CI coordinates a global information exchange network among our regional ecotourism specialists; our technical staff members who are based in Washington, DC; and an expanding number of international experts and partners who gather and spread knowledge from our ecotourism experience. CI is committed to sharing our learning among this network to improve project design and to increase the conservation effect of our work.
CI also shares learning with other practitioners, the tourism industry, and the public. Through online resources, publications, workshop materials, and conference presentations, CI analyzes and shares our success factors in the development of ecotourism destinations, the effects of ecotourism on biodiversity conservation, and the way that communities benefit from ecotourism.
Working closely with local Belizean NGO partner, Friends of Nature, CI’s ecotourism program – together with CI’s Global Conservation Fund and the Oak Foundation – collaborated to secure the purchase of Little Water Caye, a small island that is strategically located between two important marine protected areas on the Mesoamerican barrier reef off southern Belize. Little Water Caye, currently managed by Friends of Nature, provides a new research and monitoring station, along with ranger patrols, to safeguard one of the world’s highest marine biodiversity areas. Friends of Nature works with local communities and local fishermen to promote marine conservation and to support ecotourism as an alternative to commercial fishing, which is threatening the reef ecosystem.
In March 2006, CI participated in The Second International Forum on Fair Tourism and Fair Trade (FITS). Fair Trade provides a healthy alternative based on fair prices, low costs of financing, improvements of social conditions and environmental conservation for agricultural products, crafts and for services where tourism plays a major role. The forum gathered 800 delegates representing 64 nations in Chiapas, Mexico to promote economic alternatives that favor conservation, economic equality, social justice, and cultural values.
As part of its contribution, CI led a panel discussion on best practices on sustainable tourism development through local knowledge. The discussion brought together educators, business leaders, community representatives and resulted in the following recommendations:
- Strengthening national, regional and international fair tourism and fair trade networks by improving the participants knowledge of each other, in particular the representatives of grassroots organizations, and by allowing for the exchange of experiences
- Educate about Fair Tourism
- Facilitate the access to financing
- Facilitate the access to support services
- Reinforce marketing and promotions
- Establish a system of guarantee
- Monitor, Evaluate, and Capitalize on impacts affecting tourism
LEARN MORE: Developing ecotourism at Conservation International.