be happy. Tending to groups is more efficient. It will always be advisable to be in partnership with a good travel agency. Staff and infrastructure should also be prepared to serve handicapped persons. 4.4.4 Visitor’s suggestions and comments During the stay and/or activity While visitors are in the complex and/or carrying out ecotourism activities, you must pay attention to their comments and suggestions. Therefore, they should occasionally be asked:  How did you spend the night?  Did you have any problem?  Is there anything else we could do for you, to make your stay/activity more pleasant?  How has service been so far?
  • 85. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 85  Did they take good care of you?  Did you find the instructions given clear enough? Each comment and suggestion must be well received, and everything possible should be done to please the customer during the stay. We must remember the principle saying ―the customer is always right‖. At the end of the stay and/or activity You must have a comment and suggestion form available for the tourist to fill in at the end of his/her stay/activity. In this form, you should ask the user:  What was the experience like?  What did you like best?  What did you like least? What would you do to improve it?  How was the guide‘s service?  Was the experience what you expected?  Do you have any comments we should take into account for a future visit? Answer complaints and gratitude notes You must have an established procedure to answer complaints. Therefore, you must notify the ecotourist verbally or in writing that you have identified the problem and what measures have been taken to solve correct it. In the comment or complaint sheet, you have to ask the customer to leave a contact address where future communications can be sent to. You will use this address to send him/her the comments. You have to consider that, when solving a complaint, the company must act fast, since the longer it takes to solve the problem, the higher the desertion rate will be. Moreover, it is necessary to ask the customer if s/he has any complaints (Kotler et al., 1997). You must bear in mind that most of the customers do not complain. A customer turning in a complaint gives us the opportunity to inform, and to make the respective changes in the way of operating the given services. A service guarantee can be established, so that the customer will know that the company has a total engagement with good customer service.
  • 86. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 86 You must also have a procedure for answering customers‘ gratitude notes. The ecotourist will know that his/her gratitude has been heard, and will feel taken care of. S/he will also be more inclined to recommending your project. 4.4.5 Staff training As employees‘ satisfaction, participation, and labor assurance improve, so does their orientation towards customer service. (Kotler et al., 1997). Your staff is a clear investment, to which you should pay all attention possible, because it is worth it. Therefore, take into account that (Wight, 1999):  Staff should be considered more as a resource than as a cost.  Staff‘s partaking in the company‘s policies should be sought.  Teamwork should be encouraged, having every person, at all levels, contribute ideas. We should never have barriers established in advance.  Clear guidelines should be established about the training necessary to reach greater responsibility positions in the company.  Staff‘s training and development needs should be supervised periodically, to check whether the goals are being achieved, and to modify the system as needed.  A continuous improvement program should be established.  Employees should undergo training at the moment of hiring, and during their work, to increase their abilities. You should try to have a team within your own staff which is also dedicated to training.  In the specific case of guides, the best training is to accompany more experienced guides on field trips.  Employees with several abilities should be fostered. Delegating decision making The employee has to be given the authority to make decisions related to solving the customers‘ problems, as well as the training that helps them know how to make these decisions. (Kotler et al., 1997). A structure excessively dependant on the businessperson will not be agile or effective. Teamwork
  • 87. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 87 Each person has different abilities and ideas that need to be considered. You must allow that everybody contributes and combines ideas for the company‘s good. Each and every employee‘s opinion is important. If teamwork is done, when an employee makes a mistake, the rest of them will try to repair it before the customer notices it. Also, in the case of a customer needing something, any person in the team will take care of it, even though the customer is not his/her direct responsibility. Staff members help each other, improving individual performance. If a complaint or comment is made to a person of the team, s/he should take it as his/her own, and has the responsibility of the follow up and contacts needed to put the corrective action in place, thus satisfying the customer. (Kotler et al., 1997). Training tourist guides the directive team The training of your directive team must be properly organized, seeking the achievement of better results. You should take advantage of long time staff members within the organization, having them train the new people. Periodically send your staff to official guide development courses, thus ensuring a continuous training. You should establish your own standards, which all personnel will have to meet. Training courses will preferably take place during the low season. The annual activities‘ timetable must be well organized, so that a special period is dedicated to personnel training, without harming the development of your activities. A rotation by groups can be established for training, or services can be interrupted for an adequate time, for the whole team to undergo training simultaneously. Collective conviction In order to have a good customer service, all your employees must really live the experience your activity offers. This way, if a customer asks about some activity in detail, any person in the organization will be able to satisfy the doubts, and can even promote your activity without you asking him/her to. ―It is a lot more useful if an employee can give the potential customer first hand information, than reading a description.‖ (Kotler et al., 1997). Aside from this, the employees must know all facilities of the tourism complex, and what is done in the activities. Even if it has nothing to do with their job, they should have the potential to solve the customer‘s doubts. You must remember that the customer is going to address any member of the staff to express his doubts, and everyone has to be ready to answer them, or know how
  • 88. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 88 to direct him/her towards the right person with the precise answer. It is also important that the employees know the company‘s history, and the guiding objectives and goals. They must feel proud of the company they work for, and it is necessary to stimulate among them the desire to contribute to its success. (Kotler et al., 1997). Periodic meetings You must remember that staff who is constantly in touch with customers is a very important source of information. They will know the customer‘s needs very well, and will be able to help in making new plans to improve the service, or simply to maintain the strong points being offered. Their mistakes should be pointed out to them, together with the indication of the right way to do it. Working by goals The businessperson should have clear collective and individual goals to be accomplished within a period of time, and have all his/ her staff know them, and do everything possible to achieve them. These goals should be written with the help of the whole team, so that they agree and engage in achieving them. Staff‘s recommendations should be taken into account at any time. Contact with other organizations It is very important to be associated with different organizations such as NGOs, hotelkeepers associations, local organizations, etc. You must take advantage of the benefits they furnish, and help each other. You can set up exchanges where staff from your company goes to another one, and vice versa. Staff recognition If the company wants to have the staff oriented towards the customer, it must reward certain attitudes or facts of this staff. Compensation systems based upon evaluating customer satisfaction represent a method to repay your staff oriented toward such service satisfaction. (Kotler et al., 1997). You must constantly congratulate your employees for well performed tasks. You must be specific. Do not congratulate in general. Congratulate saying what you liked, and encourage the person to keep on doing it. When a customer lets you know, be it verbally or in writing, of the good work carried out by someone in your staff, transmit that congratulation to the person. Reward the best employees, and stimulate the rest to improve.
  • 89. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 89 4.4.6 Quality plans They are a mean of controlling quality in the whole business; evaluating all tasks carried out, from the beginning of advertising till the product is used by the consumer, as well as all places linked to the business. The concept of total quality control is tightly related to the quality cycle, and involves activities directly and indirectly related to quality. The quality indicators that will normally be used are linked to training, technology, services, consistence with ecotourism principles, etc. Certification of tourism quality must always be carried out by independent agencies or NGOs. The quality plan, when it comes to customer service, is very specific. Customers will arrive at the company, and will ask about the products or services available, and based upon the information, the impression, and the treatment given, they will make their decision whether to buy or not, to come back to the company or not. From the very moment the customer contacts the company, the impression must be given that s/he will receive an excellent service, and that the product offered will completely satisfy his/her needs. Controlling the whole process can ensure the quality of the offer. 4.5 Promoting ecotourism projects 4.5.1 Market studies The first thing the promoter must do is to identify the potential tourist s/he wants to attract. Market segmenting is a procedure by which people with similar needs, motivations and characteristics are sought, in order to identify the target market. Market segmenting is a process made of two steps (Mill and Morrison, 1998):  Deciding how to group potential visitors (market segments)  Selecting specific groups (target market) A poll presented by the International Ecotourism Society can prove very useful, as it shows the profile of the ecotourist:  Age: 35 – 54 years old, bearing in mind that age varies with the activity and with other factors such as cost.
  • 90. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 90  Gender: 50 % female and 50% male. Nevertheless, clear differences were found, depending on the kind of activity.  Education: 82% were college graduates.  Travel group: The majority, 60%, of experienced ecotourists (tourists that have been on at least one oriented ecotourism trip), prefer traveling with their couples, 15% with their families, and only 13% by themselves.  Travel period: most experienced ecotourists prefer trips that last between 8 and 14 days.  Expenses: experienced ecotourists are willing to spend more than conventional tourists; the largest group (26%) said that they were ready to spend US$2,000 – 3,000 per trip. This is 8.5% more than the average paid by traditional tourism. There are a series of features that define the new tourism consumer (Chamizo, 2001):  The new tourist appears ever more demanding. His/her growing experience in the purchasing and consumption of tourism services and higher cultural level, the variety of commercial offers available, and the greater easiness to search for and obtain information – thanks to the application of the new technologies in the sector- cause the customer to demand ever more specialized products, with the best quality – price relation.  They seek full satisfaction in their consumption. The satisfaction today‘s consumers look for is the result of the satisfaction obtained in each moment of the process. That means, if we decide to carry out a trip, the final result of that experience will depend upon each and every tourism product consumed between departure and return: the safety and comfort of the transportation used; the quality of the service tended at the chosen hotel; the kindness of the staff looking after us at each leisure site of the tourism destination; cleanness and order of the squares, streets and beaches of the geographic area visited; etc. From the moment one of them fails, the global experience will be diminished. It is not a question of generic and standardized satisfaction, like it used to be not many years ago with massive tourism, but a question of segmented, specific, personalized, multi-topic and intensive satisfaction. A complex and diverse satisfaction.  They are more active and participative in the search for tourism information, in the preparation of the trip, and in the consumption of the
  • 91. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 91 acquired services. On one hand, the usually cooperate actively with the travel agent in the making up tailored tourism products. On the other hand, there is also the trend for the consumer to autonomously organize his/her own trip or excursion, by contacting directly with the main dealer of the sought service, thus avoiding the presence of a mediator – the advertising agencies- in the commercial process.  They are multi-consumers, which means, during a trip they wish to respond to different motivations. The tourist hopes to intensely enjoy all possible leisure options that take place during his/her stay at the chosen destination: native gastronomy, traditional festivals, culture and art, natural parks, amusement parks, sun and beach, etc.  The show strong ecological awareness. Tourists develop an increasingly protective and respectful behavior towards the environment. Facing the pollution, noise and stress of the city, the tourism consumer values those products that allow direct contact with Nature, in search of the harmony and balance typical of natural environments.  They are prone to be tempted by new creative and original tourism products. The tourist demands innovative surprising products, with a constant component of creativity and variation. Tourist‘s consumption has matured with time, and values the originality of the services offered.  Safety during trips becomes a first order attribute. The unceasing deterioration of world peace, situation of which we are witnesses through the media, causes in tourists an attitude of fear of trips. Wars between countries and terrorist acts (such as the case of September 11, when two commercial airplanes were kidnapped and deliberately crashed by suicidal pilots) cause such social alarm that they affect the behavior of tourism. Considering the privileged situation of the ecotourism consumer, as far as control exerted upon the commercial process due to the capacity of choosing and the great variety of offers, there is an obvious need to orient company management towards the customer, that is, let the customer be the beginning and end of the whole business strategy. Fostering this idea is understanding that, as a previous step to any business action, it is compulsory to have exact knowledge of the market we will be directing the product to. Delving into the potential consumer‘s needs, tastes, preferences, attitudes, and habits is preparing the way to success. With this plan in mind, some of the communication strategies to be carried out according to the needs and motivations identified in today‘s tourism consumer are the following:
  • 92. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 92 1. In the first place, the company must reach an agreement with its product‘s consumer, that is, knowing exactly what it is that the customer wants when s/he buys. There has to be a fitting correlation between what the company sells and what the customer really buys. It may well be that the owner of a lodge on the Mekong considers that his products are the rooms that he has daily available for his customers. Nevertheless, the consumers may understand that the product the pay for is something more that a clean room. Thus, a well preserved and clean environment, a friendly and caring staff, and a management consistent with the conservation of resources, as well as the possibility to hire a local guide, will complete the global offer they perceive. In short, it is a question of knowing how the customer perceives the product. Only this way can effective messages about the offer be sent. 2. On the other hand, taking into account the intangibility that characterizes tourism services, it is fitting to point out that what a tourism company really sells through its communication actions are promises. That is, when we offer a trip to Ha Long Bay, what we really are selling, largely, is the promise of living a unique and unforgettable experience in an exotic country, in a beautiful and pristine natural setting. This particularity emphasizes the tourism company‘s need to give an image of believability and confidence that can convince the consumer public. Communication actions oriented towards the final consumer should present the tourism products pointing out those attributes that intensify, activate, enhance and personalize the experience. 3. Considering the need for evasion and self realization of the individual demanding tourism products, the advertising of these must refer to unique experiences, full pleasure, disconnection and liberation. Bearing in mind that we face an ever more demanding tourist, the need to meet the created expectations becomes even more extreme. Thus, the quality received must match the quality promised. That is, not more should be promised than what one can give or is willing to give. The quality of the customer‘s experience, or of any part of it is defined as ―the difference between the expected quality and the received quality‖. Obviously, the more the expectations are surpassed, the greater the quality perceived by the consumer will be, and consequently, the more gratifying the experience. .
  • 93. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 93 Thus, it is necessary to efficiently communicate all that the company can do for its customers, so that they know exactly how much they can demand. 4.5.2 Promotional programs The first thing to carry out in order to develop a promotion program for the ecotourism project, is to select the target market for the offer, as previously explained.. Adopt a trademark For the tourists to get to know the complex, you should develop a trademark that differentiates it from the rest of the tourism projects. It should be short, precise and concise. The trademark should include the following components.  Name: how is the ecotourism complex or business going to be called.  Term or slogan: a sentence through which it will be recognized, that expresses what the business offers.  Logotype: a sign or symbol that will identify it without needing to have the name. Marking the promotional goals The development of the promotional goals should be based upon their target market. Goals should be measurable, realistic, and have a fulfillment deadline. In order to establish the goals, we should bear in mind the moment of the product acquisition process the customers are in:  Attention: Communication needs to be established with the customer to draw his/her attention. A slogan or sentence arising curiosity can be successful in drawing attention. Therefore, the adequate way for the business to attract the ecotourist‘s attention has to be sought. Many of the tourists don‘t know where it lies, geographically, or what it has.
  • 94. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 94  Understanding: If the process of attention or lure has been successful, the tourist will be in search of greater information about the destination site. This is the moment to provide the largest amount of information so that the ecotourist knows the place, and to direct him/her towards the buying process. The mean of communication is crucial at this stage. We have to choose means that allow to give a large amount of information, and that are efficient, such as brochures, the internet, magazines, and specialized, extensively distributed newspapers. We must show the ecotourist all the benefits s/he will obtain by living the experience offered.  Attitudes: At this stage, the tourist has a positive attitude, or interest for the place of destination. You need to create or reinforce attitudes or existing positive images, and to correct the negative ones. We will place as much attention as possible on having the tourist develop the adequate image, making sure to have awakened his/her interest and to provide all necessary information. This way, the ecotourist will know if the benefits offered satisfy his/her needs.  Evaluation, preference and desire: After the tourist has evaluated several alternatives, s/he will develop a preference or desire towards a destination in particular. At this stage, the use of testimonies from people who have enjoyed the activities can prove convincing. At this stage as well, we can highlight how natural, exotic and unknown the destination is, as opposed to traditional tourism.  Intention and conviction: At this stage, the tourist is convinced that his/her needs are satisfied by the benefits that are being offered. This moment is immediately prior to the buying of the package.  Acquisition: Here, the barrier to be surpassed by the ecotourist is the amount of time and money. Thus, packages can be offered from the place of origin, with tickets and transportation included, different types of plans that adjust to the amount of time the ecotourist is willing to spend at the site, among other things.  Adoption: After the tourist has bought, you need to convince him/her that this has been an adequate decision. Therefore, as soon as the tourist has bought the package, begin a customer- fidelity promotion.
  • 95. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 95 Promotion budget After having the promotional goals ready, they must furnish you with the information necessary to establish the promotion budget. Therefore, distribute the available money among the goals, prioritizing the most important ones depending on the stage you are at. Your budget must be flexible facing changes, try to have a contingency budget and a plan in case things do not turn out as expected. The cooperation between institutions and companies is of great benefit here; this way you can work with local hotels and tour operators, NGOs, and, in general, the protagonists of ecotourism. Choose a message Use research techniques such as focal groups, interviews and polls to get to know the perception, needs, reasons and expectations of your target market. With the results, determine what you are going to communicate in the message. You can do tests, to see which one adjusts best, and make the corrections during the process, before the message is fully established. Message format The goal is to choose a format that effectively communicates the idea of the message in a way that is understandable, distinctive and believable for the target market. Alternative formats that can be used are:  Analogies, association and symbolism  Comparisons  Ways of life  Testimonies  Exaggerated situations After having chosen the format to be used for the message, develop multiple alternatives to be tried. Therefore, have a test group that you can have analyzed after being exposed to the message, and see the different reactions. Combination of promotional elements
  • 96. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 96 There are five main elements of the promotional combination, which can be used either together or separately:  Advertisements: Paid presentation of ideas, goods or services.  Personal sales: Oral conversations, be it by phone or in person, between the seller and the potential tourists.  Sales‘ promotions: The buyers are given a time of induction for them to carry out a purchase or immediate reservation.  Materials used to stimulate sales, such as brochures, posters, pictures, and other promotional elements.  Public relations and advertising: These are the activities that maintain or increase the relations with other organizations or individuals. They are relations where there is non-paid communication about the destination or the organization‘s services. We will bear in mind that a different combination of the promotional elements should be used for each of the different target groups of the message:  Tourists, visitors  Intermediaries (travel agencies, tour operators)  Press media (newspapers, magazines, television, radio)  Local community (residents, NGOs, government agencies) Media To communicate the message, select the appropriate mean of communication, among which we can list:  Magazines  Newspapers  Television  Radio  Internet  Direct mail
  • 97. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 97 We should choose the mean that is most appropriate for the ecotourist, and that adjusts better to the company‘s needs. To choose the most appropriate mean, and carry out the respective comparisons, we recommend bearing the following criteria in mind:  Cost per person contacted in the target market  Cost per person that gets in touch with you  Geographic selectivity, to get to specific places  Time for which the target market will be in contact with the message  Selectivity to communicate with the target market  Amount of competition in the realm  Rate of people sharing or passing on the materials to other people, as in the case of magazines  Total number of people exposed to the message  Time in which the message will arrive  Total cost of message development and communication  Visual quality, especially when it is in color Make use of great-coverage publications In what follows, a brief description of the qualities of each mean of communication will be given:  Television: Even though the cost per contacted person is low, the total cost is high. Television allows you to have geographic selectivity, and to select the target market through different kinds of programs. The quality of the advertisement you can achieve through this mean is a fairly good one.  Radio: This mean is less expensive that television. It also geographic and target market selectivity. The advantage is the quickness with which your advertisement can be presented, from the moment you contact the radio station.  Newspapers: with this mean, you have high geographic selectivity, low total cost, and quickness to present the advertisement.  Magazines: The market selectivity can be fairly high, due to the different kinds of orientations they have. In this case, look for
  • 98. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 98 magazines that have articles on ecotourism, or magazines oriented to nature tourism.  Internet: this variety has seen increase in the last five years, and contributes more and more to the promotion of tourism sites. Web pages reach a larger number of people than printed brochures, no physical distribution is required, the access cost is much less than the cost of printed brochures, mistakes in the internet can be corrected faster, and frequently, compared to reprinting brochures, the costs of design are lower. Also, it is very useful to attract international visitors. Therefore, you can develop your own web page, associate with other institutions, or have advertisements in other places. In order to succeed, advertise yourself in the most used general and travel-oriented searchers, have links with other sites, and manage the page well. As mentioned before, have a contact e-mail in this page, for doubts and reservations. Make use of free advertising To make use of ―free‖ advertising, you can invite the media (as in the case of news or travel programs, press, travel agents, etc.) to your place, for them to know it. Treat them very well, and make profit of the benefits and publicity they will furnish you with. If you have the capacity, sponsor events that are highly attractive, and can report good publicity through other mass media. You can even offer them free stays at your complex, or experimenting your activities, cost-free for travel agents and tourism operators. 4.5.3 Team work Look for a way of team working with tourism operators, travel agencies, the government, private companies and NGOs. Look for the benefits you can share, and this way work jointly to promote the country, the region, the city, the protected area, etc.
  • 99. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 99 5. CONCLUSIONS
  • 100. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 10 0 6. REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY Boo, Elizabeth (1995) ―Establishing Carrying Capacity‖. Compatible Economic Development: Ecotourism. The Nature Conservancy, May, 1995. Borrie, William T., McCook, Stephen F., Stankey y George H. (1998) ―Protected Area Planning Principles and Strategies‖. En: Ecotourism: A Guide for Planners and Managers, Volume 2. Lindberg, K., Epler-Wood, M. y Engeldrum, D., eds. The Ecotourism Society, North Bennington, VT. Braatz, S (1992) Conserving Biological Diversity: A Strategy for Protected Areas in the Asia Pacific Region. World Bank, Washington, D.C. Brandon, K. and Margoluis, R. (1999) The Bottom Line: Getting Biodiversity Conservation Back into Ecotourism Opening Address. Yale F&ES Bulletin pp:28-38. Buckley, R. (1999) Planning for a National Ecotourism Strategy in Vietnam. Workshop on Development of a National Ecotourism Strategy for Vietnam. Cat Ba National Park; 2003. Personal communication with Park administration, November 2003. Cater, E. (1995) Ecotourism in the Third World--Problems and prospects for sustainability. In E. Cater and G. Lowman, (eds.). Ecotourism: A Sustainable Option? Chichester: John Wiley and Sons. 68-87. Ceballos-Lascurain, Héctor (1996). Tourism, Ecotourism and Protected Areas: The State of Nature-based Tourism Around the World and Guidelines for its Development. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. Ceballos-Lascurain, Héctor (1998). Ecoturismo, naturaleza y desarrollo sostenible. México, México, Diana. 185 p. Chamizo, R. (2001). El arte de comunicarse con el nuevo turista. De las nuevas necesidades turísticas y las nuevas estrategias de comunicación empresarial e institucional. Facultad de Ciencias de la Información. Universidad de Málaga. España. Chilman, Kenneth; John Titre; James Vogel and Greg Brown, (2000). Evolving Concepts of Recreational Carrying Capacity Management. Cifuentes, M. (1992) ―Determination of Visitor Carrying Capacity in Protected Areas‖. World Wildlife Fund, Washington, DC. 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. Coburn, J. (2000). The limited potential of ecotourism to contribute to wildlife conservation. Wildlife Society Bulletin 2000, 28(1):61–69
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  • 104. Handbook of Ecotourism Página 10 4 Guidelines summary flowchart (Denman, 2001) A Considering whether ecotourism is an appropriate option 1 Considering the potential conservation gain 2 Checking the preconditions for ecotourism 3 Adopting an integrated approach B Planning ecotourism with communities and other stakeholders 4 Finding the best way to involve the community 5 Working together on an agreed strategy 6 Ensuring environmental and cultural integrity C Developing viable community-based ecotourism projects 7 Ensuring market realism and effective promotion 8 Putting forward quality products D Strengthening benefits to the community and the environment 9 Managing impacts 10 Providing technical support 11 Obtaining the support of visitors and tour operators 12 Monitoring performance and ensuring continuity
  • 105. ANEXO: Short Description of Various Visitor Management Models (from McArthur & Sebastian, 1998) Model  Determines the threshold level of activity beyond which will result in the resource base  Has main dimensions are bio-physical, socio-cultural, psychological and managerial.  Is used for planning, site design and development, and administration.  Creates a diversity of experiences by identifying a spectrum of settings, activities and opportunities that a region may contain.  Helps review and reposition the type of visitor experiences most appropriate to a heritage site.  Focuses on reducing or controlling the impacts that threaten the quality of heritage and visitor experience.  Uses explicit statements of management objectives and research and monitoring to determine heritage and social conditions, then generates a range of management strategies to deal with the impacts.  Focuses on the management of visitor impacts by firstly identifying desirable conditions Change (LAC) for visitor activity to occur, then how much change is acceptable.  A monitoring program determines whether desirable conditions are within acceptable standards.  A decision making system determines management actions required to achieve the desired conditions.  Is a planning system that integrates visitor needs with resources to produce specific visitor opportunities.  Is designed to resolve conflicts and tensions between visitors, heritage and heritage managers.  Requires heritage manager to identify, provide for, and market to designated visitor groups.  Instead of limiting activity it focuses on achieving optimum performance by addressing the sustainability of the heritage, viability of the tourism industry, and empowerment of stakeholders.  Covers environmental and experiential elements, as well as characteristics of the tourist market, economic conditions of the tourism industry and socio-cultural conditions of the local community.  Contains three main parts; context analysis, a monitoring program and management response system. Functions The Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) Visitor Activity Management Tourism Optimisation Management Model (TOMM) Recreation Carrying Capacity (RCC) The Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) Visitor Impact Management Model (VIMM)