Written by Vogt and Budruk At an October 2017 Conservation International meeting in Adelaide, a group of CI staff collectively identified potentially effective revenue generating opportunities that channel funds directly to conservation. At this workshop, tourism-related revenue mechanisms emerged at the top of the list of potential opportunity areas for further investigation. In addition, several country programs (incl. Samoa, Timor-Leste, Philippines, Indonesia and New Caledonia) identified ongoing or short-term on-the-ground opportunities to develop meaningful engagement with the tourism sector. Building off this initial work, a two-day exchange with the broader CI community was held to facilitate sharing of best practices and to develop tools and guidelines for increasing tourism revenue to fund conservation. For the first off-campus ASU-CI partner effort, [Vogt and Budruk] joined CI staff to provide their expertise. CI staff planned the workshop and found a sustainable tourism resort in Indonesia just off the coast of Singapore – a perfect place to learn and strategize about sustainable tourism in coastal settings. After several conference calls between CI and ASU, a two-day workshop was created that featured best practices, and aimed to develop tools and guidelines for increasing tourism revenues that may be used to fund marine conservation in the CI program areas of Timor-Leste and Samoa. At the moment, tourism is in its infancy stage in both countries but has the potential to grow and negatively impact marine and coastal resources. The hope of CI is to think “out of the box” and proactively develop tourism funded conservation programs in partnership with various stakeholders such as national tourism offices, the government, airports, lodges, and the local communities in these countries. As part of the technical support, Vogt and Budruk were asked to prepare and deliver a half-day workshop that provided CI staff with a state of knowledge on tourism and tourism related revenue programs. The idea was to explore how such revenue programs could contribute to new funding that CI could implement in Timor Leste and Samoa. In addition to ASU’s presentation, Mark Erdmann, Vice President, Marine, Asia-Pacific for CI delivered a case study on Raja Ampat and Bunaken, Indonesia to showcase the development and implementation of a successful revenue program through marine protection area user fees (mostly scuba divers). A needs assessment was also provided by CI staff working in Timor Leste and Samoa to set the stage for an opportunity matrix exercise that occurred on the second day. ASU faculty participated in the second day work sessions where participants outlined concrete funding ideas and priorities for Timor-Leste and Samoa. CI staff and ASU faculty supported the CI Country Directors in the writing of plans and stakeholder support sessions. These sessions will likely occur in the next few months. CI is hoping to use these two countries as case studies for several other countries in the Asia-Pacific region who are interested in the potential of tourism as a funding source for conservation programs. A discussion of research that might support these efforts also occurred. Given the focus on tourism, Vogt and Budruk recommended that secondary data collected by airport immigration processing or service providers can allow for simple monitoring of in-country tourism activities. These figures can also help to estimate potential revenues from a fee or tax program. Primary or new research studies were also discussed including willingness to pay and impact studies on Marine Protected Areas. Such studies can provide a baseline before any new management program funded by a new fee or tax is designed and implemented. A few areas where ASU could play a role:
- Analysis of Timor Leste and Samoa’s legal system to determine which statute allows for a mandatory fee or tax collection from tourists.
- Design of a visitor study to understand the tourist profile, visit motivations and expectations, willingness to pay visitor fees, and potential educational programs.
- Training of potential tourism personnel from Timor Leste and Samoa. Vogt and Budruk mentioned the HAITC program in China as a possible institution where such training could occur.
- Given the increasing importance of tourism as a source of conservation funding, Vogt and Budruk suggested that CI explore nominating an ASU-CI professor of practice with a focus on tourism. Due to her doctoral training in Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Tracy Farrell, VP Strategies and Fundraising, APFD, at Conservation International would be an ideal candidate.