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Methodical recommendations on ecotourism

2008-07-07 - 2008-12-24

Ecotourism is a globally growing tourism sector with a potential of being an important sustainable development tool. It can successfully be developed in Lithuania too and provide highly valuable benefits: conserving natural areas, educating visitors about sustainability and benefiting local people. However, despite of the fact that ecotourism development is included in the National tourism development programme for 2007-2013 as one of priority aims, it had a low profile in real life until now. There was even no clarity in the very conceptual basis of ecotourism, what led to frequent misuse of the term and devaluation of the concept itself. This study, initiated by the Lithuanian state department of tourism, aims at contributing to ecotourism development in the country by setting the general methodological basis.

The starting point of the study was a thorough analysis of globally existing ecotourism concepts, defining the role of ecotourism and proposing a single comprehensive ecotourism definition with a set of general principles. Further analysis included the most important factors affecting ecotourism development on the global and European scale and their influence on ecotourism perspectives in Lithuania followed by the basic preconditions for starting up ecotourism in the country, which included setting up regulatory mechanisms for use of the ecotourism term, product/service certification and assuring financial support.

The study also covers an overview of typical ecotourism products and their main features, highlights the need for relevant education and competences important for successful development of these products. Potential foreign and local markets for ecotourism products were analyzed basing on general trends in tourism development. This analysis provides a general view of existing markets from the ecotourism perspective, however more detailed study including analysis of tourists' motivations, expectations and social values is needed for better understanding of the markets and proper marketing planning.

Special attention in the study was paid to interrelation between rural tourism and ecotourism. The main principles and guidelines to be followed by rural tourism entrepreneurs aiming at developing ecotourism products are shortly described. Nationally adapted detailed "green key" programme requirements are suggested as a tool that can be used for reducing rural households' environmental impact until complete national ecotourism certification requirements are prepared.

The study also analyses natural environment and conditions for ecotourism development in Lithuania. It focuses on protected areas, their location, conservation status, related legal regulations and provides general guidelines for prioritizing areas for ecotourism development and site-level planning of ecotourism business and infrastructure. A list and brief description of nature-based infrastructure (nature paths, routes, visitor centres) that is already available in state protected areas and guidelines for building infrastructure in nature are annexed to the study.


Methodical recommendations for ecotourism development (Lithuanian languange)

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