ECOTOURISM: Growing With Nature
Dr. Mina T. Gabor
Chairman, Ecotourism Society of the
President, Philippine Small and Medium
Business Development Foundation, Inc.
Honorary Consul, Republic of Maldives
Travel is fundamentally an
emotional human experience
MR. S. KAMEDA
JAPAN Airlines, 1975
Based on the generally accepted definition:
Ecotourism is responsible travel to
natural areas that will encourage
environment education, appreciation
and conservation, in order to sustain and
improve the lives of the local community.
Early in 1992 Healey suggested the
following clarificatory definitions
Nature/Eco/Sustainable Tourism Definitions
Nature Tourism denotes all tourism dependent on
Ecotourism – denotes nature tourism that is
responsible, conserves the environment, and sustains
the well being of local people
Sustainable tourism denotes all types of tourism,
whether natural or human resources that contribute
to sustainable development.
Factors that Led to Ecotourism
Early writings on conservation and travel began to appear in the
70’s. Peter Thresher in 1972 and later David Western and Wesley
Henry in 1979 suggested that tourism in national parks need not
conflict with conservation uses. These three authors were all
working in Kenya where tourism to national parks was already
attracting significant foreign exchange.
In 1981 Thresher wrote his groundbreaking article on
the economics of a lion in 1981. He concluded that over
it’s lifetime a lion will draw US$ 515,000.00 in foreign
exchange alive and well for wildlife viewing. In contrast
its value was only US$ 8,500.00 as a hunting or sport
resource and up to US$ 1325 as a commercial skin.
• In the late 1980’s a number of trends
coalesced. These new trends were also
reflected in conservation reports, such as
Elizabeth Boo’s 1990 report “Ecotourism:
Potentials and Pitfalls”.
• Karen Ziffer’s Ecotourism: The Uneasy
Alliance stated that ecotourism’s goal is to
capture a portion of the global travel market by
bringing visitors to natural areas and using the
revenues to fund local conservation and local
Early Tourism Market
• The early ecotourism marketplace were the
Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, Kenya and
NEPAL. In fact some of these places argued
they were already using ecotourism principles
for 20-30 years before we even began to use the
• In 1991, the Ecotourism Society in the U.S. was
founded and defined ecotourism as “responsible
tourism to natural areas that conserves the
environment and sustains the well being of local
In 1992 the Philippines recognizing the
importance of Ecotourism Bidded to host
World Expo 2002 with the
theme”Ecotourism Growing with Nature”
In 1998 The United Nations
Declared 2002 as the:
INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF ECOTOURISM
The environmental impact of tourism development in natural areas is cause for
serious concern. In some popular destinations, the natural attractions of the areaanimal habitats, forests, reefs and wetlands – have been destroyed due to
overbuilding and irresponsible development.
But today, many tour operators in destinations as diverse as Sabah, China,
Philippines, Brazil, Belize and Antarctica are realizing the value of conservation
and are working to improve the environment.
Ecotravelers can encourage those efforts by learning more about the
environmental impact of tourism and by making informed travel choices that
support conservation and preservation of the natural wonders of the earth.
What you can do to help preserve the
• Choose destinations that are not overcrowded or overdeveloped.
• Select responsible tour operators and guides who are aware of
environments concerns and who contribute financially to
conservation and preservation efforts.
• Seek out responsible, environmentally-sensitive accommodations
• Follow all advisories, rules and regulations regarding
protected areas, water sources or wildlife habitats.
• Take nothing in with you and leave behind only footprints.
• If reviewing wildlife, never touch, chase or harass animals or marine
• Support the work of conservation and preservation organizations.
GLOBAL TOURISM TRENDS
According to the World Tourism
a total of 924 million tourists
worldwide in 2008.
Total foreign exchange receipts
(excluding airfares) was about
30% of world export services
Of these numbers, nature travel or
ecotourism as it is commonly
called now, accounted for 20-30%
Stimulus to Travel
Australia - $900 to qualified families,
“AUSTRALIA” movie “Greatest Job in the World”
New Zealand - $5.0 mill for Auz incentives
Vietnam – 50% discounts; VAT reduction;
VOA + exempt
China – Travel Coupons = domestic focus
India – Visit India 2009 = Buy 1 get 1 free
• Japan – “Have more Fun” FIT China,
• Singapore – “Fly on US” ½ mill free
• Chinese Taipei – Free gifts, vouchers,
• Thailand – MegaFam trip; “Amazing
Barriers to Travel
Infectious diseases 1.91
Racial discrimination 2.10
Natural disaster 2.18
Travel Survey 2009
Airport delays & hassles 2.40
Does Not affect
young (89%) 35-54 years old
high income bracket
• Trip duration:
Environmental Factors Influencing
Source: The Environment & Travel Perception, WTTC-WTO-Earth Council
MARKET FOR ECOTOURISM
ASIA IS FIRST AND FOREMOST INTRAREGIONAL
• Will travel in larger groups
• Will demand higher degree of comfort
than the western ecotourists
• Will be more interested in ecotour day
trips while lodging and dining in
ECOTOURISM AND POVERTY
Wild and natural areas are normally surrounded by marginal
land and marginal communities.
strict limits to encroachment
low volume/high volume
Example: High volume/day excursions
international agencies are increasingly looking to
tourism to assist in poverty alleviation
Example: assets of the poor include
wildlife and culture
creation of employment at all skill levels
extent of linkages to existing local economy
extent of local/non-local ownership of tourist
enterprises (small scale and low risk)
PHILIPPINES: Keeping Pace with
Sustainable Ecotourism Development
• 7,107 islands
• 5th in the world and 2nd in Asia in terms of
• 25th in the world and 8th in Asia among plant-rich
• 17,500 kms. Of coastline
• Philippines is part of the coral triangle together
with Indonesia and Malaysia
• 30 million hectares of terrestial and wetland
• 110 diverse dialects
• Total visitor arrivals to the Philippines as
of December 2008 was 3.091 million of
these 22% were nature-based ecotourism
travellers or around 660,000 and still
Whale Shark Capital of the Philippines
Time Magazine: “ The Best Animal Encounter Destination
in Asia” 2004
Donsol once a sleepy town from the province of Sorsogon,
south of Manila, now registers 11,000 tourists with P50 million
in earnings. The main draw to visitors 65% foreigners are the
whale shark (Rhincodon Typus) locally known as Butanding,
(not only to see but to have a chance to swim with the socalled giants of the sea.
First sighting in 1998 President Ramos issued an E.O. banning
the taking, catching, selling, purchasing, poisoning, transporting
or exporting of the whale sharks and manta rays.
The “Butanding” Ecotourism Development project was soon
When looking for accommodations,
note that a good ecolodge should:
Provide comfortable rooms and common areas that reflect local designs and heritage
Offer a natural setting that has been carefully preserved retaining indigenous
Use local, sustainably harvested and/or recycled building materials.
Purchase foodstuffs from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen.
Use renewable energy and environmental sensitive water and waste disposal
Offer many opportunities for interaction with local owners, managers, staff and
Employ and train local workers.
Offer a variety of excursions and educational materials to natural and cultural sites.
Support and be supported by the local community and businesses.
What you can do to help sustain
Choose locally-owned and operated lodges, hotels and tour guides.
Support tour companies and accommodations that employ local people and
purchase local products.
Eat in local restaurants and shop in local markets.
When purchasing souvenirs, support the work of local craftspeople and
Pay access fees to protected sites. Your money supports local efforts to
conserve those areas.
When paying local people for their goods or services, make every effort to
offer a fair price.
What you can do help preserve the
Seek out tour operators and accommodations that are sensitive to the local culture
Educate yourself about your host country’s customs before travelling.
Remember that you are a guest and behave accordingly.
In many countries, modest dress is important. Check local conventions and dress appropriately.
Be sensitive to where, how and when you take photographs. Always ask first.
Be respectful of local people’s peace, privacy and land. Ask permission before entering buildings,
shrines or sacred areas.
Learn a few words of the language and use them when meeting people. Speaking to local people
in their language will demonstrate your respect for their culture.
Attend local cultural events. Your support helps performers preserve their heritage.
Learn more about the cultural impact of tourism and how to travel responsibly.
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