Cancel the `Year of Ecotourism'.
The UN proclamation of 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism e·co·tour·ism
Tourism involving travel to areas of natural or ecological interest, typically under the guidance of a naturalist, for the purpose of observing wildlife and learning about the environment. (IYE IYE Yemenia Yemen Airways (ICAO code)
IYE In Your Eye (gaming clan) ) has created a major debate because of the growing awareness that the ecotourism industry is not as benign as initially believed. In many studies conducted around the world, ecotourism falls short of the ideals inherent in the principles it promotes -- conservation of nature and cultures, benefits to local people and local participation.
There are grave concerns that the IYE will result in misconceived mis·con·ceive
tr.v. mis·con·ceived, mis·con·ceiv·ing, mis·con·ceives
To interpret incorrectly; misunderstand.
mis mass-tourism that inevitably will exacerbate the degradation of ecosystems, loss of biological and cultural diversity, disruption of local economies, and displacement and dispossession The wrongful, nonconsensual ouster or removal of a person from his or her property by trick, compulsion, or misuse of the law, whereby the violator obtains actual occupation of the land. Dispossession encompasses intrusion, disseisin, or deforcement. of communities and indigenous peoples The term indigenous peoples has no universal, standard or fixed definition, but can be used about any ethnic group who inhabit the geographic region with which they have the earliest historical connection. .
Consequently, a coalition of citizens from the South and North has urged the World Tourism Organization (WTO See World Trade Organization. ) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP UNEP United Nations Environment Program(me)
UNEP Unbundled Network Element Platform
UNEP University of Northeastern Philippines ) to reassess the IYE in collaboration with affected communities.
Because nature-based tourism is one of the world's most lucrative niche markets, powerful transnational corporations are likely to exploit the IYE to impose their own definitions of ecotourism, while people-centered initiatives will be squeezed out.
The WTO and UNEP have acknowledged that there is "little consensus" about the meaning of ecotourism. The agencies also have recognized the need to avoid ecotourism's "past shortcomings A shortcoming is a character flaw.
Shortcomings may also be:
Myth of the Green Tourist
A survey by the Bangkok daily, The Nation, found that under the pretext of ecotourism, massive development projects -- some involving logging -- were in full steam in national parks This is a list of national parks ordered by nation. Africa
It is not difficult to imagine how the lYE could serve as a justification to turn the last nature reserves into concrete jungles.
The Greater Mekong Sub-region development scheme covers a vast area comprising Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Yunnan/China. The project's ecotourism plan heavily relies on the implementation of the Asian Development Bank Asian Development Bank
A financial_institution established in 1966 to reduce poverty in the Asia-Pacific region. The bank is headquartered in Manila, Philippines and consists of 61 member countries. mega-infrastructure program, which includes the construction of highways, airports, ports, megadams and entire cities.
The plan would resettle resettle
[-tling, -tled] to settle to live in a different place
Verb 1. 60 million ethnic highlanders from their homeland as part of the project's controversial "watershed conservation" program. The governments would "compensate" the refuges by offering them "ecotourism jobs."
Once the major bottlenecks in infrastructure are removed, the project's emphasis will shift from ecotourism and village tourism to the promotion of "all segments of the tourism market." For the Mekong region, at least, ecotourism is not an approach that implies the persistence of small-scale and community-based activity. It is rather used by official agencies and private industry as a springboard to develop mainstream mass tourism.
Hotels, Logging and Biopiracy bi·o·pi·ra·cy
The commercial development of naturally occurring biological materials, such as plant substances or genetic cell lines, by a technologically advanced country or organization without fair compensation to the peoples or nations in
The idea that ecotourism is a viable alternative to more unsustainable development activities is a myth. Because tourism provides the physical infrastructure for freer movement of people and goods within countries and across borders, ecotounsm has opened opportunities for investors to gain access to remote rural, forest, coastal and marine areas. The more transportation systems that are established, the more encroachments, illegal logging Illegal logging is the harvest, transportation, purchase or sale of timber in violation of national laws. The harvesting procedure itself may be illegal, including using corrupt means to gain access to forests; extraction without permission or from a protected area; the cutting of , mining and plundering of biological resources occur.
The ecotourism boom has given rise to a new multi-billion dollar business -- the illicit collection, smuggling smuggling, illegal transport across state or national boundaries of goods or persons liable to customs or to prohibition. Smuggling has been carried on in nearly all nations and has occasionally been adopted as an instrument of national policy, as by Great Britain and trade in marketable biological resources. In 1998, the World Customs Organization The World Customs Organization (WCO) is an intergovernmental organization that helps Members (Governments usually represented by Customs administrations from 170 countries) communicate and co-operate on customs issues. warned that this unprecedented illegal global trade in flora and fauna has resulted in vast damages and economic losses.
There is evidence that biotechnology companies are sending scouts around the world -- often posing as tourists -- to discover genes that have commercial value for the drug and food industry. Ecotourism makes biopiracy and illicit bio-prospecting easy because local people are often employed as "nature interpreters" to guide visitors in biodiversity-rich places and share their knowledge about indigenous biological resources.
Ecotourism's "bad" policies and practices far outweigh the "good" examples. We fear that the lYE, in combination with the globalization globalization
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation policies, will make things worse.
A Call to Reconsider
Mr. Secretary General, we appeal to the UN to re-focus the program and change the name of the International Year of Ecotourism to the International Year of Reviewing Ecotourism (IYRE).
The new name will convey an unmistakable message to the international community that 2002 is not a time for celebrating the ecotourism industry but is meant as a period to reflect, take stock and search for solutions to the problems associated with ecotourism
The Reviewing Ecotounsm campaign will more aptly fit the agenda of Earth Summit 2002, which includes a review of sustainable development, including sustainable tourism. The re-focused program should advance ecological protection, economic equity, social justice and human rights over commercial interests. The IYRE will be less susceptible to abuse by profiteers and privileged minority groups.
We propose that the UN establish an International Commission on Ecotourism involving representatives from governments, communities and indigenous groups, nongovernment organizations, the private sector, academia and other concerned actors. A World Ecotourism Summit is planned from May 19-21, 2002, in Canada, as the main event of the International Year of Ecotourism. We believe that it is more appropriate to schedule this summit towards the end of 2002, after the Commission on Ecotourism has presented its report.
Unless the WTO and UNEP agree to initiate a comprehensive and sincere reassessment, we shall direct all our efforts to resist the IYE. We demand a complete review of ecotourism issues that take into consideration the political, social, economic and developmental conditions and the serious issues of globalization.
What You Can Do For more information, visit the Third World Network website [www.twnside.org.sg]. Contact UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer [Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya, www.unep.org] and UNEP Tourism Programme Coordinator Oliver Hillel [Tour Mirabeau, 39-43 Quai Andre Citroen 75739 Paris - Cedex 15, France].
Chee Yoke Ling, Anita Pleumarom, and Meenakshi Raman work on behalf of the Third World Network, the Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, and Consumers Association of Penang.