Ecotourism at twentysomething


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2005 presentation: Ecotourism at twentysomething
challenges shared in an e-conference

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Ecotourism at twentysomething

  1. 1. Ecotourism Australia 2005 Annual Conference Ecotourism at twentysomething challenges shared in an e-conference Oliver Hillel Tasmania, Nov 28 to Dec 2, 2005
  2. 2. Ecotourism Emerging Industry Forum Nov 1-18, 2005 at <ul><li>247 participants (100 private sector - ecolodge owners, operators, e-marketers, consultants, NGOs, government, academics, media and development agencies) </li></ul><ul><li>7 moderated “streams” </li></ul><ul><li>63% have never participated in an on-line conference before. </li></ul><ul><li>Topics received between 3,200 and 920 views </li></ul><ul><li>Sponsored by participants (US$ 100 each), SNV, Conservation International, USAID and service providers </li></ul>
  3. 3. Organizers <ul><li> 10,000 pages focusing on ecotourism and sustainable travel created in 1994 by Ron Mader (2002 World Ecotourism Summit), 12 others such as Financing Sustainable Tourism (2002), Ethical Marketing of Ecotourism (2003) and Ecotourism Certification Workshop (2000-2003).   </li></ul><ul><li>EplerWood International , founded in 2003 by Megan Epler Wood, founder and former president of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES).. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Why e-conferences? <ul><li>Ecotourism is mostly SMEs, web is still less capital intensive, FIT travel is bought over the net </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid the Live8 syndrome (local players) </li></ul><ul><li>Crosses the Atlantic/Pacific and North/South divides </li></ul><ul><li>Informal – straightforward, frank language </li></ul><ul><li>Output is already written </li></ul><ul><li>Locals interact with top experts </li></ul><ul><li>Direct access to background documentation </li></ul>
  5. 5. Factors for success <ul><li>Sites with appropriate traffic (target public) </li></ul><ul><li>Early marketing/emailing </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-conference “training”, preparation </li></ul><ul><li>Committed/professional moderators </li></ul>
  6. 6. Topics / views <ul><li>Marketing/Market Development – 3,500 views </li></ul><ul><li>Communities and SMEs – 2,500 views </li></ul><ul><li>Triple Bottom Line Bus. Stratgs. – 2,050 views </li></ul><ul><li>Developing Infrastructure – 1,520 views </li></ul><ul><li>PPPs – 1,300 views </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretive Program Dev. – 1,200 views </li></ul><ul><li>Finance for SMEs – 930 views </li></ul>
  7. 7. Marketing and Market Development <ul><li>Certification mostly B2B. In Europe, successful market-focused certification. Certification is also management, standards, building capacity of associations. </li></ul><ul><li>How do SMEs have access to market? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Web, web, web </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connect with the big guys and inbound operators for market credibility/quality assurance/risk management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make information available </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Marketing and Market Development <ul><li>Web - 30% business/time of e-savvy owners. What sells are not sites, e-marketplaces. </li></ul><ul><li>Subsidies 4-6 years until break even or product development – but how to get off? </li></ul><ul><li>Role of NGOs/government: broaden platform of players, not DMOs </li></ul><ul><li>Travel fairs: more B2B and less consumers </li></ul><ul><li>Ecotourism still has value as a buzzword/concept cluster </li></ul><ul><li>Professionalism: value traditional tourism skills beyond sustainability specialists </li></ul>
  9. 9. Communities and SMEs <ul><li>Ecotourism is also recognition, empowerment </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t fund communities, but alliances with PS </li></ul><ul><li>3-5 years minimum, accept risk </li></ul><ul><li>Extractive culture versus service economy </li></ul><ul><li>NGOs/Foundations versus direct business intervention : question of scale – Try time-bound professional project. </li></ul><ul><li>Success factors: trans-boundary native leaders, own decision making board, sales agents involved from the start. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Triple Bottom Line Business Structures and Strategies <ul><li>How to replicate know-how? Franchise, CRS, BOT models – T is the critical point. </li></ul><ul><li>Tourism is the last one in on CSR/GRI </li></ul><ul><li>Example of big resorts – cutting edge </li></ul>
  11. 11. Developing Infrastructure for Sustainable Tourism <ul><li>It’s all here, but only the high-end close to originating countries can pay for independent infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Think services, not infra: the example of buses versus concrete roads, re-engineering existing infra (schools into hostels) </li></ul><ul><li>Bottleneck approach: apron, not international airport, from 19 to 50 seaters. </li></ul><ul><li>Planning stage is key moment for intervention; cost of going green is lowest </li></ul><ul><li>Infra as part of any ST project </li></ul>
  12. 12. PPPs <ul><li>Evolution from government (developing countries up to 65% of economy) to private sector-influence: examples of CTC, California and Tourism Queensland </li></ul><ul><li>Critical mass of PS players to balance common goals and share costs </li></ul><ul><li>What is PS in “economies in transition”? China, Russia, Eastern Europe, “Indochina”: how much NEW business is generated. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Interpretive Program Development <ul><li>Geocaching: 220,000 hidden caches in 219 countries </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretation is the difference: how to value a good guide? Do customers pay more for guides? </li></ul><ul><li>Make good guiding tangible: record sounds, pictures, personalized “metageographical” maps </li></ul>
  14. 14. Finance for SMEs <ul><li>Options: merge with biggies, NGOs for externalities, use academics for proposal development </li></ul><ul><li>Business plans: confusion between business and NGOs/DMOs/Government. </li></ul><ul><li>Examine goals of government funding: “cabanizacion” to avoid competition with big players. </li></ul><ul><li>NO feasible credit on site, no knowledge of tourism at local bank levels </li></ul><ul><li>Foster/support green venture capital </li></ul>
  15. 15. Follow up <ul><li>Summary document to be sent to partners/development agencies </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing e-dialogue. </li></ul><ul><li>Others: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-EA conference forum next year? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Training courses with Fora </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improve technology (video/teleconferencing streams) </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. To view the Forum http://forum. planeta .com/ viewforum . php ?f=52