January 2, 2012

"Establishment and Development of Ecotourism Projects:Necessary Planning strategy to be successful"

Much speculation about ecotourism, especially in the area of project development. The number of definitions of ecotourism clearly specify that there must be a balance between environmental conservation, economic development, and participation or community involvement. But how to achieve this balance, What issues should be taken into account?, What steps should be followed to establish the pillars that sustain ecotourism and thus meet sustainability objectives?.
Based on an exhausting experience and literature review proposes a methodology for project development which is based on a framework of four areas and nine steps, which directly affect the success of ecotourism projects. ranging from the collection of essential information, through environmental conservation, social integration, economic development, and ending with the establishment of a monitoring system to ensure sustainability.

Figure n°1: Necessary planing strategy for ecotourism projects.

The first step called General background involves the development of a baseline which establishes all information necessary to understand and comprehend the area. It is important to emphasize the need to collect primary and secondary information from the Biophysical, socioeconomic, cultural aspects, and also, particular information from the area. Each one involves a series of items that are explained in figure 2.

The second step is related to the project definition, this ia a key point, because all other steps are based on this key information. It is recommended to have at this point a clear definition of the project idea, defining the potential of ecotourism development, current ecotourism activities, infrastructure and of course a clear and concise justification.

The third step is called GIS application, which is in short the transfer of the information collected on the baseline and project definition to a platform which allows mapping the project.

The fourth and fifth step concerns the development of an Environmental Management Plan and Social Integration Plan respectively. Both involve the definition of present and future challenges, impacts from tourism, mitigation measures and compliance with legal regulations.

Once the social and environmental magnitude of the project is defined , it is necessary to focus on economic development, for which it should develop a financing plan (step six). Ecotourism projects should have a clear and secure financial support, it is essential to find the right combination of funding, in order to give a financial sustainability to the project, so that, in this way, last in time. There are various kinds of funding sources, the most used are, government support, donor agencies, commercial banks, self-financing, among others.

The seventh step involves Marketing Strategy, this point should be noted that globally there is an increased demand for Sustainable Tourism, which requires a supply of high quality and sustainability parameters. This marketing strategy should involve market research and segmentation of the same, as well as clear and precise definition of the marketing mix, thereby obtaining a marketing plan that will allow the project to develop, compete and persist over time.

The eighth step, following in the context of economic development, is called Profitability & Return, which focuses on the development of cash flow that identifies expenditures, investments and sales projections for a certain period of time. This point allows us to know how long to recover the initial investment, while offering the chance to meet the project's profitability.

After taking into account the 3 pillars of ecotourism (environmental, social and economic), it is essential that these be sustainable, but how to do it?. To meet this objective is defined step number 9, Establishment of Monitoring Methodology, work for which it is recommended the Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC)methodology for the environmental, social, cultural, economic, experiential and infrastructure areas.

Finally we can conclude that although in the development and implementation of ecotourism projects is common to find a number of difficulties and obstacles that make very difficult to comply with environmental, social and economicthe pillarsto do it following a effective and efficient methodology, and establishing a monitoring that allows us to understand the behavior of the project within the environment and area of influence.

Article published in Spanish in Turismo Cuatro Magazine, January 2012 - Year 6 - NÂș 65. Pages 42 - 44. http://www.turismocuatro.cl/t4revista/

1 comment:

murugan said...

Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

Eco Tourism in India