Determining if a destination is suitable for sustainable ecotourism is not an easy task. However, a new publication produced by Conservation International (CI) and The George Washington University (GW) provides field practitioners with tools to perform rapid assessments and analysis of potential ecotourism destinations.
Titled "Linking Communities, Tourism and ConservationA Tourism Assessment Process," the new manual offers practitioners with a practical guide for planning ecotourism sites that safeguard a destinations cultural heritage, enhance its natural environment, and improve the welfare of the local population. The manual provides a detailed planning framework and easy-to-use processes for:
- Conducting an inventory of attractions;
- Analyzing market demand and competitiveness; and,
- Investigating associated socio-cultural and natural resource issues.
"The goal of this new manual is to help determine whether a destination is suitable or unsuitable for sustainable tourism, said Eileen Gutierrez, ecotourism advisor at CI. In addition, the publication shows how ecotourism can work to benefit conservation and help provide opportunities for local communities."
Containing criteria and principles on how to properly build sustainable and ecotourism developments, the hands-on manual also is a tool for those engaged in applying tourism as a strategy for biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction.
Within the manual are sample worksheets that help practitioners create interview questions, surveys, matrixes, and recommendations that focus on such subjects as involving local stakeholders, attractions inventory, infrastructure and services, market demand analysis, supply and competitiveness, human and institutional capacity, socio-economic, cultural and natural resource use considerations, environmental and biodiversity footprint, and cost benefit analysis.
"This manual was created to help those with limited resources who want to create ecotourism sites in the correct manner, said Kristin Lamoureux, director of the International Institute of Tourism Studies at GW. But it also is an important tool because it incorporates biodiversity conservation and local community benefits."
The biodiversity hotspots are 34 regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planets most threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians survive within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earths surface (roughly equivalent to the combined areas of the five largest U.S. states). This habitat originally covered 15.7 percent of the Earths surface, an area equivalent in size to Russia and Australia combined. New hotspot analysis shows that an estimated 50 percent of all vascular plants and 42 percent of terrestrial vertebrates exist only in these 34 hotspots.
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Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earths richest regions of plant and animal diversity and demonstrate that human societies can live harmoniously with nature. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents to help people find economic alternatives without harming their natural environments. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org
International Institute of Tourism Studies at the George Washington University continues to play a leadership role through its global tourism research and academic programs. Today, the business school's Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management and International Institute of Tourism Studies offers academic opportunities in tourism administration, event management, sport management, and sustainable destination management for undergraduate, master's, and professional students.
GWs School of Business prepares students for professional management careers. The depth and variety of its academic and professional programs, including five specialized masters programs, provide rich opportunities for students in the schools core Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Business Administration and doctoral programs. GWs undergraduate- and graduate-level international business programs rank among the worlds best. For more information about GW' School of Business, visit www.business.gwu.edu