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Asia gets serious about ecotourism

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Ecotourism integrated into national programs
Recognising the high-yield, low-impact benefits of ecotourism, governments in Southeast Asia are now putting serious efforts into developing this market by including sustainable and responsible travel in national planning policies.
The first-ever ASEAN Ecotourism Forum, which took place in Pakse in Laos last week, saw the adoption of the Pakse Declaration, which will lead to a roadmap for the strategic development of ecotourism clusters and tourism corridors.
Observers in Indonesia, for example, foresee “big potential for marine tourism” and ecotourism projects contributing up to 10% of the country’s tourism market within the next five years.
Indonesia will integrate ecotourism into the national masterplan this year, in addition to identifying destinations like Toba Lake, Labuan Bajo and Mandalika as priority areas for ecotourism development.
The Malaysia National Ecotourism Plan for this year will be using the cluster approach – grouping a critical mass of competitive and complementary tourism products in a geographical area – as a planning tool to foster integration.
For Thailand, bringing standards at ecological sites, national parks and historical cultural centres to international levels is a key concern. Besides working with global organisations like the UNWTO to pursue internationally recognised standards, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has rolled out the Seven Greens campaign to promote responsible travel and destinations.
However, many areas still need the strong support of governments in the ecotourism development field.
TTG Asia

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