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Global Sustainable Ecotourism Development:

Achieving Economic Growth, Alleviation of Poverty, and Environmental Conservation

Megan Epler Wood

July 12 to July 16, 2010

Description:

Global Sustainable Ecotourism Development is a practicum to help professional and post-


graduate level students to develop the skills required to develop ecotourism in international
destinations worldwide. It will focus primarily on the broad set of challenges to develop
economically viable ecotourism projects in rural areas adjacent to protected and biodiverse areas
in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This course will provide appropriate grounding in the latest
thought on international and economic development and a broad set of tools for environmental
and protected area planning, social enterprise and community-based development. It will
discuss rigorous methodologies to test the market viability of proposed projects, and how to
undertake financial and business planning for ecotourism, build a long term market development
strategy in key markets, and develop students’ capacity to fully implement supply chain
development approaches.

Goals:

Students attending Global Sustainable Ecotourism Development will learn new, more sensitive
field based approaches that rely on a broader set of academic expertise and disciplines than
associated with the topic in the past. This course will look at the big picture of tourism
development impacts and approaches to deliver low impact development, while providing real
life, business oriented approaches to providing solutions to the difficult economic and social
conditions found throughout the developing world. It will tackle the larger issues of how tourism
fits into the global economy and what role it can play in the next 20 years with alleviating
poverty and conserving the environment in regions that suffer from widespread degradation and
on-going threats. It will help students to understand how tourism can play a broader role in
international development, and help transition economies away from destructive development
practices. It will teach a holistic approach to planning and tourism development that gives
governments’, NGOs, and international donors’ a more proactive role in helping rural peoples
transition away from extractive economies and into a process for sustainable regional
development.

Background:

In the past 20 years, ecotourism has emerged as one of the most dynamic and discussed tools for
sustainable development. In the last 10 years, the field has been much enriched by a broad array
of disciplines, particularly economic development and social/pro-poor development techniques.
Ecotourism is now broadly and appropriately applied as a rural economic and sustainable
development tool. Its successful application is based on a set of methodologies that all students
and development practitioners require to be successful.

Ecotourism is a business, which requires business approaches to deliver sustainable development


benefits. It therefore needs to be studied as a business model first and foremost. A full
evaluation of private sector business financial and market requirements in the local context are
necessary due diligence for any practitioner to develop ecotourism in the field. Economic impact
analysis including review of ecosystem services is required. Participatory development practices
must be applied based on international guidelines and best practice. Biodiversity benefits are a
key bottom line, leveraged via legal and concessionary arrangements in protected areas. Market
opportunities for rural communities must be based on specific tourism supply chain
methodologies. And triple-bottom line monitoring requires the presentation of valid data on
economic, environmental and social benefits.

Students attending Global Sustainable Ecotourism Development will learn new, more sensitive
field based approaches that rely on a broader set of academic expertise and disciplines. This
course will provide appropriate grounding in the latest thought on international and economic
development to give students a more holistic understanding of the importance of positioning
ecotourism within the broader strategic fields of economic and international development. It will
include a broad set of tools for social enterprise and community-based development that are
based on the realities of rural peoples worldwide and the results of outstanding studies in the
field. It will discuss rigorous methodologies to test the market viability of proposed projects, and
how to undertake financial and business planning for ecotourism, investment promotion in key
social and environmentally interested markets, and develop students’ capacity to fully implement
supply chain development approaches.

This course will look at the big picture of tourism development impacts and approaches to
deliver low impact development. It will teach a holistic approach to planning and tourism
development that reviews governments’ and international donors’ role in rural land development,
stressing bioregional planning as a key tool for governments and their donors to move rural areas
into a more thorough process for sustainable regional development.

Tools for students to use as a result of taking this course:

 Market research approaches in small scale rural tourism and SME tourism development
 Business planning and financial analysis for micro, small and medium enterprises in
tourism
 Supply chain analysis for eco and sustainable tourism
 Investment market analysis and promotion techniques, micro-credit and loans
 Private sector, SME markets, ecotourism business development approaches
 Interpretive design for small enterprise, social and community enterprise development
 Legal and concessionary instruments for tourism development in protected areas
 Integrated regional destination planning for national tourism offices and protected areas
including cultural and environmental heritage evaluation and thematic design
 Bioregional planning for national governments and local authorities
 Simple sustainable architectural design for rural markets, based on local materials
 Economic impact analysis in rural markets for tourism development
 Community-based tourism and social enterprise development techniques
 Geotourism and place-based approaches to destination development
 Pro-poor tourism and initiatives to ensure the poorest segments of society benefit
 Integrated monitoring for triple bottom line outcomes

The course will take advantage of existing project outcomes and knowledge from around the
world from Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Tanzania,
Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, India, Bangladesh, and Cambodia. Presentation of
the latest analysis of supply chains for tourism will clearly demonstrate how tourism planning
must be differentiated from other forms of rural development, by virtue of its distinct and unique
local, regional and international supply chain. It will review how students need to approach
basic evaluative processes in start-up phases of ecotourism development projects. It will present
the most recent research on improving field based results in an international setting, review
methodologies that deliver a triple bottom line result, in a balanced fashion, and lay out the
necessary evaluation tools that are required for professionals to proceed with ecotourism
development in the field, as presently carried out for the purposes of sustainable development
and conservation.

Advance Course Readings: Responsible Tourism, Critical Issues for Conservation and
Development, Edited by Anna Spenceley, Earthscan Press, London, UK, 2008

Instructor Bio:

Megan Epler Wood founded The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) in 1990, the oldest
and largest non-profit organization in the world dedicated to making ecotourism a tool for
sustainable tourism development worldwide. She was its President & CEO from 1991-2002.
Under her leadership TIES built a membership program in over 100 countries; published best
selling text books, led workshops and stakeholder meetings that reached tens of thousands; and
an international communications and public awareness program that reached millions.

Since 2003, Megan’s firm EplerWood International (http://www.eplerwood.com) has devoted


itself to aiding some of the poorest countries in the world with sustainable tourism development,
including the nations of Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Mexico, El Salvador,
Brazil, and Honduras.
Using a research based approach that requires rapid and astute analysis of local social,
conservation, and economic development issues; EplerWood International successfully advises
international development agencies and governments on the best methodologies for using
ecotourism as a sustainable, economic development tool that benefits local people particularly in
rural areas, honors and preserves indigenous and cultural heritage, and generates revenue streams
for the conservation of biodiversity.

Her published works includes; Ecotourism: Principles, Practices and Policies for Sustainability
for UNEP in 2002. She has lectured at Columbia Business School, Harvard University,
Wellesley, Duke University, University of Vermont, and The George Washington University.

Tentative Schedule:

Global Sustainable Ecotourism Development

(c) Megan Epler Wood


Monday, July
12 Presenter Session
9:00 - 12:00 Megan Epler Wood Ecotourism & its Role in International Development
12:00 - 1:30 Lunch
Evolution of Ecotourism & Principles of Ecotourism
1:30 - 3:00 Megan Epler Wood Development
3:30 - 5:30 Discussion/Round Table Student exchange of experiences in field of tourism
Forum of Business Leaders-
Bruce Poon Tip Key Note Dinner and Guest Panel: Models of Sustainable Business &
6:00 - 8:00 Speaker International Tourism Development

Tuesday, July
13
Bruce Poon Tip - CEO GAP
9:00 - 12:00 Adventures International Ecotourism Business Development Models
12:00 - 1:30 Lunch Student presentation & feedback
Richard G. Edwards -
Director, Planeterra Ground up development with communities linked to supply
1:30 - 3:30 Foundation chain
Megan Epler Wood, Bruce Building a socially just, inclusive, community based supply
4:00-5:30 Poon Tip, Richard Edwards chain in ecotourism worldwide
Wednesday, July 14
Market research, financial and supply chain analysis tools
9:00 - 12:00 Megan Epler Wood for micro and SMEs
12:00 - 1:30 Lunch Student presentation and feedback
Investment markets, promotion, micro-credit and loans in
1:30 - 3:30 Megan Epler Wood ecotourism
Seleni Matus - CELB,
3:30-5:00 Conservation International Protected area planning and ecotourism

Thursday, July 15
Ann Nygard, National
Geographic Center for Geotourism Planning & Sustainable Destination
9:00 - 10:30 Sustainable Destinations Development
11:00-12:00 Discussion Sustainable Tourism Planning - Tools
12:00 - 1:30 Lunch Student presentation & feedback
Megan Epler Wood with
3:30 - 5:30 guest speaker TBA Spatial and Land Use Planning for Tourism Sustainability

Friday, July 16
Panel via video feed with
Africa, led by Anna
8:30 - 10:30 Spenceley* Pro-poor tourism - benefitting the poorest sectors of society
Creating models for tourism that bring new economic
benefits to rural peoples - India, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone,
11:00-12:00 Megan Epler Wood El Salvador
12:00 - 1:30 Lunch Student panel and forum
Supply Chain development
working with local Vermont Fresh Network; Farm & Chef Partntership with
1:30 - 3:00 agriculture applications to international settings provided
Integrated triple bottom line monitoring & tourism
3:30 - 4:30 Megan Epler Wood sustainability criteria

4:30-5:30 Megan Epler Wood Final conclusions & discussion of Student Papers/Proposals

*Guest speakers not confirmed