Traveling, or tourism, constitute one of the most popular branches of services and ensures a huge source of income in the world economic system, while “the increase of technology and transportation in the last halfcentury has led to the ease and availability of travel” (Darowski et al. 2006). If it were not for “revenues from tourism even the world's strongest and most prosperous countries could shake” (Open Travel 2011).
According to the statement by Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Taleb D. Rifai, expressed during the 4th Astana Economic Forum in May 2011, “world's tourism income in 2010 hit USD 1.3 trln” (Baimanov 2011).
Mr Taleb D. Rifai noted that "each of 12 jobs in the world falls on tourism sector… Tourism generates income, builds infrastructure and helps establishing mutually beneficial relations between countries" (Baimanov 2011), which is especially significant nowadays.
The geography of ecological tourism is extremely wide. In developed countries, such as the USA, Canada, Australia, its popularity is secured and promoted by numerous national parks.
One of the possibilities to reduce the amount of emissions, at least those produced by tourists´ transport, is ecotourism. As a separate direction of tourist branch the ecotourism started to develop in the late 80es, but it did not get real advancement till 1990 (Tourism management 1998, pp. 178-179). Nowadays it is one of the most dynamical sectors of the world tourist market with about 1015 % of annual growth. According to the definition created by the International Ecotourism Society back in 1990, ecotourism is: “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people… uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel" (TIES 2011).
The general requirements for ecotourism are simple: “a basic understanding of ecological issues and a conscience” (Global Oneness 2010). That is, low-emission options are preferable, such as coastal ferries, extensive rail links, motor coaches, non-stop coach flights, low-polluting vehicles, etc.
A key principle of this kind of tourism is to reduce to the minimum the negative influence on ecosystem of the visited region, including emissions of carbonic gas in atmosphere (World of Tropical Nature 2010).
So, tourists are recommended to limit consumption of energy, heat and water, to use production with recyclable packing with a possibility of biochemical decomposition and secondary processing; whenever possible to choose the habitation constructed with use of non-polluting and power saving materials and equipped with the system of recycling of waste… Besides, it is advisable to use already existing camping and tourist tracks, without creating new ones, to make thrifty use of local inhabitants (for example, to observe of animals in their natural habitat) (Danilov, Sannik 2001, pp. 85 88).
It is difficult to estimate when exactly ecotourism became an option to simple tourism. Some scientists stated that already in 1988 there were up to 236 million ecotourists (Campbell 1999, pp. 534-553). But although this seems to be a very significant number, it is necessary to define what is depicted by the concept of ecotourism and what its possible beneficial advantages are. Ecotourism “is frequently either poorly defined… or used a marketing ploy” (Orams 1995, pp.3-8.). And it is rather difficult to estimate the possible positive consequences of ecotourism as “it requires value judgments to be made concerning what the potential benefits of ecotourism are and who receives them” (Woycle 2001). Classical ecotourism examples are those of pedestrian (tracking) and ski campaigns, bicycle tours, river rafting, and etc.
However the leadership on quantity of ecology friendly travel routes confidently is held by the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, such as Kenya, Tanzania, the republic of South Africa, Madagascar, Nepal, Mongolia, Laos, Costa Rica, Ecuador, etc (Ingram, Durst 1989).
The reason is clear: the untouched wild nature there the basic landscape and consequently, there is what ecologically conscious travelers can care about. Some of these countries set up special national programs on the advancement of ecological tourism.
The interest of authorities in the development of this branch is more than justified: according to TIES, incomes from ecotourism business make up a considerable share in the GNP of 83 % of developing countries of the world (Basanets 2008, p. 190).
In Kazakhstan and Russia, as well as in other countries of the CIS on the territory of the former Soviet Union, ecological tourism doesn't enjoy wide popularity yet though there enough possibilities for its development. According to Mr. A. Petrov, the head of the "World heritage Greenpeace Russia" program, to a large extent it is due to the attachment to the "all inclusive" system of the population (World of Tropical Nature 2010).
On the other hand, there are many people assessing that the "rest in a wild environment is unique and comprehensible. So, for example, a trip from the middle of Russia to Baikal and furthermore to Kamchatka has turned into a very expensive pleasure” (World of Tropical Nature 2010). Consequently people refuse it because of the high prices charged for such eco-friendly travel.
Popular destinations on the territory of the Russian Federation, accessible also for the citizens of the adjacent countries, are Baikal and Altai, remote Kamchatka, the Caucasus and Karelia those few areas of the country where ecotourism routes have already been laid, while the potential of other regions is still underestimated.
However, “the niche on the tourism market is still not really developed for the tour operators engaged in the organization of eco friendly travels” (Rossokhovatskaya 2009), and the number of companies specializing on ecological tourism in Moscow “does not exceed two dozen” (Rossokhovatskaya 2009).
A good example of ecotourism business´ appropriate development is the case of Ostinal, Costa Rica, presenting a communitybased ecotourism model. Community involvement in this area was accomplished by the Ostinal Development Association (Woycle 2001).
The case of Ostinal can display some factors that were performed as successful in ecotourism business sphere. According to Masberg and Morales (1999), these are: “an integrated approach, planning and a slow start, education and training, maximize local benefits, and evaluation and feedback” (Woycle 2001). Ecotourism needs a model with community based approach. Cooperation of economics, efficient management and environment protection is vitally important for securing natural resources of great ecotourism attractiveness.
The estimation of the economic benefits of traditional tourism is usually carried out through “a ratio of estimated profitability of the tourism investment using a methodology of market surveys and of load factor/occupancy determination” (Vellas undated).
Potential benefits of investments in the tourism sector are defined by the occupancy coefficient. Thus tourism operators aim to reach and surpass its average costeffectiveness to secure maximum profit.
The basic indicator used for calculating economic costs and benefits for potential investors is the Gross Operating Result (GOR).
As for ecology friendly tourism projects, there the situation is more complicated, as the risk and cost-benefit analysis have to take into consideration not only possible gains; in this case risk and cost-benefit assessment take account of local population and social impact as well, for example, such as
Table 2 Ecotourism SWOT analysis new jobs, inflation, influence on environment, diversification and stabilization of economy, etc.
Simple SWOT analysis can reveal potential socio-economic advantages and drawbacks of ecotourism.
Diversification and stabilization of local economies
Additional tax revenues Jobs creation
Enhanced money inflow to the economy
Expenses on eco-friendly tourism infrastructure Inflation of goods and services prices
Season conditioned employment and income Expenses on eco-friendly production of goods and services
Development of infrastructure, facilities and services
Civic involvement and self-identification Cultural exchange between local populations and visitors.
Preservation and revival of local culture New knowledge and skills
Tourism related donations and funds
Increase of use of drugs and alcohol, AIDS, crime, etc
Changes of traditional behavior and personal relationships
Loss of traditional culture induced by cultural diffusion
Restricted accessibility of parks, beaches, etc for local population, if the territory is reserved for hotel visitors only
As follows from the analysis presented above, socio-economic costs and benefits are similar to those of traditional tourism, but ecotourism conception pays more attention to the preservation and stability of environment. Consequently the costs for an eco-tour are higher than the fees for a traditional travel.
Thus, a price pro night in a hotel in Lisbon, a popular tourist destination in Europe, would range from € 60 (HF Fenix Garden) to € 1001 (Britania Hotel) (Tripadvisor Website 2011).
According to a survey carried out by American researchers of the Travel Industry Association, most U.S. citizens are eager to select an environmentally responsible transport or hotel, but only 13 percent agree to take additional costs. 56 percent of respondents would consider it.
The results of the research suggest that “awareness of a travel service supplier’s efforts to operate in an environmentally responsible manner may be sufficient to attract additional patronage, but not at a significantly higher fare or rate” (Malik Chua 2007).
Now it is time to give special attention to the development and extension of ecotourism and environmental protection measures in the CIS, on the example of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
As reported by the Kazakhstan Today News Agency (2010) the Vice Minister of Environmental Protection of Kazakhstan, Eldana Sadvakasova, “informed at the 5th International Symposium on Oil and Gas Refining, Petrochemistry and Mineral Oil KazRefinEx 2010… that Kazakhstan uses the standard introduced by the state. The international ecological standard Euro-2 was introduced in Kazakhstan on July 15, 2009. It is an important step attaching a new impulse for further development".
Moreover, Ms E. Sadvakasova added that "as soon as domestic factories have a possibility to introduce new technologies, the newest international standards will be introduced as well" (Kazakhstan Today News Agency 2010).
Experts of the branch hope that gradually, together with the improvement of quality of life and the increase of the level of ecological culture, the “eco-fashion” will come to the post-Soviet region. Measures are taken by the CIS governments, for example, the state program “Ecology of Kazakhstan” (2010-2020, the Republic of Kazakhstan), “Zhasyl Damu” (the Republic of Kazakhstan), “Concepts of ecological safety” (2004-2015, the Republic of Kazakhstan), Program on the environment protection (2005-2007, the Republic of Kazakhstan), etc.
It´s remarkable that the government program “Ecology of Kazakhstan” (20102020) was developed on the instructions of the Head of the state after the visits to the West Kazakhstan and East Kazakhstan regions which have the most unfavorable ecological conditions in comparison to other areas of the country. The program is developed as “a supplement to the continuation of the Concepts of ecological safety of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2004-2015.
Basic directions for the maintenance of ecological safety of the country were introduces in the Concepts of the transition of the Republic of Kazakhstan to sustainable development in 2007-2024” (Eco-way 2010).
On January, 9th, 2007 the President of the country signed the Ecological Codex of the Republic Kazakhstan developed with a view of reforming the operating nature and environment protection legislation in conformity with international requirements.
The program is aimed at solving the existing environmental problems, such as “high level of air pollution in big cities, accumulation of industrial and household waste, radioactive and chemical pollution, degradation of soils, climate change, ozone layer exhaustion, desertification, biodiversity reduction, with general priority given to water deficiency and pollution, further improvement of the control system of environment preservation and wildlife management” (Eco-way 2010).
Another step forward was the decision of the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan to devote 163, 5 billion tenge (1 Euro equals approximately 200 tenge) for the realization of a program on ecology protection. Among them 95,6 billion tenge are allocated from the republican budget; 46,4 billion tenge come from local budgets; 17,4 billion tenge are donated by large companies; 3,8 billion tenge are made up by loans, and 0,4 billion tenge are sourced from international grants (Lariba. Finance. Investment. Crediting 2010).
The program is focused on the decrease of car-caused emissions in the atmosphere, human factor influence on ecology, restoration and maintenance of ecosystems by the means of reconstruction of the systems of water consumption and sewer treatment facilities in cities and settlements, and improvement of the system of recycling and processing of industrial waste.
Kazakhstan´s approach to eco-friendly tourism of the State, its policies and measures taken can be depicted with help of the following CSR business models which occur most often: the Minimalist Model where CSR “is viewed as irresponsible and an unimportant issue” (Darowski et al. 2006) with profits regarded as the most significant part of the industry, and the Stakeholder Model where “all stakeholders and groups may influence the shape and direction on the industry” (Darowski et al. 2006) which is often also governed by the issues of possible profit.
Still there can be observed the rapid development if the Self-Interested Model suggesting that “an industry can be both profitable and responsible in the environments in which it operates.
While this model considers corporate social responsibility, it still places profit maximization as its chief concern” (Darowski et al. 2006), without a proper attention for the issues of environment protection and ecology friendly tourism development.
The Social Contract Model acknowledging that industry “has responsibility in every sector of business” (Darowski et al. 2006) still has much to be developed before it starts operating properly and has its positive influence on the ecotourism business sphere.
All over the world “each passing year sees more hotels and resorts join the fight against pollution. Environmental agencies have begun offering initiatives and awards to hotels and resorts that go the extra mile to protect the environment. The very environment they seek to protect is the one that draws more tourists to their location year after year” (Content for Reprint 2008).
A good deal is contributed by waste management programs which can “protect the world from pollution because they provide a way to dispose of trash in ways that prevent harmful contaminants from getting into the environment” (Green Answers 2010) and affecting the ecosystem.
This is a good example to follow for the CIS countries, Kazakhstan among them, as it possesses all necessary preconditions for a wider development of ecology friendly routes. In Kazakhstan ecotourism is undoubtedly one of the most promising tourist products, because the country has genuinely amazing potential for its development and, which is also very important, a demand of such task groups, as the lovers of wildlife and beautiful sceneries, and fans of undiscovered tourist routes, who are eager to become pathbreakers.
It is necessary that not only the government, but also NGOs and local authorities start “to take matters of environmental protection into their own hands … in the fight against pollution” (Content for Reprint 2008). It is noticeable that “efforts to sustain tourism to favourite destinations without harmful effects to the local environment, as well as culture and social interactions, are the main focus for the most recent campaigns” (Content for Reprint 2008).
All these measures have to be taken and get wider application of ecotourism today in order to create “best practices socially, environmentally, economically and ethically” (Tropical Hardwood Farms 2009) for tomorrow.
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