|Ecotourism and other Services Derived from Forests in the Asia- Pacific Region: Outlook to 2010. (FAO - Forestry, 1997)|
|4. OUTLOOK: ISSUES, TRENDS, IMPLICATIONS, AND OPTIONS|
Issue/trend: Almost every ecotourism observer notes the importance of forming partnerships among ecotourism actors. Such partnerships not only promote the setting of balanced objectives, but also promote achievement of these objectives through utilization of the varied skills and contributions each actor can make. For example, government clearly has an important role in ecotourism, but the private sector and NGOs offer skills, flexibility, and political independence that government agencies and local communities may lack. Moreover, the private sector and NGOs may be more efficient in achieving objectives, even in such traditional public sector activities as conveying the importance of conservation to surrounding communities.
Despite significant barriers to forming and maintaining such partnerships, the fact that they can provide substantial benefits but currently are relatively rare leads many observers to expect a future increase in partnerships.
Options: Though the roles of actors within a partnership will vary across sites, Eagles (1995) provides some broad categories of roles that each sector might take on. The public sector role in ecotourism typically is to:
· provide environmental protection (the natural area itself);
· provide infrastructure, such as roads and airports;
· provide security and enforcement;
· monitor and control impacts;
· allocate access;
· provide information, such as through interpretive programmes; and
· resolve conflicts.
The private sector role in ecotourism typically is to:
· provide accommodation and food;
· provide transportation, such as busses and airlines;
· provide information, such as guides and brochures;
· promote sites to potential visitors; and
· provide consumer products, such as souvenirs.
Various types of partnerships might be pursued, with national or regional ecotourism councils as one option. A specific example of public-private partnership is the formation of the Nepal Tourism Board, with representation from both the private and public sectors (Gurung 1996). An example of inter-agency cooperation is the Joint Committee on Nature Attraction Utilization in Indonesia, with representation by the Directorate General of Tourism and the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (Nababan and Aliadi 1993). Joint marketing between natural areas, regional/national tourism agencies, and ecotourism businesses is another example of opportunities for partnerships to achieve mutual objectives in a cost-effective manner.
More extensive partnership opportunities also exist and likely will expand in the future. These include co-management of natural areas (e.g., government-NGO and government-local communities) and joint ventures between the private sector and local communities (Christ Forthcoming; Pfister and Jubenville Forthcoming).
Depending on the type and effectiveness of the partnership, it can be an important means for achieving ecotourism and natural area management objectives more efficiently or in ways that individual actors alone simply cannot do.