STONES IN THE ROAD
While there are a number of successes, we have even more challenges
-- the proverbial stones
in the road. Here are the top problems that came to light
during the IYE and additional reading that may illuminate solutions.
1) TRAVELERS ARE TAKEN FOR GRANTED - The traveling public
was insufficiently targeted in IYE events. The Cairns
Charter and the Quebec
Declaration do not include travelers as valued stakeholders
-- a serious omission.
Recommended reading: Understanding
2) EVENTS ARE NOT ECO - Most of the official events
were not particularly eco. We may have discussed green hotels,
but we certainly did not stay in them. The events could have
showcased some great eco-solutions. This was and continues to
be a missed opportunity.
Recommended reading: Greening
3) TRANSPORTATION IS RARELY ECO - While there is a
great deal of discussion about certifying destinations and individual
businesses, there has been little attention given to the environmental
impact of transportation.
Recommended reading: Environmental
Impact of Transportation
4) MONEY - Financing remains elusive for communities
as well as entrepreneurs. We have learned that much of what
has been financed has failed. Worse, white elephants continue
to be funded! At the Quebec Summit, much was said of what had
been funded, but there are no clear indications or guidelines
of how ecotourism/sustainable travel projects and services will
be funded in the future.
Recommended reading: Financing
Sustainable Tourism, Sustainable
Tourism Bank Watch
5) WHAT IS NOT UNDERSTOOD CANNOT BE PROMOTED - Travelers
interested in ecotourism are generally ill-informed by government
and tourism board propaganda. (Instead, they turn to guidebooks
and the Web for ideas and opportunities.) National promotion
boards continue to confuse ecotourism with anything to do with
being outside. Hopefully, this will change in the near future.
Recommended reading: Ethical
Marketing of Ecotourism and Media,
Environment and Tourism.
6) REGULATION HAS BEEN MISDIRECTED - Governments continue
to regulate ecotourism in a manner that does not provide incentives.
When it is easier to get the permits and build a golf course
or condominium than a multi-use trail or community-run lodge,
we cannot expect ecotourism to succeed.
Recommended reading: Stones
in the Road, Emerging
7) LACK OF CONTINUITY COMPROMISES SUCCESS - Entrepreneurs
and environmentalists complain that it takes a long time to
teach government officials the basics of ecotourism. The lack
of continuity is not just a problem within government offices.
Social organizations or NGOs -- uncertain of whether to promote
ecotourism as a conservation or development strategy -- also
have a revolving door.
Recommended reading: Stones
in the Road, Value
8) TOP-DOWN APPROACHES DO NOT ENCOURAGE STAKEHOLDER PARTICIPATION
- Individual pioneers often have difficulty having their voice
heard by national or regional ecotourism advisory councils.
Ecotourism associations also have a poor record of listening
to their members. Sustainable development cannot be encouraged
in such a "trickle down" fashion.
Recommended reading: Sustainable
9) POOR COMMUNICATION HAMPERS DEVELOPMENT - Development
agencies and foundations rarely document the success or failure
of the programs they help finance. Nor do they conduct workshops
or provide online instructions on how to apply for a grant or
Recommended reading: Improving
10) MEDIA DOES NOT CARE - While there are certain publications,
websites and TV shows that are interested, most react like a
USA Today Reporter, who presented with the idea of covering
the International Year of Ecotourism replied, "Yawn."
Who can blame her? Tourism policy is rarely interesting for
the traveler. Our challenge is to create interesting media stories
without resorting to pandering to sensationalism.
Recommended reading: Media,
Environment and Tourism, Healing