|Ecotourism and other Services Derived from Forests in the Asia- Pacific Region: Outlook to 2010. (FAO - Forestry, 1997)|
|ANNEX - COUNTRY ECOTOURISM NOTES|
As noted by Vant Slot (1996:1), sustainable tourism development is even more critical in the Pacific islands than in the continental regions of the world because the impact of any development is greatly magnified on islands. He goes on to note that Pohnpei (located in the Federated States of Micronesia) is showing signs of impact from a spectrum of development threats. This impact is expected to increase as US development funds from the Compact of Free Association will expire in 2001, thereby putting greater economic pressure on natural resources.
The tourism industry in Pohnpei is small, but has increased in the 1990s as Micronesia has become more popular as a dive destination.6 Though tourism is seen as one option for replacing lost Compact funding, there is concern that most of the benefits from tourism in the region have gone to Kolonia Town, rather than local communities (Vant Slot 1996). Still, ecotourism is seen as an important option and is being pursued on various levels. The College of Micronesia has held ecotourism workshops and training programmes focused on interpretive guiding.
6 Though not a focus of this working paper, dive tourism in the region illustrates the importance of forests not just for forest ecotourism, hut also for marine and other forms of tourism, as well as for non-tourism industries (e.g.. Hodgson and Dixon 1988).
Pohnpei has fewer sandy beaches than other Pacific islands, so forest ecotourism offers an alternative to beach tourism (Dominica provides a parallel example in the Caribbean). However, as is true for some other Asia-Pacific destinations, the forests of Micronesian islands, such as Pohnpei, will rarely be the primary attraction for visitors, but have great potential to complement dive sites and other primary attractions (Wylie 1994).
Pacific islands must overcome distance from markets, difficulties of devoting sufficient marketing resources by small destinations (which illustrates the value of cooperative marketing on the regional level), and competition with existing regional and extra-regional attractions if they are to successfully develop ecotourism, or tourism generally. Thus, while several locations offer ecotourism potential, it is important not to become too optimistic (Wylie 1994; Valentine and Wylie 1993; Vant Slot 1995).
Agroforestry also has the potential to serve as a tourism attraction, as well as to serve as a means for generating local inputs for the restaurant sector (see Section 4.6). For example, visitor in Rota pay US$35 (as of 1993) for a fruit-tasting agroforestry tour there (Valentine and Wylie 1993). In addition, there is potential to combine marine and forest resources, such as using sea kayaking tours that emphasize forest and cultural issues, including traditional construction of outrigger canoes.