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Defining Ecotourism

Alan A. Lew
Dept. of Geography, Planning & Recreation Northern Arizona University http://AlanLew.com
Source: http://Slideshare.net/alew All photos in this file Alan A Lew

Defining Ecotourism
1. 2. 3. 4.

Greening of Consumers Definitions of Ecotourism Asian Examples Ecotour Operator Survey Conclusions Challenges Market



Definitions and Practices of Ecotourism Are Culture Based and Bound The Form and Nature of Ecotourism Represents the Cutting Edge of a Countrys Environmental Ethic

Growth in Green & EcoBlogosphere Growth in Online Discussions of Sustainable Development 50% more discussion at end of 2007 than at start Global Warming - main focus at start of year Personal Actions - main focus at end of year Recycling, Minimizing packaging, Carpooling Links between Personal Health & Environmental Wellness Pollution, toxins and sustainable agriculture

Green Boomers
Forty million Green boomers in US (13.3% of US population; 2007 survey by Focalyst) More Demanding of Product + Service Quality More Critical of Advertising more likely to believe there is not much truth in advertising wish advertising included more real product information more brand loyal than other boomers across all product categories Mature boomers more likely to be green. more aware of their legacy and leaving a positive mark on the world Other findings from Focalyst: Green boomers are watching less television spend more time with print media Boomers with annual incomes of less than $50,000 are more green than boomers with incomes of over $150,000

Ecotourism - Popular & Industry Definitions

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES):
Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.

Green Globe 21 International and Ecotourism Australia:

Ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.

Martha Honey - Ecotourism and Sustainable Development (book)

Ecotourism is travel to fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas that strive to be low impact and (usually) small scale. It helps educate the traveler; provides funds for conservation; directly benefits the economic development and political empowerment of local communities; and fosters respect for different cultures and for human rights (Honey, 1999, p. 25)

Thailands First Ecotourism & Adventure Travel Show

30 May - 2 June 2002

Ecotourism & Adventure Tourism Products

camping, trekking, diving accessories & apparel boat & water sports gear, beachwear hotels, resorts, eco-lodges & homestay destinations ecotourism & adventure tour packages fitness, health & spa centers nutrition products & travel gear

Over 50,000 visitors

tour operators hotels & resorts tourism-related public & private agencies Thai travelers especially university & high school students international visitors foreign expatriates residing in Thailand

Ecotourism: An Academic Definition

David Fennell (1999 p.43) Definition based on a reviewing 15 definitions: Ecotourism is a sustainable form of natural resource-based tourism that focuses primarily on experiencing and learning about nature, and which is ethically managed to be low-impact, non-consumptive, and locally oriented (control, benefits, and scale). It typically occurs in natural areas, and should contribute to the conservation or preservation of such areas. 13 Principles - ranked by frequency: 1. Interest in nature 2. Contributes to conservation 3. Reliance on parks & protected areas 4. Benefits local people / long-term benefits 5. Education and study 6. Low impact/non-consumptive

7. 8. 9.

Ethics/responsibility Management Sustainable appreciation

10. Enjoyment & 11. Culture 12. Adventure

13. Small scale

Education & Commodification

Definition Problems
of the 25 government tourism agencies that chose to define "ecotourism," 21 chose to create their own definition (Mader 2004) Ecotourism eludes firm definition because it is a complex notion which ambitiously attempts to: describe an activity, set forth a philosophy ,and espouse a model of development.
(Simmons 1999; Ziffer 1989)

Ecotourism Continuums
1. Relative Ecotourism -&- Absolute/Pure Ecotourism (Shore 2004)
Relative: Overall Impact is Environmentally Sound Though some individual components may not be Absolute: All Components are Environmentally Sound

2. Nature/Adventure Tourism -&- Sustainable Development

Earliest known Definition of Ecotourism
traveling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated areas with the specific objective of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestations (both past and present) found in these areas. (Lascurain, 1991)

Sustainable Tourism Definition:

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present [in particular the essential needs of the worlds poor] without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs. (Brundtland, 1987)

Domestic / Mass Ecotourism in Asia

David Weaver

Three Established Mass Ecotourism Regions / Themes 1) Blossom and Waterfall Region Japan & South Korea Nature 2) Rainforest and Reef Region Indonesia & Malaysia Sustainable Development 3) Mountain Trekking Region Himalayas & Northern Thailand (& Laos) Adventure (trekking)

Ecotourism in China
Ecotourism = sheng tai nu you = Tourism that does not exploit or harm the environment, ecology or society Ecotourism in China Mostly used as a marketing tool to earn income to support nature reserve management (Han and Ren 2001) = Nature Tourism Includes Mass Tourism, Adventure Tourism, Lack of ecotourism education or guidelines among Nature reserve managers Traveling public Lack of research & understanding on nature reserve ecology Lack of uniform nature reserve management practices & training Reflects Chinas Long isolation from rest of the world Emphasis on market solutions to common pool resources

SW China Ecotourism

Yunnans Stone Forest

Yunnan Culture

Ecotourism in Southeast Asia

Malaysia A leader in national park and nature reserve management Focus on Natural Ecosystem Management Combined with ecotourism principles Taman Negara National Park (West Malaysia) Sarawak and Sabah on Borneo (East Malaysia) Benefitted from Malaysias growing middle class Indonesia Most popular ecotour destination until 1997 political crisis Focus on Ecotourism to replace agriculture & fishing in nature reserves Pro-poor economic development Initial success has struggles in recent years Major problems with illegal logging and burning of rainforests to clear land


Iban / Dayak Cultural Ecotourism in Sarawak, Malaysia

PATA Ecotourism

Borneo Orangutan

Survey of Ecotourism Companies

Survey of North American Tour Companies with Ecotours to the Asia-Pacific (excluding SW Asia) Absolute / Pure Ecotourism Ecotourism to Asia grew 20% a year in the 1990s - prior to 1997 Top Destinations #1 = Indonesia #2 = Countries bordering the Himalayas Secondary ecotour destinations Established destinations: China & Thailand Emerging destinations: Indochina & Central Asia

Where Asia Ecotours Went (prior to 1997)

Country or Region Indonesia India Australia Nepal Bhutan New Zealand Tibet China Thailand Burma Cambodia Laos Pakistan Malaysia Papua New Guinea Russian Far East Vietnam Central Asia Japan Mongolia Sikkim Philippines

# Tour Companies 16 13 12 12 10 8 8 7 7 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2

% of all Tour Companies 40.0 32.5 30.0 30.0 25.0 20.0 20.0 17.5 17.5 12.5 12.5 12.5 12.5 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0 7.5 Uzbekistan, Kyrgistan 7.5 7.5 7.5 5.0

Types of Ecotours
NATURE (22 respondents)
81.2% Asia Pacific / 18.2% North America Wildlife (5), Nature (4), Natural history (3), Jungles / Rainforests (2), Science-based nature tours (2), Fossil expeditions, National Park's, Nature reserves, Orangutans, Ornithology, Village wildlife conservation, Zoos

CULTURE (14 respondents)

57.1% Asia Pacific / 42.9% North America based Culture (6), Agriculture, Anthropology, Countryside tours, Culture exchanges, Ethnic area lodge, Food, Local guides, Sustainable technology

ADVENTURE (4 respondents)
0% Asia Pacific / 100% North America based Soft adventure (2), Adventure, Hard adventure, Outdoor adventure
N = 31 respondents

Ecotour Activities
PHYSICAL-LAND (15 respondents)
60% - Asia Pacific / 40% - North America based companies Trekking (7), Walking (3), Cycling/Mountain Biking (2), Backpacking, Bush Walking, Day hiking, Physical activity

PHYSICAL-WATER (6 respondents)
50% Asia Pacific / 50% North America based Boat rides, Diving, Rafting, Sailing, Sea Kayaking, Whitewater

EDUCATION / OTHER (11 respondents)

42.9% Asia Pacific / 57.1% North America based Educational (3), Guest scholar/teachers/experts (3), Animal riding safaris (2), Bird watching (2), Local educational programs, Photo-taking safaris, Study tours
N = 31 respondents

Ecotourism Management Policies

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Use guides native to visited area * Have an education program for local guides Provide a pre-arrival information packet Providing a % of tour profits to local org.s Participate in local cleanup programs Pack-it-out requirements Other activities to support sustainable dev. ** 31 26 24 19 17 15 16 77.5% 65.0% 60.0% 47.5% 42.5% 37.5% 40.0%

N = 40 respondents * 67% use local guides exclusively ** Other Activities: "Donations:" Generous donations to local charities; Funds for conservation & research (2); Land purchases for conservation; Sponsor Village Folk Theatre; Support clinic, school and religious organizations; Support local environmental groups "Education:" Environmental education kits; Quality environmental education; Scholarships; Post-trip mailings; Teach adult education class in ecotourism; Up to 70 pages long pre-arrival packets; Support village libraries; Environmental reading library "Services:" Provide medical services; Lobby government to protect rainforest; Tree planting (2); Peer exchanges; Support orphanages "Economic Development:" Use of all reusable materials; Support ecovillages; Encourage eco-purchases; Support local handicrafts; Invest in ecolodges; Support indigenous tourism projects

Other Ecotour Characteristics

Extra Cost of Conducting Eco-sensitive Tours
High: Mean: Low: 40.0 % of Tour Price 11.1 0.0

Willingness of Participants to Donate Money to Local Environmental and Social Causes

Very willing 38.9% Somewhat willing Not Interested or willing 55.6 5.6

Management of Tourist Behaviour

- We strictly enforce sensitive Behaviour on our tours - We explain proper behaviour, but leave it up to the individual - We only explain proper behaviour in the most sensitive place - We seldom ever direct tourists in how to behave 42.9% 33.3 11.9 11.9

Our travellers typically already know how to behave We talk to individuals privately if there is a problem with their behaviour Our policies vary based upon the destination Our operators are responsible for establishing proper behaviour We don't accept participants who will not behave Policies vary depending on the place
N = 42 respondents

Tour Group Size

Smallest Average Largest Group Group Group Mean Median Range 4.5 2 1 - 22 11.4 8 3 - 60 24.7 15 4 - 125

Do you intentionally limit tour group sizes? Yes 34 (81%) No 8 (19%) If yes, what is your size limit? Mean: 14.9 Median: 14.5 Range: 6 - 40

Reasons Limiting Tour Group Size p.1

IMPACTS: 1. Impacts are greater with more than 16 persons 2. To reduce/lessen impact/damage (7) 3. To ensure sustainable impact 4. To minimize cultural concerns/impacts (3) 5. Prevent negative impacts on culturally sensitive areas 6. To minimize environmental impacts (3) 7. To ensure privacy 8. Lower impact from camping 9. We will limit tour size to one person to some pristine environments to lessen environmental and animal damage SERVICE: 1. Guides are unable to have personal contact and control the situation with more than 17 persons 2. More than eight is a mob 3. Ease of handling/controlling smaller groups (2) 4. Some private groups may exceed our maximum 5. Logistics of moving too large a group in the destination region 6. Manageable, yet profitable, size 7. We break our larger groups into smaller groups of four to five persons each for daily activities

Reasons Limiting Tour Group Size p.2

CAPACITY: 1. Due to the carrying capacity of the product (2) 2. Safety and the ability to airlift out of National Parks and mountains by helicopter if the weather turns bad 3. Our maximum size depends on the itinerary 4. Depending on the destination, group sizes may be limited to as little as two persons 5. Based on capacity of lodges/We are able to use smaller lodges (2) 6. Allows use of smaller vehicles to get to more remote places EXPERIENCE: 1. To render more in-depth insight and equal service to each client 2. To ensure a quality experience (4) 3. To enhance enjoyment of the environment and activities 4. Smaller size results in a more genuine experience 5. Better group rapport/dynamics (2) 6. Increased opportunity to interact with locals / cross-cultural experience (2) 7. Provide more personal contact/attention (3)

Conclusions: Asia Tourism Challenges

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
APEC - Government representatives

Leading Tourism Problems

Environmental Pollution Air Traffic Congestion Overcrowding at Major Attractions

Private Sector respondents to same survey

Leading Tourism Problems
Excessive Controls over the use of Sensitive Natural Areas Conflicts between Tour Operators and Natural Resource Managers

Exploitation vs. Conservation Issues

The Sustainable Development Paradox

Conclusions - Ecotourism Market

Relatively Small, Niche Market May be good for the environment, But may not meet economic needs of the community Variety of Objectives Education - Public relations Financial support for organizations nature and cultural conservation Marketing tool for up-market tourists conservation oriented consumers Continuums of Definitions and Uses Part Ecotourism to All Ecotourism Nature Based Tourism to Sustainable Development

Ecotourism & Mass Tourism

How to Make Mass Tourism Socially Responsible Environmentally Sustainable Ecotourists & Mass Tourists Both Can Be: Green & Sustainable at ecotourism sites Hedonist & Exploitative at other mass tourism sites Greenwashing Tours & Attractions / Eco-pirates Selling un-green products as green or eco

Ecotourism & Political Economy

Ecotourism: Relies on the Mass Tourism Infrastructure Airlines, Automobiles, Hotels, Imported Foods Similar carbon Footprint Maintains Dependency & Neocolonial Power Relationships Between Developed Center & Developing Periphery Exists in larger context of Global & Local - Politics & Economic Interests Different Stakeholders Co-opt Ecotourism Government (local, national, supranational) Business Interests - NGOs Residents/Hosts - Tourists/Guests

Defining Ecotourism
1. 2. 3. 4.

Examples of Ecotourism Definitions of Ecotourism Asian Context Ecotour Operator Survey Conclusions Challenges Market


Definitions and Practices of Ecotourism Are Culture Based and Bound The Form and Nature of Ecotourism Represents the Cutting Edge of a Countrys Environmental Ethic