Arid Lands Newsletter--link to home page No. 43, Spring/Summer 1998
Ecotourism in Drylands

Internet resources on ecotourism

compiled and annotated by Katherine Waser


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The annotated resource list for this issue of ALN includes only Internet resources. This is partly because time constraints and other problems prevented me from obtaining review copies of pertinent books, and also because the number of resources on tourism in general are so vast that I had to limit the scope of the list in some way.

Ecotourism is a popular subject these days, and my searches using this term on various Web search engines returned what seemed like thousands of hits. Many of these web sites are primarily advertising vehicles for commercial ecotourism countries; I did not review such sites, but interested readers will discover that they are easy to find.

Instead, I briefly scanned more than 100 sites and, from the initial scan, more carefully reviewed about 70 sites sponsored by: international, nonprofit, or tourist industry organizations working to develop ecotourism standards and accreditation programs for hotels and tour companies; research institutions conducting studies on carrying capacity or other crucial topics; and interested individuals who wish to help promote more sustainable tourism practices. From this list, I selected those sites that I considered to be the most interesting and useful. I also tried to select sites that are accessible to all browsers, but this was not always possible. In part because of these selection constraints, the final list below is rather short.

As always, the usual disclaimers apply: this list is not in any way intended to be comprehensive; all assessments are my own; exclusion of any particular site should not necessarily be taken as criticism of that site (perhaps I just didn't come across it); and the information included here is current as of April 27, 1998, but I cannot make any guarantees about its long-term validity.

Individual site links

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World Tourism Organization
WTO "is the leading international organization in the field of travel and tourism." An inter-governmental body based in Madrid, it has been entrusted by the UN with global promotion and development of tourism. "Through tourism, WTO aims to stimulate economic growth and job creation, provide incentives for protecting the environment and heritage of destinations, and promote peace and understanding among all the nations of the world." Site contents include a database on tourism legislation, information on WTO publications, and a database on tourism statistics (registration required) NB: site uses frames and lots of images, several of which function as links and most of which do not have ALT tags.

The Ecotourism Society's Ecotourism Explorer
TES is an international membership organization dedicated to disseminating information about ecotourism. Its members come from 35 different professions and live in over 70 different countries. The TES web site offers a wealth of information both for ecotourism professionals and for ecotravelers. In fact, there is so much good material here that it's just about impossible to single out any one part of the site for special mention. Not specifically arid-lands related, but even so this is a "must-visit" site for anyone interested in this topic.

UNEP IE Tourism Programme
Within the framework of UNEP Industry and Environment Programme's mission and goals to promote cleaner and safer industrial production and consumption patterns, the Tourism programme assists decision makers in the public and private sectors in developing and implementing policies and tools for environmentally sound tourism. Site includes general information on the program, online version of biannual Tourism Focus newsletter (this part of the site uses frames), and information on UNEP/IE publications.

World Travel and Tourism Council/EcoNETT
This home page provides access both to the WTTC web site and to EcoNETT. The WTTC is a global coalition of CEOs from the travel/tourism industry, whose central goal is to work with governments to realize tourism's full economic potential. Recognizing that tourism's environmental performance must improve, WTTC is developing several initiatives to that end, primarily in conjunction with the World Travel Organization and the Earth Council. One such initiative is Agenda 21 for the Travel & Tourism Industry, which "examines 12 general areas of activity from the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and translates them into guiding principles for Travel & Tourism." Another is the Green Globe program, whose prime objective is to provide a low-cost, practical means for travel and tourism companies to undertake improvements in environmental practice. Information on these programs is accessible from the WTTC Home Page. ECoNETT (European Community Network for Environmental Travel & Tourism), accessible from the address given above, is an Internet-based tool which provides an extensive information resource on all tourism and environmental issues.

Eco Travels in Latin America
This outstanding web site from independent journalist Ron Mader is a must for anyone who is interested in ecotourism in Latin America, whether in arid or non-arid regions. This web site archives all the articles published in the online newsletter "El Planeta Platica;" the articles are also cross-referenced on regional pages and thematically.

Australian Office of National Tourism
The Australian government has in the past sponsored much interesting work on developing ecotourism. Because there seem to be two parallel versions of this site, and because the location of the ecotourism materials is not always immediately obvious, a few of the more widely applicable documents are listed below:
Best Practice Ecotourism: A Guide to Energy and Waste Minimisation
"Provides the practical means to assess energy and waste consumption and offers a range of suggestions for improving energy and waste management of 25 specific activities."
Ecotourism Tips
While written for travelers to Australia, these tips for tourists are applicable to other drylands countries as well.
Facts and Figures on Ecotourism
This report provides an interesting overview of ecotourism activities in Australia as of its publication date, 16 May 1997.

Ecotourism Information Centre (Australia)
This site, aimed at ecotourism professionals, was developed by the Johnstone Centre of Parks, Recreation and Heritage at Charles Sturt University, in collaboration with the Ecotourism Association of Australia. In addition to providing links to further information about all of these organizations, the site houses a searchable bibliographic data base, a list of upcoming conferences, and several reports on various aspects of ecotourism. Interactivity is encouraged and contributions are solicited. Site contents should be of interest to professionals both within and outside of Australia.

International Centre for Ecotourism Research (ICER)
The mission of ICER, based at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, is "to provide a focus for ecotourism research at Griffith University and worldwide." Some caveats: site access requires a frames-capable browser, the graphics have no ALT tags, and the current contents seem a bit thin. On the other hand, with its specific focus on ecotourism research, the site deserves mention and some return visits.

"Green" Hotels Association
This web site provides an example of activities that can be undertaken by the tourist industry itself to improve sustainability. The "Green" Hotels Association has member hotels in the US, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. The organization is committed to searching out the best water- and energy-saving practices that apply to the hospitality industry.

Green-travel is a moderated email subscription list dedicated to the sharing of information about culturally and environmentally responsible, or sustainable, travel and tourism worldwide, including ecotourism and adventure travel. This web site gives subscription information for the email list, provides a searchable archives of its messages, and provides many links to other sites potentially of interest. The Green-travel email list is an excellent resource for anyone interested in ecotourism in general.

The Green Audit Kit (online report)
The South Devon [Great Britain] Green Tourism Initiative was a four year project to promote and test the ideas of sustainable tourism to small businesses. The SD-GTI achieved a number of objectives, including production of a do-it-yourself environmental audit manual and a Green Tourism Award system. From this page you can download either the project's summary report or its complete final report. There are many ideas here that could be very useful to ecotourism developers in drylands.

Biodiversity Conservation and Ecotourism: an investigation of linkages, mutual benefits and future opportunities (online report)
This online report "is the result of a study commissioned by the Biodiversity Unit in the Environmental Strategies Directorate of [Australia's] Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories to investigate the potential for integrating biodiversity conservation with ecotourism. Its main objective is to identify and where possible assess the potential long-term benefits and opportunities of strategically integrating biodiversity conservation requirements with the future needs of the nature-based and eco-tourism industry. It presents a national approach to formulating and implementing strategic plans to enable this integration." This is a fascinating and detailed report, well worth reading.

The Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa (online report)
Dated May 1996, this White Paper provides a policy framework and guidelines for tourism development in South Africa. Great stress is placed on the need to develop "Responsible tourism" -- essentially, ecotourism. While much of the information here is specific to South Africa, there is also much of general interest. Be forewarned, though: the entire file is about 165K. (It's also available from a gopher server as a text-only file, but that seems to be about as long as the HTML version.)

Links listed elsewhere in this issue

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Links concerning Baja California and Mexico

Links concerning Uzbekistan

Links concerning Tunisia

Links concerning the Gulf of Aqaba

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