Monthly Archives: July 2013

Ecotourism vs. Sustainable Tourism

Areas of Expertise, Economic Growth, Environment & NRM by kgenereux

Photo credit: Sustainable Futures

980 million people traveled internationally in 2010, a 4% increase over the previous year, and forecasts expect 1.6 billion tourists by the year 2020. Travel & Tourism as a sector accounts for 258 million jobs globally, and provides crucial opportunities for investment, economic growth, and fostering cultural awareness.  Tourism can also be a powerful tool for tackling major challenges such as conservation and poverty alleviation.

But how do environmentally and socially conscious travelers navigate the complex differences between ecotourism, sustainable tourism, socially responsible tourism and the other myriad forms of traveling responsibly?

Ecotourism vs Sustainable Tourism

Industry consensus agrees ecotourism is more focused on ecological conservation and educating travelers on local environments and natural surroundings, whereas sustainable tourism focuses on travel that has minimal impact on the environment and local communities. Ecotourism is a form of tourism, or a category of vacation similar to beach, adventure, health, or cultural, while the concept of sustainability can be applied to all types of tourism.

As established by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) in 1990, ecotourism is “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” Another widely cited definition of ecotourism is “purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the culture and natural history of the environment; taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem; producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of natural resources beneficial to local people.”

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism practices around the world. GSTC and its global members of UN agencies, global travel companies, hotels, tourism boards and tour operators follow the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The 23 criteria focus on best practices to sustain natural and cultural resources, maximize social and economic benefits for the local community, and minimize negative impacts to the environment.

Currently there is no internationally accredited body charged with overseeing the standards, monitoring and assessment, or certification for the ecotourism or sustainable tourism industries. Without an established standard it is easy to be confused by organizations that greenwash services and offerings as “environmentally friendly.” Others argue that ecotourism is an oxymoron, as travel implicitly entails activities that are detrimental to the environment. Planes, trains and automobiles use harmful fossil fuels that emit CO2, and forestland is often cleared for roads and railways.

Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism in Action

Photo Credit: Visit Costa Rica

Costa Rica was a pioneer in ecotourism and exemplifies how tourism can be a key pillar of economic development policy. Costa Rica is now the premiere destination for ecotourism, and in 2010 tourism contributed 5.5% of the country’s GDP. Jordan serves as another model of successfully integrating conservation and socio-economic development. Ecotourism generated $2.1 million in 2010, and Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature has received several global awards for its success in alleviating poverty and creating employment for local communities, in combination with integrating nature conservation.

Myriad sites offer options for tours and hotels that cater to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable type of traveling experience. The New York Times travel section allows viewers to search potential destinations using ecotourism as a criteria, and Condé Nast Traveler highlights Ecotourism and Sustainable Travel under Expert Travel Tips.

The Earthwatch Institute, organizes trips where travelers work alongside scientists and explorers on field expeditions and Sierra Club’s travel arm Sierra Club Outing allows environmentalist to learn something on vacation and inflict minimal harm on the surrounding environment.

At the industry level, hotels and resorts are taking on sustainability commitments that focus on recycling, decreasing water and energy usage, reducing greenhouse gas emissions,and environmentally friendly design. Many in the industry show a commitment to a holistic approach to sustainability which includes  the construction of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings, providing eco-friendly and organic food and wine selections, and rewarding guests who make “green choices.” Marriott, which boasts 2,800 hotels worldwide, offers guests hotel points or vouchers for the hotel restaurant should they choose to not having linens and towels washed daily.

Understanding the difference between sustainable tourism and ecotourism educates travelers on the significant impact their travel decisions have on the environment, economy and local communities they visit. Participating in sustainable tourism, or more specifically ecotourism vacations, means travelers can contribute to development and conservation efforts, while enjoying themselves on vacation.

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Industry of Tourism ” Sudan”

Sudan was gifted by all types of tourism factors such as long beaches, beautiful landscapes, good nature and archeological sites in different parts of the country.
Tourism has become an important industry nowadays and it contributes and brings a huge amount of money to increase the public revenue of countries. The problem that faces tourism in Sudan is the absence of a set plan, tourists’ needs in, how to attract them and types of laws that should be made?
Tourism will bring hard currency and open Sudan to the world.
The plan must address foreigners; this mean that we need to deal with different cultures, traditions and habits.
Archeologists have to convey ancient areas and to inform tourists about Sudan, its history, food and all interesting aspects related to tourism.
The Minister of Investment in Sudan has prepared an investment plan which targeted all states and each of them submitted a proposal about the type of tourism it will present. On behalf of the country, the ministry of investment will present to the market of tourism laws to regulate tourism investment.
The country needs to facilitate the mission of investors and encourage them through flexible legislations.

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It is not difficult to create a good atmosphere and offer tourism services based on international criteria. However, this dream has been translated into action by Al-Saraf Tourism Complex, a national company managed to penetrate the world of tourism through a Sudanese restaurant called Al-Housh. This complex was designed to receive ambassadors, international organizations and all foreigners from different parts of the world. The restaurant has an international staff, which is well trained to serve people of multi-cultures.

Those who stand behind the idea managed to create an attractive, breath taking Nile beach in Omdurman.
The Sudanese government appreciated the idea and promised to encourage national investors and to host guests to establish businesses in Sudan.

Climate Change Impact on Wildlife and Eco-tourism

It is clear that there are significant and continuing reduction to the global biological diversity and this is due to several reasons. The most important ones are the environment changes and the misuse of natural resources. Today most of environment changes are related to the climate factors. Sudan has several wildlife habitats distributed along the different ecological zones. Each habitat has its own adaptation wild species. Species are distributed in and outside the protected areas.

Many protected areas are protecting essential habitats and ecosystems of national wealth. The major impacts of climate change on wildlife habitats are changing animals’ range and distribution, habitats quality and the timing of migration. Climate change has potential effects on most migratory bird species and migration route. The climate change had especial impacts on marine mammals when the plankton and sea temperature are influenced by the change in the climate. Also the reptiles which have repetition migration may be faced by many hazards caused by climate change . It is reported that the climate change is expected to alter the distribution and abundance of many species.
Ecotourism means the use of natural resources for the benefits and enjoyment of human beings, but in a sustainable ways. The tourism industry in Sudan is till a new business. The diverse ecosystem, many protected areas, which are rich with fauna and flora, and the diverse traditional cultural folklore aspects could contribute positively to the development of ecotourism investment in Sudan. The sectors related to ecotourism industry are also affected by climate change. It is reported that the climate change is impacting most forms of nature based tourism experiences and destinations.
Several areas of research .including wildlife ecology, biology, food habits, behavior ,wildlife management ,wildlife habitat ,watershed management ,diseases, socio-economics studies ,etc;  had been conducted by the Wildlife Research Center and other research institutes and universities, in the different ecosystems and protected areas of Sudan.

Recently studies conducted in Al Sabaloga Game reserve concluded that: Indices of climate fluctuations (for 30 years period) and changes are observed, consequently the habitats were deteriorated, some wild animals disappeared and some are threatened with extinction.

Wildlife Research Priorities include: Inventory studies of the current status of habitats, factors of climate change and their impact on the different taxonomic groups, identification and assessment of possible adaptive responses and the use of remote sensing techniques in studies of climate change changes habitats and ecosystems. Wildlife management and proper adaptive programs should be one among the main priorities of the government strategies and policies towards the sustainability of these resources.

The paper ended by a number of recommendations, the main were:

1. Studies should focus on inventory, monitoring and assessing the available wildlife resources. Assessing the management problems and measures of risks in the region and formulate certain measures for adaptation and mitigation as related to CBD and Climate Change Convention.

2. More focus should be put on the important role of the Media.

3. The need for land use plans incorporating climate change mitigation and adaptation should incorporate sufficient coordination among the different natural resources institutions including Wildlife Administration.

4. Wildlife management and proper adaptive program should be one among the main priorities of the government strategies and policies towards the sustainability of these resources for the economic and recreational values.

5. Addressing climate change requires unprecedented global cooperation across borders. The international organizations are helping and supporting developing countries and contributing to a global solution by step up policy research .knowledge, and capacity building. Seeking the international support to develop strategies to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity is a must.

6. Joint research programmes are needed to cover gaps in wildlife research topics linked to other disciplines. Wildlife research (especially in climate change issues) should be among the first priorities in government strategies that could be enhanced through capacity development of humans and institutes.

By Alula Berhe Kidani,

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Tourism Prospects in Sudan

Desert Tourism

Most tourists who visit Sudan, especially the Northern State and the Nile State are usually travelers who are interested in history. Those two states were the sites of all prehistory Kingdoms that prevailed for centuries, and left treasures of historical monuments, buildings and relics, some of which are still to be discovered, as the signs of recent excavations say.

But both States have other tourism prospects that can attract tourists from different parts of the world. They both have vast Saharan areas of arid land, desert, Sandy hills and mountains that can attract those who love adventure,.
These parts of Northern Sudan include three deserts: Bayuda desert, Nubian Desert and Western Desert where the famous Jebel Uweinat, with its mysterious mountains on the border with Egypt and Libya.

Bayuda desert

The word Bayuda in Arabic is derived from a word which makes the stem for the word “White” in English. The name might have come from the contrast created by the black stone mountains and the light coloured sand that are adjacent in the area.

It is the desert area within the Northern State where the river Nile seems to flow back southwards. This territory is mainly a stony desert, with various black volcanic mountain cones. This plus some low lands and dry rivers (Wadis). The acacia trees, grasses and bushes that grow there make it a good pasture land for nomadic tribes for their herds of animals especially camels, cows and donkeys.

The place is toured by nomadic tribes that use portable tents or huts built of dry wood branches.

Visitors enjoy camel riding and racing games. They also enjoy hunting wild (Ghuzlan) Gazelles. Bedwins (Desert People) there usually hunt them for their meat but most importantly for their skins which they use their leather as shoes, bags, water containers and carriers.

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