|dc.description.abstract||Ecotourism is rapidly growing throughout the world and is predicted to be one of the major growth areas heading toward the year 2000. This increase is predominantly due to the contemporary traveller becoming more interested in the natural environment. Ecotourism holds enormous potential for tourism experiences in natural areas, which can provide an economic rationale to protect ecological, cultural and social environments.
While significant benefits are associated with ecotourism, several management and development problems could severely limit this industry. The term "ecotourism" currently has no recognised definition, leading to generalisation of the term. This problem is compounded by the fact that in New Zealand there is no specific form of management or accreditation system for the industry. Ecotourism is also impeded by a lack of coordination between agencies associated with its development and management.
Interdisciplinary analysis is applied to examine the main benefits and problems associated with ecotourism, and reveals there are many controversial issues such as conflicting goals between conservation and tourism. Findings indicate that a significant opportunity exists to develop a fresh management approach to ecotourism in New Zealand.
A strategy has been selected as a potential management option, with the benefits of strategic planning being discussed. Examination of barriers hindering the use of a strategic approach, and other strategies related to ecotourism, are also outlined. Other possible management options are considered, but are found to be less suitable in comparison to a strategy.
To address the challenges associated with ecotourism in New Zealand; this report looks at the potential of an Ecotourism Strategy to provide solutions to the major problems facing this industry. From the identification of underlying problems, four "Key Issues" are selected. These include a lack of clarity, a lack of specific management, the nature of the industry and a lack of coordination. Testing these key issues against a "strategy" reveals that an ecotourism strategy is a very suitable option for progressing this resource management problem.
Findings indicate that a strategy has significant advantages to offer ecotourism, such as the ability to tackle complex issues related to an ecotourism definition, and the development of an accreditation system. A strategy can also provide direction for the industry through short and long-term planning, and in the provision of a comprehensive approach to management and development. Further benefits include the application of a "substantive coordination approach" in order to find "common goals" between agencies related to ecotourism.
Based on the analysis in this report it is recommended that an ecotourism strategy is adopted, and that an ecotourism association is a sensible precursor to this strategy. It is also recommended that the New Zealand Tourism Industry Association and the Tourism Policy Group are the agencies most suited to initiating an ecotourism strategy.||en