Tag: sustainable development

Environmental sustainabilityStrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainability

Johnny Cay Regional Park: Strategies for Conservation in the Caribbean

Johnny Cay, a small Colombian island in the Caribbean, faces significant conservation challenges. Although the park is a protected area, currently no license system or code of conduct exists for the tour operators who bring tourists to Johnny Cay from nearby San Andres. This lack of a tourism management plan has led to negative environmental consequences on the island, which in turn jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of businesses operating in Johnny Cay Regional Park.

A Sustainable Tourism Strategic Plan for the park has been recently developed. The plan supports conservation and business development in Johnny Cay Regional Park by identifying conservation threats, creating a plan to mitigate those threats, and implementing sustainable tourism best practices.

Principal conservation threats include environmental degradation, mainly pollution, both on the island and within the surrounding waters. The island is also losing its cultural identity and turning into a daytime party spot, leading to an abundance of alcohol consumption and diminishing authentic cultural interaction. Operations must become more conservation-focused if tourism businesses hope to use Johnny Cay Regional Park as part of their long-term business strategy.

The Sustainable Tourism Strategic Plan addresses conservation threats by employing five specific strategies over the course of three years:

  1. Creation of a Sustainable Tourism Department within Coralina (The Organization for the Sustainable Development of the San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina Archipelago).

This department will ensure that businesses comply with specific operational standards while operating within the park. The department will also develop training programs, implement environmental education programs, and act as a link between Coralina and tourism associations on the island.

  1. Develop a Sustainable Tourism Certification Program within Johnny Cay Regional Park

This program will serve as a tool for setting operating standards and increasing sustainability awareness among local stakeholders. The program will provide best practices and codes of conduct for businesses and use the implementation of these practices as a filter to determine who can operate within the park. Businesses will be encouraged to gradually implement best practices and will receive recognition upon successful implementation. Businesses will also receive training related to different strategies for improving their product offerings. Ideally, this will serve as a pilot program for the region with possible extensions on the nearby islands of San Andres, Santa Catalina, and Providencia in the future.

  1. Provide a Business Support Program for tourism businesses operating within the park

A relatively low standard of technical business knowledge emerged through the project’s initial assessment process. This negatively impacted total revenues and product quality while poor marketing limited the ability for businesses to attract new clients. A business support program, run through Coralina, has been proposed to provide training in business planning, marketing, and monitoring and evaluation. A competition has also been proposed through which locals will develop their own business plans and compete for initial funding based on plan quality.

  1. Develop a Communication Strategy to increase cooperation between tourism businesses and Coralina

Improving communication among local residents, tourists, businesses, Coralina, travel agents, and national tourism entities will be vital to the success of the sustainable tourism strategic plan. This communication strategy hopes to strengthen conservation efforts by ensuring that residents and visitors understand that Johnny Cay is a nationally-recognized regional park. The goal is to invoke a sense of pride within locals and operators to foster a culture of conservation. Additionally, the communication strategy aims to facilitate a smoother communication process between businesses and other entities while keeping businesses up-to-date on the implementation of the overall sustainable tourism strategic plan.

  1. Develop a system for tourism businesses to pay a concession fee for operating within the park

The plan calls for this implementation to occur in year 3, after the above strategies have had time to take hold. Each business applying for a concession will have their tax calculated based on their financial projections. A maximum tariff will be established and businesses will have to comply with certain standards in order to apply. Very clear communication and successful implementation strategies 1-4 will be vital to establishing the concession system.

Johnny Cay faces serious conservation issues that threaten the long-term viability of its corresponding tourism economy. However, with the proper strategy and training, these negative consequences can be reversed.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management

Environmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainabilityTourism trends

Best Practices in Integrating Sustainability in Tourism Management and Operations

The importance of sustainable tourism development is increasingly recognized throughout the sector. However, it has been a challenge for many organizations to integrate sustainability into tourism management and operations. Here are a few tips and examples on how to incorporate sustainability in your destination’s tourism management and operations.

Involve Local Residents and Communities in Tourism Planning

Sustainable tourism development requires the participation of local residents and businesses at the planning stage. By consulting with local stakeholders, you gain their support and reduce conflict as the plan progresses.

In Geotourism projects, which seek to highlight the unique culture and heritage of a region through the voices and stories of the people that live there, local residents are invited to nominate places of interest. This provides more economic benefits to local businesses especially those that are less known. The nominations are reviewed by a Stewardship Council, composed of representatives from the region, before being used to create an interactive website, a MapGuide, and a Smartphone app.

Establish Partnerships with Different Stakeholders

Effective collaboration among different stakeholders from the government, tourism boards, businesses, and local communities is crucial to successful sustainable tourism management and operations. This facilitates a more balanced system of decision making as the priorities of various sectors are considered.

For the assistance of Uganda in tourism development, stakeholders from each part of the tourism and conservation sectors were actively involved. The cooperation among the stakeholders was important to enhance tourism products, build strong community enterprises, strengthen linkages among different attractions, and bolster the success of the program.

Develop Products Based on the Destination’s Strengths

What are the local assets that your destination can highlight? Destination assessment should be conducted to identify the strengths of a destination and determine the best tourism products based on the findings.

In the destination assessment for the Sierra de la Gigante region, potential conservation models leveraging the region’s strengths in order to address conservation goals and provide economic opportunities for the local population were identified.

Strengthen Local Capacity to Manage Tourism

Sustainable tourism management and operations need to equip local businesses with skills to succeed. Workforce development and training is therefore integral to a successful strategy.

To strengthen the capacity of the Ethiopia Sustainable Tourism Alliance (ESTA), many workshops were conducted and materials were created to train personnel in using the necessary tools and activities to implement community tourism in Ethiopia.

Target High-Yield Market Segments

High visitor numbers aren’t inherently valuable for your destination. In sustainable tourism management and operations, it is important to serve the proper target markets. Fortunately, there has been a growth in the number of travelers who demand more responsible travel and have higher visitor expenditure.

The Namibia North American Destination Marketing Campaign targeted travelers who would most appreciate the country’s strong conservation and special interest selling points. These include curious conservationists and experience seekers. This is why a destination assessment of strengths is so important—you must know what you are marketing and to whom.

Use Guidelines to Limit Impact

Creating guidelines is important in sustainable tourism management and operations. It not only helps the destination preserve its ecological value, but also helps businesses limit their negative environmental and sociocultural impacts. Educating visitors and locals on best-practices matters.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) Initiative fosters increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices and promotes the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management

Environmental sustainabilitySustainability

Tourism’s Important Role in Conservation Projects

Conservation projects are currently taking the world by storm due to greater awareness and the unstoppable growth of global tourism. Did you know that tourism is one of the planet’s biggest industries and one of the largest drivers of economic growth all over the world? You may be surprised to learn that tourism is also one of the biggest driving forces of conservation efforts – spurred by the sheer volume of travelers circulating the globe and visiting sensitive natural areas. Conservation programs are being put into place to capitalize on tourism’s economic promise to ensure that natural resources endure for years to come.

What is Conservation?

First, let’s take a moment to define what conservation is. Conservation is the act of preserving or protecting the environment, natural resources, and biodiversity. Oftentimes, we see locations with underdeveloped economies struggle with conservation because resources are limited. An unwitting local population may sometimes exploit the natural areas and wildlife populations in order to make ends meet. It’s an understandable scenario, but with dangerous consequences to the long-term viability of ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.

Tourism is a solution, not the problem.

How does tourism tie into this, you ask? Well, tourism, when planned accordingly, can actually help developing economies by preserving the resources that communities rely on, rather than depleting them. Tourism generates economic growth by creating sustainable, non-consumptive means of income for the community such as tours. When done correctly, tourism can entice conscious travelers to visit, who in turn bring cash to communities. Tourism also has the benefit of unifying community stakeholders around a common goal with tangible outcomes.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

In many African nations, biodiversity conservation has always been important. In Namibia, we see the effects poaching can have on decreasing the populations of big game animals, like lions, elephants, and rhinos. Of the 1,750 black rhinos that live in Namibia, about 120 were killed in 2014 alone. Local communities have historically felt the need to hunt and kill these animals either for food, or because they believe the animals are destroying their own precious resources, like their grass-filled land, or preying on their livestock. Eventually, though, if populations continue using these endangered species for food, these animals will go extinct, and so will the communities’ food source. Additionally, the illegal export of rare animals to the black market in other areas is a brutal detriment to communities

What tourism has the power to do is reverse the view that wildlife is a threat and demonstrate that there is an economic value to conservation. Instead of viewing lions and rhinos as a danger to their homes, or the pangolin as a wealth-inducing export, Namibians can let these animals provide for them. People across the world are willing to travel great distances and pay significant amounts of money to see these great creatures. For example, along with continued North American and European travelers, Chinese visitors to African safaris will grow to about 180,000 by 2017. Increased interest has developed in India as well. And as the world becomes ever more connected, through the power of the internet, tourism and a desire to visit these unique locations will only continue to grow. By investing in the conservation of preserving its wildlife, Namibia is ensuring that travelers (and their money) will continue to flow into the country for years to come.

The documentary Virunga, has brought attention to the endangered mountain gorillas residing in the Virunga Mountain Region. On the border of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Republic of Congo, the mountains are the only place on earth where you can find these magnificent primates. As the documentary highlights, oil drilling has posed an imminent threat to the lives of these endangered gorillas. However, oil is a limited resource, whereas investing in tourism will attract visitors – and funding – for generations to come.

Saving the sea turtles is another great example of how conservation not only benefits wildlife, but the entire world. A sea turtle is worth way more alive to us, than dead. Sea turtles help control the growth of sea grass beds on the ocean floor, which are breeding grounds for many species of fish and crustaceans. Without sea turtles, we would see an incredible decrease in sea grass beds, leading to a decline in the other species who depend on it for their survival. Not only do sea turtles help the marine ecosystem, but they also help recycle nutrients from the water to the land when they lay their eggs along beaches every summer. Without sea turtle eggs, our beaches’ ecosystems would be harmed, sand dunes would erode, and we can say goodbye to the precious, pristine beaches we enjoy today.

To do any of the above, conservation is of the utmost importance. Tourism can help ensure sustainable income for the future.

While tourism and conservation make an excellent duo, there are many challenges to overcome predisposed ideas of economic growth in countries where poverty and corruption run rampant. With the right methods and planning, tourism can help preserve beautiful locations, like the Virunga Mountains and Namibia, for generations to come.

 This blog post is from   www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Conservation

Environmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

4 Benefits that Sustainable Tourism Development Ensures for Cuba

The story of international tourism to Cuba is a complex one. From the pre-Revolution Tropicana Club and casino days to tourism’s eradication under Castro, and now back again with predominantly Havana and all-inclusive resort promotions, the island’s relationship to international tourism has constantly evolved. Cuba received more than three million international tourists in 2014, more than any other year in its history. This trend shows no sign of slowing down as arrivals for January 2015 outpaced January 2014 by 16%. Most of these tourists come from Canada and Europe, but as you might have heard, Cuba has another huge market entering the mix.

The smoothing of relations between the United States and Cuba nations may allow for a massive influx of American tourists in the near future, but for now this is uncertain. With the potential influx of tourists from the United States, will Cuba develop a sustainable tourism model a la Costa Rica, or will they choose to emulate the all-inclusive route so popular throughout the rest of the Caribbean?

Cuba has already developed a massive all-inclusive resort enclave, Varadero, on the northern coast a couple hours east of Havana. This 20-mile strand of beach is home to many joint ventures between the Cuban government and foreign companies, and only a small percentage of profits ever benefit the Cuban people. Massive all-inclusive resorts, although becoming more sustainability-focused, have a long history of being unsustainable. Profits depart destinations, environmental degradation occurs, and local traditions are shuttered or commoditized, leading to varying degrees of tourism imperialism.

Cuba has developed a few other all-inclusive resorts outside of Varadero, but an overwhelming majority of the island still lends itself to sustainable tourism development. By choosing to move forward with the sustainable tourism model instead of further developing mass all-inclusive resort tourism, four key benefits to Cuba arise:

  1. Protection of natural areas:

Cuba has 263 protected natural areas that combine to make up over 20% its territory. Promoting ecotourism to these parts, while maintaining safe environmental limits, can funnel more money into the conservation and enhancement of these sites or encourage the designation of even more protected areas. Many travelers are seeking an experience beyond the typical sun, sea, and sand of mass tourism. A visit to Cuba’s protected areas would create this opportunity while helping to develop the ever-elusive sense-of-place that destinations desire to create.

Costa Rica has used this sustainability-focused approach to become the ecotourism epicenter of Central America, if not the world. Sustainable ecotourism has become a dominant part of their destination image, and they have well-preserved resources that will sustain their tourism economy long into the future. Why couldn’t Cuba become the king of Caribbean ecotourism? Cuba and Costa Rica have similar natural attractions including breathtaking mountains, extraordinary biodiversity, and pristine reefs and wetlands. No other Caribbean island has an array of natural assets to match Cuba. Developing a sustainable tourism model brings an incentive to keep these areas protected long into the future.

  1. Preservation of cultural heritage:

In addition to amazing natural areas, Cuba has unique cultural tourism assets as well. UNESCO has designated an astounding seven sites on the island as cultural World Heritage Sites. Perhaps most importantly, these are spread throughout the island and only one is in Havana. Havana will never lack for tourists and distributing visitors throughout the rest of the country will be key to developing in a sustainable way. Linking these UNESCO sites and other cultural attractions together will encourage visitors to stay longer while creating a more authentic experience than all-inclusive resort travel. These outcomes fit the sustainable tourism model as profits would increase due to longer stays while spreading beyond the resorts and Havana.

The socialist history of Cuba is a tourism asset in and of itself. Even as Cuba eschews some of this philosophy, visitors will remain fascinated by the stories of Fidel, Ché, and the Revolution. Marketing these already-present Revolution-themed attractions instead of further promoting mass resort tourism builds upon Cuba’s unique cultural assets without further degradation of the natural or cultural environment, a possible outcome of building more resorts. This way, Cuba can show their cultural heritage while further developing the authentic sense-of-place that encourages repeat visits and promotes a positive destination image.

Cultural tourism could become a more powerful force throughout the island and is by no means limited to socialist history or UNESCO-designated sites. Baseball, music, dance, art, culinary traditions, agriculture, and many other aspects contribute to the island’s distinct cultural identity. By moving visitors and profits beyond the resorts and Havana, Cubans have more incentive to simply act naturally and be themselves instead of putting on tacky, commoditized representations of themselves at the all-inclusives.

  1. Support for the Entrepreneurial Movement sweeping the Island

The combination of Cuba’s natural and cultural assets can be integrated into an immensely marketable sustainable tourism arsenal. In theory, this sounds great, but what is the vehicle for achieving this goal? One option would be to facilitate the formation of private enterprise and entrepreneurial development, which has led to innovation, efficiency, and coordination in the tourism sector in other destinations. In recent years, the Cuban government has slowly integrated private enterprise into the economy. This has been undertaken largely to reduce dependence upon the government, which can no longer supply everyone with jobs or a livable wage, and to bring black market activities into the formal economy.

As private enterprise becomes more viable, competition will lead to innovation and increased efficiency in the tourism industry. The Cuban people, who are quite resilient and creative, have actually had to develop a sort of entrepreneurial spirit over the years to overcome economic hardships. In Cuba this concept is known as “resolver,” which literally means “to resolve” and can be understood as something along the lines of “we’ll figure it out,” or “we’ll do what we have to do.” Deep neighborhood and family networks have evolved out of this process. These networks have come together to solve problems time and time again. Isn’t that what entrepreneurs do?

Cuban citizens view tourism as an engine for enterprise creation, mainly in the forms of private houses (rooms available for tourists to rent in private homes), “paladares” (small, privately-owned restaurants) and transportation services. Patronizing these businesses undoubtedly leaves the impression of an authentic experience in the minds of travelers while simultaneously contributing to the well-being of local residents via increased income. However, categories of legal self-employment are still restricted in Cuba. For example, Cuban citizens cannot be self-employed as tour guides, although the government has shown a recent affinity for being more responsive than in the past. Further developing private enterprise in tourism disseminates the benefits of tourism beyond the top level, reduces leakage, and creates competition. Competition is vital to innovation and a constantly evolving tourism product.

  1. Improved well-being of Cuban citizens

As sustainable tourism catches on, Cubans will have access to more jobs and careers, higher earning potential, cross-cultural interaction, and new skills and training. A successful tourism industry with a healthy private sector component reduces dependence upon the government while empowering Cuban citizens to forge their own path. If Cuba can develop tourism similarly to the Costa Rican model, the results will be well-maintained natural areas and cultural sites which will provide jobs and careers well into the future. All of these developments contribute to improved financial security and overall well-being for Cuban citizens.

I see the potential for these four benefits to “spiral up” to create a sustainable tourism model in Cuba. If private enterprise flourishes, resident well-being increases, thus providing further incentive to protect natural and cultural heritage. Cuba has fantastic natural and cultural attractions, and once Cuban citizens gain more sovereignty in the business development process, the potential for innovative and sustainable tourism products is infinite. Of course the government will still be a key figure in this development, but it can help by enforcing environmental regulations and supporting programs to preserve cultural identity. Ideally, the public and private sectors work together to ensure that Cuba’s tourism growth happens in a sustainable way.

During my studies at East Carolina University’s M.S. Sustainable Tourism program, I worked with Dr. Carol Kline on my M.S. thesis and a subsequent publication in Tourism Management. My research examines the relationship between private enterprise and tourism development in Cuba. I traveled to Cuba as part of a research team to interview residents about these topics. Out of this process came a realization that this is a critical time in history for Cuba’s tourism industry. The possible influx of U.S. tourists only adds to the importance and immediacy of the need for Cuba to choose a sustainable path of tourism development. These decisions will determine the long-term success of tourism on the island and who benefits.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Community%20based%20Tourism

Environmental sustainabilityStrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Six Models to Link Tourism to Conservation (II)

If developed and managed properly, a sustainable tourism strategy can aid conservation efforts. A destination’s natural environment, often the catalyst for tourism development in the first place, must be preserved to sustain tourism in the long run. Part I of this article discussed the first three of Solimar’s six models that link tourism to conservation:

  • Improve Tourism Operations and Guidelines
  • Increase Tourism Awareness and Constituencies
  • Increase Income Diversification

Here are three additional ways that tourism can assist a destination’s natural conservation efforts:

  1. Increase Monitoring and Research

This model supports conservation by increasing the presence of guides, visitors, and researchers in critical areas where environmental degradation occurs. Two main strategies arise:

      4.1 Increase the Role of Local Residents in Monitoring and Research

Local residents often participate in conservation efforts by forming patrols or gaining employment as research assistants. Coastal residents can conduct nightly beach patrols to prevent the poaching of sea turtle eggs or illegal fishing. Tourism stakeholders can commit funding to these patrols or commission research projects with local residents as assistants. Execution of this strategy often depends on vital support from NGOs. By playing a role in monitoring and research, local residents gain awareness of conservation issues and form a deeper attachment to the local natural environment.

       4.2 Increase the Role of Visitors in Monitoring and Research

‘Voluntourism’ increases in popularity every year. Tourists increasingly seek travel through which they can learn about a cause while making a positive impact on their chosen travel destination. Tourists can sign up for long-term stays at ecolodges or engage in direct conservation efforts through National Parks or private businesses offering such experiences.

  1. Increase Tourism-Generated Conservation Financing

Most conservation professionals agree that increased funding would help their efforts. If tourism can increase the amount of funding available to conservation-related businesses and organizations, reliance upon donations decreases and the whole operation becomes more sustainable. This model involves four strategies:

     5.1 Utilize Sustainable Tourism Profits to Support Conservation Activities

This should be seen as investing in a destination’s long-term future. The natural environment often draws tourism to an area in the first place, so investing in the future of that environment enhances the likelihood of long-term sustainable tourism. Examples of profit reinvestment include increased monitoring and research, hosting ‘volontourists,’ or replacing less efficient equipment with new, more eco-friendly equipment.

     5.2 Develop Travel Philanthropy Programs

Creating programs that provide a reliable way for visitors to donate can greatly aid conservation efforts. This strategy involves several steps: developing visitor appreciation of the site’s resources, increasing visitor understanding of the threats to those resources, fostering visitor understanding of efforts to mitigate those threats, and finally, presenting the visitor a reliable way to donate to those efforts.

    5.3 Develop Conservation-Themed Brands and Merchandise

Many National Parks and conservation organizations sell t-shirts, mugs, hats, and other merchandise. A simple, easily identifiable logo with clear text should be used on merchandise as well as websites, publications, and news releases. The WWF and their panda logo provide a good example. Publicizing details about how merchandise sales lead to conservation can encourage sales.

   5.4 Promote Mandatory or Voluntary Protected Area Entrance/User Fees

Visitors often have to pay a mandatory fee to use a protected area. Parks can sell daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, or yearly passes. Sometimes fees correspond to an activity undertaken in the park so entrance may be one price while an additional fee may apply for fishing or camping. These fees can be used to hire more guides or rangers to protect the park or to increase the availability of interpretation within the park.

  1. Increase Conservation Partnerships:

Increased cooperation between local residents, protected areas, NGOs, and private business can accelerate conservation efforts. When communities can share in the economic benefits of a sustainable tourism strategy, the likelihood of effective long-term partnerships increases. This model involves two main strategies:

     6.1 Developing Partnerships between Protected Areas, NGOs, and Universities

Attracting researchers from NGOs or universities brings revenue to protected areas through the provision of food, lodging, and other services. The research itself builds a more thorough understanding of the natural processes taking place and can inform future conservation efforts. The Tiputini Biodiversity Station in Ecuador often hosts researchers for months at a time while bringing in large student groups for 2-3 day tours and hikes. Many of these efforts develop through a partnership with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ).

     6.2 Developing Partnerships between Protected Areas and Communities

Concession agreements, which allow local businesses to operate within protected areas, are becoming more widespread. This creates a financial incentive for local residents to engage in sustainable tourism practices. As business flourishes, commitment to the sustainable management of the protected area arises.

Destinations seeking sustainable solutions to conservation issues should employ the models and strategies listed above.

This blog post is from   www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/item/222-solimar-s-six-models-to-link-tourism-to-conservation-part-ii

Environmental sustainabilitySustainabilityTourism trends

Six Models that Link Tourism to Conservation, (I)

One of the ways that tourism benefits destinations is by augmenting conservation efforts. After conducting an analysis of both internal and partner projects, Solimar International has identified six principal sustainable tourism models that link tourism to conservation:

  1. Improve Tourism Operations and Guidelines:

This model emphasizes limiting or reversing the negative consequences on nature that can result from tourism. There are three principal strategies for improving tourism operations and guidelines to promote conservation efforts:

         1.1. Promote Sustainable Tourism Guidelines with Visitors

By promoting a ‘code of conduct’, destinations can ensure that visitors, for example, do not leave trash, pick endangered flora, or use flash photography where it might be harmful or startling to wildlife. It is important that these codes of conduct are communicated effectively through signage, pamphlets, interpretive guides, or even on websites and social media so visitors have an understanding of conservation before they arrive. Myanmar, new to hosting significant numbers of tourists, provides a great example of a visitor code of conduct with their ‘do’s and don’ts‘ campaign.

          1.2 Promote Sustainable Tourism Guidelines within the Travel Industry

By promoting effective guidelines within the travel industry, local businesses and organizations can work together to limit their impact on the natural environment. Agreeing upon certain standards, preferably before a destination attracts large numbers of tourists, can maintain the natural beauty of an area before it’s too late. For example, businesses and organizations can work together to establish best practices for responsible seafood harvesting, responsible souvenir gathering, and responsible boating practices.

          1.3 Promote Sustainable Tourism Guidelines within Protected Areas

Promoting conservation efforts within protected areas requires significant interaction from a wide range of stakeholders, both public and private. Example guidelines to follow may include limiting camping to select areas within a park or limiting the number of fish to be taken from rivers or lakes each day. Once a plan has been formulated, effective promotion is imperative to the success of the plan.

  1. Increase Tourism Awareness and Constituencies:

This model moves beyond simple education about tourism impacts to emphasize the active role that both visitors and residents can play in conservation efforts. This model incorporates three principal strategies to augment conservation efforts:

      2.1 Increase Awareness and Conservation Support of Local Residents

It is important that conservation efforts begin with locals, as residents are as much of a conservation threat as tourists. Lack of awareness, lack of economic alternatives, and long-standing traditions are often reasons locals engage in damaging practices such as unsustainable extraction of resources. Ways to increase awareness and reverse damaging actions include teaching environmental education classes with local groups or organizing a local festival to celebrate the very resource being damaged. In Latin America, sea turtle educational classes and festivals have been organized to raise awareness about the importance of sea turtle conservation and the damaging effects of poaching their eggs.

       2.2 Increase Awareness and Conservation Support of Visitors

Guides are vital to informing visitors about threats to conservation and explaining to the visitors how they can help whether that be through a donation or “adoption” programs. Programs such as these can help visitors develop an attachment to an area, increasing the likelihood of a donation, and also to spread the word about the importance of conservation when they go home.

       2.3 Link Benefits of Sustainable Tourism to the Community as a Whole

As local residents see benefits from sustainable tourism increase, the likelihood of long-term sustainable practices increases, too. Direct beneficiaries include tour guides, hotel managers, and chefs while indirect beneficiaries include family members of direct beneficiaries as well as operators of ancillary services such as construction companies or grocery stores. Non-employment-based ways the tourism industry can benefit communities includes the organization of local clean-up events, improving sanitary services, or hosting volunteers.

  1. Increase Income Diversification

If local residents realize sustainable tourism presents a livelihood, they are more likely to behave according to sustainable tourism principles. Two main strategies for assisting conservation evolve according to this model:

      3.1 Target Resource Extractors with Sustainable Tourism Employment

It may seem counterintuitive, but poachers can become optimal tour guides. Poachers often know a lot about a particular animal and can share stories and knowledge on a unique level. “Reformed” poachers often provide a unique human interest story as tourists are very interested in how and why their behavior changed. Resource extractors are much more likely to change if tourism provides an increased wage through tips, salary, or a year-end profit sharing program.

      3.2 Developing Tourism Products that Directly Mitigate a Conservation Threat

An optimal situation occurs when new products, jobs, and revenues develop and directly support conservation efforts. Local residents can create arts and crafts out of old newspaper, cans, bottles or other upcycling methods and sell them to visitors, eliminating solid waste and creating revenue simultaneously. Artificial coral reef creation has been effective in attracting divers and photographers away from susceptible natural coral reefs, where damage from tourists is common.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council provides a framework for destinations seeking to develop a sustainable tourism strategy. Many of their guidelines apply to the conservation-related ideas discussed in this post.

This blog post is from   www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/A%20Business%20Approach%20to%20Conservation

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityTourism trends

Tourism and Conservation: Connecting the Dots

It’s no secret that ecotourism, which in turn evolved into sustainable tourism, was born out of the conservation movement. From international NGOs like Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy to their local counterparts, conservation organizations poured considerable resources into the ecotourism boom of the 80s and 90s. But that interest and investment began to ebb about a decade ago – most likely due in part to the lack of success stories or replicable models illustrating how tourism could reduce biodiversity threats, not just contribute to them.

 As more than one billion travelers traverse the globe each year, efforts to reduce their impact must increase, especially in fragile ecosystems. WWF’s Global Marine Program decided to address the ongoing coastal development, so long as it is second only to unsustainable fishing as the primary threat to the world’s coastal and marine ecosystems. WWF realized the importance of developing a strategy to address the impacts of tourism in coastal areas head on, including efforts to create industry standards and to encourage alternative livelihoods for fishing communities.

Another potential reason for the renewed interest of the conservation community in tourism is because travel market trends increasingly favor destinations and businesses that embrace sustainability and offer opportunities for visitors to personally experience that wonderful space where tourism and conservation overlap.

For the past two years, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has worked in the Nicaragua Caribbean to help establish Kabu Tours, a tour company owned and operated by ex-sea turtle fishermen who are attempting to transition from resource extraction to sustainable tourism.  These ex-poachers have been trained by WCS to lead overnight trips to the Pearl Cays Wildlife Refuge where visitors learn about the organization’s sea turtle monitoring program and, if they’re lucky, watch a sea turtle lay her eggs.

Turning a sea turtle poacher into an interpretive guide and environmental ambassador has an obvious upside for conservation, but so does giving an accountant from Sacramento a chance to be a marine biologist for the day. Doing so provides not only a world-class tourism experience, but it also increases visitors’ understanding, appreciation, and support of the destination and efforts to protect it.

What is needed to preserve the heritage through tourism development?

For tourism to contribute to environmental outcomes, whether it’s through job creation for resource extractors or increased funding for conservation activities, a destination must first be successful in tourism. That requires demand-driven products, innovative marketing, and great delivery.

Second, tourism is one of the world’s most complex, dynamic, and historically fragmented industries. You need to know which partnerships are important, and how to build them.  Whether it’s connecting a community-tourism cooperative to a German outbound tour operator or convincing a global hotel chain to adopt sustainability criteria, identifying and realizing mutually beneficial interests is vital.

Finally, you need a blueprint. A comprehensive understanding of the direct and indirect threats to biodiversity at a site, as well as a clear vision of how tourism can positively affect the socio-economic conditions that result in environmental degradation such as lack of economic alternatives, awareness, and industry standards.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/A%20Business%20Approach%20to%20Conservation

Environmental sustainabilitySustainabilityTourism trends

Tourism: The Business of Protected Areas

Some might think that “business” and “protected areas” should not be used in the same sentence, but the reality is that the majority of protected areas around the world rely on tourism for a good portion, if not the majority, of their revenue, which in turn helps manage and conserve important landscapes and precious resources.

Tourism is often the financial backbone behind protected areas and we have worked around the world helping protected areas enhance the benefits they can derive from tourism. Although each destination is different and needs its own specific strategy, we tend to take four approaches that support protected areas through tourism:

  1. Creating partnership programs to support protected areas
  2. Tourism product development in protected areas
  3. Community linkages with, and benefits from, protected areas
  4. Linking markets to protected areas

Each of these approaches, whether integrated or implemented on their own, help increase revenue for protected areas and enhance protected area conservation and law enforcement activities. The following paragraphs give a brief overview of each of the four approaches and how they enhance the business of protected areas. For more detailed information, check out our Destination Development and Marketing Case Study.

Protected areas are utilized by a broad array of people and organizations, many of which rely on the protected areas for their income. However, these stakeholders are often underutilized as a resource for the benefit of the protected area. A protected area partnership program protected area partnership program establishes a network of public and private sector stakeholders with common interests to support the protected area both financially and through in-kind contributions. The approach we take is to stimulate collaboration and communication among stakeholders through quick catalytic activities (such as cooperative destination marketing). These help build momentum behind the group and establish long-term collaborative partnerships.

Many protected areas also require improvements to their tourism infrastructure, products and services so that they can attract more visitors, attract a specific segment of visitors, keep visitors in the region longer, or drive visitation to new areas of the protected area. To improve the tourism assets of the region, we take an approach that works with protected area authorities to evaluate the conservation, management and resource needs of the destination. Based on this tourism assessment, we identify which opportunities can address the goals of the protected area. Throughout this process we also work with the tourism market to help identify, refine and validate opportunities that fit with market needs and then develop new products or enhance services through the protected area managers themselves. The goal is not tourism for tourism’s sake, but strategic tourism assets that help achieve the long-term conservation goals of the protected area.

Communities are a part of the broader ecological landscape around protected areas and are therefore an important part of the overall business approach for protected areas. If neighboring communities benefit from visitors to the protected area then their relationship with the protected area improves. We have a comprehensive tourism enterprise development program that is explained in detail on our website, but the essence of the goal is to work with communities in or around protected areas that have an interest in tourism, a willingness and capacity to host visitors, and viability in the tourism market to create a business that is owned by the people of the community. Depending on the situation, the tourism facility can be run by the community or as a concession to a private sector operator. Either way, the objective is to go beyond just employment to tangible ownership of business assets that link the community to sustainable benefits from the park.

To successfully utilize tourism as a tool for protected area management, marketing and market linkages are vital. However, this is often an activity that is marginalized within protected area management practices. To drive people to protected areas and to keep them there for longer, they need to know about the destination and what to do within it, but this is not a task that one person or organization can achieve. Cooperative marketing, leveraging partners that also have a business interest in the protected area, helps to expand the market reach of the destination and build collaboration among regional partners.

For protected areas, a mix of traditional push marketing (sales manuals, print collateral, etc.) and inbound (pull) marketing (web-campaigns, social media, news stories, etc.) helps to build awareness about the destination with travelers and the tourism trade, and then drives travelers interested in the protected area to the travel trade to make the sale. Media, past travelers, travel trade partners and others are all utilized to increase the visibility of the protected area and track that back to actual visitors to the region.

When combined, these four approaches help to improve the business of protected areas, using tourism as a tool to increase revenues that in turn help to manage and protect these valuable natural assets.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/A%20Business%20Approach%20to%20Conservation

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Voluntourism, beyond responsible tourism

Responsible tourism, Voluntourism, Sustainable tourism…are different concepts with a common idea: the tourism activity in which the visitor brings positive impacts to the destination, either to alleviate poverty, to help in the development of the local economy, rebuilding areas affected by natural catastrophe, etc.

With regards to the kind of people interested in these types of tourism activities, they are not all moved by the same motivations and goals. The visitor travels either passively (holiday trip + sightseeing), actively (holiday trip + volunteering) or as a volunteer (volunteering trip).

Nowadays, Latin America and Asia are the continents offering most of these programs. There are both outbound and incoming travel agencies specialized in this type of tourism, and some tour operators have developed business units based on responsible tourism, whereas in Africa volunteering holiday programs are more popular than responsible tourism programs.

Also in Eastern Europe some countries are discovering in this type of tourism a new source of revenue for its poorest regions. Other Western countries such as the USA, Germany, France, Spain or Italy have also included strategies for the development of volunteering tourism products in their tourism development plans.

These type of holiday programs let the visitor truly discover the local culture, staying in local homes or accommodation facilities managed by locals, visiting the destination and cooperating in different social projects. Some examples may be:

  • Helping in building homes for refugees or in the poorest areas of the destination
  • Working as a teacher in primary schools or supporting in sport camps for children
  • Cooperating with an NGO dealing with the victims of a natural catastrophe
  • Participating in an ecotourism program where to work in the preservation of the environment

Some portals like Xmigrations.com work as a search engine for activities and accommodation where you may find nature, sport and spiritual activities in places where you can work in exchange for a free stay.

http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/turismo-solidario-y-volunturismo/

Business trendsEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovationIntelligenceIntelligence methods

Smart destinations

What is a SMART destination? These may be defined in many ways. They are destinations that think and advance strategically, improving competitiveness and searching positioning through effectiveness. Becoming a SMART is no more than a strategy to enhance the destination value by leveraging both the cultural and natural heritage, developing innovative resources, improving the efficiency in the production processes and the distribution, which finally propels the sustainable development. This transformation generates positive effects in all sub-sectors such as energy, health services, security, culture, etc. thanks to the cross-destination impact of the tourism activity.

The key concepts that set SMART destinations apart from conventional ones are accessibility, innovation, technology and sustainability. Among these concepts, new technologies are the ones which are more likely to be perceived by the tourist, namely mobile applications, augmented reality and everything related to data smart management.

There are 4 key concepts upon which Smart destinations are developed:

-Technology/Big Data
-Innovation
-Sustainability: social, economic, cultural and environmental
-Accessibility

The development of the SMART concept in destinations consists mainly in working to attain a higher profitability in the daily exploitation of the resources. This is to be achieved by engaging both the local community and the tourists in order to enhance interaction between them. There are already some examples of Smart destinations, such as El Hierro island in the Canary Archipelago. Some of its main achievements are the energetic self-sufficiency and the pollution reduction, which have been achieved through actions such as:

  • Waste converted into energy
  • Environment camouflage of telecom and energy facilities and equipment (solar panels, antenna, etc.) within the landscape.
  • Reduction of the visual impact in the buildings and facilities construction, by using local volcanic stone instead of bricks.
  • It has gained awareness and branding by sharing and marketing its experiences in the social networks.

Other actions carried out in SMART destinations encompass:

  • Mobile Applications
  • Tourism Intelligence System, including data transportation and information Smart management, which altogether turn the destination into a SMART destination.
  • Smart office; a common working place where to unify processes which produces a work synergy and allows sense and common methodology guidelines in the transformation towards an intelligent city.
  • Beaches with free wifi

It is important to mention Singapore Smart City, which is on the way to become the first SMART nation worldwide. The country is working on its Master Plan for the next 10 years, which will be focused on the development of smart communities propelled by integration and innovation.

This blogpost is based on http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/smart-destinations/