For the income generation of countries across the world, tourism is gaining more and more popularity. Asia-Pacific region is the leader in tourism industry with 13% arrivals from 2009-2010 with the 2nd highest growth rate due to tourism in 2010 (UNWTO). The ecotourism activities can help benefit both environment and host community. Pam Wight’s guiding principles for ecotourism include the following provisions:
- tourist activities must not degrade the resource
- visitors should be offered educational first-hand experiences
- all stakeholders (host community, government, non-governmental organizations, industry, and tourists) must be involved
- tourism must respect the intrinsic value of natural resources
- tourism cannot overtax the resource supplies of the local region
- tourist revenue must provide conservation, scientific, or cultural benefits to the resource, local community, and industry as a whole
- These benefits must be long-term.
Achievement of these principles depend on how often are they practiced. A region that has the capacity to afford no more than a few dozen visitors may suffer if the number is increased to a few more because of its limited resources. The best policy is to incorporate the demands and desires of locale at grass-root level development. If the said principle is followed the policy makers will have to reject the growth oriented objective for economy. According to Wight, sustainable development does not limit the number of visitors, but, to reduce the burden on environment caused by tourists, a behavioral evaluation must be carried out to reduce the impact on environment without decreasing the number of visitors.
One conservation objective is to maintain the eco lodges without degrading the neighboring areas valued by the tourists to spend their time. For a hotel in an urban area it may not be a problem to dump the waste generated in any suburb area but as for the rainforest it should be kept clean and the waste produced must be recycled efficiently because it is inappropriate to dump it somewhere in the forest area. Contemporary tourists fancy having clean bed sheets everyday for this purpose a water conservation strategy should be applied. Biodegradable products should be provided to visitors to reduce waste generation. A tour guide is prerequisite to fulfill the tourism requirements of visitors. He should have enough knowledge about the area along with the flora and fauna to entertain the visitors enabling them to leave good remarks for the host community and helping in generating more income. The tourists should also possess a friendly behavior and pre prepared for the coming situations. It is important for them to respect the host community, their culture and traditions, help support the conservation activities of natural resources to enjoy full hospitality and no harsh attitude from them.
Conservation may help in promoting ecotourism but it is difficult to teach a locale its benefits because the income generated is not distributed fairly amongst people. When a resident can gain double amount by selling an animal’s skin in black, he will not be convinced by the authorities, also if he does, his neighbors will not agree to it. The World Resources Institute suggests that only if the cost benefits are distributed generously among the locale can we gain maximum enthusiasm for an eco project. Contrary to the argument presented above, the country should not depend solely on the eco tourism as the source of income but it should keep other factors listed too. Because when a natural disaster occurs or a disease outbreak is observed the tourism industry may face a huge decline.
To promote good tourism experience it is not enough to focus on the wildlife sightseeing and hiking but focus should be put on the history of that area, how it evolved during the time and how it does the captive breeding of wildlife or visiting the rehabilitation centers of that area. It may help in satisfying the visitors. The land-use of that area lies with the local authorities. The outsiders will not be welcomed in that area for couple of reasons including, the indigenous knowledge of species that lies with the local community and also the locale will be certain that no benefits will be provided to them and their will be no income generation for them. Ecotourism consultant Abi Rome suggests that guidelines for certification of ecotourism businesses ought to include local ownership and 80% local staffing.
Ecotourism can outlive its promise if wise development, adequate monitoring, protection of resources and fair distribution of resources is ensured. Biodiversity Conservation, such as control in deforestation and plan in reforestation, carbon storage, watershed management, soil productivity conservation, tourism management, soil management, crop plant adaptability etc are the main component for the planning of the development. A long term plan is required to mitigate the effect of climate change in tourism. In addition the development of the conservation and protected areas and planned clean energy development project help reduce the green house gas emission effect.