ArticlePDF Available

Ecotourism: Benefits for conservation and local people

Authors:
By Dr Anna Spenceley
fF cotourism is quite a wonderful
I J concept, but exactly
what tt ts
I r- largely depends
on whom
you
ask.
The International
Ecotourism Society
defines it as "responsible
travel to natural
areas that conserues
the environment
and
improves the well-being of local people".
However,
operators sometimes
advertise
their trips as "ecotourism" simply
because their activities
involve viewing
wildlife.
This type of "greenwashing"
has
led to some confusion
among tourists
and tour operators about what eco-
tourism is, and what it is not. Despite
this, there is general
agreement
among
international
agencies that ecotourism
should be naturd-based, and
should ben-
efit both
the local environment
and local
people.
South Africa attracted
1.7
per
cent
of
the total world tourism arrivals
interna-
tionally
in 2005 (ranking
it 32nd in the
world). and between 2004 and 2005
tourism's
total contribution
to the South
African economy
grew by 13
per
cent to
8.15 per cent of the Gross Domestic
Product. Tourism based
on natural attrac-
tions forms a role in this, and in 2000 it
was estimated
that South
Africa had 4.6
million
nature-tourists who spent
US$2.3-
million. However,
unlike ecotourism,
nature-based
tourism does
not necessar-
ily benefit the environment
or local
peo-
ote.
So is the nature-based tourism in
South Af rica responsible?
ls it eco-
tourism? Are tourism companies that
work in natural areas
working
responsibly
to conserve biodiversity?
Are they creat-
ing better
living conditions
for local
peo-
ple
- and
providing
opportunities
for the
poorer
people
in our society?
A luxury room at Singita
Lebombo in Kruger National
Pa*.
16 erncnn wLDL,FE Vot. 6o
No.
3,
2oo6
ECOTOURISM
Benefits
for conservation
and
local
people?
The way that our tourism statistics
are compiled
makes
it difficult
to tell
how
much ecotourism
there
really is in South
Africa,
and what proportion
of enterpris-
es operate responsibly.
However,
every
year
there are more and more positive
examples
of how government
agencies,
the private
sector
and
rural communities
are promoting
ecotourism
in the new
South
Africa.
.,,
For example,
in 2000 South
African
National
Parks
(SANParks)
began a pro-
gramme of commercialising
accommo-
dation
facilities, shops and restaurants.
Previously, all tourism inf rastructure
inside national parks was developed,
owned and operated by SANParks.
The
commercialisation
process gave
the pri-
vate sector opportunities
to bid for the
right to both
land and
infrastructure
with-
in national
parks
over 2l-year periods.
What was particularly
interesting
about
the process,
from an ecotourism
per-
spective,
was that,
in addition to submit-
ting a financial offet bidders
also had to
provide "empowerrnent" proposals.
These proposals
needed
to show how
the business
would provide company
shares
for people
who were disadvan-
taged
during apartheid;
how they would
encourage training and promotion
among their employees;
and
they had to
quantify
the business
and economic
opportunities
for local communities.
The
empowerment
proposals
became an
integral
part
of the concession
contracts,
and so contractually
required
the enter-
prises to provide
the benefits that they
had
suggested.
Seven accommodation
concession
contracts
in the Kruger National Park
(KNP)
were agreed
in December 2000,
which guaranteed
SANParks
an income
of at least R2O2-million over 20 vears.
The concessions
granted
had, on aver-
age,
a shareholding
of over
54 per 6ent
by black people.
Also 79 per cent of
employees
were recruited
from histori-
cally disadvantaged
communities
adja-
cent to the park,
and there
was to be a
guaranteed
spend of R7-million
per
annum with small businesses
in local
communities.
Concessionaires
also had
to do Environmental
lmpact Assess-
ments and develop
Environmental
Man-
agement Plans for their operations
to
ensure that the loc.al environment
was
also
conserved.
So. overall
SANParks'
commercialisa-
tion process
can be considered
to be a
government-led
promotion
of ecotourism
principles.
As an endorsement
of these
achievements.
one
of the KNP's
conces-
sionaires,
Singita,
has been certified
with
the prestigious
Fair Trade in Tourism
South Africa Trademark
(FTTSA).
This
Trademark
is aligned to the international
Fair Trade movement
and is based on six
prineiples: fair share, democracy,
respect,
reliability,
transpai'ency
and sus-
tainability.
Detailed criteria
are used to
assess the extent to which tourism
establishments
follow these principles,
and the process
is rigorously monitored
to ensure
that high standards
are main-
tained (see www.fa i
rtou rismsa. o rg.zal.
There are now 15 ecotourism
facili-
ties in the country
that have been certi-
fied by FTTSA, which suggests that oper-
ators based
in natural
areas are
increas-
ingly aware of the importance
of showing
tourists that
they are
working
in
a respon-
sible
way. By affiliating
to FTTSA,
opera-
tors are able
to show that
their business
practices
stand
up to the ideals of Fair
Tr'ade. One of the FTTSA-certified
eco-
tourism
facilities
is a community-based
tourism
(CBT)
enterprise
called
Phumu-
Cheetah
at Phinda Prtvate Game Reserue.
EE ]TOURISM
lani
Lodge, located
near
the KNP's
Numbi
Gate.
The four-star
lodge
is 100
per
cent
owned by the Mdluli
Trust,
and is com-
mitted
to the social,
economic.
and
envi-
ronmental
well-being
of its
staff and
com-
munity.
Guests
can arrange
for bush
walks and game drives in the Mdluli
Reserve
and
in
the KNB
as well
as
cultur-
al
tours with local
guides.
Phumulani
Lodge
is
one
of hundreds
of CBTs
across
southern
Africa
that will
shortly
be included
on a searchable
inter-
net-based
tourism
directorv.
The
initiative
from
the United
Nations
World Tourism
Organisation
(UNWfO), the Regional
Tourism
Organisation
for Southern
Africa
(RETOSA),
and The Netherlands'
Devet-
opment Organisation,
SNV aims to
improve
the market
access
and market-
ing capacity
of CBTs.
To be included
in
the directory tourism enterprises
will
need
to be located
within a communitv
(e.9.
on communal
rather
than private
land);
be
owned
by one
or more
commu-
nity members;
or be managed
by com-
munity members,
who can influence
decisions regarding
the business.
The
directory
will
allow tourists
and
tour
oper-
ators
across
the world
to access informa-
tion
about
these small
tourism
business-
es from RETOSAs
website
0. The
objec-
tive is ultimately
to give
the CBTs better
access
to more
customers,
and
to reduce
poverty
in their
host
communities.
Other opportunities
for regional
eco-
tourism
growth
include
the emergence
of
transfrontier
conservation
areas (or
"Peace Parks"),
such as the Great
Limpopo Transfrontier
Park,
which
spans
the borders between Mozambique,
South Africa
and Zimbabwe.
Also,
our
rich World
Heritage
Sites,
such as the
Greater St Lucia
Wetland
Park
in Kwa-
Zulu-Natal
and the Maloti-Drakensberg,
provide
ample opportunities
for eco-
tourism,
and community-based
tourism
develooment.
Large
ecotourism
groups such as
Wilderness
Safaris
and Conservation
Cor-
poration
Africa
have
demonstrated
their
dedication
to conservation
and poverty
alleviation
through joint ventures
with the end of the lease.
local
communities,
their involvement
in Phinda
private
Game Reserve
is a
endangered
species
conservation,
and by privately
owned reserve
that is part of
transforming
degraded
farmland into the Conservation
Corporation
Af rica
world-class
wildlife
destinations. (ccAf
rica) group. The reserve covers
For
example,
wilderness
safaris
oper- 12
699 hectares located within the
ates
Pafuri
Lodge
in the KNB in partner- 21 000 hectare
Munyawana
conseryancv
ship with
the Makuleke
people.
In 1969 in KwaZulu-Natal.
The land
was taken
the stateforcibly
removed
the Makuleke over as
degraded
farmland
in 1991,
and
people
from
a 24
0OO-hectare
area where was
rehabilitated
and restocked
with
over
they lived in the north of the park. 1 500 head of game, including
white
Through
the land
claims
process
they Rhino.
phinda
is now
involved
in i project
were compensated
in 1998, with the to increase
the population
and range
of
restitution
of their
land
and the creation the endangered
Black
Rhino. In Ociober
of a contractual
park.
A 25-year
agree- 2004
they received
15 Black
Rhino
from
ment was developed between the the provincial
conservation
authoritv,
Makuleke
and SANParks
to return
the Ezemvelo
KZN wildlife. while KZN
ownership
and
title of
the land
to the
peo- wildlife retains
ownership
and manage-
ple,
on the understanding
that the land ment
control over
the rhinos.
phinda
acts
would
only
be used
for wildlife
conserva- as their
custodians,
and monitors
their
tion. The
Makuleke
now have
two luxury progress.
In addition
to the conservation
safari
lodges
on their
land,
one of which benefits from
Phinda,
there
are arso
oen-
is Pafuri
Lodge.
The partnership
agree- efits
for local
people.
Around
g0 per
cent
ment with
Wilderness
Safaris
means
that of the permanent
staff come from local
the community
receives
a percentage
of communities,
and thev receive
over 70
the
tourism
turnover;
capital
investment per
cent
of the entire
wage
bill. The lodge
on their
land;
jobs;
training;
and they will has
helped
to develop
small
businessel,
ultimately
own
the lodge
infrastructure
at including
brick- and paper-making
enter-
I
j
;
Mountains
of the Maloti-Drakensberg
Transfrontier
Conservation
Area.
ftre
view
il'rProved
since
we
piched
up.
South Africans view litter as the biggest threat
to the environment.
We can stop this if we
stop littering and start recycling. Through
recycling, natural resources are protected
and the life of costly landfill
sites is extended
dramatically.
Lets stop the litter and
recycle.
lf you can assist, Please
call us on (O11)
466 2939.
www. collectacan.co.za
u
COLLECT.A-CAN
Supported by
/$tTf L & IEM,F,
18 AFRIoAN
MLDLIFE vol. 60 No. 3, 2006
HGnome 48708
EGOTOURISM
prises,
and
a business
that uses
alien
trees
from the
reserve
to make charcoal.
Through
their charitable
arm. the Africa
Foundation,
more than 80 bursaries
have
also been awarded
to local
people
for tertiary
education,
while books,
computers,
and
other
equip-
ment have
been
donated
by guests.
In a new transi-
tion, Phinda
will shortly
become
a community-based
tourism enterprise.
An amicable
land claims
agree-
ment means
that 16000 hectares
of the reserve
will
be transferred
to the local community,
and then
CCAfrica
will lease
the land
back
from
them.
This
will
provide
a significant
and
reliable
source
of income
for
ihe community,
which
will help
to reduce
poverty
in
the area.
So
ecotourism
is happening
in South
Africa.
Clear-
ly not all
tourism
activities
based
on natural
attractions
are ecotourism,
but there
are some
very
gooo exam-
ples
of where
it taking
place
- in protecte-d
areas,
on
communal
land, and
on private
land'
Certification
sys-
tems such
as Fair
Trade
in Tourism
South
Africa
can
help
tourists
and
the international
market
to identify
which
businesses
are
operating
responsibly,
and
help
them to make informed
travel
decisions.
The more
tourists
reward
responsible
tourism
enterprises
by tak-
ing
holidays
to destinations
that
are
good
for the envi-
ro-nment
and
for
the
local
people,
the
more
sustainable
this
industry
will be.
Dr
Anna
Spenceley
www.a
n n a. spe
n ce
I ey. co.
u
k
E-mail
: a n
naspenceley@hotma
i l.com
Tel./Fax
(031
) 208.5523
Cell:
072-31
15700'
Many thanks to the people who reviewed ths pape4
namely Les Carlisle
of CCAfrica,
Amos Mdluli of Phu-
mulani Lodge, Chris Roche of Wilderness
Safaris,
and
Jennifer Seif
of Fair Trade
in Tourism
South
Africa'
For further information on ecotourism please visit:
www.
ecotou
ri s
m. org/i
nd
ex2.
p
h
p,'
a
n d fo r th e res
p
o
n s t-
ble tourism guidelines and manual: www.environ-
ment.gov.za and for a full version of this paper with
refe
re n ces,
E-ma
i
I wildmag@yebo.co.za
RESPONSIBLE
TOURISM
IN
SOUTH
AFRIGA
South
Africa's Tourism White Paper
from 1996
refers
specifically
to the concept
of Responsible
Tourism,
the
li"u elements
of which
cin be defined
in terms of:
I Developing,
managing and marketing tourism rn
ways
that create
competitive
advantage;
r) Assessing
and monitoring the environmental,
social
and econoi-ric
impacts
of tourism developments,
and
openly
disclosing
information;
I Ensuring
the active
involvement
of communities
that
benefit froim tourism, including their participation in
planning and decision-making,
and the establishment
of meaningful
economic
linkages;
0 Maintaining
and encouraging
natural,
economic,
social
and cultural diversitY;
I Avoiding waste
and over-consumPtion,
and Promot-
ing the sustainable
use of local resources.
" In 2002 the Department
of Environmental
Affairs
and Tourism published Responsible
Tourism Guide-
lines,
which piovide national guidance
and indicators
to enable
the tourism sector
to demonstrate
progress
towards the principles of responsible
tourism. They
have
also pubiisheda
Responsible
Tourism
Manual
(see
www.
enoir
onment.
goo.zn).
... Such an expansion will increase the viewing preferences and interests of different visitors and can call for attention and stimulate funding to species which are less iconic so as to achieve greater overall biodiversity conservation (Cheung, 2015). Spenceley (2006), questioned if ecotourism benefits conservation and the local people? The development of large ecotourism groups such as Wilderness Safaris and Conservation Corporation Africa has demonstrated their commitment to conservation efforts and poverty alleviation within the local communities around protected areas in South Africa. ...
... This finding is unprecedented because most studies have found that ecotourism activities around protected areas contribute to biodiversity conservation (Imanishimwe et al., 2018;Das and Chatterjee, 2015;Sunita, 2013;Lambi et al., 2012;Conrad-J et al., 2013;Ajonina et al., 2014;Kruger, 2003) For example, in the Andhra Pradesh region of India, ecotourism contributed to biodiversity conservation in the adjacent forest reserve, by providing alternative livelihood activities to some community members who were involved in illegally timber exploitation (Sunita, 2013). Also, in South Africa, ecotourism groups such as Wilderness Safaris and Conservation Corporation Africa have demonstrated strong commitment to conservation efforts by providing alternatives to poverty alleviation in local communities around protected areas (Spenceley, 2006). The perceived limited contribution of ecotourism to biodiversity conservation can be linked to inadequate development and non-community-based ecotourism projects. ...
Article
Full-text available
Ecotourism is often perceived as a strategy for sustainable biodiversity conservation for protected areas. In Cameroon, there is dearth of information on the impacts of ecotourism on biodiversity conservation of protected areas. The main thrust of this study is to examine local population's perceptions of the impact of ecotourism on biodiversity conservation in and around the Campo Ma'an National Park (CMNP). Data were collected from both primary and secondary sources. Primary data were gotten from household survey (N=124), focus group discussions (N=8) and key informant interviews (N=16). From the findings, 44.4% of the local population perceived ecotourism activities contributing to biodiversity conservation of CMNP against 55.6% with contrary views. Spearman rank correlation coefficients and Chi-square test statistics indicated that, variables plausibly influencing local population's perception of ecotourism impact on biodiversity conservation in and around CMNP were age (p<0.10), gender (p<0.50), main occupation (p<0.10), secondary occupation (p<0.10), time spent in the community (p<0.50), and number of children (p<0.50). From the logistic regression model, the main variables affecting the local population's perception were age, gender and time spent in the community. This study recommends the development of ecotourism friendly policies that can accelerate Public Private Partnership for a participatory and sustainable ecotourism approach for biodiversity conservation and livelihood enhancement in and around the CMNP. It also recommends the development of a gender sensitive ecotourism that will fair opportunities for rural women to benefit from ecotourism activities.
... Despite these benefits, there is evidence to suggest that ecotourism development can worsen the conditions in affected communities (see: Apeakoran, 2014;Fonseca, 2012;Hilson, Yakovleva, & Banchirigah, 2007;Spenceley, 2000). The adverse effects derive from the relocation of affected local people, a gross violation of the fundamental human rights of the indigenous people and possible environmental hazard (Fonseca, 2012;Spenceley, 2000). ...
... Despite these benefits, there is evidence to suggest that ecotourism development can worsen the conditions in affected communities (see: Apeakoran, 2014;Fonseca, 2012;Hilson, Yakovleva, & Banchirigah, 2007;Spenceley, 2000). The adverse effects derive from the relocation of affected local people, a gross violation of the fundamental human rights of the indigenous people and possible environmental hazard (Fonseca, 2012;Spenceley, 2000). Regardless, contemporary scholarship on the subject agrees that the positives of ecotourism, if managed well should alleviate the associated ills (Chen, Qiu, Usio, & Nakamura, 2018). ...
Article
Strategies for redesigning ecotourism facilities for the sustenance of their benefits are limited in the conventional literature.To address this gap, this study assesses the benefits and challenges of the Lake Bosomtwe ecotourism facility in Ghana. Data were obtained from 136 respondents who were carefully selected from the facility’s catchment. The results indicate the facility makes profound contribution to local economic development. However, poor environmental practices (poor waste management and agricultural practices) within the catchment area hamper the sustenance of the facility and its benefits.This study outlines strategies for redesigning the Lake Bosomtwe ecotourism facility to sustain its benefits.
... Wilderness Safaris and Conservation Corporation Africa (Spenceley, 2006 Cape that has strong links with the communities within which it is situated. ...
... It encourages the maintenance of original traditions, ensures cultural continuity and encourages a sense of pride in communities regarding their ways of living (Lickorish and Jenkins, 1997). Ecotourism can contribute to the renewal, conservation, and protection of traditional lifestyles and customs, as is the case of cultural villages in South Africa (Spenceley, 2006). Ecotourism, like other forms of tourism, can however result in cultural and social intrusion in local communities. ...
... In addition to the mentioned direct revenue streams that could be channelled to communities, indirect incomes could also be generated by developing local small and medium economic enterprises. This particularly applies to opportunities offered in the supporting and associated activities rendered to the protected area, such as the sale of goods and the rendering of services by both local entrepreneurs and the informal trade sector (Spenceley, 2006; Spenceley, 2008a). These benefits – particularly the direct benefits – could, however, be limited and sometimes community members might feel that they are not deriving sufficient economic benefits from the protected area (Spenceley, 2005). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Opportunity Study guidelines are used by the TPRP to guide the identification of suitable projects that can be implemented over five year periods. These interventions facilitate the expansion of tourism supply chains, and enable local people to become involved in the tourism sector. This document is the core manual in a series intended to provide skills to assist local people to identify opportunities presented by the tourism sector and to take advantage of them.
Article
This article uses experiences from South Africa to argue that, despite progress made in making biodiversity conservation compatible with social, political and economic changes, progress could still be limited by reluctance of social actors to acknowledge and engage with the issue of race. The article argues that acknowledging the history of conservation in Africa, including close ties to racially charged colonialism, could be a positive impetus in the transformation of conservation to make it more socially, economically and politically justifiable.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.