ECOTOURISMEcotourism, also known as ecological tourism, is a form of tourism that appeals to the ecologically and socially conscious individuals. Generally speaking, ecotourism focuses on volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the planet; typically involving travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions.
Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is in the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for the local communities. 
Ideally, ecotourism should satisfy several criteria, such as:
conservation of biological diversity and cultural diversity, through ecosystem protection
promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity, by providing jobs to local populations
sharing of socio-economic benefits with local communities and indigenous people by having their informed consent and participation in the management of ecotourism enterprises.
tourism to unspoiled natural resources, with minimal impact on the environment being a primary concern.
minimization of tourism's own environmental impact
affordability and lack of waste in the form of luxury
local culture, flora and fauna being the main attractions
For many countries, ecotourism is not simply a marginal activity to finance protection of the environment but as a major industry of the national economy. For example, in places such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Nepal, Kenya, Madagascar, and Antarctica, ecotourism represents a significant portion of the gross domestic product and economic activity.
The concept of ecotourism is widely misunderstood, and in practice is often used as a marketing tool to promote tourism that is related to nature. Critics claim that ecotourism as practiced and abused often consists of placing a hotel in a splendid landscape, to the detriment of the ecosystem. According to them, ecotourism must above all sensitize people with the beauty and the fragility of nature. They condemn some operators as “greenwashing” their operations; using the label of “green-friendly”, while behaving in environmentally irresponsible ways.
Although academics disagree about who can be classified as an ecotourist and there is precious little statistical data, some estimate that more than five million ecotourists - the majority of the ecotourist population - come from the United States, with others from Western Europe, Canada, and Australia.
Currently there are various moves to create national and international ecotourism accrediation programs, although the process is also controversial. Ecotourism certificates have been put in place in Costa Rica, although some critics have dismissed these programs as greenwashing.
Ecotourism, responsible tourism, and sustainable development have become prevalent concepts since the late 1980s, and ecotourism has experienced arguably the fastest growth of all sub-sectors in the tourism industry. The popularity represents a change in tourist perceptions, increased environmental awareness, and a desire to explore natural environments. Such changes have become a statement affirming one's social identity, educational sophistication, and disposable income as it has about preserving the Amazon rainforest or the Caribbean reef for posterity.
With its great potential for environmental protection, the United Nations celebrated the "International Year of Ecotourism" in 2002.
ECOTOURISM: ITS BEGINNING
Ecotourism started in the Philippines as the international community became more aware of the environmental decay that has been happening to the world. Hector Ceballos Lascuarin was considered one of the first persons who coined the word in the late ‘80s. He termed Ecotourism as:
… tourism that consists in traveling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific objective of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestation (both past and present) found in the areas. In these terms, nature-oriented tourism implies a scientific, aesthetic, or philosophical approach to travel, although the ecological tourist need not be a scientist, artist and philosopher. It emphasizes the person practices Ecotourism has the opportunity of immersing himself/herself in nature in a manner generally not available in the urban environment.
In time, several definitions came up seeking to address other factors involved in Ecotourism, like the responsibility of taking care of what is appreciated an the benefits that should ultimately be enjoyed by the local people. Some of this are:
The… purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the culture and natural history of the environment taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem while producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of natural resources beneficial to local people (Ecotourism society)
It has…eluded fine definition because it is a complex notion which ambitiously attempts to describe the activity, set fourth a philosophy and espouse a model of development.
Ecotourism is not the same as people turning to environment, but rather an ethic of how to turn the natural environment and a way of doing it…(Karen Ziffer – Conservation International)
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is one of the largest international tourism organizations whose members include travel and tour agencies as well as national tourism bodies. PATA came up with the CODE for ENVIRONMENT RESPONSIBLE TOURISM summarized as:
A form of tourism inspired primarily by the natural history of an area, including its indigenous cultures.
The ecotourists visit relatively undeveloped areas in the spirit of appreciation, participation and sensitivity.
The ecotourists practices a non-consumptive use of wildlife and natural resources and contributes to the visited area through labor of financial means aimed at directly benefiting the conservation issues in general, and to the specific needs of the people. It also implies a managed approach by the host country or region which commits
participation by local residents,
marketing them appropriately,
and using the proceeds of the enterprise to fund the area’s land management as well as community development.
A joint DENR-DOT memorandum Circular entitled GUIDELAWS FOR ECOTOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THE PHILIPPINES and signed in June of 1998 change the 1994 definition to include factors that are deemed part of the concept of Ecotourism. It reads:
“a low-impact, environmentally-sound and community-participatory system activity in a given natural environment that enhances the conservation of biophysical understanding and education and yields socio-economic benefits to the concerned community”.
ECOTOURISM: THE CONCEPT (VALUE-BASED)
The concept of Ecotourism may apply to every establishment and individual in the tourism industry, from the traveler to the resort operator, to the lodge keeper. For every development of added amenity requested, impacts to the environment must be heavily weighed and considered if the development or amenity should be fulfilled, modified, or cancelled. Having in mind that the environment is the primary asset of tourism, efforts must be made to ensure that impacts are minimized.
There are, however, conflicts in defining the concept of tourism. Butler (1991), Scare, Grifone and Usher (1992), and Valentine (1992) have indicated that Ecotourism has been confused with such terms as sustainable, alternative, appropriate, green, nature or low-impact tourism.
For sometime in the ‘80s, alternative tourism seemed to be right term for a responsible kind of tourism. But by name alone, it counters everything that is mass tourism, both in the number of people going to a particular area, and in practice. It does not promote or appreciate the usual facilities and services provided for in tourism programs. These arguments, however, are very limiting and alienate mass tourism altogether. If strictly practiced, alternative tourism will not be sustainable and will eventually die out.
Appropriate tourism, on the other hand, is a vague concept that seeks to include all the possible aspects of tourism. But the word appropriate itself view and it may also be subject to a lot of debates.
Low-impact tourism is a similar concept which seeks to include only a small number of tourists in a given area. Again, a large part of this type of activity may entirely exclude mass tourism.
Green and nature tourism are not subject to any values or ethics; but rather they are only practices done in natural areas which may or may not be environmental-friendly.
A clear example is hunting which may conveniently be called nature or green tourism but is definitely harmful to the environment.
Perhaps the closet term to Ecotourism is sustainable tourism. It encompasses all the ideas and ideals in Ecotourism without compromising the concept. Sustainability is the keyword in Ecotourism.
FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED IN ECOTOURISM
- BIODIVERSITY – the Philippines is host to numerous species of plant and animal life, a number which are endemic to the country.
- AESTHETIC VALUE – Much of the basis for development in many areas is hinged on the aesthetic values found in the destination.
- EXISTING RESOURCES – A large part of the tourist expenditure goes to the consumption of local resources.
- PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT – This is major component of Ecotourism
- OTHER INDUSTRIES- like tourism, other industries also affect the environment.
- WEATHER – tourism patterns are often dictated by the weather pattern either in market countries or destination areas.
- ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS – Any development that would involve resource extraction and utilization must conform with the existing environmental laws particularly the NATIONAL INTEGRATED PROTECTED AREAS SYSTEM (NIPAS) and the ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA) which are under the department of environment and natural resources (DENR).
- GOVERNMENT POLICIES – No matter how dynamic tourist is, it is still subject to the policy focus of the government agencies directly and indirectly involved in the development of tourism.
- INDIGENOUS TRIBES -
- LOCAL CUSTOMS AND PRACTICES
- CULTURAL HERITAGE
- LOCAL COMMUNITY BENEFITS
D. MARKETING PROMOTIONS –
this is a very important aspects of Eco tourism development, because much of the success of the program/destination will depend on the effectiveness of its promotion.
E. THE MARKET –
Determine the type of market that would be most appropriate to be invited to the program.
POTENTIAL CONFLICTS AND NEGATIVE TOURISM IMPACTS
Increasing the accessibility of destinations and the ability to accommodate more people is likely to conflict with natural carrying capacity of the destination. Many protected areas are experiencing increases in visitation levels, without the correct management plans being put in place.
The natural resources which act as a magnet to tourist at a destination are by their attractiveness fragile and susceptible to deterioration if not properly managed. Pressure from the local population, changes in environmental variables and over-use by tourist are all factors which must properly managed in order to sustain the resource.
Impact vary according to the number and nature of tourists and the characteristics of the site. Well behaved individual tourist generally have a relatively small impact. Management needs to identify potential sources of impact and direct management to these problem areas.
Negative impacts of tourist on natural environments include:
1. Disturbance of wildlife, this can include decreased hunting activity by African game when surrounded by Safari vehicles, decreased breeding success of animals whose nest sites are disturbed, physical disturbance of nests, or trampling of habitats, behavioral changes in response to repeated disturbance, changes in species composition of a site.
2. Resource depletion through collection of ‘souvenirs’ by tourists.
3. Erosion of soil and rock, soil compaction and vegetation erosion through trampling.
4. Degradation of plant habitats through trampling, plant picking and uprooting.
HOW ECOTOURISM CAN BENEFIT THE DESTINATION
Protected areas are prime attractions to tourists. For many countries with prime nature attraction, tourism is of significant economic importance to the viability of the destination. For example, in the Caribbean, where undisturbed natural resources are a major attraction, Travel and Tourism produced 25.5% of regional GDP in 1996 and this is expected to rise to 26.6% by 2006, (WTTC, 1996)
Ecotourism therefore has the opportunity to make positive socio-economic contributions to the destination. This can include: creation employment; input of foreign exchange; maintenance of diverse viable local industries; encouragement of the development of infrastructures; protection of natural assets by attaching an intrinsic value to them; preserving indigenous cultures and local traditions.
BEACH BASED TOURISM
Although the beach holiday remains popular, the style and activities of the holiday are changing. The old style passive beach holiday is being replace by a fashion for the use of the beach as an ‘outdoor gymnasium’ for water sports (surfing, windsurfing, canoeing, paragliding, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving). In parallel with the increased interest in natural settings for holidays, activities which allow tourists to get close to nature and be active within the holiday setting (mountaineering, backpacking, bike travel) rather than simply observing are a growth industry.
A large part of the demand for historical and cultural holidays comes from more senior travelers. As the number of pensioners grows, it is expected that the demand for culturally based holidays will increase at a higher rate than the norm.
Interest from developed countries in ‘exotic’ cultures and location is growing as consumers are given a wide experience of the cultures of the world through mass destinations to learn about the country and culture will be a considerable growth market.
POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS
The Travel and Tourism industry is influenced by a great many factors, some directly related to the industry, some external to the industry but with the potential the have a significant effect on the extent and form of tourist activity.
The tourism industry is guided by the demands of the customers. Changes in the structure and nature of society will in turn change the requirements of society for business and leisure travel. Demographic changes over the last few decades have seen a growing number of retired people, this coupled with earlier retirement has produced an expanding market for specific tourism products for the retirement market. Additionally, the trend towards employees being given more paid leave is a factor in the increasing demand for more long haul destinations, multiple holidays and short breaks.
The educational levels of society influences the awareness of people of the opportunities which travel has to offer. The awareness of society is considerably influenced by communication and availability of information.
Economic factors such as currency fluctuations and changes in the relative cost of travel can have a major influence both on the number of people traveling, their destination and the amount that is spent at the destination. The recent strength of the UK found. Pound has shown considerable influence in the holiday decisions of UK residents and the economic benefits which they bring to their destination.
The comparative case with which a destination can be reached is a factor in influencing the choice of destination and also the transportation method used. Relaxation of immigration has enabled more rapid passage between many countries and opened up previously ‘hard enter’ destinations. Transports infrastructure is an essential prerequisite for a destination before it can cope with mass tourism. Emerging destinations need to develop suitable transport infrastructure in order to ensure a sustained industry.
The popularity of a destination is highly reliant upon having a stable political situation, as well as legislation and regulation which is conductive to travel. Tourism will not developed in an area where tourists are not welcomed and seen as important to the socio-economic development of the region. The impact that the recent war in former Yugoslavia is clear. Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia, formally regions of Yugoslavia all saw a drop of tourist arrivals in 1995 over 1994. Croatia. –42.3%; Slovenia, -2.1%; Macedonia, -20.5%. Tourism is showing a recovery though, with each of these countries increasing in arrival numbers for 1996 ove1995.
Some influence on the industry are slow and progressive, making gradual adjustments to the status of the industry, others could be predicted by anyone. Events such as fires in Indonesia or the terrorist attacks in Egypt, two of the most recent events which have had a huge impact on the Travel and Tourism industry in those regions, were not predicted. The Travel and Tourism can only attempt to foresee what the popular destinations and activities will be in the future, but environmental issues will shape the industry in the next two decades, and it will be the companies and destinations which tackle sustainable development who will succeed.
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FROM RIO DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND DEVELOPMENT
1. Travel and Tourism should assist people in leading healthy and productive lives in harmony with nature.
2. Travel and Tourism should contribute to the conservation, protection, and restoration of the Earth’s ecosystem.
3. Travel and Tourism should be based upon sustainable patterns of production and consumption.
4. Nations should co-operate to promote an open economic system, in which international trade in Travel and Tourism services can take place on a sustainable basis.
5. Travel and Tourism, peace, development, and environmental protection are interdependent.
6. Protectionism in trade in Travel and Tourism services should be halted or reversed.
7. Environmental protection should constitute an integral part of the tourism development process.
8. Tourism development issues should handled with the participation of concerned citizens, with the planning decisions being adopted at local level.
9. Nations shall warn one another of natural disasters that could affect tourist or tourist areas.
10. Travel and Tourism should use its capacity to create employment for women and indigenous peoples to its fullest extent.
11. Tourism development should recognize and support the identity, culture, and interests of indigenous peoples.
12. International laws protecting the environment should be respected by the Travel and Tourism industry.
EXISTING ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES
PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1151 – Philippine Environmental Policy
A continuing policy of the State:
a. To create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other.
b. To fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos.
c. To ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conductive to a life of dignity and well being.
Environmental Impact Statements are required for any action, project of undertaking which significantly affects the quality of the environment. The statement should cover:
a. The environmental impact of the proposed action, project or undertaking;
b. Any adverse environmental affect which cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented;
c. Alternative to the proposal action;
d. A determination that the short term uses of the resource of the environment are consistent with the maintenance and enhancement of the long term productivity of the same; and
e. Whenever a proposal involves the use of depletable or non-renewable resources, a finding must be made that such use and commitment are warranted.
PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1152 – Philippine Environmental Code
A comprehensive programme of environmental protection and management policies and prescribing environmental quality standards, covering:
AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT
Standards for ambient air quality, national emissions, community noise, noise producing equipment, aircraft emissions and sonic booms.
WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT
Classification of Philippines waters according to best use and prescription of quality standards. This is followed up by enforcement measures, clean up operations and monitoring
LAND USE MANAGEMENT
Formulation of a land use scheme for classifying land areas and their uses, identification of critical environmental concern and methods of protection, development control and regulation.
NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT
Policy and implementation on management and conservation of fisheries and aquatic resources, wildlife, forestry, and soil conservation, flood control and natural calamities, energy development, conservation and utilization of surface and ground waters, and mineral resources.
Set guidelines, encourage efforts to recover, recycle and re-use wastes and to guide government agencies in establishing comprehensive and effective waste management programmes. Definition of waste disposal methods.
Population/environment balance, environment education, environmental research, information dissemination, incentives to utilize and develop pollution prevention technology, financial assistance for environmental protection measures particularly waste disposal, participation of LGU’s.
JOINT DENR-DOT MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR NO. 98-02 – GUIDELINES FOR ECOTOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN THE PHILIPPINES
The guideline state three objectives:
1. To regulate implementation of Ecotourism projects to make it a viable tool in sustainable development.
2. To provide mechanisms for the accreditation of developers, investors and other concerned individuals and groups who will engage in the implementation of Ecotourism projects.
3. To ensure multi-sectoral participation in Ecotourism development an implementation.
Criteria for the development and implementation of Ecotourism projects define:
Ø The area should have unique natural/cultural features which provide enjoyment and educational benefits to visitors
Ø The area should be accessible
Ø The area should have a stable peace and order condition
Ø There must be a highly receptive and co-operative local community
Ø In case of NIPAS areas, Ecotourism sites should be in recreational zones and other appropriate zones
Ecotourism activities must have all the ff:
Ø Environmentally-sound and low-impact development
Ø With educational value
Ø Have community and economic benefits to the concerned community through livelihood undertakings
The National Ecotourism Committee (NEC) created by DOT and DENR and the Regional Ecotourism Committees created by the same agencies at the field level are required:
Ø To review, evaluate and approve major Ecotourism project proposal
Ø To formulate and recommend plans and programmes on Ecotourism
Ø Devise an accreditation and incentives mechanism for Ecotourism project proponents
Ecotourism has become a buzzword, attracting tourists to destinations and attracting a considerable amount of interests from developers. In order to ensure that facilities and services described as Ecotourism products and which truly are, do not become devalued, strict controls need to be placed on development and management of such facilities. The four essentials elements of any Ecotourism development are:
Ø Based primarily on the natural history of an area
Ø Encourages understanding by the tourist of the destination
Ø Creates a socio-economic benefit to the host community
Ø Contributes to the conservation and sustainable development of the destination
MARKETING OF THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines, despite offering a wide variety choice of holiday options, remains relatively unknown foreign tourist destination. It is likely that with the current economic situation in Asia, that long haul tourism from other continents is going to play a major part in the future of the tourism industry. The government should see the promotion of the tourism products, which the Philippines have to offer, as an essential part of developing a sustainable industry. Recommendations are given within the two individual pilot project case studies, but a national policy for marketing the unique aspects of the Philippines in the context of sustainable tourism is required.
Tourists form an impression and expectation of their destination before they arrive, through the promotion and marketing which reach them. Travel agents, tour operators, national tourist boards, brochures, travel articles, guide books and television programmes have a great deal of opportunities to influence tourists’ attitudes and behavior when they reach the destination.
Responsible marketing will raise awareness, appreciation and respect for the local communities and environment. If expectations of tourists are raised before they arrive, and then not met, this can lead to misunderstanding and disappointment. Marketing should also aim to give a fair representation of all of the products and destinations on offer throughout the Philippines.
Within any existing marketing strategy for Philippines tourism, certain elements to promote the works toward a sustainable industry need to be included. Promotion to tour operators and travel agents who deliver tours and holiday packages which are based on unique experiences of the natural and cultural elements of a destination, is essential to reach the target market of tourists.
S11 – Use promotion to educate tourists in advance of arrival, and give guidelines for behavior and activities.
S12 – Ensure that promotion gives a fair and accurate representation of the destination and do not give false impressions or expectations
S13 – Promote all aspects of the Philippines product to make tourist aware of the variety available and encourage them to try new experience.
S14 – Use promotion of different tourists destinations to match capacity to demand.
S15 – Target specific tour operators/travels agents who reach the target market of the Philippines, and work with them to promote the Philippines to their customers.
Earth Saving Tips
1. SEGREGATE. Avoid disposable products Do the 5 R’s (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, Refuse, and Redeem for cash)
How of the stuff we throw can be recycled. Since the things you use are all made from materials that come from the Earth, they are valuable. Reduce the trash you throw everyday.
2. Pick up litter. It takes a month for a piece of paper to become part of the earth again. It takes a cloth a year. A softdrink can lying on the ground won’t disappear for over 200 years.
Help pick up litter that you see as you are walking.
3. Be a paper saver. An average person uses about 580 pounds of paper every year. It takes 500,000 tress just to make the newspapers we read every Sunday. But, we can save 200 million trees a year by recycling paper.
4. Use paper, not plastic. It takes a whole tree to make about 500 brown paper grocery bags, But plastic bags are worse because they can’t be recycled, and the plastic will never decompose. Ask for paper, not plastic, when checking out of grocery store.
5. No to Styrofoam. Styrofoam is permanent garbage! It CAN’T ever be part of the Earth again. Five hundred years from now someone might be digging in his backyard only to find a piece of Styrofoam caup you used last week.
6. Avoid or STOP using Styrofoam. If ever you eat at fast food restaurants, ask for paper cups or plates.
7. Grow a tree. Each tree you plant eats an average of 9 pounds of carbon dioxide each year from the atmosphere and changes it into oxygen. Trees are natural allies of humans in the battle for against global warming.
8. Lights out. Save expensive energy and unnecessary danger.
9. Be a water-leak detective. 97% of the water on our planet us unusable (sea water), another 2% is frozen, so the water we drink has to come from the remaining 1% - mostly ground water from beneath the Earth’s surface. When we turn on the faucet, fresh water flows out from the same reserves in the ground, from the same rivers and streams.
10. TURN-OFF the water. The average person use about 150 gallons of water everyday. Don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth or washing dishes. Turn the faucet on just long enough to rinse your toothbrush or the dishes.
11. DON’t dump petroleum-based products and any other harmful toxins like paints, oil and gasoline on the ground. Be careful of what you spill on Earth.
12. Don’t let go of your ballons. Helium balloons, when released don’t banish into thin air. They are often blown by strong winds into the ocean. Sometimes sea creatures thinks balloons are food and eat them. These can kill them.
13. Talk to your parents, friends, family, schoolmates, teachers about what they can do to save mother earth.
14. Come up with your own way to save mother earth.
Practical Tips To Live-By
1. Live simply
2. Eat natural and fresh food
3. Consume less or not meat
5. Exercise regularly
6. Plant fruit trees to shade your school and home yard
7. Water plants in the morning
8. Do not burn leaves or cuttings from plants instead make a much pile
9. Do not throw garbage into rivers, lakes and seas
10. Avoid using styrofoams/plastics for eating utensils
11. Put products in recyclable containers
12. Recycle cans, newspapers and cardboard
13. Provide trashcans for biodegradable and non-biodegradable garbage
14. Compost food and yard debris
15. Do not use aerosol spray with CFCs
16. Turn off lights when not in use
17. Hang clothes in the sun
18. Use public transportation
19. Report smoke belching vehicles
20. Use rags instead of paper towels
21. Use both sides of paper sheets
22. For drafts and scratch – the empty backside of manuscripts
23. Make your own toys from ecology-friendly materials
24. Conserve water
25. Join environmental movement and share knowledge on care for the earth with family and friends.
Total Waste Management
It is a lifestyle not just a technology
In nature there is no garbage.
When there is human, there is garbage.
Garbage is the greatest failure of the human race.
Are we the garbage of the earth?
“If don’t do it now, who will do it for us.
Green Tips to Save the Earth
Save the Earth! Imagine asking the dustman to cart off 480 double-decker buses jam packed with stinking, rotten rubbish. Sadly, that is the problem our environment faces every day. Twenty four thousand tonnes of waste is dumped daily and that includes a staggering 15 million plastic bags, enough to fill 25 buses. Some of the waste like sewage, finds its way into the harbour, polluting the waters and killing marine life. But the damage doesn't end there. Rotting waste releases harmful gases into the air which threaten everyone's health. Something has to be done. Everyone has a part to play, including you. The following "green tips" shows how you can save the environment and save money at the same time. Try your best to follow the advice listed below and encourage your friends and family to do the same. If everyone plays their part, we can all join together to save the environment and look forward to a happier, healthier and cleaner future.
1. Travel Agents
Located throughout the world
Markets retail travel industry products
(have pot played a significant role in marketing ecotourism industry)
Note: in 1999 the use of internet shows more than 52 million online travelers with 54% increase over the previous year
2. Outbound Tour Operators (OTO)
Are the ecotourism industry’s dominant marketing and sales organizations
They create the brand name that sells the ecotourism products
Markets destinations using four color brochures. Catalogues with photos of wildlife and ecosystems, World Wide Web Pages, in some cases through distribution of film, videotapes and CD-ROM disks
Takes responsibility for selecting and packaging the tour products
They must oversee the creation of itineraries to ensure that they will meet the market demand
Handle all sales of the tour product and also handle most air arrangements to their clients through in-house travel agents
They provide tourists with all the pre-departure information
Responsible for traveler insurance and liability issues
Note: OTO requires extensive work with their inbound operators to ensure that guiding, business, conservation practices and host community relations concur with ecotourism guidelines
A growing number of non-profit organizations are successfully marketing tours to their members in partnership with the OTO
Tour Operator Responsibilities
Build environmental and cultural awareness through information and education for clients
Minimize impact on the environment
Provide direct financial benefits for conservation
Respect local cultures
Support local business and service providers
Provide local guide services and assists with training local guides
Manage activities in a responsible manner, using local guidelines for visitor behavior
Support parks and protected areas, paying entry fees at all times
Work in cooperation with local NGOs and government to develop plans for visitor management that protects local people and the environment
Avoid over-crowded, over-exploited destinations on itineraries and help develop lesser-known sites
Offer site-sensitive accommodations
The International Ecotourism Society,
Ecotourism Guidelines for Nature Tour Operators, 1993
3. Inbound Tour Operators (ITO)
Usually located in the major cities of destinations countries
They handle multi-day group tours for OTO
ITO can provide conference services or customize itineraries directly to the individual clients
ITO in some cases own their own lodges or hotels which they use for their own clients
ITO is responsible for ensuring that the trip is of high-quality and, particularly that the educational component meets the ecotourism standards
ITO must have quality interpretive guides which is the key human resource that establishes an ITO as a top competitor in the market place
They must select ground transportation services that are suitable in size for their groups
They select restaurants that feature local cuisine and are owned by local entrepreneurs
They must also work with local vendors to ensure that tourists have an opportunity to view and ideally purchase genuine local products, such as handicrafts
Ensure that tourism products generates income for the conservation projects
They must work with local communities at each destination site visited to ensure that host communities have proper opportunities to benefit from the tourism program and that appropriate guest-host interactions exist.
Reflect the creative initiative and entrepreneurialism of business pioneers, rather than large multi-national corporations
Some cases are skilled entrepreneurs who have partnered with indigenous landowners to co-manage the wild land resources that tourists visit and the local people depend on
Contributes towards maintaining official protected areas
Large owners may be involved in long-term agreements with protected areas worldwide
Ecolodge Owner / Manager Responsibilities
Design the lodge to reflect the local natural and cultural environment, using the principles of sustainable design and endemic design styles
Use site planning to minimize the environmental impact of construction and to protect key natural features such as vegetation. Avoid use of non-renewable construction materials and use recycled building products whenever possible
Design an operation ecolodge that will minimize use of natural and, particularly non-renewable resources. This could include energy and water reduction strategies but also a waste management plan that encourages reduction of excess waste through reuse and recycling.
Work in collaboration with the local community and involved them in the planning of the ecolodge. Support the local economy and initiatives by contracting local service providers and buying local products. Offer local people employment that spans a wide range of responsibilities and incorporates them into management roles.
Provide benefits to local conservation and research programs, either public or private.
Work with government and local NGOs to develop long-term sustainable land-use plans.
Offers visitors interpretive programs that will educate them about the local natural and cultural environment.
Give clients the opportunity to contribute directly to the local development and environmental projects.
Investigate the economic and legal aspects of developing the ecolodge and run it as a business. A facility that operates in contravention of the law or is not financially viable will not effectively contribute to the conservation of the natural environment or benefit the local community.
Adapted from Mehta et al,
International Ecolodge Guidelines, In Press
Enigmata Treehouse Galeri Reference: Ms. Rosalie Zerrudo
Reference: Ms. Rosalie Zerrudo