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What you see is what you pay 
Profiting from eco-tourism in Cambodia 
Ross Sinclair 
Wildlife Conservation Society 
Cambod...
• Good story… 
• About a solution… 
• With a happy ending… 
• And more to come! 
• Making Tourism Work for PA’s 
& Sustain...
Cambodia Northern Plains landscape 
(>1 million hectares) 
Cambodia 
SE Asia
What we had in Cambodia 
• Large expanse dry deciduous forest in northern plains 
• Globally significant populations 25 th...
What we had in Cambodia 
• Poor rural communities (unclear tenure/user rights) 
• Clearance by communities widespread & un...
What we had in Cambodia 
• Protected Areas at threat from agricultural concessions 
2008 2012
What we had in Cambodia 
• Populations of endangered species in decline
What we had in 
Cambodia 
• People who cared/mandated protect – WCS, Government 
• Massive tourist market – Angkor Wot, 4....
What we had in 
Cambodia 
• Opportunity for Making Tourism Work for PA’s & Sustainable Development
What we did in Cambodia 
• Park, people & NGO - clearly articulated & agreed process to address issues 
• Land tenure &/or...
The business model 
• Dedicated organization for eco-tourism 
• Focused a segment of market – bird watchers 
– Now expande...
The business model 
• Focus adding value in community 
– run guesthouses, guides, service staff, etc. 
• Add-ons to captur...
What we found in Cambodia 
• Populations endangered species increasing 
• Nest protection scheme - > 90% success rates 
• ...
300 
250 
200 
150 
100 
50 
0 
Deforestation Rate (ha/year) 
What we found in Cambodia 
Payment villages Inside PAs Outsi...
What we found in Cambodia 
• $30/tourist = $2,000-$4,000 (max $15,000) per village 
• Employment: average $160 / year 
• ~...
What we found in Cambodia 
• Household & community income increased sufficiently to change 
behavior & generate conservati...
What we found in Cambodia 
ns	 *	 *	 
Biodiversity	 
Payments	 
Agri	Payments	 Ecotourism	 
Payment	program	 
2	 
1.5	 
1	...
What we found in 
Cambodia 
• Business is profitable (Cambodian) 
• USD$135,000 profit last year 
• USD$150,000 investment...
What we found in Cambodia 
• Communities now patrol their Community Protected Areas 
– in coordination with park authoriti...
What happened in Cambodia 
Conservation 
Cancelled land concessions 
Concessions 
No project Project
What we learned in Cambodia 
‘Critical success factors’ 
• Existing tourist infrastructure & tourists 
• A product (wildli...
Next steps in Cambodia 
• Continue to grow the sector, business & impact 
• Tourism projections of 20 million into Cambodi...
The ‘Critical success factor’: 
What you see is what you pay 
Bird-Watchers 
Wildlife 
Village 
Attracts 
Only pay if 
see...
Acknowledgement 
• Johnny Orn & team - Sam Veasna Centre 
• Tom Clements, Ashish John & team – WCS 
• Ea Skoha & team – Mi...
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Protected areas and tourism in Cambodia, Ross Sinclair

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A presentation made during a World Parks Congress event "Welcome Visitors: Making Tourism Work for Protected Areas and Sustainable Development: Part 1 – Critical Success Factors" that took place on 17 November 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Supported by the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group and UNDP

Published in: Travel

Protected areas and tourism in Cambodia, Ross Sinclair

  1. 1. What you see is what you pay Profiting from eco-tourism in Cambodia Ross Sinclair Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Program
  2. 2. • Good story… • About a solution… • With a happy ending… • And more to come! • Making Tourism Work for PA’s & Sustainable Development!
  3. 3. Cambodia Northern Plains landscape (>1 million hectares) Cambodia SE Asia
  4. 4. What we had in Cambodia • Large expanse dry deciduous forest in northern plains • Globally significant populations 25 threatened species • Two Protected Areas – authorities limited resources
  5. 5. What we had in Cambodia • Poor rural communities (unclear tenure/user rights) • Clearance by communities widespread & unplanned • Hunting threatened species consumption & sale
  6. 6. What we had in Cambodia • Protected Areas at threat from agricultural concessions 2008 2012
  7. 7. What we had in Cambodia • Populations of endangered species in decline
  8. 8. What we had in Cambodia • People who cared/mandated protect – WCS, Government • Massive tourist market – Angkor Wot, 4.5 million visitors
  9. 9. What we had in Cambodia • Opportunity for Making Tourism Work for PA’s & Sustainable Development
  10. 10. What we did in Cambodia • Park, people & NGO - clearly articulated & agreed process to address issues • Land tenure &/or user rights secured for communities – Participatory land-use plan that are official government documents • Focus on additional Income for communities – Conservation enterprises: eco-tourism and Wildlife FriendlyTM Ibis Rice • Robust social institutions to manage activities & decision-making
  11. 11. The business model • Dedicated organization for eco-tourism • Focused a segment of market – bird watchers – Now expanded to ‘nature lovers’ • Partnerships with business – tour companies • Focus on service – English speaking guides, great lodges, etc.
  12. 12. The business model • Focus adding value in community – run guesthouses, guides, service staff, etc. • Add-ons to capture more tourist $$ – donate to nest protection, etc. • Payments - $30/tourist ONLY if see birds • Community funds are discretionary – strengthens committee
  13. 13. What we found in Cambodia • Populations endangered species increasing • Nest protection scheme - > 90% success rates • Rates of deforestation declined • Hunting of threatened species greatly reduced Giant Ibis
  14. 14. 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 Deforestation Rate (ha/year) What we found in Cambodia Payment villages Inside PAs Outside PAs Deforestation rates remain low in villages with Payments 2005: Protected Area started • PA’s reduce deforestation rates • Payments reduce deforestation rates further
  15. 15. What we found in Cambodia • $30/tourist = $2,000-$4,000 (max $15,000) per village • Employment: average $160 / year • ~30% households benefit - employment or selling services/products • All households benefit from social institutions & agreements
  16. 16. What we found in Cambodia • Household & community income increased sufficiently to change behavior & generate conservation outcomes • Households in scheme wealthier at faster rates than outside
  17. 17. What we found in Cambodia ns * * Biodiversity Payments Agri Payments Ecotourism Payment program 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 -0.5 -1 -1.5 -2 Change in Household Wealth Status Series1 -0.19956029 0.75201459 0.71430678 • Household & community inside wealthier faster than those outside Households are wealthier Households are poorer
  18. 18. What we found in Cambodia • Business is profitable (Cambodian) • USD$135,000 profit last year • USD$150,000 investment back into conservation this year
  19. 19. What we found in Cambodia • Communities now patrol their Community Protected Areas – in coordination with park authorities • Park is now seen as a model for Cambodia • Value of the park has been demonstrated to higher levels of government • Political and bureaucratic support for the park is now high
  20. 20. What happened in Cambodia Conservation Cancelled land concessions Concessions No project Project
  21. 21. What we learned in Cambodia ‘Critical success factors’ • Existing tourist infrastructure & tourists • A product (wildlife!) people will pay to see • Direct links conservation (wildlife) to incentive ($) • Social institutions capable of change behavior • Generate enough $ to change behavior
  22. 22. Next steps in Cambodia • Continue to grow the sector, business & impact • Tourism projections of 20 million into Cambodia by 2020 • Fastest growing sector in tourism • Opportunities for impact investing • Scalable in terms visits and sites • New guesthouses & infrastructure • Adding value – merchandising, etc.
  23. 23. The ‘Critical success factor’: What you see is what you pay Bird-Watchers Wildlife Village Attracts Only pay if see wildlife No Hunting Land-use Plan No illegal cutting
  24. 24. Acknowledgement • Johnny Orn & team - Sam Veasna Centre • Tom Clements, Ashish John & team – WCS • Ea Skoha & team – Min. of Environment • Tan Setha & team – Forestry Admin.

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