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Ecoresorts and conservation, Mark Borg

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A presentation mad during a World Parks Congress event "Welcome Visitors: Making Tourism Work for Protected Areas and Sustainable Development: Part 1 – Critical Success Factors" that took place on 17 November 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Supported by the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group and UNDP

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Ecoresorts and conservation, Mark Borg

  1. 1. The contribution of “eco-resorts” to national conservation objectives Mark Borg IUCN Oceania INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR CONSERVATION OF NATURE
  2. 2. Tourism in Pacific Island Countries • Averaged just over 1.3 million visitors a year between 2011 and 2013 (arrivals by air) - by comparison Malta (a Mediterranean island 1/50th the size of Fiji) gets 1.4 million visitors (2012 figures) • It’s not surprising Pacific Island countries see potential for growth of the tourism sector…. 2 700,000 600,000 500,000 400,000 300,000 200,000 100,000 0 Average annual arrivals in PICs
  3. 3. The Tourism – Conservation Dilemma Recognised benefits of tourism to PAs: • Tourism can supplement the financing required to properly manage protected areas; • Provides an economic incentive to establish protected areas; • Tourists get an educational conservation experience that may influence how they treat wildlife in the future. 3
  4. 4. The Tourism – Conservation Dilemma Recognised risks of tourism to PAs: • Tourists disturb wildlife • Nature and wildlife measured by its economic value – the number of tourists it attracts • Only interested in protecting areas with wildlife or natural features that have touristic value. 4
  5. 5. The Tourism – Conservation Dilemma • Whereas we are concerned with the impact of tourism on protected areas, we should be as concerned with the impact of tourism on non-protected areas, particularly since these constitute most of our land and marine environment. • The strict environmental standards that resort establishment and management should have when located within PAs should also be applied generally, irrespectively whether it falls within a PA. 5
  6. 6. Tourism Certification • Need for an environmental certification system • There have been a number of certification systems, globally deployed • Mixed success of these global systems in the Pacific • Have been accessed by the big multinational operators but most of the smaller Pacific operators have been unable to subscribe to these schemes due to the cost involved (relatively small tourism market). 6
  7. 7. Blue Star Certification System • The proposed Blue Star Certification is specifically tailored for the needs of the Pacific. • It promotes standards in environmental, social and cultural criteria; • Promotes tourism that empowers communities by ensuring they are fully engaged in the operation; • The community is not just a spectator. 7
  8. 8. Tourism Certification Criteria • Sustainable Management Criteria The operation implements long-term sustainability that considers environmental, sociocultural, quality, health, and safety issues. It uses locally appropriate principles of sustainable construction and design while respecting the natural and cultural surroundings. It shares information about and interpretation of the natural surroundings and local cultural • Social and Economic Criteria Training and employment of locals (also in management); sub-contracts operations to local businesses; buys local produce; promotes local private sector; assists communities with education, water, sanitation and income generation. 8
  9. 9. Tourism Certification Criteria • Cultural Heritage Criteria Operation follows a code of behaviour for visits to culturally or historically sensitive sites; he business contributes to the protection of local historical, archaeological, culturally, and spiritually important properties and sites, and does not impede access to them by local residents. Uses and promotes local cultural heritage while respecting intellectual property rights. • Environment Purchasing policy favours environmentally friendly products; measures to decrease overall energy consumption adopted and encouraging use of renewable energy; supports biodiversity conservation, including supporting natural protected areas. 9