was written by the Summit organizers using the documents from
the preparatory conferences as a guide. Specific suggestions
were accepted through the last hour of the Summit. More than
160 written comments were received and incorporated in the second
draft. After that, oral comments were invited on the final day.
Almost 70 percent of the first draft text was re-written and
completely re-structured in order to incorporate comments.
"With the formal declaration, governments now have a document
which they can adopt," said Mark Wilhun, President of US-Based
Emerald Planet Conservation Consulting. "It gives policy makers
a template when considering formulating an official tourism
policy. Particularly encouraging was the reiteration 'that funding
for the conservation and management of biodiversity and culturally
rich protected areas has been documented to be inadequate worldwide.'"
"The Ecotourism Summit evidenced substantial support for establishing
an ecotourism policy at the national and local levels," said
Donald Hawkins, a professor at the Department of Tourism and
Hospitality Management George Washington University. "What's
needed now are strategies and action plans to involve the private
sector in the implementation process."
Individuals and organizations representing indigenous people were
among the most vocal critics of the International
Year of Ecotourism. One of the results of the discussion was
the addition to the Declaration that stressed "ecotourism must
recognize and respect the land rights of indigenous and local
communities, including their protected, sensitive and sacred sites."
The final version did not appease some of the critics, who
believe that "First Nations" deserve a role greater than mere
stakeholders in the process. Some activists suggested that
if the consultation were not improved, representatives should
engage in active non-cooperation.
Others were more pro-active. During one of the meetings of
indigenous peoples, one participant remarked that it's time
not only to rethink tourism, but to redo it.
"I had the opportunity to view first-hand the efforts by Indigenous
leaders present to bring forward the concerns and perspectives
of indigenous communities for the benefit of Indigenous peoples
and for the benefit of ecotourism and the planet," said Rick
MacLeod Farley, a development economist working with community
economic development for Aboriginal people in Northern Canada.
"These efforts were treated by some of the organizers with hostility
and rudeness, and in other cases with good intentions. The process
for dealing with the input was flawed, and the impact on the
final WES declaration was much less than appropriate."
"The Summit Organizers twice received a delegation of indigenous
people participants during the event," recounts Gabor Vereczi,
a program officer at the World Tourism Organization. "They submitted
written comments on the Quebec Declaration draft, and we paid
special attention to incorporate those issues in the final text."
The only field trip scheduled during the event was an evening
"cruise and booze" trip via the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Several participants refused to go, considering the entertainment
out of place for a conference on ecotourism. Others complained
that only minimal drinks and appetizers were served! For those
who attended, it was a great time for networking. On other nights,
entertainment and meals were scheduled in the conference center.
One of the more surreal aspects of the Summit was the tug-of-war
between Quebec and Canada. Speakers from the province continually
referred to Quebec as a nation state, much to the consternation
of other Canadian nationals and to the confusion of international
"The Quebec government calls their provincial parks 'national
parks,'" said Canadian researcher Elizabeth Halpenny. "Is this
another indicator of Quebec nationalism? Maybe so, although
many Quebec parks staff also take pride in saying that their
provincial parks are selected and managed to a high 'national'
standard and that is why they are called Quebec's National Parks."
"I was outraged," said Canadian tourism expert Richard Tuck,
who works in Nicaragua. "The fact that I had to continually
explain the 'nation' vs 'province' idea to the international
guests made me ashamed to be Canadian. At a time when nations
gathered together to form a united front, the idea of separation
being brought in by everyone from the Quebec Provincial Government
to the Summit's hostess was in bad taste."
Contrasting to many tourism trade fairs, the Summit attracted
only a few booths for the exhibit hall. Ecotourism was not promoted
by the tourism ministries. Instead, Mexico was represented in
a booth prepared by SEMARNAT, the environmental secretariat. Venezuela
was represented by representatives of a commercial enterprise.
In the event itself, there was little presence from industry
leaders. There was a marked contrast between the number of ground-level
operators at the IATOS Conference held three months earlier
and those at the Summit.
"I found that this Ecotourism Summit was very much geared
for Government and NGO bantering," said Bruce Poon Tip, President
of Canada-based G.A.P Adventures. "The private sector at this
conference was treated like the ugly stepchild hidden away in
"I still see there is big divorce between the government,
for-profit organizations and the NGOs," said Eduardo Nycander,
Director of Peru's Rainforest Expeditions. "Ecotourism will
never be successful if there are not strategic alliances among
these three stakeholders."
"It was a whore's ball for us consultant pimps," said Willuhn.
"It helped us try to move existing proposals to the contract
stage with existing clients; develop new contacts particularly
with what I call supra-governmental organizations -- UNESCO
and the Inter-American Development Bank and targeted U.S.-based
Multinational banks, foundations and conservation groups presented
case studies of how ecotourism projects have been funded in
the past few years. The efforts appear to be isolated, and often
without in-house support. For many development organizations
and conservation groups, tourism is still considered a low priority.
Few of the presentations on ecotourism financing said much as
to what will be done in the future. [Editor's Note -- None
of the ecotourism financing presentations are available on the
Ecotourism Summit website.]