International Year of 'Ecotourism' & NFPs
4 February 2002 at 12:02 pm
After 2001’s successful year of celebrating volunteers you might be wondering how the International Year of Ecotourism 2002 is likely to impact on the Not for Profit sector. Well the United Nations organisers say NFP’s are one of the important stakeholders!
So community groups and in particular environmental groups take note: Ecotourism has a number of definitions but, as a general goal according to the organisers, it should provide the opportunity to develop tourism in ways that minimise the industry’ negative impacts and a way to actively promote the conservation of the earth’s unique biodiversity!
Ecotourism has also been described as a form of nature-based tourism in the market-place but organisers point out that it has also been formulated and studied as a sustainable development tool by Non Government Organisations, development experts and academics since 1990.
The IYE 2002 is being coordinated by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Tourism Organisation.
Organisers say the aim of the year is to review the ecotourism industry’s effect on biodiversity, its potential contribution to sustainable development, its social, economic and environmental impacts and the degree to which regulatory mechanism and voluntary programs are effective in monitoring and controlling those impacts.
They do admit that the broad range of interest groups involved in ecotourism has received mixed reviews on the effectiveness of its ambitious goals.
However the World Tourism Organisation says ecotourism is far from being a fringe activity and should not be regarded as a passing fad or a gimmick because it is crucial in developing a balanced, sustainable and responsible tourism sector.
According to a 2001 WTO/OMT study, ecotourism may represent between 2 and 4 per cent of global tourism.
The report says the global significance of ecotourism does not come from its revenue volume, but rather because it strives to:
* Protect the rapidly disappearing ecosystems that house most of the
remaining biodiversity on Earth, and it is one of the few feasible economic
tools to finance conservation of sensitive ecosystems; and
* Ensure that local communities have a voice in sustainable development,
that they benefit positively from revenue flows, since ecotourism operations and infrastructure are generally small-size and are run directly
by them, and that less impacting alternative livelihoods are available.
During 2002 the UN is observing both the International Year of Ecotourism
and the International Year of Mountains. Links between these two issues
will be explored, and UNEP is focusing on ecotourism alternatives in
“Mountain Commons” as one of the key interfaces between economic
sustainability and environmental stewardship.
As part of the IYE2002’s activities will be a World Ecotourism Summit in Quebec City, Canada from May 19-22 May 2002.
You can check out the activities and find out more about ecotourism at the official web site atwww.ecotourism2002.org.