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close this bookEcotourism and other Services Derived from Forests in the Asia- Pacific Region: Outlook to 2010. (FAO - Forestry, 1997)
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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

4.5 Ecotourism Management: Low Level of Funding and Reliance on Simplistic Strategies Like Carrying Capacity

Issue/trend: The previous section notes the problem of insufficient natural area funding. With respect to ecotourism in particular, many countries and sites have devoted insufficient funding, political support, and research/analysis to managing ecotourism given the complexity of this activity with respect to both the natural and social environments. One of the results of the lack of support in the face of increased pressure is the reliance on simplistic management strategies such as carrying capacity.

Options: At the basic level, an important option is to provide to natural area managers the funds needed to implement the types of management strategies described in Section 4.6. These funds will need to be supplemented by the development of staff skills, through training of existing staff and/or through hiring of new staff (see Section 4.3).

Next, a commitment to planning at various geographic levels may be made (e.g., at the individual natural area, national, and even international levels). In particular, effective planning requires explicit statements of ecotourism-related objectives and ongoing monitoring to determine whether those objectives are being achieved (Chudintra 1993; Lindberg, McCool and Stankey 1997; Yong 1996). UN FAO (1988), Inskeep (1991), MacKinnon et al. (1986), and WTO and UNEP (1992) are examples of resources available to guide and facilitate planning efforts.

Of particular concern is the popularity of the carrying capacity concept. Though this concept is appealing in its simplicity and helps draw attention to the possibility of “overdeveloping” ecotourism, it simply is not adequate to deal with the complexity found within the ecotourism context. Therefore, it is proposed that this concept be avoided in favour of alternate frameworks that focus on identifying and maintaining desired conditions (these conditions might be environmental, experiential, social, and/or economic; for further discussion, see Harroun and Boo 1996; Lindberg, McCool and Stankey 1996). Alternative frameworks not only are more appropriate, but also may be more accepted by the tourism industry, as the focus on conditions rather than numbers encourages management actions that reduce negative impacts per visitor rather than the number of visitors.

Moreover, planning processes, such as the Limits of Acceptable Change system (LAC), that involve standards can be used to avoid the tendency, through multiple small developments, for tourism to undergo an undesirable amount of succession. For example, a wilderness site may slowly become more developed as the site is hardened, more and different types of people come, and hardening and infrastructure development continues. By setting standards reflecting wilderness qualities at an early stage (e.g., a low level of encounters with other visitors), management has a guide and rationale for implementing actions consistent with the standard (e.g., restricting the number of visitors to the site) or rejecting actions that are inconsistent with the standard. Succession, and thus the value of good planning, is also relevant at the community scale. Pattaya (Thailand) has been used as an example of tourism that gradually developed well beyond its small village origin (Chudintra 1993).

The recognition of ecotourism’s complexity and the devotion of sufficient funding and support to its management will greatly enhance the likelihood of achieving ecotourism objectives in the long term.