An Easy Reference Guide
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. INTRODUCTORY SECTIONS 3
1.1 INTRODUCTION 3
1.2 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO TOURISM 4
1.2.1 From Luxury to Essential – The Growth of Tourism 4
1.2.2 A Better Type of Tourism? 5
1.2.3 Challenges for Tourism 5
1.3 DEFINITIONS & CONCEPTS 7
1.4 WHO ARE THE ECOTOURISTS? 11
1.4.1 The Ecotourism Market 11
1.4.2 Understanding Different Types of Ecotourists 12
1.4.3 International, Domestic, Package, Independent 13
1.5 BENEFITS & PROBLEMS OF ECOTOURISM 15
1.5.1 Potential Benefits of Ecotourism 15
1.5.2 Potential Problems of Ecotourism 16
2. DEVELOPING ECOTOURISM 21
2.1 PRINCIPLES OF ECOTOURISM 21
2.2 KEY ACTORS & THEIR ROLE 24
2.2.1 Local Residents 24
2.2.2 Tourism Industry 29
2.2.3 Involving the Visitor 33
3. DEVELOPING ECOTOURISM IN KAZAKHSTAN 37
3.1 BACKGROUND TO TOURISM IN KAZAKHSTAN 37
3.2 WHAT DOES KAZAKHSTAN HAVE TO OFFER? 38
3.3 CURRENT UTILISATION OF KAZAKHSTAN’S
ECOTOURISM PRODUCT 41
3.4 KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR ECOTOURISM DEVELOPMENT
IN KAZAKHSTAN 43
3.4.1 Government Strategy 43
3.4.2 National Ecotourism Initiative 44
3.4.3 Ecotourism Research 45
3.4.4 The Ecotourism Code of Practice 49
4. CONCLUSION -
A VISION FOR ECOTOURISM IN KAZAKHSTAN 50
1. INTRODUCTORY SECTIONS
This booklet about ecotourism and community-based tourism is intended to
simplify the concepts and to make clear the potential benefits that it can bring to
local people and to the environment. It focuses on Kazakhstan, but the concepts
and possible benefits are universal.
Due to the popularity of the second edition, the booklet has been reprinted to
meet the increasing interest in ecotourism shown by communities, NGOs and
other stakeholders. This third edition includes additional information relating to
recent developments in the growth of ecotourism and community based tourism
During 2003 a major national ecotourism initiative was launched, aimed at
providing environmental protection, environmental education and new sources of
income in remote rural communities. This programme, supported by the Eurasia
Foundation, VSO Kazakhstan, OSCE, Shell Kazakhstan and the Friedrich Ebert
Foundation, provides first-hand examples of the potential and challenges involved
in developing community-based ecotourism. The initiative includes extensive
market research and the development of ecotourism pilot projects, supported by
training and conferences for stakeholders.
Details of this project, and the implications of recent global tourism trends for
Kazakhstan, are included in this latest edition of the booklet.
One significant change from the previous edition is a greater emphasis on use of
the terms „community-based tourism‟ „community-based ecotourism‟. While much
of the booklet‟s content remains relevant to all sectors of tourism, VSO‟s
emphasis is on using ecotourism as a tool to address economic and
environmental issues in rural areas, with the community at the heart of the
process. This is reflected more explicitly in this edition of the booklet.
Anyone using the booklet as a teaching resource is free to photocopy any part of
it as they wish, as the intention is to make the information available to as many
people as possible. For this reason at different times it has been published in
Kazakh, English and Russian.
I would like to thank VSO Kazakhstan for financing the first publication and HSBC
for financing the publication of both the second, and this latest edition. I would
also like to thank the Agency of the Republic for Tourism and Sport, and ISAR
Central Asia, for supporting it.
I would also like to thank Dinara Shurshenova and Irina Buchinskaya for the
1.2 GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO TOURISM
”Tourism is like fire. You can cook your supper with it, but it can also burn your
house down” Anonymous, Asia
1.2.1 From Luxury to Essential – The Growth of Tourism
International tourism can be defined as „travel by a resident of one country to
another country for recreational, business or other purposes‟. However it is
defined, international tourism is the world‟s fastest growing industry. In the past
10 years, revenues from tourism have almost tripled. In both industrialised and
developing countries, tourism accounts for more than one third of total exports of
Tourism will soon be the world‟s biggest industry. It is already estimated to
provide one in every ten jobs on the planet. Tourism is big business and
particularly attractive to countries with limited options for earning much needed
foreign currency. Tourism provides an excellent example of trade being more
important than aid. In 1998 the amount of money spent by British holidaymakers
in the developing world was £2billion – almost as much as the entire UK overseas
aid budget and nearly half the amount that the public gave to charity.
However, for a Western tourist travelling to a developing country on holiday, most
of the spending will go on airfares and hotels, and it is most likely that these are
owned, operated or managed by Western transnational corporations. As a result,
developing countries will often receive less than one-third of the money that
tourists spend on their trip.
The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) predicts that international tourist
numbers will rise to 1.6 billion by 2020 - a threefold increase from 1996 - and that
a quarter of these holidays will be taken in the developing world.
The industry is highly competitive and typically operates on very small margins
between costs and expenditure (around 2%). This places companies under
pressure to continually seek new, unexploited experiences and destinations.
Whether this is the industry or consumer‟s fault is irrelevant because they are so
interlinked. The fact is that since the 1950s increasing disposable income and the
right to paid holiday leave in the West has led to overseas holidays no longer
being seen as a privilege of the wealthy but an expectation of all. A recent report
by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that 55% considered a holiday away
from home, a necessity. The types of destinations have also become increasing
exotic. 1 in 10 holidays taken by British holidaymakers in 2001 were to
1.2.2 A Better Type of Tourism?
The increase in tourist numbers has, however, caused several problems. During
the last 15 years, it has become apparent that the tourism industry has been
failing from both an environmental and cultural point of view. The wide range of
tourism‟s negative impacts have been exposed as unspoilt natural areas have
become concrete resorts, seas and rivers have been polluted, local residents
driven away from their home areas or seen their culture distorted to suit the taste
of tourists. “Paradise, while not yet lost, is losing”, wrote Ellen Scott.
Over the same period a different form of tourism emerged, offering a more
environmentally-friendly alternative. Ecotourism met consumer demands for
something new and unusual through its focus on the natural world as the
attraction for visitors. In theory, it provided an alternative to the resort-and-beach
focus of mass tourism and the „eco‟ prefix implied at least that it was also a form
of tourism that was less harmful to the environment.
In practice the development of ecotourism has had mixed results. The World
Tourism Organisation states that ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of the
tourism industry. However, its popularity in some destinations has been counter-
productive, removing the initial appeal. Ecotourism has, in reality, often acted as
a first step towards mass tourism. Tourism operators, at all levels of the industry,
have been happy to use the „eco‟ label to attract customers without being
prepared to take on the responsibilities for caring for the destinations. This has
led some to question the assumption that ecotourism is less environmentally
damaging than mass tourism.
In recognition of ecotourism‟s growth - and the positive and negative results of its
development - the WTO, with support from the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNDP), declared 2002 the International Year of Ecotourism.
Member states of the WTO were encouraged to develop activities on ecotourism
and a number of regional conferences were held prior to a global summit held in
Quebec. The main outcome was the Quebec Declaration on Ecotourism, which is
covered in Appendix 1.
1.2.3 Challenges for Tourism
Despite tourism‟s growth in the second half of the 20th century, the start of the
new millennium has seen a number of crises shake the industry. As soon as the
Foot and Mouth Disease crisis eased for Britain‟s farm and tourism industries, the
terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 took place, followed in the last two years
by attacks in Kenya, Bali and Morocco. While terrorist attacks have previously
disrupted tourism in specific countries (e.g. ETA‟s ongoing campaign in Spain),
the attacks of September 11th, in particular, had an unprecedented effect on the
Major air and travel companies went out of business or made significant job cuts
to survive as sales plummeted. In contrast, low cost airlines, unaffected by the
collapse in transatlantic flights, thrived, and this - coupled with the collapse in
package companies - has encouraged consumers, increasingly keen on making
last minute decisions and savings, to package their own holidays using the
internet. The one exception to this trend has been for holidays to the more exotic
destinations, or special interest holidays, for which the public has remained in
need of the services of tour operators.
The influence of the media on destinations was demonstrated again during the
recent SARS outbreak. Like the coverage following the terrorist attacks, the
information - much of it of questionable accuracy - has caused alarm among
consumers, leaving destinations with sudden falls in visitors, regardless of
whether they possess any risk or not. Blanket warnings against travel issued by
Western governments magnify the impact further.
In spite of these developments it has become clear that consumers are not going
to stop travelling. However, faced with countless destinations to choose from,
they are increasingly fickle, confident in making their own arrangements, and
ruthless in finding the best deal.
Providing Proof – Sustainable Tourism Certification
One response to concerns that terms such as „ecotourism‟ are being
misused by tourism businesses has been the creation of schemes that
assess the claims and give awards to successful companies. This
„certification‟ can then be used by the business for marketing purposes, while
the consumer can make an informed choice when purchasing tourism
services. Businesses participating also find that in meeting the environmental
and social requirements they often make financial savings through increased
Such certification schemes are well established in some industries such as
forestry and agriculture, but there has been less progress in tourism. A
number of countries (Costa Rica, Scotland, Australia) have successfully
introduced schemes but it has proved more difficult to develop an
international standard. However, the World Tourism Organisation has started
to look at this issue, recommending the introduction of an overall body that
will monitor the standards of individual schemes.
1.3 DEFINITIONS AND CONCEPTS
What exactly is ecotourism, and how does it differ from other forms of tourism?
The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as:
“Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and
improves the well-being of local people”.
This definition has three key components.
1. It is a form of tourism based on appreciation of nature (“responsible travel to
natural areas”), distinguishing it from other forms of tourism.
2. It recognise its responsibility to care for the environment that is being
enjoyed (“that conserves the environment”)
3. It recognises that the destination is also a home for people and that tourism
should be a benefit, not a burden, to these residents (“improves the well-
being of local people”)
It is important to be aware of a number of related, but distinct, forms or concepts
Community-based tourism (sometimes shortened to „CBT‟, or „community
tourism‟) means tourism that involves and benefits local communities. Community
tourism is not necessarily nature based. Communities may offer cultural tours or
simply run local guesthouses. In general, community tourism puts the emphasis
including contact with local people, and it has been argued that their knowledge
of the local environment makes their involvement as crucial in meeting
conservation goals as social goals.
Community-based ecotourism simply combines the two concepts above. In
theory, ecotourism should place an emphasis on the community but the failure for
this to happen in practice has led to the emergence of this phrase as a means to
describe a form of ecotourism that genuinely focuses on the community.
Nature tourism, like ecotourism, focuses on the natural world but in this case the
reason for travel is for studying and observation, rather than enjoyment alone. It
is usually small scale but it can become mass tourism, as in many National parks
in the USA, e.g. Yosemite.
Adventure tourism is tourism that involves a physically challenging or
exhilarating activity. It takes place mostly in natural areas as it requires some of
nature‟s features (e.g. vertical rockfaces for climbing or abseiling, fast flowing
rivers for rafting) but, unlike ecotourism, the nature is generally the setting for the
activity rather than the focus. It can be individuals (e.g. solo mountaineering) or
commercially organised on a larger scale (white water rafting, snorkelling,
Sustainable tourism is the goal to which all tourism should aspire, though this
aim is rarely achieved. Rather than referring to a specific destination or set of
activities, sustainable tourism is more of an approach that seeks to be applied in
all sectors of tourism. It is a natural extension of the concept of sustainable
development – “development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
(Bruntland Report, World Commission on Environment & Development, 1987).
Ethical tourism is similar to sustainable tourism in being an approach that
should be applied to all destinations (not just natural areas) and all forms of
tourism. It is similar to ecotourism in the sense that it is concerned with the
outcomes of tourism – that they not only benefit the consumer and provider, but
also the environment and community receiving visitors. The term “ethical” is
clearer than “eco” or “sustainable” tourism in having both environmental and
social concerns. The term also links tourism to other established ethical
concerns (e.g. deforestation, human rights) and the growing interest among
Western consumers to buy ethical products, e.g. fairly traded coffee.
With so many terms, concepts and definitions in existence, often interlinking with
each other, it is no surprise that there are differences in how they are used and
understood. Ecotourism means different things to different people, and it is not
helped by unscrupulous tourist operators who simply put “eco“ in front of their
trips in the hope of fooling the tourist into thinking that the trip is environmentally
For this reason the WTO avoids a straightforward definition of ecotourism;
instead it concentrates on principles that must be adhered to for a holiday or
activity to be an „ecotour‟. They mirror closely the definition by the International
1. Ecotourism should help preserve and conserve nature.
2. It should create jobs, and thereby added income, for local communities.
3. Increase knowledge and awareness of local culture.
4. Aim to educate the tourist.
While in the past there were clear distinctions between the different types of
tourism mentioned above, the boundaries are now becoming increasingly blurred.
Mainstream tourists are increasingly organising their own holidays rather than
using tour operators. Some multinational hotel chains have more comprehensive
environmental policies than local operations. Mass tourism holidays may include
a day out that would have more in common with alternative tourism. (This is
known as „soft adventure‟ and has been one of the key growth areas within
tourism recently as increasingly experienced tourists look to include a more
adventurous element within their holiday while retaining the comfort and
convenience they have grown used to).
A number of myths regarding ecotourism have emerged that need to recognised
Myth #1: Ecotourism is better for the environment than other types of tourism
The use of the term „eco‟ does not automatically mean that it is more sensitive to
the environment than any other form of tourism. Ecotourism generally takes place
in environmentally vulnerable areas and so there is a greater potential to cause
damage and disturbance to the environment if it is poorly developed and
managed. Tourists in built-up resorts may stay in complexes that, due to
economies of scale, have a lower consumption of energy and water per person
and are in locations where such resources are more readily available. Tourists in
these resorts are also more likely to stay within the same small area causing less
pollution from transport.
Myth #2: Ecotourism means basic accommodation and facilities
It is often inappropriate to have the same level of facilities in ecotourism
destinations as in resorts, as such services may require resources such as water
and energy that are scarce in the area, or may create waste that is difficult to
However, technological advances now mean that renewable energy can be
generated in the destination making it self-sufficient, while energy and water-
efficient products can make „luxury‟ appliances feasible. As a consequence, it is
possible to have five-star standard accommodation and facilities in ecotourism
destinations. However the extra initial investment required for this to be achieved
is often prohibitive even if savings follow and customers pay higher rates.
Nevertheless, keeping modest facilities clean and in good condition and providing
excellent customer care costs comparatively little and is increasingly a standard
requirement of today‟s experienced tourists. Indeed, this is likely to be of more
importance to ecotourists than luxurious facilities as many (although not all) will
feel that conditions more basic than standard tourist facilities are part of the
experience of being in nature.
Five Star Ecotourism – Kapawi Lodge, Ecuador
The Kapawi Lodge is a $2 million ecotourism project in the Amazonian rainforest,
which provides luxurious accommodation but at a minimal impact to the
environment. Solar energy is used to supply power, while local traditional building
styles were used – resulting in the use of no nails in the construction. The current
operator, who is able to charge over $100 per night for the exemplary facilities
and services, has worked in close partnership with the local people to ensure that
only positive economic and social impacts result from the development. The land
is leased from the local people for 15 years during which time $2000 is paid each
month for the rent of the land. After this time the project will be owned and
managed by the local people. In the meantime additional benefits are gained
through sales of handicrafts and other products.
Myth #3: Ecotourism is only of interest to a small number of enthusiasts
While ecotourism remains a niche market in terms of tourists for whom it is the
sole focus of their holidays, many more tourists include an ecotourism experience
as part of their overall trip. Their level of background knowledge, interests and
expectations may be quite different to those of the „dedicated‟ ecotourist and this
must be recognised. (This is discussed in more detail in the chapter „Who are
Myth #4: Ecotourism is good for local communities
It can be – if the community initiates it, or it is at least closely involved in deciding
how it develops. If the development then provides new, sustainable sources of
income and employment that do not cause divisions within the community, and
that, ideally, also contribute to community facilities, then ecotourism can be a
much needed contribution to the local economy.
However if it is developed by a tourism organisation from outside the area that
does not involve or employ local people, or is developed in such a way that there
is over-reliance on this economic activity, then it can either have little benefit, or
worse, create more problems than before it was introduced.
Myth #5: Ecotourism must be small scale
Ecotourism can be of a medium or large scale and still be in harmony with the
environment. Indeed, it can be a deliberate management tool to focus visitor
access in one area that is less sensitive and can be managed more easily, rather
than allowing numerous small-scale activities to take place over a wide area.
However, this generally requires high levels of management, investment and
control and is easier if one organisation owns or controls the entire area.
In general, the capacity of natural areas to receive visitors without damage or
disturbance occurring means that only small-scale development and activity will
be possible. However, it should be recognised that in some natural areas large
developments that already exist cannot simply be removed, but must instead be
provided with assistance to reduce their impact on the environment to a minimal
1.4 WHO ARE THE ECOTOURISTS?
There is no such thing as a typical ecotourist. Ecotourists are of all ages and all
backgrounds. Often, the only thing they have in common is a love and respect of
nature. However, some general characteristics can be identified and then
grouped to help understand the differing expectations of visitors to a natural area.
Understanding these expectations and characteristics is essential for any
community setting up an ecotourism destination.
1.4.1 The Ecotourism Market
Before looking at the specific characteristics of different types of ecotourists, the
overall market should be considered. One difficulty immediately encountered,
however, is that the different understandings and definitions of ecotourism cause
separate studies to use distinct criteria to categorise ecotourists.
In a statement leading up to the International Year of Ecotourism (IYE), the British
awareness group, Tourism Concern, quote the World Tourism Organisation
(WTO) as stating that ecotourism represents between 2-4 % of all international
travel expenditure (the same size as the Meetings, Incentives, Congresses and
Exhibitions (MICE) segment). The International Ecotourism Society quotes a
range of statistics, mostly relating to the broader nature tourism segment (which
simply involves tourists visiting a destination to experience and enjoy nature). The
World Resources Institute is quoted by IES as noting that the growth in nature
travel is 10-30% per year compared to 4% for tourism overall.
These, and other statistics, agree that there is a small, but growing, market.
In preparation for the IYE, the WTO recognised that it needed to test the
assumption that overall growth in tourism would be matched by growth in the
ecotourism segment. It conducted market research in seven countries where the
majority of ecotourists originate. The main findings, common to all seven
1. The term „ecotourism‟ is still used relatively little in promotional materials.
2. The sector that most closely matches the concept of ecotourism has a
relatively small share of the overall tourism market.
3. Tour operators in this sector believe that ecotourism‟s growth will be faster
than in tourism overall. No one region of the world has made more progress
than another in becoming the leading destination in ecotourism, although
there are a number of well-established destinations in each region.
4. Ecotourists‟ enthusiasm for experiencing nature tends to be matched by a
desire to meet local communities and discover their culture.
5. Tour operators find that those buying ecotourism tend to be from higher,
well-educated social groups, over 35 years of age and with women slightly
6. Environmental awareness is growing but is still in its infancy.
Targeted Marketing – A brief explanation of market segmentation
A key concept in marketing is that of „segmentation‟. Rather than aiming to
attract any potential tourist, anywhere in the world, this is a more targeted,
efficient approach; it breaks the overall market into „segments‟. A segment
is a group of customers that share many characteristics. „Young people‟
would not be a market segment, but „bird watchers‟ could be.
The choice of segments to target is important. Segments with high levels
of spending may be attractive but could cost too much to attract.
Segments that can be reached easily may not be worth having. Finally, it
is important avoiding selecting too many segments – the whole idea is to
1.4.2 Understanding Different Types of Ecotourists
Understanding the motivations, expectations and attitudes of ecotourists is
essential for the development, marketing, planning and management of
ecotourism in destination areas. In the table below, tourists to natural areas are
divided into five groups (in this case referred to as „nature tourists‟ by the authors
rather than „ecotourists‟). The implications of the level of demand from the various
segments require consideration when assessing the tourism product to be
offered. For example, according to growth forecasts the „classic‟ ecotourists with
a special interest in nature, with low demands on comfort and high environmental
awareness, will in future be making up a smaller part of the global market.
The number of „casual‟ ecotourists (i.e. those who schedule visits to nature areas
as an add-on to a trip and tend not to have such high expectations when it comes
to sharing the experience with other visitors) is, by contrast, increasing. This type
usually includes the bulk of domestic tourists (tourists resident in the country of
the destination) in developing countries. These shifts in demand must not be
considered negative, although the respective needs of these groups must be
taken into consideration when planning. Indeed, if well managed, this more
„casual‟ type of ecotourism could be a significant source of income for nature
The following table, produced by Agot and Strasdas in 1997, provides a useful
summary of the differing characteristics and expectations of different visitors to
Type Main Interest Intact Demands Standards Potential
Nature on Guides of comfort demand
The Experiencing Very Special
„committed nature, special Important knowledge Low Low
nature interests of ecology
The Experiencing Important Good
„interested nature, knowledge Low to high Moderate
nature ecological of ecology
The Easily Less Unspecific High
„casual accessible/ Important knowledge (Industr‟d High
nature ‟obvious‟ of ecology countries),
tourist‟ nature Low
The sports/ Focus on Nature Area and Moderate
adventure activities as a technical Low to high
tourist backdrop knowledge (diving)
The Focus on Nature Area and
hunting/ activities as a technical Low Low
fishing backdrop knowledge
The nature Natural and Important Good
tourist with cultural ecology and Low Moderate
cultural experience very good
1.4.3 International, Domestic, Independent, Package
There are two other important distinctions in tourism that need to be recognised.
The first is the difference between international and domestic visitors.
International visitors will generally spend more per day, and are more likely to
stay longer in any one destination, than a domestic tourist. They may also have a
better grasp on the need for environmental protection. This makes them an
attractive target for the ecotourism market.
However, many ecotourism destinations now recognise the negative side of such
an approach. Because these customers are in a distant market it is difficult and
expensive to attract them.
Even if they are successful the destination can find that the influx of international
visitors changes the culture of the area. Prices, set to levels that are acceptable
to Western visitors, can be increasingly difficult for local people, whether
residents or visitors, to afford. Signs can increasingly appear in English rather
than the local language, and the type of shops and services can cater for
international visitors rather than local communities.
It is therefore important that a balanced approach is taken, appreciating the
importance of both international and domestic visitors, while responding to their
It should also be recognised that within the domestic market is a sub-group with
particular interest in seeing the country – foreign workers resident in the country
(expatriates). They are likely to have a similar level of spending as international
visitors but could prove easier to reach, are likely to want to see more of the
country they are living in, and to have visits from friends and relatives whom they
will want to show the country.
A second distinction needs to be made between travellers using the services
of a tour operator to visit a destination and those travelling independently.
As was noted in the „General Introduction to Tourism‟ there is an increasing
tendency for tourists to make their own travel, activity and accommodation
arrangements rather than pay someone else to do this and present them in a
package. An increasing number of young adults are taking the opportunity to
explore distant destinations. They generally have lower expectations of comfort
and convenience than the mainstream tourist and consequently have provided an
easy initial market for countries new to tourism with less developed tourism
infrastructures. Many countries in Asia, such as Cambodia and Vietnam, have
seen tourism grow first through independent travellers before tour operators
become interested in offering trips once the destination becomes better known
Guidebooks such as „Lonely Planet‟, „Rough Guide‟ and „Let‟s Go‟ are often the
main source of information for the independent traveller on the move, although
the internet plays an increasingly important role, particularly prior to departure.
Independent travel enables service providers to deal directly with their customers
and this gives the destinations greater control over the development of tourism
and a full share of any profits.
However, in situations where there is a low level of awareness, destinations will
find it difficult to reach potential customers without the help of a tour operator.
Customers may also prefer the reassurance of a tour operator when the
destination is an area that is relatively unknown and still developing services for
1.5 BENEFITS AND PROBLEMS OF ECOTOURISM
For the tourist, holidays may be a way of escaping the cares of the everyday life,
but for any individual, organisation, business or community receiving visitors, the
impacts of tourism will be everyday concerns. The issue is whether these impacts
are positive or negative, because tourism has the potential to provide both. Being
aware of the potential impacts can increase the chances of maximising the
benefits and minimising the problems, and this is easier to achieve if the potential
problems are considered at the start rather than looking for solutions once they
1.5.1 Potential Benefits of Ecotourism
If organised, planned and run properly, ecotourism can (and should) achieve the
Creation of jobs and income for the local community, benefiting many
service sectors. The benefits can go beyond specific tourism providers (such as
those offering accommodation or guiding), also increasing the demand for shops,
those providing transport, and those growing food in the local area. If those
employed in tourism also spend their extra money in the local area then there is
the potential for further jobs to be supported. In remote rural areas ecotourism
can provide one of the few opportunities for new or improved livelihoods.
Creation of an understanding in ecotourists for the area they are visiting, a
concern for its conservation, and encouragement to contribute to its
maintenance. Ecotourism can not only educate tourists about local customs and
biodiversity, it can also show how areas are in need of conservation and how the
profits from ecotourism are making a direct contribution to the welfare of the
community and quality of the environment. If some of the profits from ecotourism
are returned directly to conservation then those responsible for managing and
monitoring the environment have an increased ability to fulfil their remit.
Increased recognition of the environment as an economic asset. Ecotourism
can provide a financial incentive to protect the environment from destructive
alternative forms of development such as logging and oil exploration (as has
been the case in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest).
Preservation or revival of local knowledge, customs and crafts, which may
not otherwise survive. By providing a market for crafts and a renewed interest
in local customs and traditions, local culture can be maintained and revitalised.
Increased community cooperation and pride. When the community has been
involved in the process of developing and managing tourism, greater cooperation
can result. In addition, visitor interest in the area and improvements funded by
tourism can help develop local pride.
Involvement of fewer inputs and outputs than other forms of economic
development. In comparison to alternatives, ecotourism can require relatively
minimal investment as much of it is based on existing resources (e.g. the natural
environment for visits, homes for accommodation). Similarly, small-scale, efficient
use of resources should produce little in the way of negative outputs such as
Wide circulation of currency spent by tourists. If money is spent by the
ecotourist in local communities and their businesses instead of with foreign
owned hotels and companies, that money will stay and circulate within the
community and country for longer, benefiting the state as well as the individual.
Improvement of an area‟s image and value encouraging future development
by government. Once ecotourism has been developed Governments can
recognise that areas are worth investing in, and as a result, roads, water supplies
and waste removal are improved.
1.5.2 Potential Problems of Ecotourism
Despite these potential benefits there are also potential problems to consider and
1) Environmental Degradation
By its very nature, ecotourism relies on a high quality environment – that is what
attracts visitors to an area. However, the very activity of tourism can end up
damaging the environment that is being visited.
The facilities required to serve the needs of visitors can cause damage. Unless
there is sufficient and suitable space in existing buildings, new accommodation
will be required. New constructions often cause some damage to the
environment, whether it is clearing trees, changing the appearance of an area,
taking away a natural habitat or introducing elements (such as exotic trees) that
cater for tourist expectations but are „alien‟ to the local environment.
Once in operation, a tourism development will have an impact on the environment
in terms of its inputs and outputs. Its inputs, after the materials used in
constructing any facilities, would include:
Energy – Most tourist facilities will need a wide range of electrical appliances to
serve the needs of visitors, and so there will be a high level of power
consumption, generally much higher per head than the local population. Unless
generated by renewable sources (such as solar power), which require a large
investment, this power will be produced from non-renewable sources (e.g. gas,
coal), which create pollution in the atmosphere.
Water – A recent survey showed that the average tourist requires double the
amount of water of a householder to service their daily needs. Given that this was
a survey conducted in Europe, the difference in requirements is likely to be higher
elsewhere in the world where the local population have learnt to be careful in their
use of water. In the worst-case scenario, water can be diverted from the local
supply to serve the tourist accommodation.
Food and Drink – Serving the needs of visitors may require importing food over
large distances, or, if supplied locally, may lead to a change in food production
from products useful for the local population to the more profitable, but risky, ones
required by visitors.
It is not surprising that there are also a significant number of outputs:
Waste – Even with the most efficient food preparation, any accommodation
providing food will create some level of food waste, while the need to ensure that
food is fresh increases the amount of refuse. Many food and drink products will
have some form of packaging, much of which cannot be composted, reused or
recycled. The maintenance and administration of the operation will also create
waste. The fact that ecotourism destinations are often in remote areas away from
properly managed waste disposal services reinforces the potential difficulties.
Some products such as cleaning and metal products can be hazardous if not
disposed of properly.
Sewage – Many accommodation facilities do not make the necessary
investments to ensure that sewage is properly treated and disposed of. Instead it
is dumped into the nearest river, lake or sea creating pollution that is harmful to
wildlife and humans alike.
The activities of a tourist can also create damage:
Tours of ecotourists may cause disturbance to wildlife or even destroy
important habitats through trampling and picking of flowers etc as souvenirs.
Litter left during a tour is not only unsightly but can be a hazard for the local
wildlife. Overnight camping in the wild may use resources such as firewood
and pollute rivers with soap.
Tourists may buy souvenirs made from natural materials that are in scarce
supply or from an endangered animal.
Animals carrying visitors, or their luggage, may not be cared for properly.
Finally, even the most environmentally-friendly tourism operation can
indirectly create environmental damage because of the transport that
tourists use to reach the destination. Many ecotourists travel on long flights
that not only destroy the ozone layer but also create significant carbon
dioxide emissions – the main cause of global warming.
2) Damaging Communities
In some cases the need for land to develop tourism can lead to local residents
having their access to land removed. This often occurs when hotels create a
private beach so that their guests have exclusive use of a section of sea or
lakeshore. However, there are also cases where development goes a step further
and communities are actually forced off the land that they live on and own.
Even if the development of tourism does not deny access or take away land from
the local population, the day-to-day activities of tourism within a community can
introduce problems. The presence of visitors can result in a loss of privacy,
particularly in terms of visitor photography and filming, and the numbers of
visitors can lead to residents feeling that their settlement no longer belongs to
them. This sense of loss can be magnified in the case of destinations where the
language used on the majority of signs is that of the visitors rather than the local
The presence of affluent visitors can introduce begging and „hustling‟, while
traditions of hospitality can be lost as they become seen merely as a commercial
transaction. Cultural traditions can be changed to become just another tourism
product, such as entertainment shows in a hotel, rather than a genuine custom of
the local area.
Visitors may offend local customs through thoughtless actions, such as
wearing revealing clothes in areas where it is offensive, and in some locations a
minority of visitors may take advantage of the need for money by using
prostitutes. This in turn can introduce and spread disease (particularly HIV) to
Those working in tourism businesses (particularly larger businesses) can be
exploited, by being denied the higher positions within the company, by being
underpaid, by working long hours, and sometimes by being given tasks which are
dangerous tasks (such as in the case of hill porters required to carry huge packs
with inadequate clothing and footwear).
Even when tourism is successful within a community, resentments can be
created as people become jealous of those prospering, while those who are
successful may prevent others from having the opportunities to succeed in order
to protect their own business. Differing opinions on how tourism should develop,
how the trade and benefits should be distributed, and who is responsible for
managing the impacts can all lead to community divisions. A successful
destination is also likely to see an influx of people from other communities in the
region (or further afield) looking to take advantage of the opportunities that have
Mixed Results – Monteverde, Costa Rica
Monteverde is a popular ecotourism destination set in the mountains of Central
America. The main attraction, the cloud forest, is carefully managed by a charity,
The Monteverde Institute. All wishing to enter the cloud forest must use one of
the guides, and there are a maximum number of groups that can be within the
forest at any one time to prevent disturbance and improve the visitor experience.
The only guides allowed to work are those within a Guide Association, which
requires guides to be resident in the local area for at least 5 years, able to speak
English and to have passed through an intensive training programme. A
Women‟s Co-operative has been successfully established to produce and sell
craft products to visitors.
However, despite the successes in developing ecotourism within the nature
reserve, there are still problems in the neighbouring community. As the
destination has become more popular, developers from outside the local area
(and even from other countries) have moved in to take advantage of the growth.
Not only has this uncontrolled development exceeded the capacity of the local
sewage system, but the original local population is enjoying fewer of the
economic benefits. There have also been cultural changes in the village – most
signs are in English, prices are too expensive for local people and the
introduction of a nightclub and other entertainment facilities has introduced the
young people to some social problems not previously experienced.
3) Distorting Local Economies
In many areas developing tourism, established industries have been declining
and tourism was seen as one of the few alternatives. Encouraged by
governments who are desperate for the foreign currency, it is easy for a
destination to become over dependent on tourism. A farmer may neglect his
crops because he can earn more money by guiding tourists. However, unlike
farming, tourism does not in itself produce food to feed people, or materials to
clothe and house them.
While tourism has become an essential purchase for many in the West, the
places chosen to visit are increasingly subject to change – whether as a result
of changing fashions, exchange rates, political boycotts or safety concerns.
These are generally factors over which local people involved with tourism have
no control, and change can be extremely swift with little time for service providers
Products available locally may also change as a result of tourism. Essential
products may stop being sold in favour of more profitable tourist souvenirs. The
price of all products may also increase to levels that only visitors are able to
afford making it increasingly difficult for local people to live in the area.
The Vulnerability of Tourism – The Gambia
Following an almost violence-free coup in 1994, the UK Foreign Office
immediately advised against travel to The Gambia, leading to a number of tour
operators cancelling trips. Although the warning was lifted within a couple of
weeks it was reissued a few months later following an attempted counter-coup
and this time the warning remained in place for over 4 months.
The effect of this warning was extremely damaging for tourism in the country.
60% of incoming tourists to The Gambia come from Britain and the winter season
turned out to be a disaster as all but one of the British tour operators pulled out of
the country. The number of British tourists fell to a quarter of the previous season
resulting in tourism businesses closing and many job losses.
Given that during the entire period the Foreign Office did not advise British
citizens living within The Gambia to leave the country, it has been suggested that
the warnings were used primarily as a political tool, taking advantage of tourism‟s
importance to the national economy.
One of the most disturbing aspects of tourism is that if a particular destination
becomes spoilt as a result of the negative effects, visitors and the tourism
industry can move to another location. It is the local population and environment,
which is then left with the consequences, which can be disastrous.
International Trade Rules and Tourism – A Hidden Threat?
The last decade has seen growing demands for the removal of barriers to
create, it is claimed, a fair chance for all involved in trading. The General
Agreement of Trade in Services‟ (GATS) is of particular relevance to tourism.
Many organisations campaigning for developing countries fear that it will
make it easier for multinational companies based in the West to take over, as
there may no longer be the right to give preference to local service providers.
Tourism Concern give the following example to illustrate their concerns:
“…Indian companies who provide waste management in tourism areas won‟t
be able to compete with foreign companies and will lose the contracts. Indian
hotels won‟t be able to insist that local people be employed at management
level. Local governments won‟t be able to limit tourism developments in
2. DEVELOPING ECOTOURISM
2.1 PRINCIPLES OF ECOTOURISM
The growing interest in ecotourism, and the increasing interest in the ethical
development of tourism, has led not only to a proliferation of definitions but also
to the production of a wide range of codes and guidelines.
The one thing that these codes agree on is that tourism, including ecotourism,
should be based on establishing positive relationships between the four
main interests: the environment, residents, visitors and tourist industry.
Rather than the traditional view of tourism development, which was centred on
the tourism industry and its customers‟ needs (which could be considered as the
economic dimension of tourism), there is now a greater recognition that equal
importance must be given to the needs of the environment and residents.
Sometimes this is described as a „triple bottom line‟. This means that the success
of tourism is no longer measured solely in terms of number of customers, level of
income and number of jobs, but equally on the state of the environment and the
satisfaction and involvement of residents in the destination area.
Rather than list several sets of similar codes, the following list attempts to bring
together the main principles of ecotourism.
1. The environment must be respected in its own right
Tourism, and ecotourism in particular, relies on a high quality environment and
therefore it is in the interest of any individual or group developing it to maintain or
enhance its quality. However, this respect should go a step further, recognising
that the environment has an intrinsic value, which goes beyond its value as a
2. Ecotourism development should not damage the environment
In the case of physical development, ecotourism constructions should only be
permitted if they are compatible with the environment. Rather than there being an
assumption in favour of ecotourism development, development should only take
place if the location, scale and design cause no significant negative impacts on
the environment and the operation will not place a strain on scarce resources.
Materials used for construction should be from sustainable sources.
3. Ecotourism activities should minimise negative impacts on the
Ecotourism enterprises should minimise the use of resources (energy, water,
materials) to deliver the product required by customers. The waste products
generated should also be minimised and managed to ensure that the
environment is not harmed.
Trekking and tours of the natural environment should not disturb wildlife, cause
damage through trampling and picking of plants, or any other environmental
harm. Ecotourists themselves should take responsibility for ensuring that their
visit does not cause damage, in particular by taking litter out of the area.
4. Ecotourism should involve local people in decision-making
Whether an ecotourism proposal comes from a local entrepreneur, an NGO, or
an outside tour operator, the local community should be actively involved in
making the decisions. Involvement should go beyond being informed of proposals
to active participation in shaping them. Participation should be ongoing and
inclusive of all with an interest („stakeholders‟). Ultimately, communities have a
right to say no.
5. Ecotourism should support and respect local culture and traditions
Ecotourism can encourage local people to value and share their own culture but
must not distort it for the needs of tourism, or allow the introduction of „alien‟
elements of culture that are not welcomed.
Residents should be able to go about their lives without intrusion from visitors,
and visitors should act in a culturally sensitive manner having been informed
about what is appropriate, in advance, by those selling the trip.
6. Ecotourism should maximise its benefits for the local environment and
Ecotourists should be provided with the opportunity to support the local
environment, whether through making a small donation to conservation projects,
raising awareness of environmental issues on return home, or through
participating in practical conservation activities.
In addition to direct spending on ecotourism services, ecotourists can support
local community projects, and products used by ecotourism providers can be
sourced locally to maximise the proportion of tourism expenditure retained within
the local economy. Where it is appropriate, contact between residents and
visitors should be encouraged. External tour operators should use local
employees and products whenever possible, providing opportunities at all levels
of management and providing fair pay and conditions.
7. Ecotourism should be developed to be a sustainable and beneficial
contribution to the local community
Ecotourism should only be developed after careful consideration has been given
to the market demand for the proposed tourism development, including the extent
of investment required in product development and marketing. The local economy
must not become over-dependent on ecotourism, nor should the supply of
ecotourism services exceed demand.
8. Ecotourists must be offered an experience that meets or exceeds their
Tourism is a customer service industry in which the satisfaction of visitors is
fundamental. Only an attractive product will draw visitors to an area, and a
positive experience leads to repeat visits and personal recommendations (the
cheapest and most effective means of promotion). Quality does not mean offering
five star hotel facilities, but ensuring that attention is given to providing the right
expectations and then meeting or, whenever possible, exceeding them.
Agenda 21 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In 1992 a global summit was held to address environmental and development
issues. One of the main outcomes was the adoption of Agenda 21, a global action
plan designed to implement sustainable development, which nearly 200 national
governments signed up to. A follow-up report for the travel and tourism industry was
produced to clarify its responsibilities and states that that it should:
Assist people in leading healthy and productive lives in harmony with nature
Contribute to the conservation, protection and restoration of the earth‟s
Be based upon sustainable patterns of production and consumption
It urges developers to involve residents in decisions regarding development, create
local employment, recognise local culture and protect the environment (with a
particular focus on minimal use of resources and creation of waste products).
In response the World Travel and Tourism Council recommended that the industry
demonstrate their commitment through introducing monitored targets, commitments
to the environment pursued throughout the complete operation of tourism
businesses and increased education and research. To prevent the need (or to
prepare) for national/ international regulation it urged the industry to take self-
regulating action, issuing a list of areas requiring particular attention:
Environmentally-sensitive design and location decisions,
Energy and water conservation,
Waste minimisation (including disposal of sewage and hazardous products)
Control and monitoring of air and noise pollution
Respect for historic/religious objects and sites
Respect for the needs and traditions of local people
In August 2002, Johannesburg hosted a follow-up World Summit. Unlike in Rio,
tourism was on the agenda of the actual summit and included in the final agreement
signed by the participants, although many groups remained disappointed at the level
of coverage given to such a globally significant industry.
2.2 KEY ACTORS AND THEIR ROLE
In order for tourism to be sustainable, all the main stakeholders must work
together towards this common goal. Each player has responsibilities and actions
to take to ensure that the development of tourism is positive rather than negative.
2.2.1 Local Residents
The preceding section has noted that a key principle of ecotourism is involving
local residents. One of the common causes of problems with ecotourism
development is a failure to sufficiently involve the local stakeholders.
A key to success in involving local residents is not to assume that there is a
single viewpoint within the community, but to recognise the different groups and
interests within it. These groupings could relate to age, employment, ethnicity,
gender, location or interests within the community. It must be ensured that the
different groups are able to voice their opinions.
It should not be assumed that there will be immediate agreement in relation to
tourism development. Consequently, there will need to be a structure (such as a
committee) for handling, and, whenever possible, resolving differences. Any
structure developed should not only represent those involved in tourism directly
(e.g. accommodation providers, guides) and indirectly (e.g. shopkeepers,
transport providers) but also those that are not involved but have an interest in
the impact of tourism in the community (e.g. local government officials, religious
In Mark Mann‟s book, The Community Tourism Guide, he sets out three ways in
which the community can be involved in tourism:
Responsible Tours – Tours run by commercial tour operators who ensure that
their operation is sensitive to the community, and employ local staff with fair pay
and working conditions. A share of the profits may be given to projects in the
Partnership Tours – The community is more actively involved in arrangements,
working closely with the external partner (a tour operator or NGO) in the planning
and management, and not just helping to provide some of the services. The
external partner can overcome the community gaps in finance and knowledge,
but the danger is that the community remains dependent on the co-operation of
Community Tours – The community have sole control – they are responsible for
its initiation and operation, and have complete ownership. This approach gives
the community greatest control and potential benefit, but also increases the risks
taken in making the initial investment, retains the potential for internal
disagreement, and may rely on skills and resources not present within the
Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses. The key requirement is that
the community has the opportunity to decide which approach it would prefer.
Key Factors for Local Areas to Benefit –
The Tour Operator View
In a recent survey of UK tour operators running holidays to the developing world
were asked what factors encouraged and prevented local destinations from
benefiting from tourism.
Use of local services by tour operators and visitors was considered the most
important way for communities to benefit. Good relationships with local contacts
were also considered very important, as was the necessity of an attractive and
different product to sell. A positive attitude from clients was also mentioned by
more than half of the respondents.
Asked, “What are the barriers to bringing benefits?”, the most common response
was that the company‟s requirement to remain profitable restricted their ability to
support the local area. Economies of scale are often used to cut costs, which can
mean local service providers are neglected due to the time required to investigate
these alternatives being heavily restricted.
Nearly half mentioned the high expectations of their clients as a barrier along with
the fact that few of their customers were actively asking for holidays that benefited
local people. Many operators also complained of difficulties in finding satisfactory
ground handlers and the lack of government support (in terms of not providing
training, affordable loans or supporting environmental cleanups).
Source: Tearfund, “Tourism – Putting Ethics in Practice”, 2001
In addition to agreement from the community, the other key factor in deciding
whether to proceed with developing tourism is the existence (or potential) of an
appealing tourism product. Proceeding with a project that has not been properly
researched is extremely dangerous – it could lead to a lot of frustration,
resentment and wasted resources and time. Tourism may not always be the best
way of developing new sources of income.
If the decision to proceed with tourism has been made, there are a number of
actions that can be taken to ensure that the benefits for local people are
Making the Most of Tourist Spending – Often the majority of money that a
tourist spends on their holiday never reaches (or does not stay) within their
The larger the proportion of tourism expenditure that is kept within the local
economy, the greater the chance for it circulating and multiplying. This in turn
increases the potential for investment in new and existing businesses, and
community services. The aim should be to maximise the use of local products
and services once a visitor is in the destination. (See the diagram on the following
For example, rather than food and drink products being served and sold to guests
that were produced from outside the local region the country, attempts should be
made to supply these from within the local region. This may require close
cooperation with farmers (who may be unaware of the business opportunities)
regarding the type, quality, quantity and delivery of products required.
Many tourists like to return home with a souvenir and this provides further
opportunities for selling local crafts and food/drink products. Crafts can also be
used when decorating accommodation.
Building Skills for Jobs – Tourism provides opportunities for employment both
during development and construction, and during operation. These opportunities
should be negotiated with any outside operator to ensure that they are taken up.
The necessary skills and experience may not exist within the community and as a
consequence available jobs may be restricted to those requiring only unskilled
(and therefore low paid) labour, with employees from outside the area recruited
for the positions with greater responsibility. If there is a genuine gap in skills and
experience a programme of training should be established at the earliest
opportunity, either by the external tourism developer/ operator or by organisations
responsible for assisting community development.
A Commitment to Quality - Tourists have increasing expectations of quality,
even if part of the holiday may be to experience more basic living conditions than
they are used to. It is crucial that those likely to have any involvement in serving
tourists become aware of the expectations of visitors and how to meet, and if
possible, exceed those expectations. Training plays a critical role while an
attitude that places the customer first is essential. Tour operators will often need
convincing that the product on offer at a destination is of a sufficiently high
standard before taking the risk of sending their customers. This may require a
community to invite tour operators to come and sample the tourism experience
being offered. (This is known as a familiarisation trip).
This diagram provides a simple example of the multiplier effect:
Personal spending Purchase of materials
Regional city shops Local shops Local supplier Supplier from regional city
Leakage More Local Employment & Spending Leakage
A visitor buys a souvenir from a local craftsmaker. This income is used by the craftsmaker to cover the costs of materials purchased to make
souvenirs, and what is left he can use for his own personal spending.
If he purchases his materials from the regional city, some of the income „leaks‟ out of the local economy, but if he buys them from a local
supplier some of the tourist‟s spending is passed on to another part of the local economy. The local supplier will then have money to spend. If
this spending takes place locally it will support more local workers, who will in turn have money that they can spend in the local economy.
The same process takes place with the craftmaker‟s personal spending. If he spends the money outside the area, it „leaks‟ out of the economy.
However, the money he spends in local shops and services, helps to employ local people who in turn can spend money in the local economy,
which employs more local people, and so on.
It can therefore be seen that the initial money spent by the visitor has the potential to benefit many within the local area. As the money
circulates locally, its impact is multiplied – hence the term, „multiplier effect‟.
There are three effects:
1) Direct – businesses receiving money directly from the tourist (in this case, the craftsmaker)
2) Indirect – businesses receiving money from the tourist business (in this case, the supplier)
3) Induced – businesses receiving money from workers in a directly or indirectly impacted business (in this case, the local shop, and the
shops and services used by the local supplier and shopworkers).
The Role of NGOs in Encouraging Community Based Ecotourism
NGOs can often play a key role in helping communities investigate and, if
appropriate, pursue the development of ecotourism. They can have a
particularly useful role as a co-ordinating organisation, at least until a
mechanism is established to specifically address the development of
tourism. The NGO‟s function may include a range of specific tasks, taking in
any of the following:
Publicising the possibilities of tourism development to all relevant
stakeholders and gathering their views
Guiding the community through the process of deciding whether tourism
development is wanted and feasible
Coordinating the establishment of a steering group, or other administrative
mechanism, to oversee the development of tourism, and provide a forum
for stakeholders to express their views
Developing codes of practices for the development of tourism, and for
Providing guidelines for any new constructions regarding design and
location to minimise the environmental and social impact
Helping to provide training to develop the tourism services, or identifying
outside assistance to help deliver it
Making links with other NGOs and ecotourism organisations to share
information and seek opportunities for collaboration
Involvement in the development a tourism action plan – to include a plan
of how profits are to be used, a system for monitoring the projects
financial, environmental and social impacts, and the satisfaction of visitors
Promotion of the tourism services developed, and ensuring high standards
of quality are maintained
Handling enquiries from tourists regarding the tourism services available
Raising awareness of the importance of the local environment and culture
to the local population, demonstrating how valuable they are for tourism
Although NGOs can play a key role in helping communities to develop
ecotourism it may not be appropriate for them to remain the main focus for
its co-ordination in the long-term. This is likely to be a time-consuming
activity, which may make it difficult for the NGO to pursue some of its other
interests/functions, and there may be complications regarding handling the
income raised through tourism.
2.2.2 Tourism Industry
As with the term „community‟, the phrase „tourism industry‟ needs to be
understood as a collective term for a range of individuals and organisations
involved in developing, promoting, delivering and co-ordinating tourism. This can
vary from one farmer earning a little extra income by offering a room to guests, to
a multi-national tour company or hotel chain employing thousands. It also
includes many businesses, such as taxis and restaurants that gain a significant
income from tourists but do not consider themselves as tourism businesses.
Each individual or organisation has their own priorities that affect their approach
to tourism. However, the vast majority will need to be at least covering their
operating costs, even if they are not making a profit.
How can operating in a way that is considerate to the environment and residents
be a priority alongside the need to earn money? The answer is that the two
approaches can compliment, rather than oppose each other:
Increased efficiency - Operating in an environmentally friendly manner not only
protects the main attraction for visitors but can also increase efficiency. By using
resources such as energy and water in an efficient way - through careful choice
of appliances, design and operation - any additional costs involved in using these
products are quickly paid back, followed by ongoing savings. Even hotel firms
with little environmental interest now recognise the financial costs of being
wasteful of resources and having to dispose of large quantities of rubbish.
Customer Demand - Customers increasingly expect the businesses they use to
have a responsible approach to the environment and communities. Research by
Tearfund found that, although price, weather and location/ facilities are the main
factors in choosing a holiday, half of those interviewed were more likely to book a
holiday with a tour operator that followed an ethical code. The majority were
willing to pay a little extra to ensure that the community and environment
benefited and considered the tour company‟s ethics much more important than
whether they had used that company before. These findings mirror growing
interest in certification demonstrating a business‟ support for the environment and
local area, and an expectation in those tour companies with shareholders for
environmental and social policies to be published and reported on.
Increased Satisfaction – As visitors travel more frequently, research shows a
growing demand for local distinctiveness. By serving meals using local produce
(and making customers aware of its local production) satisfaction is increased,
even if the preparation of the food has to be adjusted slightly to satisfy the tastes
of foreign visitors. Although customers like to relax while on holiday, research
shows that they do not want this to be at the expense of the environment. Many
would like the additional satisfaction of knowing that their visit is benefiting the
area. Providers who can demonstrate their commitment to the local community
and environment, and provide the opportunity for visitors to contribute in a
meaningful way, will therefore benefit from increased customer satisfaction.
Research also shows that the majority of tourists will appreciate advice on local
customs, as they want to know how to avoid causing offence.
So even if it were not for the ethical responsibilities, taking an approach that is
supportive of the environment and community is not only compatible with earning
a living, it is part of it - it is integral to offering a quality product that satisfies
customers and is delivered efficiently.
The type of action that is needed for the responsible development of ecotourism
will vary according to the sector:
Communities generally do not have the resources or contacts to be able to attract
a sufficient number of visitors without the help of tour operators dedicated to this
function. Communities will be keen to ensure that tour operators do not place
profits above environmental and social considerations, while tour operators will
need convincing that there is an appealing product, and services of a consistently
high standard to attract customers. Tour operators should:
Actively involve communities in decisions regarding tourism development
(see previous section) and respect their views.
Make long-term commitments to destinations that provide sufficient time to
build partnerships and invest in product development and training.
Accountable relationships should be developed with responsibilities clearly
set out. It may be advisable to initially test this approach in one or two
Use locally owned accommodation and service providers whenever possible
and ensure that pay and working conditions are fair.
Provide potential customers with clear and accurate information regarding
the extent of their support of the community and environment at tourist
Provide visitors with information, before and during the stay, on how to visit
in a responsible and sensitive way.
Consider making a charitable donation to community development, although
this should not be used merely as compensation for damage caused by
tours. In-kind contributions, such as carrying out an environmental clean-up,
are an alternative form of giving. Provide tourists with the option of making a
contribution to support local development or conservation work.
Operating a responsible tourism policy – Rainbow Tours, Madagascar
Rainbow Tours‟ policy is highlighted in its brochure and includes: i) promoting
less well-known destinations which would benefit from more tourism; ii)
supporting tourism businesses owned and operated by the previously
disadvantaged population; iii) using locally-owned accommodation; and iv)
seeking to ensure that service providers pay adequate wages, have good
employee relations and respond to the concerns of the wider community.
As the individual or organisation based within the destination, the local provider of
tourism services has a key role to play, in terms of the impact of their own
business, and their opportunity to influence the actions of visitors. Many will start
with very limited resources, and the temptation will be to look at the approach that
is cheapest in the short-term. While understandable, this approach is likely to
prove counter-productive, not only in terms of the environmental impact, but also
in terms of the satisfaction of visitors and long-term economic efficiency of the
business. The following principles provide a framework for a sustainable
If a new building is required, the location and design (including choice of
building materials) should minimise its environmental impact (in terms of site
clearance, disturbance of nature and appearance in the landscape).
The efficient use of resources such as energy and water should be
incorporated into the design, choice of equipment and fittings, and
Waste should be minimised through avoiding unnecessary packaging
coming into the area and also through re-use and recycling. Organic waste
should be composted if possible and remaining waste properly disposed
with particular care given to hazardous waste and sewage.
Local products (particularly food and drink, and handicrafts) and services
should be used, promoted and offered for sale whenever possible.
Local employees should be used whenever possible with training
programmes introduced if necessary to cover gaps in skills and experience.
Employers should ensure that employees receive fair pay and working
Those taking visitors into nature should minimise impacts in choice of trail
route and camping location, size of group and its activity, and management
of campsites. Particular attention should be given to taking litter away for
Service providers should cooperate on mutually beneficial projects – such
as joint marketing, exchanging information, organising training, lobbying –
and consider developing associations or networks to facilitate this.
Supporting the local community – Lisu Lodge, Thailand
The six bedroom Lisu Lodge seeks to be a responsible alternative to the
popular, but sometimes negative, visits to hill tribes in Thailand. Local
construction materials were used, food served to guests reflects the local
culture with ingredients in the village or bought at the local market, and picnics
wrapped in biodegradable banana leaves. Villagers are consulted on all
aspects on the lodge‟s operation and are trained and employed as guides as
well as in the lodge. A booklet on the local culture is given to all guests.
Support Bodies (Government, Akimats, Business Support and Tourist
Organisations, Development Organisations and NGOs, Funding Bodies)
Although not directly interacting with tourists, a wide range of organisations
influences the development of tourism. They create the financial, transport,
economic and legal framework in which tourism develops, and can be a positive
or negative influence. In order to provide support, the following issues need to be
Small scale, community-based ecotourism should be recognised as an
important tool in the economic regeneration of rural areas. It should be seen
as a valid alternative to large-scale tourism development, such as the
creation of tourism complexes (which tend to be owned by outside operators
and create minimal benefits for the local economy).
Support bodies should evaluate carefully their role in supporting tourism
development with an emphasis placed on facilitating, rather than dictating, it.
Suitable intervention may be offering small loans, providing grant funding for
establishing key infrastructure improvements and providing training.
External factors, such as the ease of entry, security within the country, and
the quality of the transport infrastructure for visitors to reach the destination,
will affect the success of communities developing ecotourism. Support
bodies should work together to address these issues, which are difficult for
communities and individual businesses to influence.
Legislation, particularly relating to taxation and licensing, should support the
establishment of small enterprises such as homestay providers.
Equipping Communities – The Community Destination Toolkit
To support communities and NGOs in the practical aspects of
developing community-based ecotourism, VSO is expecting to produce
a series of handbooks in 2004.
The handbooks will cover the process of deciding whether ecotourism is
right for the community, the practicalities of providing and promoting
tourism services (such as how to provide good homestay
accommodation and guided tours) and the management skills needed
(such as business planning and community participation), together
forming a complete „toolkit‟.
2.2.3 Involving the Visitor
Tourists clearly have a significant impact, positively or negatively, on the
communities and environments that they visit during their holiday. Influencing the
way they visit an area is therefore an essential element of developing ecotourism.
In order to influence visitors it is essential to understand their motivations. It
should never be forgotten that relaxation and enjoyment are the main reasons for
a tourist‟s visit. This enjoyment may be through the stimulation of finding out more
about wildlife or a different culture, but nonetheless many are coming for a break
from their normal routine and surroundings. However, tourists do not want their
trip to be at the expense of the places and people they are visiting. If they can
make some positive contribution then this will add to their feeling of satisfaction.
Tourists will, of course, be looking for information that tells them about the
destination – for example, the experiences and activities available, the
accommodation, means of getting there. The format and means of distributing the
information will vary according to whether the visitor is booking, preparing to visit,
or in the destination. Promotional brochures, websites and guidebooks all play a
key role prior to departure, although those travelling with a tour operator will
receive much of this information through them. Within destinations tourist
information centres, service providers, information boards and guides are all
important ways in which a visitor finds out information.
It is important to ensure that these various stages and forms of information
provision and promotion are used to communicate, not only information on how to
enjoy the destination, but also how the visitor can be a benefit rather than burden
to the place and residents.
Accuracy and clarity will be the two aspects of information that will be most
important to visitors. Even if, for example, prices vary during a season, they want
to have a clear idea of the range of prices. Language will clearly be another
important consideration if a significant proportion of visitors are foreign:
Information on facilities and experiences is clearly vital for a visitor but recent
research confirms that there is other information that they require.
The research conducted by Tearfund indicated that 63% of holidaymakers in the
UK wanted more information about the impact of their holiday on the people
and place. The information most in demand regarded how to dress and behave
appropriately, while a significant number also wanted information on ways to
support the local economy and meet local people. Slightly fewer wished to know
about how to minimise their environmental impact (although the number could be
expected to be higher if the responses came only from ecotourists).
As has been noted previously, many tourists also want information on how to
make some sort of donation to support the local area, or the opportunity to visit a
community near to an ecotourism area to learn about everyday life for residents
and the issues that they face. Many small-scale operators now incorporate the
opportunity for such a visit within their itinerary, but clearly its introduction and
format must be in agreement with the community rather than imposed.
Guides have a particular opportunity to incorporate a learning element into their
tours through providing interesting facts about the environment being visited. This
is likely to both increase the satisfaction of visitors and their understanding and
concern for the area. Demonstrations of craftmaking and production of local food
and drink products provide further opportunities to incorporate informative
experiences into visitors‟ enjoyment of an area in a positive way.
Likewise tourists may want to participate directly in protecting the areas that they
are visiting. The opportunity to carry out some conservation work may be
attractive either as a small element of an overall itinerary or the focus of the
Involving Tourists in Conservation
Turtles in Bali
Turtles are threatened with extinction in Bali due to eggs been taken from
beaches to be sold as a delicacy. In response a beachside hotel has set up a
programme providing guests the chance to help their protection.
Turtle eggs already on the market are bought by the hotel and returned to
safe sand pits on the beach where the young turtles are cared for until they
are old enough to be released into the ocean. Adult turtles being sold for
their shells are also bought by an intermediary for releasing back into the
In order to overcome the root of the problem - the demand for turtle products
- the hotel has also set up areas on the beach where tourists and local
children can have contact with the turtles and be told about the importance of
protecting them and what they can do to protect them. They are encouraged
to never buy turtle products and have the opportunity to make a small
donation to support the buy-back activity.
Tree Planting in Thailand
Guests at a Thai hotel are invited to participate in the hotel‟s tree planting
programme. For a small donation (less than $5) they can plant a tree with a
sign showing their name. A photo is taken of the guest planting the tree,
which they are sent on return home. Around 18,000 trees have now been
planted in four years and many guests return to see their tree.
A final aspect of information that visitors will be interested in is the tourism
provider‟s efforts to support the local environment and economy. By stating the
organisation‟s environmental or social policy there is an opportunity for
consumers to include these factors in their purchasing decisions.
An increasing proportion of consumers are including such factors in their
decision-making as has been seen in the growth in the sales of fairly traded
In communicating information to visitors regarding responsible behaviour there
are a number of principles to keep in mind:
Be Positive – Remember that visitors are on holiday and will be offended if
it is assumed that they are a threat to the environment. Rather than a list of
negative „do not‟ rules, a positive approach, presenting advice that helps
them to be a welcome guest, is likely to be more effective. Try to emphasise
the benefits to the visitor of following the advice e.g. rather than just saying
„do not visit in August‟ it could say „enjoy the peace and quiet of visiting the
area during spring or the autumn‟.
Keep it Short – Visitors are much more likely to behave correctly if the
guidance given is easy to remember. A short written code is one of the most
common methods to use.
Timing – Prepare visitors in advance by incorporating the key messages
into promotional literature. If there are certain locations or activities that have
restrictions because of environmental or social concerns, try to avoid visitors
arriving with expectations that cannot be met. Once visitors are in the
destination remind them of the relevant advice at the appropriate moments.
Examples would include the start of a tour, arrival at a campsite, or a
welcome meeting at a hotel.
Lead by example – Visitors are much more to act responsibly if they can
see that this is the approach of their hosts.
Express Gratitude – Thank visitors in advance for their support in following
the advice on how to be a responsible visitor. Invite suggestions for
Visitor Codes - Examples
Make the most of your holiday…
1 Find out about your destination – take some time before you go to read
about the cultural, social and political background of the place and people you
2 Go equipped with basic words and phrases in the local language – this
may open up opportunities for you to meet people who live there.
3 Buy locally-made goods and use locally-provided services wherever
possible – your support is often vital to local people.
4 Pay a fair price for the goods or services you buy – if you haggle for the
lowest price your bargain may be at someone else‟s expense.
5 Be sensitive to the local culture – dress and act in a way that respects
local beliefs and customs, particularly at religious sites.
6 Ask permission before taking photographs of individuals or of people’s
homes – and remember that you may be expected to pay for the privilege.
7 Avoid conspicuous displays of wealth – this can accentuate the gap
between rich and poor and distance you from the cultures you came to
8 Make no promises to local people that you can’t keep – be realistic about
what you will do when you return home.
9 Minimise your environmental impact – keep to footpaths and marked
routes, don‟t remove any of the natural habitat and reduce the packaging you
10 Slow down to enjoy the differences – you‟ll be back with the familiar soon
...and ensure that others can too
(Tearfund Code for Tourists – designed for visitors to any developing country)
1 Respect the fragility of wild nature. Watch the wild animals and birds at a
distance. Do not give food to wild animals.
2 Leave only signs of your steps in a track. Leave what you found. Take
with yourself only pictures in your films.
3 No ‘rock’ drawing and writing! Do not take historical and natural things for
4 Utilise the garbage correctly. Take your rubbish away with you and dispose
of it in a proper way.
5 Travel and make camp sites in special places. Good places for rest are
found, not made. Campsites should be kept small.
6 Minimise the influences of fires. Use a simple gas heater for making food
and candle for light. Use the ready fireplaces when fires are allowed. Make only
small fires and use only dead wood or dung. Burn until the end all dry woods
and ashes. Put out the fire and then throw away the ashes.
7 Respect other tourists. Be polite. Give the road to other tourists. Make the
camps and rest places far away from tracks and other tourists. Let there be
only the sounds of nature. Avoid noise pollution.
8 Do not buy goods made from parts of animals.
9 Walk by foot or use ecological vehicles if at all possible.
10 Plan in advance and be prepared. Know rules and special problems of the
place where you are going. Be ready for extreme weather changes and
dangerous situations. Travel with small groups. Avoid the periods of time when
there are too many tourists.
11 Provide the support for those companies who support environmental
preservation (hotels, airlines, cruises, resorts, tour operators): saving energy,
improving the quality of water and air, recycling garbage, safe management of
litter and toxic materials, decreasing background noise.
(Taken from the „Code of Practice for Ecotourism Development in Kazakhstan‟)
3. DEVELOPING ECOTOURISM IN KAZAKHSTAN
3.1 BACKGROUND TO TOURISM IN KAZAKHSTAN
Kazakhstan is still at a very early stage in its development as a tourism
destination. In 2000 the country received 24,000 foreign visitors – this compares
to 9.5 million tourist arrivals in Thailand. It is only in the last few years that the
potential of tourism as a significant contributor to the economy has started to be
recognised and taken seriously. In comparison to the majority of countries,
tourism is less established in Kazakhstan.
However, tourism is not new to Kazakhstan. During its time as part of the Soviet
Union, tourism activity took place with travel subsidised as part of citizens
„constitutional‟ right to relaxation. Trade Union organisations, responsible for
providing recreational opportunities for workers, were a significant player in
tourism‟s development with Kazakh trade unions directing US$15 million to
tourism‟s development in the country. Tourist organisations were exempted from
paying taxes and tourism developed in four distinct sectors:
1) Child tourism e.g. outdoor camps
2) Activity Tourism e.g. hiking, mountaineering
3) Health Tourism e.g. based on spas and sanatoriums
4) Cultural Tourism e.g. visits to national monuments and religious sites
Tourism from outside the USSR was extremely limited.
This background meant that when Kazakhstan became independent, its situation
was different to many other nations beginning to engage in global tourism. There
was already a pattern of domestic tourism and an infrastructure to serve it. This,
in itself, is generally a stronger starting position than becoming immediately
dependent on foreign visitors, as has been the case in many countries at a similar
stage of economic development.
However, the system under which this foundation of tourism had been
established disappeared as part of the break-up of the USSR. The introduction of
the free market meant the end of guaranteed business for the sanatoriums and
camps, and the new freedom meant customers could now choose whether or not
to accept the standards of tourist products. The restricted opportunities of
previous years had led to stagnation in tourism development, and without the
sources of previously guaranteed income, the tourism infrastructure - already
suffering from under-investment - was in a poor position to compete in the
domestic and international marketplace.
3.2 WHAT DOES KAZAKHSTAN HAVE TO OFFER?
Despite the difficulties facing tourism businesses, the actual tourism product
being offered domestically and internationally was, and remains, a strong one.
The vast size and ethnic diversity of Kazakhstan provide a significant advantage
in terms of the environmental and cultural variety.
There are some cultural destinations of note that would be of interest to
domestic and international visitors. Attractions that are significant on a Central
Asian scale include the mausoleum of Kozha Akhmed Yasaui in Turkestan,
Almaty‟s Zenkov Cathedral, Arasan Baths, and a number of significant museums,
parks and squares. Other cities hold some interest – Astana, for its many striking
new buildings and public areas, Semey, as the former home of Abay and
Dostoevsky, Petropavlovsk, for its old Russian architecture.
Of increasing importance, is the emergence of the Silk Road routes as a tourism
product, providing the opportunity for tours that link a number of destinations
(predominantly cultural, but often environmental as well). The potential of this
product was recognised in 1993 through the introduction of a major WTO project
based on collaboration between the governments of various nations along the
route, including Kazakhstan.
The growth of Kazakhstan‟s economy and foreign investment opportunities, as
well as the potential for oil production, has seen business tourism become a
significant sector. In terms of international visitors it is by far the most important
sector. 90% of visitors travelling to Kazakhstan come for business purposes.
Kazakhstan’s Ecotourism Opportunities
As a country dominated by vast unsettled areas, and a cultural past based on a
nomadic lifestyle, it is not surprising that it is the natural environment, and the
culture associated with living in this environment, which provides the main
(leisure) tourism opportunity in Kazakhstan.
In the south there is a concentration of natural attractions with the Tien Shan
mountain range providing the main focus. The range provides a fascinating
variety of flora and fauna, as well as a stunning mountain landscape incorporating
lakes, forests, waterfalls, glaciers, and gorges to be explored on foot and
horseback. The topography also provides opportunities for a range of sports
tourism such as downhill skiing/ snowboarding (at Chimbulak), mountaineering,
climbing and paragliding. The Tien Shan Mountains are within easy reach of
visitors both from Almaty and from villages such as Zhabagly, further west in the
South Kazakhstan Oblast.
The south has the further advantage of contrasting natural features in close
proximity to the mountain environment. The Charyn Canyon, east of Almaty,
provides dramatic scenery that contrasts sharply with the steppe landscape, as
do the „Singing Sands‟, a little further east in the Altyn-Emel National Park.
The east of Kazakhstan sees a continuation of the mountain landscapes. The
Altai range (which is shared with Mongolia, Russia and China) has started to
become established as a destination area, with particular opportunities for
activities such as rafting, as well as trekking and mountaineering. Further south,
close to the Chinese border, Lake Alakol includes an uninhabited „Bird Island‟
(Ptichiye Ostrov) that is home to a large variety of birds including flamingos.
Nearby the varied mountain scenery, flora and fauna of the Dzhungar Alatau
range can be explored from Lepsinsk, which, while less known than the Altai or
Tien Shan ranges, provides an equally beautiful landscape.
In the west of Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea provides a further natural attraction,
with a range of wildlife of interest, but increasingly seen as a lower priority than
the extraction of natural resources and harvesting of caviar. Nonetheless, with
sufficient protection, the flamingos, seals and cranes could provide a focus for
North and Central Kazakhstan is dominated by the vast open steppe, Sary-
Arka, and appears to offer less in the way of natural attractions. However, within
this area are some of Kazakhstan‟s best natural sites.
The Kokshetau National Park, 200km north of Astana, takes in one of the
country‟s most popular destinations, Baravoye. In this area of lakes, forests and
mountains, known as „Little Switzerland‟, the main pursuits are sunbathing and
swimming, along with hiking and horse riding during summer, and skiing and ice-
skating during winter.
Closer to the new capital, but with a much lower profile, is the wetland area that
makes up the Korgalzhyn National State Reserve. Nominated as a World
Heritage Site, the main attraction is the huge variety of birdlife, which feeds and
rests on this intersection of two major migration routes. Most prominent among
the species that the area plays host to is the flamingo, over 30,000 of which can
be found in the bird‟s most northerly habitat in the world.
Between Pavlodar and Astana, Bayanaul National Park is an area of mountains
and lakes surrounded by steppe, and the home to a range of wildlife, although not
the variety found in the Korgalzhyn reserve. An upland area with a similar
landscape is the Burgily range, around 130km south of Karaganda, while a
similar distance east of the city is the Karkaralinsk National Park, a mountain area
with dramatic granite shapes. Lake Balkash, one of the largest lakes in the world,
provides another distinctive natural feature for Kazakhstan – it is half saltwater,
In addition to these natural sites, there is much about the traditional lifestyles in
this environment that would be of interest to visitors and is not site-specific. Yurta,
the traditional nomadic homes, are a unique feature of this part of the world, and
provide the opportunity to be the focus for the distinctive experience visitors
Traditional Kazakh dishes and drinks can provide a further distinctive experience
for visitors, although cultural sensitivities relating to the types of meat used and
parts of an animal served must be taken into account. In addition to these
features there are the sports, music, dance and decorations which made up life in
the past and now offer potential for entertainment through demonstrations and
festivals, and in relation to locally-made souvenirs for sale.
A further aspect common to many areas are the opportunities they provide for
fishing and hunting. If carefully managed, these activities can be compatible
with environmental protection while providing a significant income to be used for
However, many would question whether hunting, in particular, can be considered
a form of ecotourism as it involves the killing of wildlife, and often the controls on
hunting are not enforced properly, resulting in endangered species being killed.
Many species that used to be common have become endangered as a result of
excessive or reckless hunting and it is understandable that there is opposition to
it being seen as a compatible form of tourism in natural areas. However, if
hunting is to be permitted there must be the resources to ensure that it is properly
conducted with some of the profits being used for environmental protection.
Domestic, Inbound and Outbound Tourism
In the „Programme Of Tourism Development 2003-2005‟ the Agency of
Tourism & Sport reports that between 1996 and 2000 there was a net
outflow of tourists. 45% of tourists were those leaving the country, 16%
tourists entering the country and 38% were domestic tourists.
With the restrictions on outbound travel recently being relaxed and incomes
in Kazakhstan rising there is a danger that increasing numbers of residents
will be attracted to spend their holidays out of the country. Given that
domestic tourism, although less profitable, is also much less fickle than
inbound tourism, this should be addressed as a priority.
3.3 CURRENT UTILISATION OF KAZAKHSTAN‟S ECOTOURISM
As has been noted, the existence of tourism during the Soviet era means that
there has already been some utilisation of Kazakhstan‟s ecotourism product.
However, the extent and manner in which this has taken place has varied from
location to location.
In general, those sites that are in close proximity to urban centres have
become established as destinations. The protected areas around Almaty are
therefore well-known and well-visited, bringing income for tourism providers, but
also problems in terms of a pattern of environmental damage (particularly litter
and graffiti) the impact of which is magnified due to cuts in the budgets of those
responsible for managing protected areas post-USSR.
Some of these natural areas now have quite a substantial amount of built-up
development such as Baravoye, with its numerous sanatoriums. Some of this
development not only provides a visual intrusion, but can also cause pollution
(e.g. through pumping waste directly into lakes) and restricted access (due to the
creation of private beaches for example).
The pattern of accommodation used in natural areas has tended to focus on
either the large-scale sanatoriums or basic campsites. Neither of these forms of
accommodation is particularly well-suited to maximising potential economic
benefits for the local economy. The sanatoriums may employ a significant
number of local people but visitors tend to stay within the complex reducing the
circulation of money into other parts of the economy, and ownership of the
sanatorium is usually from outside the area, resulting in most goods and services
being imported and profits leaving the area.
In contrast, campsites are more likely to be locally owned, and may provide more
options for tourists to use other services, but much of the food and drink may be
purchased by visitors before setting off from home. Unlike many other countries,
small-scale guest accommodation (e.g. guesthouses or homestay
accommodation) has yet to become established, although some tour companies
are starting to organise and construct such facilities to serve their groups.
While some sites are already well-utilised, other destinations receive relatively
few visitors. Most of these are in locations that are long distances from the main
cities, disadvantaged further by the poor condition of the road infrastructure and
limited rail network. Other places that are relatively close to urban centres may
still receive few visitors due to the absence of tourist facilities, lack of awareness
among potential tourists, entry restrictions (such as in border areas) or a greater
interest being taken in extracting natural resources (e.g. the Caspian Sea).
At a national level there are a number of other constraints and threats to the
growth of ecotourism, particularly in terms of attracting foreign visitors.
An initial threat to ecotourism is the continued lack of understanding of the
principles of ecotourism. This may be due to ignorance, or a more conscious
neglect of environmental and social responsibilities, but the result is that what is
advertised as ecotourism often represents a trip into nature with little or no
consideration given to the consequences. This approach threatens to destroy the
environmental assets on which ecotourism is based, as well as alienating „host‟
While Kazakhstan‟s size is an advantage in terms of providing a wide variety of
environments, this has the disadvantage of significant travel distances and
times between areas of interest. Most foreign visitors only have a week or two for
their main holiday which means that they do not want to spend days travelling
between destinations. The poor condition of the transport infrastructure generally
means that to see a variety of sites requires either spending much time travelling
(often in limited comfort) or the expense of internal flights.
It is not surprising that as a consequence of this situation Almaty Oblast has
become the focus for most visits by foreign tourists, as it is able to offer a variety
of destinations relatively close to each other, and is also the point of arrival for the
vast majority of international flights.
Another significant challenge for Kazakhstan relates to awareness and image.
There is generally a low level of awareness of Kazakhstan in many of the major
tourist-generating countries, and among people who do know about it there is
often an inaccurate and negative image. The environment is seen as one solely
of barren steppe and desert, the weather continually cold, and its location within
Central Asia now causes some security concerns. The „-stan‟ suffix seems to be
a cause of these associations in the West and extensive work will be needed to
overcome these perceptions.
Even if a tourist is potentially interested in visiting Kazakhstan the entry
requirements make it a less attractive destination than it could be. The
requirement for a visa is not found in many of Kazakhstan‟s competitors, but
perhaps more significant is the additional administration involved with invitation
letters for visas and then registration while in the country.
Although tourist organisations can be paid to take care of these arrangements
they add extra expense and inconvenience that is not present in most tourist
destinations. This is particularly off-putting for visitors arriving independently. The
need to re-register after 72 hours in each location, and the inability to buy a train
ticket prior to registration add further to the restrictions.
3.4 KEY DEVELOPMENTS FOR ECOTOURISM IN KAZAKHSTAN
Although tourism, and ecotourism in particular, remain relatively new
developments in Kazakhstan, recent years have seen a growth in interest. This
has generated a number of initiatives and strategies significant to the future
development of the sector.
3.4.1 Government strategy
As the national government‟s main mechanism for engagement in tourism
development, the Agency of Tourism and Sport has a significant role to play in
ecotourism‟s development. The strategic document that currently guides its work
is the “Programme of Tourism Development for 2003-2005”.
This Programme aims “to create an up-to-date, effective and integrated tourism
network that meets the needs of local and foreign citizens…”. The objectives
focus on improvements in legislation, training, tourism infrastructure, promotion,
investment and business creation as the keys to achieving this aim. The
Programme recognises the country‟s nature and landscape as one of the tourism
industry‟s main resources, but focuses primarily on the work of tour operators and
hotels rather than small-scale tourism development. The action plan does,
however, include a section covering “development and conservation of cultural,
historical and recreational zones” that emphasises the environment as a product
and the need to protect its qualities.
The Agency has also worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources and
Environment, to produce an Ecotourism Development Programme to coincide
with the International Year of Ecotourism. The programme sets out the growing
interest in ecotourism highlighted by the WTO and its relevance to Kazakhstan‟s
extensive natural areas, particularly its protected areas. The Programme‟s main
aim is “to develop new approaches to nature conservation” and it recognises the
potential for ecotourism to have environmental, economic and social benefits.
The programme documents the work of tour operators, acknowledging both the
products offered and the need for improvements, particularly regarding the quality
of tours, staff training (especially guides and instructors) and promotion. It
recognises that some destinations may receive too many visitors, which could
undermine the tourism experience and recommends that an inventory is made of
The programme for action is focussed on four areas of activity:
1) Creating an appealing image for Kazakhstan – Emphasising participation in
major travel exhibitions, production of promotional literature, carrying out
market research and to using local airlines to distribute publicity.
2) Promoting inbound tourism – Recommending easing entry requirements,
increasing the provision of affordable accommodation, dispersing tourism to
new destinations, reducing the tax burden for tour operators and reducing
negative impacts on the environment.
3) Establishing an infrastructure for tourism – It recognises that ecotourism
does not require large-scale development but believes that car parking,
hotels, camps, catering facilities and shops are needed to make the product
more appealing. It encourages private investors to fund such developments,
but emphasises that they should not cause environmental damage, and that
tourism activity within National State Reserves should be limited.
4) Developing economic and legal frameworks for ecotourism development -
This highlights ecotourism‟s potential for generating income, and the need
for a clear framework of responsibilities for tour operators and environmental
managers, specifically highlighting the need for tour operators to conduct
objective environmental audits of their operations.
The indicators of success are stated as:
Number of regional programmes for ecotourism promotion developed;
Number of building projects completed;
Number of new tourist routes established;
Number of promotional materials published;
Number of activities related to ecotourism development carried out;
Number of tourists serviced.
The document states that the programme‟s main outcome will be an increase in
tour operators investing in improved infrastructure, leading to an increasing
number of visitors and their expenditure.
3.4.2 National Ecotourism Initiative
In March 2003 a partnership between The Eurasia Foundation, VSO Kazakhstan
OSCE, Shell Kazakhstan and Friedrich Ebert Foundation funded the first initiative
of its kind in Kazakhstan. This initiative aims to develop ecotourism “as a means
to generate income in remote communities, preserve the environment, and
promote environmental education”. It recognises the potential for ecotourism to
provide income for remote communities, as demonstrated in neighbouring
Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, but also acknowledges the problems of NGOs lacking
the business experience to realise this potential.
The initiative has three main phases; market research, training and pilot projects.
The market research (described below) was designed to provide the first specific
assessment of the market conditions for ecotourism in Kazakhstan, as well as
informing the applications made by pilot projects. A training seminar was held in
April 2003 to provide selected NGOs with basic skills for developing a tourism
project. This was followed by an invitation for funding proposals.
Four pilot projects were selected to receive around $10,000 each for equipment
and administrative costs associated with developing ecotourism in their locations:
TEK, in Ust-Kamenogorsk
Wild Nature, in Aksu-Zhabagly, Southern Kazakhstan Oblast
Uigentas Agro, in Lepsinsk, Almaty Oblast
Bars, in Ridder, East Kazakhstan Oblast
The pilot projects reported on their first season at a round table in December
2003. The pilot programme finishes in the summer of 2004, with the production of
a tourist brochure and a conference to evaluate the lessons learnt from the
initiative. These lessons will then be disseminated to the government, tourism
industry and NGOs to assist the future development of community-based
3.4.3 Ecotourism Research
A key component of the Kazakhstan Ecotourism Initiative was the need to
address the absence of reliable information regarding market demand for
ecotourism. Consequently, two surveys were carried out – one of potential
tourists, and one of tour operators.
The survey of potential tourists, focussed on affluent Kazakhstan citizens and
foreigners living in Kazakhstan (expatriates). Samples were taken in all of
Kazakhstan‟s major cities, with the largest samples in Almaty and Astana. These
groups were considered most relevant as they have an income and mobility to
enable them to participate in ecotourism. This research aimed to:
Assess which areas offer most potential to pilot the community-based
Assess the demand for this type of tourism in Kazakhstan
Given that ecotourism is a term that is unclear for many, the interviews of the
survey instead referred to holidays where time was spent “outdoors enjoying
and/or discovering the nature and wildlife…perhaps but not necessarily with the
help of local people”.
Who is Likely to be Interested in Ecotourism Holidays? – Main findings
The groups of people surveyed had a strong interest in these types of holidays.
85% stated that they were likely to go on „outdoor holidays‟, with over half
„extremely‟ or „very‟ likely. The interest increases among those who are already
regular holidaymakers, of whom a significant proportion are „English speaking
expatriates‟ and government workers.
Three priority market segments can be identified:
o Unadventurous Urbans – drawn to sanatoriums, tend to travel as a family,
consider it dangerous to camp without a guide
o Cultured Managers – expatriates and government workers who are happy
to pay for a guide (and are high spending in general), and interested to try
o Young/ Budget – Prefer alternatives to the sanatoriums (particularly
camping), generally low spenders
The main attractions of these type of holidays are:
o Seeing nature
o Health benefits
o Enjoyment of being outdoors (the latter two factors are of particular
importance to families)
There is strong support for the need to preserve natural areas and rare
species, particularly among senior government officials, and there are strong
connections for many between the outdoors and Kazakh culture and they
are keen to learn more about traditional customs as part of the holiday
Awareness & Interest in Destinations– Main Findings
Awareness of specific protected areas is generally low. A third of
respondents were unable to name one. Those with greatest awareness
o Government workers
o those that had a significant amount of time available for holidays; and
o Kazakhstani nationals. (Expatriates generally have a low awareness.)
o Respondents in Shymkent and Karaganda were particularly aware and
active in taking outdoor holidays (those in Astana were also relatively
The best-known protected area is Baravoye (60% mentioned it), followed by
Iysk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. Some areas, such as the Caspian, Altai,
Karkaralinsk and Aksu-Zhabagly, have a high level of awareness locally but
not further afield, while others, such as Bayanaul, and Korgalzhyn, were not
recalled immediately but were well-known once respondents were reminded
of their existence.
Other than Baravoye, destinations close to Almaty (Iysk-Kul, Kapshaghay,
Chimbulak, Balkash, Charyn Canyon) are currently the most visited.
Preferences in Where to Go and What to Do – Main Findings
Respondents were most likely to choose a location within their own oblast
for their holiday, although those in Astana were more likely to travel further
3 to 5 hours is the usual length of time that people are prepared to travel to
their destination, but over 1/2 of respondents were prepared to travel more
than 6 hours. Most travel by private car.
Around half of respondents would expect to spend up to $250 during the
course of a week‟s holiday (all-inclusive). However, nearly 40% would spend
$251-$500. A large proportion of respondents do not buy any products/
souvenirs, although a significant number would be interested in buying local
crafts, honey and woodcarvings.
Swimming, picnicking, and walking are generally the most popular activities.
Although few go horseriding at present, a significant number would be
interested in doing so. There is a recognised need for using guides to enjoy
an area, but there is some distrust of using local guides.
Most respondents take their own food or are catered for by their
accommodation, although there is an interest in eating out.
Most travel in groups (families or friends) and therefore look for options with
sufficient accommodation capacity. Nearly all trips are in the summer. There
is a fairly even split between those using hotels/guesthouses, sanatoriums,
renting accommodation and camping. Around 7% use homestay
accommodation (those likely to use a guide were also particularly likely to
However, there is generally low level of satisfaction with the accommodation
used. Visitors consider it extremely important that the accommodation is
supporting the environment, offers a high quality of food, has shower and
toilet facilities, and is clean.
Overall Conclusions of the Consumer Research
There is a high level of interest in relaxing in natural areas among wealthier,
urban Kazakhstanis and expatriates. This group is sensitive to
More senior government workers are a prime target group because:
o They have many days of holiday available
o They are aware of protected areas
o They are sensitive to environmental issues
To increase the number of visits that this target group makes, there is a
need to remind them of the existence of the protected areas.
Almaty region offers most potential for visits – this has the highest
„conversion rate‟ between awareness and visits. Shimkent and Karaganda
are good targets as markets for potential visitors as they are the most
knowledgeable and make the highest volume of visits.
Potential visitors could be targeted in other oblasts (beyond 6 hours travel
Affluent „urbans‟ are also a good potential market for ecotourism:
o They associate rural Kazakhstan with authentic Kazakh culture
o They recognise the value of local people to help discover unknown areas
o They are prepared to invest in horse riding, buying local crafts and
produce and eating out – providing a significant potential income for the
However, they need to be reassured about the ability of local guides.
Their limited satisfaction with hotels/sanatoriums makes them open to
o That respect the environment
o That provide high quality food
o That are suitable for families and groups
The Tour Operator Perspective
In addition to the consumer research a number of interviews were conducted with
tour operators (2 international and 3 local).
The interviews aimed to evaluate the potential for community-based ecotourism
in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan relative to other forms of tourism and the level of
interest among different tourist groups. The interviews also tried to assess the
current size of the market, the key players and main destinations.
The main findings were:
Confusion over an understanding of ecotourism – most recognise it as
tourism based in the natural environment, but there is not an immediate
association with environmental protection and community participation.
Mixed views over demand and potential growth – but most are looking to
become more involved in the sector as they recognise that the environment
is Kazakhstan‟s main tourism product
Improvements are needed to realise the potential – specifically a relaxation
of entry requirements, better-protected areas with consistent entry fees and
improvements to the tourism infrastructure.
Local partners need to be knowledgeable and show initiative, and
accommodation must be clean, provide good cooking, and demonstrate
attention to detail.
Use of local guides is constrained by a lack of training – tour companies
need a guide who has not only an excellent knowledge of the area, but also
basic foreign language, first aid skills, and a good understanding of
customer care skills.
There is considered to be little demand for homestay accommodation –
guesthouses and camping are considered the most popular options with
Commitment to environmental protection by tour companies is generally
unorganised. It is primarily seen as the responsibility of those managing the
destination (such as national park authorities) and tourists (who are
generally assumed to understand what actions are inappropriate). The main
proactive action seems to be the provision of bags for litter. There is
recognition of the benefits and problems of introducing environmental
Foreigners remain the main target for the companies. There are mixed
views of the level of interest amongst locals – some see lack of information
as the main constraint, others highlight the cost and a preference for other
types of holiday.
Almaty oblast is thought to offer the greatest attraction in terms of
3.4.4 The Ecotourism Code of Practice
One of the main outcomes of the International Conference on Ecotourism held in
Astana in September 2002 was the formation of a working group to form a „Code
of Practice‟ for all future ecotourism development within Kazakhstan.
Rather than create a definition of ecotourism, criteria were agreed that should be
met by any organisation wishing to describe their product as „ecotourism‟:
1. It should help preserve and conserve nature. This can be done in a number
of ways, such as actively investing in clean up campaigns or simply by
donating 10% of all profits to a National Park where it takes an ecotour.
2. It should create jobs, and thereby added income, for local communities. This
means employing local people as guides, hiring equipment locally etc as
well as „community based‟ small businesses such as cafes and homestays.
3. Increase knowledge and awareness of local culture. This can be achieved in
a number of ways also, ranging from hosting traditional cultural shows
and/or by the manufacture (locally of course) and sale of traditional crafts.
Traditional foods and drink should also be made available to tourists.
4. Aim to educate the tourist. Education/visitor centres are a possibility, but
however it is achieved, the tourist should be informed of exactly what they
5. Anything that brings damage to the environment and/or biodiversity cannot
be considered ecotourism.
The code also outlines the responsibilities of the various stakeholders. Tourist
responsibilities cover issues such as avoiding environmental damage, awareness
of local culture, supporting the local economy and following guide instructions.
Tourist company responsibilities include co-operating with communities,
operating in a way that minimises environmental impacts, and instructing visitors.
In terms of NGO/ local population responsibilities the focus is on inclusive
participation, information sharing, and treating tourists with respect. Government
agencies are encouraged to ensure legislation supports the sustainable
development of tourism, reduce bureaucracy, and support the development of
small tourism enterprises. (A full version is shown in Appendix 2).
A specific section in the code looks at ecotourism in protected areas. This
focuses on the issues of entrance fees, use of tourism income, monitoring to
ensure environmental protection, hunting, and involvement with communities and
tourism companies. It encourages the introduction of three-level zoning as a tool
for managing tourism:
1. No go zones – where only scientific surveys and park staff can enter
2. Buffer zones – where visitors with guides may be taken, but no tourism
developments should take place
3. Open zones – where sensitive, small-scale tourism development may take
place and a wider range of activities permitted.
4. CONCLUSION - A VISION FOR ECOTOURISM IN KAZAKHSTAN
Kazakhstan stands at a key moment in its development of ecotourism.
At a global level, tourism continues to grow, even if punctuated by increasingly
frequent crisis events. These events, while not significantly reducing the volume
of tourism, can rapidly change the choice of destinations, timing and the way in
which bookings are made. Ecotourism has now become an established sector
within tourism, and this was recognised by the International Year of Ecotourism in
Ecotourism remains a small sector within tourism overall, but it is growing and
can offer benefits that other forms of tourism cannot provide, such as economic
opportunities for remote communities and a motivation and source of revenue for
environmental protection. However, experience has shown that ecotourism, when
not managed properly, also has the potential to cause problems. It can damage
the very environment that visitors come to see. Economic benefits may be
restricted to tourism businesses based outside the destination area and can
disrupt the balance of the local economy. The local community can find that
tourism is an intrusion on their way of life, introducing unwanted changes.
Many of these problems stem from a failure to sufficiently involve local
communities and stakeholders. It is not surprising that discussions at the World
Ecotourism Summit called for greater involvement of the communities receiving
visitors in terms of decision-making and service provision.
In Kazakhstan, tourism‟s potential is starting to be taken seriously, shown by its
membership of the WTO, involvement in the Silk Road Project and the
emergence of tour operators. However, it remains at a very early stage in the
global tourism market. The growing income of Kazakhstan‟s residents offers
potential for domestic, as well as inbound, tourism but this income currently
appears to be predominately boosting outbound travel.
Ecotourism is recognised as the sector offering the greatest potential in
Kazakhstan (in terms of non-business related tourism). The country is
characterised by vast areas of nature with the country‟s size providing a wide
variety of environments for visitors to enjoy. The traditional nomadic heritage
provides a cultural legacy that adds an extra dimension to the product offered.
In addition to this strong product, the areas of greatest beauty are frequently
those most in need of economic regeneration. Real income per capita in urban
areas averaged 8,627T compared to 4,594T in rural areas during 2001. The UN‟s
Human Development Index places Kazakhstan‟s urban areas equal to the 50th
country in the world rankings while its rural HDI is equivalent to only 96 th in the
world. Rural economic decline is leading to, and being reinforced, by
depopulation. The Years of the Village (2003-2005) may lead to some short-term
improvements, but the promotion of sustainable livelihoods, such as through
tourism, provide the only long-term solution.
Ecotourism‟s potential is clearly demonstrated by tour operators offering package
tours (primarily within the Almaty Oblast), an international ecotourism conference
and national ecotourism programme in 2002, and most recently the Kazakhstan
Ecotourism Initiative and Code of Practice. Market research carried out as part of
the Ecotourism Initiative shows that tour operators may be under-estimating the
interest in community-based ecotourism shown by Kazakhstan residents and
Despite the potential for ecotourism to deliver significant benefits and avoid the
mistakes made elsewhere, initial signs are mixed. Some natural areas, such as
Baravoye and Charyn Canyon, already experience environmental damage as a
result of inadequate management of tourism. Much of current ecotourism activity
has little connection with the local communities whether in terms of local decision-
making, or income generation.
The government‟s programme for ecotourism includes many positive proposals
and recognises the importance of environmental protection. However, it continues
to see ecotourism development primarily in terms of constructing new
infrastructure, increasing promotion, strengthening tour operators and, ultimately,
increasing the number of visitors and income for the economy.
All of these are reasonable aims, but they leave the communities most in need of
ecotourism without the opportunity to participate. This failure to involve
communities not only neglects the socio-economic opportunities, but could
weaken the product offered to visitors. WTO research shows that ecotourists are
keen to meet communities and experience local culture as well as explore nature.
The Benefits of Cooperation and Collaboration – Kyrgyzstan
A ten-year community tourism project supported by Swiss NGO, Helvetas, has
shown the potential for this form of tourism in Central Asia. Their support -
training to develop skills in delivering and managing tourism services (including
project management and business planning as well as customer care), along with
developing partnerships with tour operators, and organising local and national
networks of community tourism - has gradually moved the communities to a point
where they can become sustainable and operate without support. A national
association for community-based tourism has recently been established to
coordinate the work, continue to provide training, operate a tourist information
centre in Bishkek (the main place of arrival for tourists where the main airport is
located), and to act as a marketing and advocacy body.
Although communities are becoming increasingly capable of managing tourism
on their own they continue to recognise the benefits of cooperation. This is seen
in the partnerships with sympathetic tour operators, service providers giving 15%
of their income to a collective fund, agreeing to work to national minimum quality
standards, and the participation in exchange visits between communities to learn
from each other.
Kazakhstan will have to work hard to fulfil its potential in ecotourism as there are
already many countries well established in the global market, and there are many
alternative destinations to attract residents to go abroad for their holidays.
The following list outlines the key areas that need to be addressed if community-
based ecotourism in Kazakhstan is to fulfil its potential:
Greater involvement of local stakeholders - This is fundamental for
ecotourism to fulfil its potential in improving the quality of life for communities and
to ensure an attractive product for visitors. Communities are increasingly
interested in ecotourism but are often excluded from decision-making and do not
possess the information, resources and experience necessary to involve
It is vital to encourage those developing ecotourism to consult and involve
communities. There is also a need to support communities interested in
developing ecotourism. This would include facilitating decisions on whether
conditions are right for ecotourism to develop (considering community support,
environmental capacity and market feasibility) and the ways in which
communities wish to become involved. Support should then be offered to create a
high quality, sustainable product. This support would need to cover both the skills
of providing tourism services and project management.
Improved promotion – At a strategic level there is a need to increase
awareness of Kazakhstan and promote a positive image of a country worth
visiting. Ecotourism should be one of the main products promoted, and the
domestic and expatriate market should be given as much attention as inbound
visitors. Full use should be made of information technology.
Resources for communities to reach their markets are often inadequate and
therefore partnerships should be developed with those tour operators in
agreement with the principles of community involvement and environmental
protection. Communities should consider collaborating on joint marketing
projects. Specific opportunities exist for a central website and a tourist information
centre and this could lead to the creation of a national network or association for
community-based ecotourism (as has been successful in Kyrgyzstan).
Administrative barriers to be reduced – If Kazakhstan is to become
established in a highly competitive ecotourism marketplace, entry requirements
for tourists need to be simplified. Most countries promoting ecotourism have
minimal visa requirements and as a new entrant to the market Kazakhstan cannot
afford such barriers to entry. Registration after arrival should be abandoned or
greatly simplified as this is a particularly off-putting for the independent tourists
that are a key segment in the ecotourism market. Even in countries with strict visa
requirements, in-country registration is not usual practice and it is difficult to see
the purpose of such a procedure.
Administrative barriers for small enterprises, such as licensing and taxation,
should be reduced to encourage entrepreneurial activity. Information regarding
regulations should be accessible, understandable and enforced in a fair and
Improved management of tourism and the environment – The Code of
Practice (see Appendix 2) now provides the framework for a positive relationship
between tourism and the environment. Support for the Code now needs to be put
into practice with a mechanism developed that allows independent monitoring of
the Code‟s implementation. This could take the form of accreditation.
Service providers should ensure that visitors are informed about responsible
behaviour while visiting, and tour operators and communities should lead by
example. Managers of protected areas should provide suitable opportunities for
ecotourism to develop (including clear and fair entry prices) while having the
opportunity to use tourism revenue specifically for environmental management.
Tourists should be provided with well-trained local guides who can describe the
local environment as well as show the appropriate route.
Improved transport infrastructure – The country‟s size creates significant travel
distances and this places Kazakhstan at a disadvantage compared to many other
ecotourism destinations. Investments should be made in the transport
infrastructure to enable comfortable, affordable travel with reduced travel times.
* * *
Ecotourism that takes seriously its community and environmental responsibilities
is best for all concerned. For the tourist industry it provides a competitive
advantage and protection of key assets. For the visitor it provides a more
satisfying and distinctive experience. For the community it can provide a new and
much needed source of income and revitalise the local culture. For the
environment, it can provide new resources and incentives for its protection. What
it requires is support and co-operation from all those involved.
Appendix 1- Quebec Declaration on Ecotourism
The focus of the International Year of Ecotourism (2002) was a World Ecotourism
Summit organised by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and United Nations
Environmental Programme (UNEP). The Summit was preceded by 18
preparatory meetings held around the world involving over 3,000 representatives
from governments, tourism businesses, trade associations, NGOs, academic
institutions, intergovernmental organisations and communities.
The discussions in these meetings, and those that took place during the Summit
(see www.world-tourism.org/ruso/declarations/dec_quebec.htm for a summary in
Russian), helped to formulate a Declaration that includes 49 recommendations
addressing all of the key players.
A particular emphasis of the Declaration, and the discussions during the Summit,
was the importance of involving local people in tourism development. Like the
WTO, the Declaration avoids a simple definition of ecotourism but specifies the
characteristics that distinguish it from the wider concept of sustainable tourism.
The Declaration states that true ecotourism:
Contributes actively to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage
Includes local and indigenous communities in its planning, development and
operation, and contributing to their well-being
Interprets the natural and cultural heritage of the destination to visitors
Lends itself better to independent travellers, as well as to organised tours for
small size groups.
Appendix 2 - Code of Practice for Ecotourism Development in
Kazakhstan: Responsibilities of Stakeholders
Avoid actions, which might damage the nature, culture, moral codes or
important natural and cultural sites of the country.
If you a foreign tourist make an effort to find out about the country, its
culture and nature in advance, so that you understand and appreciate it
Respect the culture, traditions and laws and wildlife of the country.
Try to understand, and respect, accept and enjoy local conditions, even if
they are very different to your own.
Show respect to those involved in service industries relating to tourism.
Check that your tourism organisation follows guidelines, which support local
communities, nature/social organisations and administrations and does not
damage the environment.
If with a guide, follow his instructions at all times. If an independent tourist,
do nothing, which will cause damage to the environment or the biodiversity
of the area. This includes writing graffiti on rocks, trees, buildings etc.
Tourism Companies‟ Responsibilities
Avoid any actions, by any part of the company, which might damage the
nature, culture, moral code or important natural and cultural sites of the
Promote the interests of the country, showing responsibility towards the
local people, nature and culture.
Co-operate with local communities, local administrations, NGOs and other
Try to ensure that some financial returns from tourism reach environmental
protection and the local community.
Be efficient in your use of natural resources (e.g. water, waste and energy).
Instruct tourists about their responsibilities with regard to local culture and
the environment, and ensure that they follow the relevant guidelines.
Involve the general public and promote stakeholder participation in tourism
Publicly state your commitments to sustainable tourism, local communities,
environmental conservation to tourists and the general public.
NGOs and Local Populations‟ Responsibilities
Ensure the participation of local populations in tourism development and
Ensure that information about tourism enterprises is widely disseminated to
the communities affected by tourism.
Work with tourism companies, national agencies and mass media to
promote sustainable tourism.
Disseminate guidelines and information about sustainable tourism to both
tourists and the local populations.
Ensure that local populations (including different ethnic groups) are
protected from any negative impacts of tourism.
Ensure that local populations recognise the benefits of sustainable tourism
and show respect to tourists and their rights, whatever their background.
Government Agencies‟ Responsibilities
Promote sustainable tourism within government policy at both national and
Ensure that measures promoting sustainable tourism are incorporated in all
Sign up to international treaties and conventions, which relate to the
development of a sustainable tourism industry, taking into account national
Develop institutions and infrastructure that will support the sustainability of
tourism in the country.
Promote small local business development in the area of tourism, including
related service industries and production of handicrafts.
Enforce the legal framework to open small enterprises with an attractive tax
system and without overcomplicated bureaucratic systems.
Promote the rights of tourists and the quality of the experience they receive,
including the development of appropriate access and visa systems, and
means to address the safety of tourists.
Do away with the registration of foreign tourists. This does nothing for the
tourist experience within a country, and causes nothing but ill feeling and a
sense of waste of time for the tourist.
Collate and disseminate information on sustainable tourism, and on
recommendations for improving the sustainability of tourism.
Appendix 3 - Sources of Further Information
World Tourism Organisation – www.world-tourism.org
The international body for tourism. Their website is available with a Russian
translation and is a good source of current news, initiatives and publications.
Tourism Concern – www.tourismconcern.org.uk
A UK-based membership organisation that campaigns for ethical and fairly traded
tourism. The website provides campaign materials and sample articles from the
membership magazine „In Focus‟.
The International Ecotourism Society - www.ecotourism.org
The principal body for ecotourism, based in the USA. Their website provides
contacts, links to other ecotourism websites and the latest research.
World Wildlife Fund for Nature – www.wwf.org.uk/researcher/issues/tourism
WWF have produced some important research and guidance on tourism and the
environment which can be downloaded free of charge from their website.
“Guidelines for community-based ecotourism development‟ is particularly useful.
Tearfund - www.tearfund.org (go to „Campaigning‟, then „Policy and Research‟)
A development organisation, that made tourism one of their priorities for action
between 1998 and 2003. Although they are now less actively involved most of the
research and information developed is still available from their website.
Pro-Poor Tourism Partnership - www.propoortourism.org.uk
An organisation focusing on tourism‟s potential to address poverty. Includes
useful research that can be downloaded free of charge.
Websites that list useful ecotourism websites: