Chapter 23: Ecotourism: planning for rural development in developing nations
Tourism, including ecotourism, can be a strong component of development for rural areas, taking advantage of ecological and cultural assets in areas where such resources may be among the only ones available. To achieve this goal, tourism must be planned as a component of overall development planning at all scales. This chapter outline show ecotourism planning can be used as a tool for rural development in developing countries. The chapter establishes the characteristics of good planning processes in natural destinations and for ecotourism enterprises, while outlining some of the challenges that can arise. Best practice planning processes and programmes incorporate all elements of sustainable development: economic, environmental and social considerations. The discussion concentrates on implications for local economic development while sustaining the resources on which ecotourism is based. Key factors such as strengthening opportunities for local employment and training, enterprise ownership and revenue generation through supply of products and services are addressed. Information is also provided to guide planners in sourcing useful planning approaches and tools. Ecotourism can benefit from integrating tourism planning into sustainable development planning at all scales, with particular attention to the sensitivity of the cultural and natural assets to which this form of tourism is more strongly linked than others.
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