Cover Image
close this bookEcotourism and other Services Derived from Forests in the Asia- Pacific Region: Outlook to 2010. (FAO - Forestry, 1997)
View the document(introduction...)
Open this folder and view contents4.1 Preserving Services Derived from the Forest: Protected Area and Social Forestry Approaches
View the document4.2 Need for Increased Research and Utilization of Results
View the document4.3 Importance of Social Issues in Management
View the document4.4 Continued Funding Difficulties in Natural Areas
View the document4.5 Ecotourism Management: Low Level of Funding and Reliance on Simplistic Strategies Like Carrying Capacity
View the document4.6 Growth in International and Domestic Visitation
View the document4.7 Change in the Visitor Market
View the document4.8 Continued or Increased Competition, Particularly for International Visitors
View the document4.9 Importance of Interpretation
View the document4.10 Importance of Partnerships Among Ecotourism Actors
View the document4.11 Greater Private Sector Roles in Management of Natural Areas
View the document4.12 Pressure to Use Natural Areas for Activities that are Not Nature-Dependent
View the document4.13 Professionalization of Operators and Desire to Exclude Those Not Meeting Professional Criteria
View the document4.14 Tendency for Dominance by Larger Operators and Those Located in Regional or National Centres
View the document4.15 Summary of Issues, Trends, Implications, and Options

4.14 Tendency for Dominance by Larger Operators and Those Located in Regional or National Centres

Issue/trend: There is a tendency, particularly for developing countries within the region, for ecotourism to be dominated by larger operators and/or those in regional or national centres. This results from economies of scale, differential access to capital, and the tendency for individuals with the necessary entrepreneurial and linguistic skills to be located in such centres.

Often, larger operators play important roles as intermediaries between consumers and small local operators. However, the dominance of larger operators can work against the goal of providing local economic benefits. Moreover, there is a common perception that large and out-of-region operators are less environmentally and socioculturally sensitive than smaller and/or local operators.

Options: Recognize the reasons for dominance by larger operators (and the important roles they can play), but implement programmes to facilitate local involvement where practical and desirable. Various options for achieving this include (see also Brandon 1993; Lindberg and Huber 1993):

· Local involvement in planning and management. This was discussed in Section 4.6.

· Local training. This training would cover a range of topics, including general overviews of the ecotourism industry, hospitality management (including hygiene), relevant language skills, interpretive material, cross-cultural considerations, and so on. Training can be based on existing tourism programmes, such as those conducted by the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board, but should be supplemented with material specifically for ecotourism (Yong 1996). This training also is relevant to guides and businesses from outside local areas.

· Provision of local capital through microcredit and other programmes.

· Facilitation of outreach to visitors and to other sectors of the ecotourism industry, such as inbound operators. One of the key needs for local businesses is to reach potential visitors directly or through inbound operators. For many ecotourism sites, it is important to identify appropriate marketing outlets. For example, getting information into “backpacker” guidebooks may be more important than putting glossy brochures in tourist centres.

· Natural area requirements that local guides be used.

Opportunities for greater local benefits from ecotourism exist not only within the ecotourism industry itself (such as guides or operators), but also within related industries. For example, training and capital might be targeted at developing the type, quality, and reliability of agricultural products used by local restaurants and lodges. Various resources relating to business development, community ecotourism development, and guide training are available, including Bushnell (1994), Pedersen (1995), and Pond (1993).

Finally, innovative strategies for small operator marketing can be pursued. One strategy, that of utilizing the World-wide Web, was noted in Section 4.8. This is an important potential strategy, but its usefulness should not be overstated, as it may become more and more difficult for small operators to become noticed on the Web as the number of sites proliferates. Indeed, it is possible that the Web ultimately will favour larger operators that are able to establish and maintain a higher Web profile. Again, partnerships may play a critical role here. Groups of operators, possibly in conjunction with natural area management agencies, can pool resources for combined sites that may be more attractive and useful to consumers than would be sites for individual operators.