Akita International Symposium on Sustainable Tourism 13th to 18th February, 2008, Akita, Japan
An International Symposium on "Searching for Sustainable Tourism" was held in Akita International University, Akita, Japan, from 15-16th February, 2008. The symposium was organized by the Centre for Regional Sustainability Initiatives (CRESI) of AIU. There were more than 250 international and Japanese participants attended the symposium representing the tourism industry, government authorities, academics, national park authorities etc. The symposium was ceremonially opened by Prof. Mineo Nakajima, President, Akita International University, Japan and facilitated by Prof. Yoshitaka Kumagai, Director, CRESI. The Conference Secretariat has invited many eminent scholars from all over the world, including Prof.Stephen F. McCool, Professor Emeritus, University of Montana, Ulrike Pröbstl, Professor, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna, Seong-il Kim,Professor, Seoul National University, Korea, Rui Yang, Professor, Director, Institute of Resource Protection and Tourism, School of Architecture, Tsinghua University, China, Dr. Masaru Takayama, Board of Directors, The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) and the Executive Director, Japan Ecolodge Association (ECOLA) many Japanese academics and tourism industry segments also invited to make presentations.
Palitha Gurusinghe, President, Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation has been invited to represent Sri Lanka. He has made a presentation on "Searching for Sustainable Tourism: What Can Sustainable Tourism brings to the local Communities in Sri Lanka?
In his presentation, he mainly focused on what Sustainable/Ecotourism could bring to the local areas and local
communities and shared his experience in Ecotourism in Sri Lanka and other parts of the world, emphasizing on heritage, cultural,
and community links to conservation efforts, manufacturing, circulation and marketing of local handicrafts as income generating
activities etc. He emphasized that Ecotourism seems to be the famous and also debatable subject of the day, not only in Sri Lanka
but also on global level. Those who are occupied in travel and tourism business, academics, intellectuals and even politicians
want to be part of ecotourism. However, he cautioned, poorly planned ecotourism programs provide local populations with little
besides social tension and environmental degradation, while leaving the tourist dissatisfied and cheated.
Without careful planning, guidance and management, ecotourism will not stop tourisms' current environmental and socio-economic impacts and it will create new ones, such as environmental destruction, pollution and, increase the gap between rich and poor. He further went on to say, that the developing countries should map out their own 'genuine ecotourism' plans in elimination of poverty to assure economic and social justification to the host communities. Therefore, ecotourism fabric in Asia-Pacific Region should address the burning issues of socioeconomic and sociocultural issues confronted by the communities. He also stressed that participation by local communities in ecotourism must not be limited simply to employment opportunities. It will be very important that ecotourism benefits the local population rather than taking them from a position where they are the users of the resources to a position where they become mere employees or indeed are dispossessed.
Local communities must be involved in the complete tourism development process, from the planning stage to the
implementation and management of ecotourism projects, through avenue of consultation and partnership. Palitha remarked, that
Ecotourism is often seen by poor communities as one of the few livelihoods which are open to them. Communities whose people are
living in poverty invariably find their young people migrate to urban centres because of the decline in traditional industries
such as agriculture and fishing. 'Ecotourism' can prevent this urban drift and provide an essential alternative income. Therefore,
Ecotourism could act as a catalyst to mitigate the community setbacks and to assure economic justification to the communities living
around protected and natural areas and cultural sites in Sri Lanka and other parts of the developing world…."
On the first day of the symposium, the participants focused on the roles of tourism in community revitalization
and examined the alternative meanings of sustainable tourism. The participants were able to study various case studies conducted by
researches from USA, Austria, Korea, China and Sri Lanka. On the second day, there were four Japanese researchers presented the
current situation of local areas and tourism policies in Japan and shared their research experience related to sustainable tourism.
In the final session, the Symposium focused on the role to be played on promoting sustainable tourism and what sort of
approaches should be and should not be taken.
The symposium was successfully concluded with a positive note of enlightening and deepening the understanding of
sustainable tourism.After the symposium, a poster competition was held, organized by the AIU for the under graduates
of Japanese universities, to promote sustainable tourism.
A post-symposium tour to Akita-Ani Region has also been organized for the Presenters of the symposium. It was a
very interesting field tour which the foreign visitors and presenters were provided very important and interesting information on
how the communities were living in mountainous regions in Japan and their life styles.
"Ecotourism: Make a World of Difference"
Workshop and Symposium is being held in 'Seoul Palace', Republic of Korea from
3rd to 10th July, 2011.
This event has jointly been organized by Asia-Pacific Tourism Association (APTA), Ecotourism Korea (EK),
Tourism Sciences Society of Korea (TOSOK) and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Yeongju City Government,
Suncheon City Government and The International Ecotourism Society (TIES)
In the past few dacades Korea has experienced an unprecedented level of economic growth. Korea is the 10th largest energy consumer in the world, with 97% of its energy consumption coming from imported energy sources. Therefore, the Korean Government embraced the new National Vision of Low Carbon, Green Growth. The Korean Government has mapped out 17 new national growth engines and ecotourism is one of them. With the central government's strong supports, many local governments, conservation organizations, and tour operators see ecotourism as one of the important sectors with the greatest potential for linking conservation to economic development. As Ecotourism Korea puts it, 'the ecotourism promoters and activists in Korea have little experience in the ecotourism business, specifically marketing.In this sense ecotourism products and services often fail the market test. And some of them use ecotourism in a wrong way. There is therefore the need to inject some expertise in the many projects that build effective strategies on ecotourism development. The Objective of this event is to provide with input and insight into the ecotourism reality so that the tourism projects can become a successful tool for bringing together conservation and economic benefits' Sri Lanka is being represented at this event by Palitha Gurusinghe, President, Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF) and the Board member of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). He is one of the Key Note Spaeakers for the Symposium to deliver a Presentation on 'How to Develop an Ecotourism Business Plan'. In his Presentation, Palitha will enlighten the Ecotourism activists and trainees working in the model ecotourism sites in Korea, 'on better understanding of the risks and opportunities of developing ecotourism products, create awareness of the importance of conservation and enhance the institutional capacity of the ecotourism activists and trainees to design proper ecotourism marketing tools so that the ecotourism product in Korea will become economically and socially sustainable' Among the other prominent speakers lined up for the event are, Professer, Kelly Bricker, Chairman of The International Ecotourism Society, Masaru Takayma, Board member TIES and the CEO, Japan Ecolodge Association, Dr. Jong-gil Je, Vice-President, Ecotourism Korea, Dr. Kyung-sik Woo, Professor, Kangwon National University, Republic of Korea