The tourism industry is rapidly becoming one of the fastest growing and successful industries, with revenue of recorded 693 million international tourist arrivals in 2001, reported by World Tourism Organization (WTO), nevertheless its definition cannot be agreed on. Youell (1998; pg.9) presents a definition given by WTO in 1993 defining tourism as “activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure and other purposes.” During the nineteen century, there was a surge of mass tourism due to the advancement of all types of transportation as well as the development of seaside resorts. Society had greater income and more time for leisure (Urry, 2002; pg 16). Although tourism industry continued to grow, there was a shift in the tourism behaviour, WTO justifies this behaviour stating that society had become more aware of the environment and developed the sudden interest in different activities and opportunities involving local culture. Fennel describes alternative tourism as “small scale”; “locally-oriented”, tourists became more aware of local communities and with the environment.
This theory is supported by WTO adding that consumers are now looking for “special, high quality, unforgettable experiences in which they can be active participants”. Furthermore it is added that special interest tourism is an extra motivation to tourist interest in engaging in more specific activities. Focusing solely on this topic, the author is to write a report on the grounds of special interest tourism. In order to achieve this, the author has chosen to analyze the surroundings of ecotourism in Amazon, Brazil.
Therefore the report should offer the reader, provided with a justification, a sight full reportage based on one only special interest tourism, highlighting its history, size of market, market segmentation and examples of products available for the chosen special interest tourism. A review of models of motivation and tourism motivation enabling a study of different characteristics of the participants in the chosen special interest tourism should be included on the second section the report.
The third section provides the reader an evaluation and profile of ecotourism identifying key organizations, agencies, communities, and businesses
involved in the development of ecotourism in Brazil.
Finally the last section incorporates an appropriate conclusion and recommendation which should include approaches that could provide a greater opportunity for the development and promotion of the ecotourism in the Amazon.
Descriptive profile of the Special Interest Tourism activity
The author had a chance to consider all options of research and carefully chosen to undertake a research and write a report concerning ecotourism in the Amazon. This topic was chosen as this is a new concept of special interest tourism and is in constant growth. Also this gives the author a chance to inform herself about ecotourism and its significance to the environment. As for the destination, Amazon was chosen because of its size, as it is the biggest tropical rainforest in the world and biggest biodiversity. Ecotourism activities have had a significant growth over the years due to “consumer concern about the environment” (WTO, 2002). United Nations decided to make 2002 the International Year of Ecotourism, focusing their reason to “bring together governments, international agencies, NGOs, tourism enterprises, representatives of local and indigenous communities and identify some agreed principles and priorities for the future development and management of ecotourism” (Butcher, 2007, cited in CNEP/ WTO 2002a:7).
Although 2002 was awarded as the International Year of Ecotourism by the United Nations, there is a general uncertainty concerning its history and meaning. Fennel (1995, pg. 25) defines ecotourism relating to nature, stating it is “ a sustainable form of natural, resource-base tourism that focuses primarily on experiencing and learning about nature” connoting that such activity should occur in natural areas, contributing to the preservation of this. Opposing to this, WTO gives an alternative meaning to ecotourism, also based on the grounds of nature as “form of tourism in which the main motivation of the tourists is the observation and appreciation of nature” (WTO, 2002) Further to this, WTO views ecotourism as a form of tourism with 5 characteristics: 1. Tourists’ motivation should be nature-based involving observation and appreciation of nature as well as preserving it. 2. It should contain educational features.
3. It should be organized by specialized tour operators for small groups. 4. It should minimize the negative impacts of the environment. 5. It should support the maintenance of natural areas by generating beneficial income to local communities, organisations and authorities responsible for the conservation of ecotourism areas.
In contrast to the above definitions, based on nature, the International Ecotourism Society (ITES) offers a more profound meaning relating nature to local communities, “is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of local people” (ITES). It is agreed that both organisations have the same principles regarding the maintenance of ecotourism areas, where tourists should respect the environment, provide financial benefits and empowerment to local communities.
Although there is a general disagreement on the exact meaning of ecotourism, all researchers agree that involves the environment and local communities; however it appears that there is an uncertainty about its origin. Research shows that ecotourism can be traced back to the late 1970s, this supported by Fennel (1999.pg 18) who presents reasonable arguments from studies demonstrating the origin of ecotourism. He describes how ecotourism emerged through tourists searching for environmental travelling surrounding nature and wildlife.
In accordance with WTO (2002) ecotourism is a small niche market with a big potential for growth and economic advancement, one that if well managed can be used in conservation and preservation of nature and of the environment. Following their research based on the most popular countries for ecotourism, WTO has identified the market segmentation for ecotourists, which shows that: • The majority is aged between 30 and 50 years old
• Mostly women
• Preferred activities were wildlife viewing, being in wilderness areas followed by seeing rare species. • The top five preferred destinations
for ecotourists were United kingdom, Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America
Estimated as the biggest and richest ecosystems in the world, the state of Amazon in Brazil comprises of nine countries in South America all together, occupying almost half of the whole country. The state of Amazon is approximately 5million square kilometres, home to 200 mammal species, 950 bird species, 2,500 fish species and 300 reptiles’ species, making the Amazon the largest tropical rainforest in the world. In addition, the Amazon River, which cuts right through the state, is the second biggest river in the world after the Nile. Boats and ships are the best way of transportation as the Amazon is covered in forest.
Amazon got its name after the Portuguese explorers started expeditions along the river for a lost city known as ‘Eldorado’ in the hope of uncovering a city made of gold, before the British, French and Spanish explorers found it. Eldorado could never be found, but the name remained the same. Amazon is not only the habitat of thousands of species but also home to indigenous tribes who live off the land just like their ancestors did depending on the ecosystem for their food, shelter and livelihoods. Although ecotourism is a new concept, it is rapidly becoming a fast growing economic factor in the Amazon as it attracts major tourists for its attractions.
On the other hand, it is also in danger due to deforestation, logging and forest cleaning, which presents a threat to the Amazon (www.amazon-rainforest.org). As a form of special interest tourism, it is important to have products available for this, which represents the nature preserving its natural habitat. With this in mind, there are many activities disposable for tourism as ecotourism is growing in the Amazon (www.embratur.gov.br). With the growth of ecotourism in the Amazon, many ecological crosswalks activities are provided to tourists wanting contact with the largest biodiversity of the world. The National Park of Pico da Neblina and the national Park of Jaú are two of the most popular locations for crosswalks in the Amazon (www.embratur.gov.br).
Another popular product available to tourists is cave tourism otherwise known as espeleotourism, consisting of exploring the inside of caves and studying their formations. Within the Amazon, Mato Grosso is the most visited cave (www.embratur.gov.br). Floatation is an additional form of ecotourism activity, consisting of light diving with the use of a snorkel and a mask allowing the diver to be enchanted by the beauty underneath the water.
Mato Grosso is the most popular and sought after location for this in the State of Amazon. Fauna watching is popular for those mostly interested in wildlife. National Parks in the Amazon grants visitors with thousands of different species, experiencing nature at its best. Bird watching has become reasonably popular to numerous tourists who travel specifically to Amazon for its biodiversity in search of all types of endangered species.
Considered as the most sophisticated city on the planet and an important location for ecological tourism, Manaus the capital of Amazon forest is home to almost 1.5 million inhabitants. The city attracts tourists for its natural beauty, ecological parks and a diverse of over 15 attractions (www.embratur.gov.br). These include: ➢ Paricatuba Waterfall located in the bank of Negro river formed by sediment and surrounded by vegetation. ➢ Love cascade situated at Guedes bayou and filled with cold and crystal clear water. ➢ Parque do Mindú, one of the last resorts housing endangered species. ➢ Grove of the National Research Institute of Amazonia (INPA) ➢ Zoo of the Forest War Instruction Center (CIGS) which house 300 species of animals, among monkeys, jaguars, ariranhas (Brazilian otters), snakes, alligators, macaws, tapirs and land turtles. ➢ Tupé Beach whose only access is by riverboat
It is clear that tourists travel to Brazil for its raw beauty, especially to Amazon which is rich in biodiversity. Ecobrasil has published statistics on international ecotourism to which shows that 39% of tourists visit Brazil for its natural beauty, this being their main motivation for doing so, while 7% visit Amazon as their main source for ecotourism (www.ecobrasil.org.br). Ecobrasil has also demonstrated results carried by Embratur Domestic market study carried in 2005/2006 in which shows that 6% of tourists view ecotourism as a motivation for travel, confirming that only four million tourists are interested in ecotourism.
Profile of the evidence of the motivation and satisfaction of SIT
Above the author mentioned the statistics for tourists that visit Brazil and their motivation for such. However some researchers have identified other motives for motivation which explain reasons to choose a specific ecotourism location. Maslow generated a hierarchy of needs based on what motivates individuals when deciding where to go on holidays and what activities to pursue. This hierarchy of needs is based on a series of levels, starting on the lowest level and terminating on the upper level once all levels of achievement are satisfied.
The hierarchy of needs is displayed as a pyramid and at the lowest level, this for physiological needs, where individuals have the needs to satisfy their most basic needs such as eating and clothing. Once this need is achieved, Maslow identifies the individuals desire to carry on achieving the remaining needs until all levels of the pyramid are satisfied (Mullins, 2007, p.258).
On the contrary to this view, Ryan (1997) has argued that the tourist behaviour is behind the motivation of the traveller leading to a certain type of holidays, focusing on the social motivation rather than needs. He identifies how two tourists from different backgrounds can have different attitudes to holidays but have similar motivation for such stating “both sets of behaviour arise from the need to be with others”. Ryan also recognizes theoretical models of motivation by classifying theories and their researchers. One of these the concept identified by Pearce who argued travel motivation through the concept of travel career ladder, this corresponding to “learning through tourist experience” (Ryan, 1997, p.37).
The travel career ladder is characterised by different forms of motivations, with relaxation at the bottom of the ladder, followed by stimulation, relationship, self-esteem and development and fulfilment, and it should be by order of travel experience, the more experience they are, more interest they start developing and their motivation to travel start to increase. This meaning that a tourist on their first holiday is looking for relaxation however the more they travel, motivation starts to change as they become more concerned with learning about history and culture, and in time, the tourists will rich the upper level of the ladder, searching to get more involved in the province (Ryan, 1997).
Other analyses have emerged with the expectancy of encountering tourists’ motivation for choosing this type of special interest tourism. Thus Hall and Weiler (1992) have identified researchers who have studied motivations for specific special interest tourism. Hall and Weiler (1992) have identified research made by Crompton in which he noted that tourist were in a cultural and educational travel motivations. This can be said it is closed linked to what was later interpreted by Read (1980) in which he admits what motivates tourists is the need for authenticity and uniqueness as well as educational. With this he emerged with the idea of REAL tourism, translating that travelling should be rewarding, enriching, adventuresome and a learning experience for the tourist.
Hall and Weiler have created a table identifying tourists motivations associated with the specific special interest tourism and they have concluded that tourists may have various motivators related to the special interest activity. Therefore, it is said that the motivations for the participants in ecotourism are apart from learning is to be in contact with the nature or indigenous civilians.
A further argument into the motivations of tourists has emerged, as Page and Dowling (2002) presented two sides of ecotourism: hard and soft tourism. Hard tourism refers when the participant are environmentalist who take sustainability quite serious and is purely interest in the nature and being in contact with the wilderness, taking a prolonged trip in almost undisturbed location, while soft tourism refers to tourists in short term trip, have little contact with nature and are not strongly committed environmentalists.
However, motivations are not the only factors tourists take into account when deciding on the special interest tourism. The type of product and expertise by those involved promoting this specific special interest tourism. Hall and Weiler (2002) argue that experienced professionals play an important role on the tourists’ selection of destination. Professionals such as Specialty Travel Index offer a multitude of travel opportunities worldwide
(http://www.spectrav.com/index.shtml). Evaluation of the development of a named SIT within an identified destination area
Butcher (2007) views community participation as an important step to the development of ecotourism, as decisions made concerning ecotourism affects the community and their lives. Butcher adds that this initiative is also supported by World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) in which they state communities should have a high level of control on the development of ecotourism. Additionally communities should be intensely in all decision-making concerning the growth of the landscape “ tourism should therefore respect and value local knowledge and experience, maximise benefits to communities, and recruit, train and employ local people at all levels (Butcher, p.67).
Ecotourism should be beneficent local communities, conservation of the environment and provide financial contribution to the upkeep of a conservation project. In addition local communities’ involvement in the development of ecotourism “improves the tourist experience” (Page and Dowling, 2002).
Alternative Travel Group (ATL) is an example of the above, in which they work effectively with local communities. Founded in 1979 is an organisation based upon sustainability http://www.atg-oxford.co.uk/index.php)
ATL collaborates with local communities, listening and acting on what was suggested. This allows communities to express their concern about the conservation of their habitat (http://www.atg-oxford.co.uk/index.php). Profits go towards construction of infrastructures and conservation projects in the most necessitated areas. They incentive individuals to present their ideas and providing they are sustainable to which they can invest on. Hence they have various projects ongoing worldwide which benefit local communities and preserve the environment (http://www.atg-oxford.co.uk/index.php). It is not only local communities that play a vital role in the making and development of ecotourism, many organisations, agencies and small businesses have an important and constant involvement in the successful and promoting of this growing form of special interest tourism.
World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) is the largest non-governmental organisation in the world. Based in
over fifty-two offices and active in over ninety countries, it has over five million supporters worldwide, many volunteers (Butcher, p. 42). WWF has three main missions that represent their work: safeguarding the natural world, tackling climate change and changing the way residents live. Consequently they have generated a program designed to protect the environment. Amongst other projects, WWF is working in ensuring the ecosystem in the Amazon maintains its environmental and cultural contribution to local people (http://www.wwf.org.uk/). WWF main objectives regarding the Amazon as a whole are:
➢ Tackling deforestation
➢ Encouraging responsible agriculture and production
➢ Helping create protected forest
➢ Ensuring free-flowing rivers and forest-friendly roads
Moreover WWF has enlisted the help of Sky TV in promoting the safeguarding of rainforest in Amazon. Both work with local communities offering them with economical help to look after millions of hectares of forest, combating illegal logging and forest deforestation (http://www.wwf.org.uk/). Additionally WWF closely works with two UN bodies, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). WWF has written guidelines highlighting a community-based ecotourism in which the organisation directly works with communities in conserving and preserving the environment and provide advice on how to deal with issues surrounding their landscape.
One of their project is based in Manaus, capital of Amazon, a community –based initiative, the Silves Association for Environmental and Cultural Preservation, this aims at protecting the fishing lakes at this site. On top pf this, WWF opened an ecolodge in the same region run by local people, 20% of all profits go towards the management of preservation of the site.
In addition, WWF has created a programme in Brazil solely based on raising awareness about forms of ecotourism that should be practiced based on its principles (http://www.icrtourism.org/Publications/WWF1eng.pdf).
The international ecotourism society (TIES) is a non-governmental organisation funded in 1990 with the objectives of aiding the development of ecotourism, helping communities, organisations to promote and practice the principles of ecotourism. TIES have clear aims concerning ecotourism which consists of bringing together individuals, institutions and tourism industries in the interest of ecotourism, educating tourist and professionals on ecotourism and influencing organisations on practicing all principles regarding ecotourism.
Working in partnership with other NGOs such as Planeterra and yourtravelchoice.org, all three organisations provide tourists with opportunities to get involved in ecotourism activities, help local communities, work together in inform tourists on how to conserve the nature. Furthermore, they offer their own input on eco-destinations, allowing individuals to get some relevant information on ecotourism and its issues (www.ecotourism.org)
Although Planeterra is more involved with community, they still remain concerned with the environment. This non-governmental organisation organises community based projects worldwide in order to help local people live in a more environmental safe surroundings (http://www.planeterra.org/). The Brazilian Ecotourism and Adventure Travel Trade Association (ABETA) is an association that closely works on the development of ecotourism activities in Brazil. Their goal is to promote the conservation and preservation of Brazil’s cultural and historical heritage
(http://www.brazilnature.travel/index.php). ABETA promotes amongst adventure tourism, ecotourism activities such as bird watching, caving, safari and wildlife. Thus in partnership with the Tourism ministry, Brazilian tourism board (Embratur) and BBECO which is administered by ABETA, all have the same common aspiration: promote Brazil as one of the top destinations for ecotourism while keeping it environmentally safe (http://www.brazilnature.travel/index.php).
Embratur, a Brazilian Tourism Board is an organisation responsible for providing policies in tourism related activities, including ecotourism activities such as hiking, cave tourism, floatation, bird watching and fauna watching (www.embratur.gov.br) Ecobrasil, a Brazilian ecotourism Association is a NGO founded in 1993 whose primarily focus is on ecotourism. Whilst incorporate a clear mission in which they want to promote Brazil as a “reliable destination for ecotourism”, their vision is to “forward ecotourism and sustainable tourism through building knowledge networks and participate in and/or develop projects that helped advance the knowledge about good ecotourism practices and planning in Brazil”.
Hence their objectives is to create a network of data solely on ecotourism, commitment in minimising the impact of tourism on the environment, acknowledge statistics on ecotourism and represent ecotourism on a worldwide level (www.ecobrasil.org.br). Proecotur – Programa de Desenvolvimento do Ecoturismo na Amazônia Legal (programme of ecotourism development at the Legal Amazon) recognises that ecotourism has a huge potential to be converted into the biggest source of income on the Amazon, predicting up to three million ecotourist annually. Therefore they have generated new strategies to guarantee that Amazon becomes the most popular state for ecotourism. They believe the creation of a sustainable environment does not require greater investments, rather intelligent strategies for transportation. With this to attract tourists they agree that there is a need for improvement in the transportation and improvement of the quality of services available to tourists plus there should be a creation of more sustainable products (http://www.faunabrasil.com.br).
Although tourism is not a new concept, ecotourism is. This emerged with the individuals growing concern with the environment. There is a general disagreement when defining ecotourism but many researchers and organisations agree that is a form of activity in which participants want to be in touch with the nature and with the environment and this should follow principles set by organisations for the safekeeping of the environment and also benefiting local communities.
Various researchers have attempted to clarify the motivations for tourist choice of destinations and specials type of interest, and with this it was concluded that none could have a general agreement on these except that tourist could have common attitude when selecting destinations. They could be educational and cultural; however the idea of tourist wanting new, unique and untouched surroundings gave away to the new concept of Real travel: rewarding, enriching, adventuresome and learning.
Ecotourism is a growing and prosperous form of special interest tourism and the activities incorporated for this are increasingly generating income to those involved in promoting ecotourism and to local communities who should be involved in the decision-making concerning the development of ecotourism.
The author during the research into organisations involved in the promotion of ecotourism has come across the fact that most organisations are non-governmental organisations that depend on volunteers. Also the majority of these organisations are interrelated having common objectives when it comes to ecotourism: promoting all ecotourism activities, safeguarding the environment and preserving the nature.
Although organisations are interlinked with one another, it appears that it is not enough, as the market segmentation show, only a certain type of individuals practice ecotourism and ecotourism related activities. Brazil is popular with tourist for its beauty therefore NGOs, agencies and business should do more to promote ecotourism in Brazil, speciality in Amazon, which is a huge area with a lot to offer to all types of tourists.
Hence all organisations should work together not only in the safeguarding of the environment but advertise Brazil as the best country for ecotourism, enhancing its beauty and reasons to visit as well as promoting ecotourism activities in a way that appeals to all age groups and gender. Additionally NGOs, agencies and business should stress the need to practice the imposed regulations in protected areas in order to preserve the nature for tomorrow.
Another recommendation would be to look how other forms of special interest tourism could be useful in providing aid in the development of ecotourism. An example of this would be religious tourism. For this type of special interest tourism there is an online religious organisation which incentives spiritualists to include faith in their living. They relate religion and faith with the environment believing that there are simple steps that individuals could do to help recreate the earth preserving the environment, it also emphasises the need to care for nature. Therefore this initiative could be adopted in order to lure tourists into caring and investing more in ecotourism.
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