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Ecotourism development in Bulgaria - and more (09/07/04)
Hello CEPA list members:
Following my last message about the Ranger Interpretation Handbook, here's another initiative that I learned about at the Valsaín meeting, Spain. This information on a protocol, national strategy and action plan for ecotourism in Bulgaria came from Kamelia Georgieva from the Biodiversity Conservation and Economic Growth Project in Bulgaria. I've also added some information on available tourism guidelines at the end of this message which may be of interest.
In 2002 the Ministries of Economy, Environment and Waters, and Agriculture and Forests in Bulgaria signed a Protocol for Cooperation in the field of ecotourism, a fast-developing field worldwide that has the potential to bring great benefits to local communities, tourists and the environment. In this Protocol the three ministries provided the following national definition of ecotourism - a definition that firmly identifies ecotourism as a tool for sustainable development for rural populations:
<<The Ministries endorse the common understanding of ecotourism as travel to relatively undamaged natural areas, aimed at providing visitors with opportunities to view and enjoy nature and all accompanying cultural attractions, while at the same time encouraging their preservation and allowing the lowest possible impact. Ecotourism is also a form of small and medium enterprise development, which ensures the social and economic vitality of the local population, and the just allocation of responsibilities and benefits. Ecotourism comprises important elements of nature protection, conservation education, interpretation of the natural and cultural heritage, and it complies with all forms of sustainable tourism.>>
Bulgaria was one of the first countries in the world to adopt and apply the Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development (available on-line here http://www.biodiv.org/decisions/default.aspx?id=7751) produced by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and they have been used to guide the process of developing and planning Bulgaria's National Ecotourism Strategy and Action Plan (available as a PDF file here http://www.ecotourism.bulgariatravel.org/docs/book_obrir_ENG.pdf - it's a 7MB download so be patient!).
For some background on the strategy and its implementation here's some text from the preamble to the National Strategy:
<<This document was created through a nationwide review and planning process with the participation of citizens, local government, businesses, parks, and non-governmental organizations interested in ecotourism development in Bulgaria. The consensus that was achieved guarantees that the identified objectives will be accomplished.
The successful implementation of the National Ecotourism Strategy and Action Plan depends to an exceptional degree on the initiative of local authorities, national, regional and local tourism associations, protected area and cultural site managers, NGOs, and private businesses. For its part, the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria has committed itself to implement the ecotourism strategy and the action plan. We will soon start to make additional resources available. And we will continue to rely on partnerships with all that are interested in the future of nature and culture - ecotourism in Bulgaria.>>
The web site that has been developed specifically on this Bulgarian ecotourism initiative is easy to navigate and has useful materials available for download in English http://www.ecotourism.bulgariatravel.org/index_e.htm. I'm sure too that Kamelia (email@example.com) would be happy to supply further information to interested readers.
Also of relevance to those interested in sustainable tourism is a recently published manual from UNESCO: <<Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites: a Practical Manual for World Heritage Site Managers>> by Arthur Pedersen. It's available for download in PDF format here http://whc.unesco.org/series/papers_01.pdf.
And another set of guidelines in the same vein comes from IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas. In 2002 they published << Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas: Guidelines for Planning and Management>> by Paul F. J. Eagles, Stephen F. McCool and Christopher D. Haynes. This can be downloaded in PDF format here http://www.iucn.org/themes/wcpa/pubs/pdfs/tourism_guidelines.pdf.
That should keep you busy for a while!
With best wishes, Sandra Hails, Ramsar Secretariat
Sandra Hails, CEPA Programme Officer
Ramsar Convention Secretariat
Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 999 0176; Fax: +41 22 999 0169
Web Site: http://ramsar.org
CEPA mini-Web site: http://ramsar.org/outreach_index.htm