Seven focus areas are recommended to steer the ecotourism industry in creative thinking and timely solutions towards sustainability.
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A new declaration dated January 30 highlights the need for businesses and tourism organizations to take urgent climate action during tourism seasons.
The Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) along with Chengdu tourism leaders issued the AEN Xiling Snow Mountain Declaration of Climate Change Adaptation and Redefining Ecotourism Seasonality on 7 January 2020. AEN hopes that the declaration will be adopted in Asia Pacific countries to adjust to actual or expected climate and seasonal challenges in a sustainable manner.
There are indications that many businesses are still unaware of the gravity of climate change and the need for proper management of tourism. “The fact that climate change and its effects are already influencing the patterns and periods of the season, actions need to be taken without any more delay,” said Mr. Masaru Takayama, Chairman of AEN. “The venue at Xiling Snow Mountain is no different from other tourism destinations. In issuing the declaration, we hope to demonstrate to our ecotourism friends that this issue needs to be tackled immediately.”
According to the Declaration, seven areas should be the focus of climate action in tourism seasonality, which governmental and tourism organizations such as Destination Management Organizations should take note of as follows:
- Understand the dynamism of climate change and seasonality that affect tourism seasonality;
- Be aware of credible carbon offset activities that can be undertaken to alleviate the travel-induced impacts;
- Take actions on minimizing carbon footprint through practical tourism design and operation;
- Seek effective strategies to climate and seasonal adaptation that benefit the local people, visitors, and the industry;
- Provide tourism stakeholders and the industry with environmental education opportunities in particular with climate and seasonal adaptations;
- Create favorable conditions for community participation to maintain their sustainable livelihood;
- Encourage Asia Pacific countries to learn from each other, share good practices, and achieve our common Sustainable Development Goals.
“To elaborate on the fifth focus area, a destination must first monitor the tourists coming in and out, from where, to where, how many, on what transportation, and the impacts that their businesses are making by using fuels for energy. Then they can strategise how to mitigate these human-induced impacts through low carbon initiatives and carbon offsetting. Locals also need to learn how they can contribute, and the older people need to tell the young how the world was before this global problem kicked in,” said Takayama.
The declaration was an outcome of a forum held on 7-9 January 2020 that was attended by more than 40 regional tourism experts and participants. Themed “Redefining Ecotourism Seasonality”, it was timed to coincide with the Semi-Annual General Meeting of AEN at Xiling Snow Mountain. There, following in-depth exchange of views and discussion of representatives, the Declaration on Xiling Snow Mountain was unanimously adopted.
Ecotourism is a powerful tool to sustain the well-being of the local people, conserve culture and environment, and create knowledge and understanding through interpretation and education. However, the unpredictability of climate presents challenges. “During low and shoulder seasons, businesses need to be more creative and focus on the right target groups, rather than anticipating anyone. In addition, the cold climate areas need to think of an efficient heating while tropical areas think of optimal cooling, avoiding the dependency on fossil fuel for energy source,” added Takayama.
About the Asian Ecotourism Network
Founded in 2015, Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) is an organisation that promotes ecotourism standards for the conservation of the environment and communities within Asia Pacific. It provides training programmes and marketing events to facilitate learning and business opportunities among members. On 23 January 2019, a joint declaration was signed in Chiayi, Taiwan by AEN and Taiwan Ecotourism Association to ensure the sustainable development of indigenous communities through ecotourism.
Visit www.asianecotourism.org for more information on AEN and its activities.