Emerging Industry Forum
There is no travel without learning and no learning without
The final results have been delivered and posted
from the Emerging Industry Forum, a three week dialogue with
40 active participants from 16 countries and 237 registered
observers which took place November 1-18, 2005 on Planeta.com.
The forum has been viewed more than 200,000 times.
report is available.
Megan Epler Wood, of
– the co-organizer of the forum, created the Executive
Summary to deliver the important recommendations that resulted
from this forum to donors and all those active in ecotourism
development in short form.
“Ecotourism has evolved greatly in the last 10 years as
a sustainable development tool,” notes EplerWood. ”The
fact that industry was deeply involved in this forum gives it
particular relevance because sustainability outcomes are only
possible if ecotourism businesses are becoming more competitive
Participants recommended that donors take a new more business
friendly approach that fosters small businesses directly and
does not hinge on working with NGOs. Financing for ecotourism
programs also needs to be moved to small and medium enterprises
(SMEs), and SMEs should be given the tools to finance the development
and marketing of community based partner enterprises.
Participants stated that community based ecotourism development
requires all the same approaches as other businesses, but all
agreed that more time is needed to undertake community involvement
procedures, and that these time consuming factors need to be
factored into the design of donor projects.
Participants found that building green is a regional development
issue. It was recommended that development agencies create regional
plans for sustainable and ecotourism development where the costs
of sustainability can be shared. Too many ecotourism projects
have been developed in isolation of larger development projects.
Ron Mader of Planeta.com
also points out that, “financial institutions need to
post current public information about sustainable tourism investments
online on their websites. We can on only track the progress
of ecotourism development if there is more transparent information
on line which actually provides independently monitored results
of the projects funded.”
ABOUT THE FORUM
The Ecotourism Emerging Industry Forum was designed to provide
professionally moderated, up-to-date results on small and medium
enterprise (SME) priorities for funding and investment decisions
for sustainable tourism in developing countries.
The Emerging Industry Forum was organized as seven dialogue
areas: Developing Infrastructure for Sustainable Tourism, Private
Sector/Public Sector Collaboration, Finance for SMEs, Communities
and SMEs, Marketing and Market Development, Interpretive Programs,
Triple Bottom Line Business Structures and Strategies. According
to forum statistics, the most popular topic was Marketing. Participants
discussed the projects they themselves had developed, the challenges
they faced, and the possibilities for improving future ecotourism
The e-conference was a showcase of creative collaboration. Having
an extended lead time permitted conversations about the real
needs of today's SMEs and donors seeking entry into sustainable
at twentysomething - Oliver Hillel
is the first website focusing on ecotourism and sustainable
travel. Created in 1994, the site has more than 10,000 pages
and has garnered numerous awards, including honors from the
Mexican government and groups including Conservation International
and the Council of Latin American Geographers.
(email) is a private
consulting firm specializing in business, market analysis, product
development, planning, training and marketing of ecotourism
and sustainable tourism.
Funding for the Ecotourism Emerging Industry Forum came from
the SNV Netherlands
Development Organisation, Conservation
International and Balam
Consultores. Additional support came from USAID,
and the Development
For featuring news of the event, special thanks to Ambos
Gateway: Aid Effectiveness, Development
Gateway: Environment, e-Review
of Tourism Research, ECOCLUB,
Society of Environmental Journalists,
News about the summary report appears online ECOLUB,
Web and World