Tourism is the world’s largest industry. It accounts for more than 10% of totalemployment, 11% of global GDP, and total tourist trips are predicted to increaseto 1.6 billion by 2020. As such, it has a major and increasing impact on bothpeople and nature.Effects can be negative as well as positive. Inappropriate tourism develop-ment and practice can degrade habitats and landscapes, deplete naturalresources, and generate waste and pollution. In contrast, responsible tourismcan help to generate awareness of and support for conservation and localculture, and create economic opportunities for countries and communities.WWF is taking action to reduce negative impacts, and to encourage respon-sible tourism that enhances not only the quality of life, but also natural andcultural resources in destinations.
The purpose of these guidelines
These guidelines identify some general principles, and highlight some practicalconsiderations for community-based ecotourism. They seek to provide a refer-ence point for field project staff, and to encourage a consistent approach.However, prevailing conditions and levels of knowledge about ecotourism varyconsiderably between countries and projects, and this will dictate how theguidelines are interpreted and used at a local level.The guidelines are not intended to be a detailed ‘how to’ manual, but ratherstand as a collection of issues and topics to be considered and addressed. Insome countries, such as Brazil, WWF has been involved in the development of specific policies and good practice manuals for ecotourism which relate to localcircumstances and go into more detail.Although the guidelines are primarily intended for use within WWF, theymay also be of value to partner organisations and other agencies, and dem-onstrate to a wider audience, WWF’s interest and approach in this field. Theyare based on experience obtained from WWF projects, and from publishedliterature and case studies. A list of helpful reference sources is also included.Throughout the text, information on individual WWF ecotourism projects isprovided in boxes. Though these are only referenced where their content isrelevant to a specific point, the information contained in them complementsthe guidelines as a whole.In total, twelve guidelines are presented. These have been grouped intofour sections that relate to different stages of community-based ecotourisminitiatives. These are:
Consideringwhether ecotourism is an appropriate option;
Planningecotourism with communities and other stakeholders;
Developingviable community-based ecotourism projects;
Strengtheningbenefits to the community and the environment.Although this is a broadly sequential ordering, all the issues raised by theguidelines should be considered together to obtain a comprehensive picture.
Giant Panda in its natural habitat,Sichuan Province,China.
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