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Marine ecotourism – monitoring sustainable practice: Examples from the Florida Keys and Bahamas Stuart P. Cottrell, PhD Associate Professor, Global Tourism Coordinator Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State University

or is it

Marine ecotourism – challenges and pitfalls that we face – as illustrated in the Florida Keys and Bahamas

Broad Issues we face • Major types of tourism impacts – Coastal Development – Tourism Infrastructure (marine-based and island based) – Boat Induced Damage – Water-based activities – Wildlife Interactions (e.g. Focus on viewing Not swim-with programs)

Presentation • Sustainability context for tourism • Principles of Sustainable Tourism • Bahamas and Florida Keys • Thoughts to consider

What does Sustainable Development Look Like?

Classic Dimensions Sustainability Perspectives (People)

Products & services (Profit)

Processes (Planet)

Sustainability Framework (Spanenberg & Valentin, 1999)

Dimensions of Sustainability



Marine ecotourism Institutional


Simple Model of Tourism (Lindberg, 2005)

Tourism Market Information (green)

•Demands •Interests •Seasonality •Expenditure capability


Promotion •Promotion/marketing •Image and perception •Guidebooks/information

Facilities/ Services •Accommodation •Food •Shopping

People (black)

•To and within destinations •To and within attractions

Destination/ Attractions •National parks/forests •Museums •Festivals •Ski areas •Activities •Etc.

Impacts (red)

Local Environment •Natural •Economic •Socio-cultural

Relationship between mass tourism and Sustainable tourism – how would draw the relationship?



Or is it? (Weaver, 2001) Alternative

Mass The assumption that mass tourism by design is nonSustainable sustainable and, therefore, has nothing to do with sustainable development and the other way around ‘green’, ‘alternative’ or ‘new’ tourism inevitably meets the parameters of sustainable development is false

what is sustainable tourism? A concept of development and planning of tourism in order to protect and to preserve the environment in all its aspects (ecological, economic, cultural, and institutional) and to respect the way of life of local residents. Source: CEN

National Geographic

Honey’s Scorecard Involves travel to natural destinations Minimizes impact to natural environment Builds environmental awareness Provides direct financial benefits for conservation Provides direct financial benefits & empowerment for locals Respects local culture Supports human rights and democratic movements

Wallace Principles of Ecotourism Wallace Principles

Randomly Selected Indicators

1. Entails a type of use that minimizes negative impacts to the environment and to local people

Group size; equipment; type of information given visitors before and during field trips; measures of biophysical change; methods of waste disposal. disposal.

2. Increases the awareness and understanding of an area’ area’s natural and cultural systems and the subsequent involvement of visitors in issues affecting those systems.

Donations to local projects or NGOs; increased support for conservation/development projects; educational and interpretive experience for visitors; continued correspondence between locals and visitors.

3. Contributes to the conservation and management of legally protected and other natural areas.

Collaborative efforts between operators and protected area managers; managers; tours that encourage visitor interaction with protected area personnel; personnel; adherence to area regulations; development of management plans and and subsequent actions on private reserves; payment of established entrance fees and additional donations.

4. Maximizes the early and longlong-term participation of local people in the decisiondecision-making process that determines the kind and amount of tourism that should occur.

Strength and duration of local advisory and planning groups; development development of local ecotourism ventures and tour itineraries that conform to local local needs and schedules; the attitude that local people have towards ecotourism.

5. Directs economic and other benefits to local people that complement rather than overwhelm or replace traditional practices.

Increases or decreases in the diversity of economic activity, the the variety and value of items produced and purchased locally; services provided by concessionaires to locals; management zones for limited harvesting harvesting and other sustainable uses of an area’ ’ s resources by locals that area compliment traditional activities.

6. Provides special opportunities for local people and nature tourism employees to visit natural areas and learn more about the wonders that other visitors come to see.

Use of multimulti-tiered fee structures; use of the area for environmental education by local schools; number of opportunities for employees employees to occasionally accompany visitors on field tours; number of special special days, events, transportation arrangements for locals each year.

Components of Ecotourism 1. Contributes to conservation of biodiversity 2. Sustains well being of local people 3. Includes interpretation / learning experience 4. Involves responsible action on the part of tourists and the tourism industry 5. Delivered primarily to small groups by small-scale business 6. Requires lowest possible consumption of non-renewable resources 7. Stresses local participation, ownership and business opportunities, particularly for rural people.

Operationalizing the dimensions Stakeholders Institutional imperative - Pollution of environment and noise - Disturbing of plants and animals - Species extinction - Exhaustion of natural resources - Waste management (recycling, cleaning,...) - The change of aesthetic characteristics of the area

- interest and access to participate in sustainable tourism development - the level of cooperation and communication - the access of stakeholders in the decision making process - conflict management - future plans

Ecological imperative

Economical imperative -Increase of prices at (tourist) facilities or products - distribution of income and higher/lower paid jobs from tourism - usage of typical local products - equal gender chances at the tourism labor market

Socio-cultural imperative ST

- Crowding, too many tourists around - criminality, alcoholism, vandalism and drugs - urbanization, more buildings at the cost of the green area - Tolerance: local people being less tolerant against tourists - Accessibility for local people

What is Marine Ecotourism

Source. Garrod et al. (2002).

Examples Marine Ecotourism

Bahamas Case study

Marsh Harbour, Abaco

W.H. Albury, Schooner

Attentive students

Sustainability is all about law and order (Institutional context)

The Issue: Discovery Land Company – Bakers Bay • 495 acres with 125 acres of • • • • •

crown land sold 180-slip marina Tom Fazio golf course 450 lots available for sale 1 million to 12 million $ lots Open in 2008

Bakers Bay – Guana Key

Baker’s Bay Development

Look at our nature before we cut it all down for our sustainable development

Other side of the story • Evening session with • • •

organizer of NGO – Save Guana Cay Dive shop owner Representing community of 120 Focus on Crown land

Dimensions of Sustainability Is tourism in the Bahamas sustainable – hmm - who the

heck knows… Perhaps its about tradeoffs and compromise. All we can do is be aware and try our best to strive for a balance – for uncluttered Economic Social lines – to avoid kinks – and unnecessary Bahamas Tourism knots… Life is full of challenges and opportunities and the William H. and her crew gave us that glimpse of Institutional Environmental the wonders and values life and the environment offers. Its up to us to do with it what we will………..

One Hundred Miles of Isles and Smiles •Chain of islands located off the southern tip of Florida •40+ bridges more than 150 miles •US1 is the only road in or out of the Keys •Small communities found along the highway •Mile marker indicates location

Residents Residents

Institutional dimension

Ecological dimension

Economical dimension

Socio-cultural dimension

Florida Keys Quality of Life

Fishing capital of the world

Lifestyles and Cultural Patterns

Unique outlook on life 1982 Keys - foreign country Blockade at the border

Political Structures •Rise and Fall of an Empire •New Nation State - Conch Republic

Conch Republic, 1982, Key West secession Government never reacted Conch Republic is alive and well

Cultural Idealism

Culture of its own

Demographic & Economic Changes

•Discovered in 1513 by Ponce de Leon •Calusa Indians and Pirates lived there until 1822 •Settlers - Key limes, tamarind and breadfruit •Shark & Fishing industry prospered along with pineapples •Key West became wealthiest city in US due to salvaging •Sponge harvesting and cigar makers from Cuba

Transitions, Mobility & Migration

•Henry Flagler’s impossible road to the sea (1912) - 7 years and 500 men •Shabby days in 1930’s - Great Depression •Hurricane of 1935 •Overseas Hwy opened in 1938 - 7 hours travel from Key Largo to Key West (118 miles)

Economic dependance: Obvious Support for Tourism •Complex marine ecosystem supports tourism and commercial fishing, the economic foundation of the Florida Keys. •Tourism industry has grown to over four million domestic and foreign visitors who drive, fly or cruise each year to the most accessible tropical paradise in the Caribbean Basin. •82,000 Residents: Tourists and semi-permanent residents increase this population by 75% during "season" (November to April). •This ecosystem's extensive nursery, feeding and breeding grounds also support a multi-million dollar commercial fishing industry that lands nearly 20 million pounds of seafood and marine products annually.

Land Use

•220 miles consisting of 42 islands connected by 40+ bridges •82,000 residents •4 million visitors per year •3rd largest barrier reef in the world

Pollution, over harvest, physical impacts, overuse, and use conflicts as continuing to occur in the Keys •Agricultural Runoff •Boating/Reef Impacts •Anchoring •Grounding •Storms •Lobstering

Environmental Ideologies Obvious local concern Dive Industry Schools & Organizations •Ten Commandments Visitor Survey in 1996: Environmental Concern Index. • 37% of visitors placed a very high priority on protection of the environment • 57% were concerned about protection of the environment. • 94% percent of all recreating visitors to the Florida Keys/Key West were concerned to very concerned about protecting the environment.

Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary

Created in 1990

How Sanctuary was created Knowledge-based Consensus Building •series of workshops •set of public scoping meetings •relevant information from experts NOAA recognized need for working teams (Four local teams) Focus on Management and Action Toward Integrated, Continuous Management

Concerns • Continued cost of living – displacement of

service sector • How much is too much – carrying capacity (e.g., US 1 route expansion) • Reef depletion, coral bleaching, nutrification • Global warming and climate change

Thoughts for consideration • • • • • • • •

Be careful with the term “Best practice” Blueprint for success Specialty niche tourism Focus on low volume high quality (Botswana) Local – global nexus (Simon Milne, Richard Sharpley) Butler (1999) perspective – how can you examine sustainability at the local level Leave no trace – is there really such a thing People, profit, planet – the institutional mechanisms (management, principles for ST, politics etc.)

• Is marine ecotourism sustainable – “good

question”. Sustainability is a matter of values and perspectives. Although Butler and others depict a grave picture, without perspective and guidelines such as offered by the ecotourism sector – then we might be a lot worse off than we are – in the tourism development sector.

Look there – perhaps sustainable development is no development Thank you

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