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Ecotourism refers to a form of sustainable tourism within a natural and cultural heritage area

where community participation, protection and management of natural resources, culture and
indigenous knowledge and practices, environmental education and ethics as well as economic
benefits are fostered and pursued for the enrichment of host communities and satisfaction of
visitors.

Ecotourism is a concept that provides a win-win situation especially in protected areas
and natural destinations that may be sensitive to human impacts. Over the years there has
been much confusion over the concept that several places are being promoted for ecotourism
despite that fact that they are not practicing or demonstrating sustainable principles.
Understanding these principles is part of the responsibility of proponents who wish to engage in
ecotourism related projects.

Principles of ecotourism?

1. Conservation of natural ecosystems, biodiversity and culture;

2. Community participation in the growth of the local tourism industry;

3. Inclusive growth that involves, women, children, indigenous peoples, informal sector;

4. Increased awareness on environmental conservation and responsible travel;

5. Balanced development by taking into consideration economic, environmental and social
goals.

What is balanced development and inclusive growth?

For ecotourism to work, the community needs to establish goals that promote the
conservation of the natural environment, economic prosperity for the majority of stakeholders
and community development. Poverty alleviation is a major goal of all livelihood projects
including ecotourism. The dynamics of development however, often results to inequality,
wherein the rich tend to become richer and the poor tend to become poorer. This happens
when market forces are allowed to control development and there are no conscious effort to
establish safety nets. The latter come in the form of community organizing, capacity building,
networking, sustainable livelihood projects, market linkages, sustainable financing and other
schemes that will make sure that the marginalized sector of society also have a chance to be
part of development.
The Chain of Prosperity

Tourism is often associated with serious and irreversible social problems such as
drug trafficking, prostitution, child abuse, theft and other crimes. Criminality in tourism
areas is an indicator of two things: presence of migrants who were attracted to the site
due to the presence of tourists who are often the focus of these crimes, and/or
desperation on the part of the poor residing in the area who are pushed to steal, sell
drugs, go int prostitution because they feel that they have no other option. It goes
without saying that even locals become victims, especially when it comes to abuse of
women and children. The root cause is the lack of conscious effort on the part of
government to capacitate the poorest of the poor on skills that will allow them to get
jobs related to the industry. Marginalised sectors such as farmers, fisher folks, and
housewives end up being poorer since their income remains the same amidst price
increase of basic commodities brought about by tourism development. When people
end up poorer they become desperate and are pushed to engage in illegal activities or
are victimised by syndicates. The Chain of Prosperity is a value chain approach to
tourism development that addresses the needs of marginalised members of the
community in terms of training, seed money for capitalisation, networking and linkages,
product development and marketing. Entrepreneurship is the the battle cry of this
framework since it promotes the mobilisation and active involvement of community
members in the growth of tourism. Community-based tourism provides economic
incentives for residents of poor rural communities to strengthen the protection of the
natural assets which are the capital of ecotourism development. Enterprise
development is the basic strategy towards empowering community members to earn
supplemental income from the tourist traffic through the sale of life enhancing and
compelling experiences. (this framework is copyrighted by Chen Reyes-Mencias)

Source: http://www.ecotourismphilippines.net/ecotourism.html