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Evaluating ecotourism in Mexico’s biosphere reserves : whale watching activities in the world heritage… Agersted, Peter Rossing 2006

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EVALUATING ECOTOURISM IN MEXICO'S BIOSPHERE RESERVES -W H A L E WATCHING ACTIVITIES IN THE WORLD HERITAGE SITE OF LACUNA SAN IGNACIO, BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR, MEXICO 1994-2002 by-Peter Rossing Agersted M B A , University of Ottawa, 1994 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE in Tlie Faculty of Graduate Studies (Resource Management and Environmental Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA 1 September 2006 © Peter Rossing Agersted, 2006 Abstract A descriptive case study approach and 34 indicators was used to examine the socio-economic impacts o f whale watching tourism in the Laguna San Ignacio (LSI) World Heritage Site - located within the E l Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Tlie framework measured both the socio-economic changes, and the economic viability of the local and regional operators. This approach led to a detailed understanding of the underlying, and often complex, inter-related factors that shaped the ecotourism development in LSI between 1994 and 2002. It identified strengths and weaknesses o f current ecotourism development making it a valid tool for evaluating and improving these activities in any biosphere reserve. More specifically the objectives were to examine: 1. How existing ecotourism operations and their activities in the LSI have changed since 1994; 2. Whether these changes have made ecotourism a more viable socio-economic development alternative for the local communities; and 3. Which strategies may be useful in overcoming identified barriers to further socio-economic benefits both from existing and future ecotourism activities Tlie results strongly suggested that the benefits from ecotourism improved significantly between 1994 and 2002. Economically this was reflected in growth of visitor numbers (50%), employment (100%) and local and regional revenue approximately 70% (or 55% in real terms adjusting for inflation). Social benefits were seen in more cooperation among previous antagonistic stakeholders; a wider distribution o f ecotourism benefits; some improvement in l iving standards and increasing local support for the Reserve. Polit ically, local stakeholders became more empowered through involvement in tourism related management activities. Tlie viability of the local and regional operators also improved significantly as they became more sophisticated in their product offerings, enhanced their facilities and gained a market share of ecotourism relative to the foreign operators. These improvements were particular true for tlie operators that sold package tours. However, the analyses also revealed a number of barriers with the most important ones being: • Unresolved historic land use conflicts over rights to land with ecotourism possibilities; • Lack o f activities diversification possibilities outside the tourism season; • Stagnating visitor numbers; • Uneven business skills among operators; • Poor marketing and promotional efforts; • Insufficient ecotourism infrastructure; • A proposed ecotourism tax; • L o w profit margin o f the ecotourism operators; and • Lack of funding for further investments To alleviate these threats and barriers 13 general strategies were identified. A n elaboration o f these resulted in 39 concrete operational strategies on how potentially to implement them. Keywords: ecotourism evaluation; biosphere reserves, world heritage sites; whale watching, grey whale n Table of Contents A B S T R A C T : II T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S I l l LIST O F T A B L E S VII LIST O F F I G U R E S IX LIST O F P I C T U R E S X LIST O F A B B R E V I A T I O N S : XI 1 I N T R O D U C T I O N 1 1.1 RESEARCH PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES- 1 1.2 STUDY C O N T E X T AND SIGNIFICANCE 1 1.3 REPORT ORGANIZATION 2 2 L I T E R A T U R E R E V I E W 3 2.1 BIOSPHERE RESERVES: ORIGINS AND IMPORTANCE 3 2.1.1 The Evolution of Protected Areas 3 2.1.2 The Creation of Biosphere reserves 5 2.2 H o w DO BIOSPHERE RESERVES DIFFER FROM OTHER PARKS? 5 2.3 A R E BIOSPHERE RESERVES WORKING? T H E C A S E OF MEX ICO 8 2.3.1 Centralization •. 9 2.3.2 Community Involvement 9 2.3.3 Lack of Funding 10 2.3.4 Land I enure 10 2.3.5 Mexico's Population Growth <? 10 2.3.6 Poverty .• 10 2.4 STRATEGIES TO M A K E BIOSPHERES RESERVES W O R K 11 2.5 ECOTOURISM - IMPORTANCE A N D R E L E V A N C E TO MEX ICO ' S BIOSPHERE RESERVES 12 2.5. J What is Ecotourism ? 12 2.5.2 Definition of Ecotourism Used in This Thesis ' 13 2.5.3 Ecotourism in Mexico's Biosphere Resen>es 13 2.6 W H A T IS SUCCESSFUL ECOTOURISM? A SUGGESTED FRAMEWORK FOR E V A L U A T I N G ECOTOURISM FROM T H E PERSPECTIVE OF THE H O S T COMMUNITY A N D L O C A L T O U R OPERATORS 17 2.6.1 Ecotourism Must Limit Environmental Impacts and Contribute to the Consen'ation and Management of the Biosphere Resen>e 18 2.6.2 Ecotourism must Direct Sufficient Economic Benefits to Local People in Ways that Complement Rather than Overwhelm Traditional Practices 21 2.6.3 Successful Ecotourism Should Improve the Wellbeing and Cohesion of the Community ..23 i i i 2.6.4 Ecotourism Should Increase the Participation of Local People in the Decision Making Process 25 2.6.5 Ecotourism Should Increase Local Support for Biosphere Reserves 26 2.6.6 Ecotourism Operators must he Profitable 27 2.7 SUMMARY OF L ITERATURE REVIEW 33 3 R E S E A R C H O B J E C T I V E S 34 4 M E T H O D S 35 4.1 RESEARCH PHASES .' 36 4.2 PROJECT SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS 41 5 I N T R O D U C T I O N T O T H E C A S E S T U D Y O F L A G U N A S A N 1GNACIO 44 5.1 LOCATION , 44 5.2 B IOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF L A C U N A SAN IGNACIO 46 5.3 L A C U N A SAN IGNACIO'S PEOPLE AND SETTLEMENTS 47 5.4 RESOURCE U S E 50 5.4.1 Fishing and'Aquaculture 50 5.4.2 Ecotourism 51 5.5 PERCEIVED BENEFITS FROM ECOTOURISM D E V E L O P M E N T IN L S I 55 6 C A S E S T U D Y A N A L Y S I S 57 6.1 INDICATORS OF ECONOMIC BENEFITS TO THE L O C A L PEOPLE AND T H E M A N A G E M E N T OF THE RESERVE. .. 57 6.1.1 Changes in Visitor Numbers 57 6.1.2 Changes in Ecotourism Revenue 59 6.1.3 Growth in Ecotourism employment 65 6.1.4 Changes in Types of Ecotourism Employment 65 6.1.5 Changes in the Local Share of Ecotourism jobs 66 6.1.6 Changes in Local Ecotourism Salaries Compared to Local Fishing Income and Other Regional Salaries 67 6.1.7 Displacement of Traditional Jobs Caused by Ecotourism Development 68 6.1.8 Increases in the Contribution of Ecotourism Revenue to Biosphere Management Funding 69 6.2 INDICATORS FOR INCREASED PARTICIPATION OF L O C A L PEOPLE IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS T H A T DETERMINES T H E K IND OF ECOTOURISM T H A T SHOULD OCCUR 69 6.2.1 Changes in the Presence of Staff Delegated to Community Relations Tasks : 70 6.2.2 Changes in Management Efforts to Capacitate Local Ecotourism Development 71 6.2.3 Changes to the Number of Effective Local Institutions to Deal with Tourism Issues 72 6.2.4 Implementation of Local Ideas in Area Management Plans, Tourism Activities and Legislation 75 6.2.5 Local Involvement with the Enforcement of Ecotourism Rules and Regulations 77 6.3 INDICATORS FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO L O C A L COMMUNITY COHESION AND IDENTITY 78 6.3.1 Level of Conflicts between Traditional Uses and Ecotourism Development ...78 IV 6.3.2 Level of Conflicts over A vai lability of Tourism Licenses 79 6.3.3 Changes in Conflicts over Ownership of Land with Tourism Possibilities 80 6.3.4 Changes in the Number of Women Involved in Ecotourism Development 84 6.3.5 Changes in the Tour operators' Perception of their Relationship with Visitors 84 6.3.6 The level of Ecotourism Revenues Being Reinvested back into Community Development Projects 85 6.3.7 Changes in the Number of Items and Services Purchased Locally 86 6.4 INDICATORS FOR L O C A L SUPPORT FOR THE BIOSPHERE RESERVE 86 6.4.1 Changes in the Local Acceptance of the Biosphere Reserve 87 6.4.2 Changes in the Educational and Interpretive Experiences for Locals 88 6.4.3 Changes in the Local Efforts to Participate in Conservation Actions 90 6.5 INDICATORS OF T H E VIABILITY OF L O C A L AND REGIONAL TOUR OPERATORS 91 6.5.1 Changes to the Tour Operators' Number of Employees 92 6.5.2 Changes to the Tour Operators' Number of Visitors 92 6.5.3 Changes in the Tour Operators ' Revenue 94 6.5.4 Changes in the Tour Operators' Profitability 96 6.5.5 Changes to the 'Lour Operators' Services and Infrastructure 96 6.5.6 Changes to Tour Operators' Diversification of Ecotourism products .99 6.5.7 Changes to Tour Operators' Promotional Activities 100 6.5.8 Changes to 'Tour Operators' Sales and Distribution Channels 102 6.5.9 Visitors Perceptions of Whale Watching Tours in LSI 103 6.5.10 Changes in the Skills of Tourism Operators / 04 6.5.11 Changes in the Tour Operators' Efforts to Educate and Inform Visitors A bout the Environment.. 105 6.6 SUMMARY OF THE CHANGES IDENTIFIED BY T H E INDICATORS 106 7 S T R A T E G I E S T O E N H A N C E E C O T O U R I S M F U R T H E R IN LSI 109 7.1 STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE T H E L O C A L ECONOMIC BENEFITS 109 7.2 STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE T H E PARTICIPATION OF L O C A L S IN T H E DECISION MAK ING 111 7.3 STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE L O C A L COMMUNITY COHESION AND IDENTITY 112 7.4 STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE L O C A L SUPPORT FOR T H E RESERVE 114 7.5 STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE T H E VIABILITY OF THE TOURISM OPERATORS 115 7.5.1 Better Promotion: 116 7.5.2 Better Diversification of Tourism Products 119 7.5.3 Upscaling of lodging facilities 120 7.5.4 Increase prices 121 7.5.5 Reduce Cost 122 7.5.6 Look for Funding to Enhance Future or Existing Tourism A ctivities 123 7.5.7 Develop Business Partners 124 7.5.8 Improve the Ecotourism and Business Skills of Tourism Operators 124 7.6 M A N A G E M E N T IMPLICATIONS 125 8 C O N C L U S I O N ...127 8.1 QUESTIONS ASKED AND T H E OVERRIDING ANSWERS TO T H E M 127 8.1.1 Observed Changes to Ecotourism Operations and Activities in LSI since 1994? 127 v 8.1.2 Have these impacts been positive or negative? 130 8.1.3 Strategies to Increase Ecotourism Benefits • 136 8.2 W H A T W E R E THE STRENGTHS A N D WEAKNESSES OF T H E S E L E C T E D A P P R O A C H / M E T H O D ? 139 8.2.1 Relevance and Utility 139 8.2.2 Validity 140 8.2.3 What does this mean for the conclusions in terms of transferability to other locations? 141 8.2.4 Puture proposed research directions 141 A P P E N D I C E S 1 5 3 A P P E N D I X A : ECOTOURISM R E V E N U E IN L S I FOR 1 9 9 4 AND 2 0 0 2 153 GROSS REVENUE OF LOCAL AND REGIONAL OPERA TORS (1994 AND 2002) 154 GROSS REVENUE GENERATED BY FOREIGN CAMPS FOR 1994 AND 2002 157 GROSS REVENUE GENERA TED BY FOREIGN L1VEABOARDS FOR 1994 AND 2002 158 • GROSS REVENUE OF THE LOCAL AND REGIONAL COMPANIES THA T SOLD PACKAGE TOURS IN 2002 158 GROSS REVENUE OF THE LOCAL AND REGIONAL COMPANIES THAT DID NOT SELL PACKAGE TOURS IN 2002 159 A P P E N D I X B : FEASIBILITY S T U D Y OF CHANG ING F R O M 2-STROKE TO 4-STROKE O U T B O A R D ENGINES IN THE L A G O O N OF S A N IGNACIO. M E X I C O : 162 vi List of Tables T A B L E I: BENEFITS OF BIOSPHERE RESERVES : 7 T A B L E 2: M O S T POPULAR E C O - A N D A D V E N T U R E TOURISM ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED IN MEX ICO 2000 14 T A B L E 3: E X A M P L E OF RISKS FROM TOURISM ACTIVITIES '. 20 T A B L E 4: F o c u s OF COMMUNITY B A S E D ECOTOURISM CAPACITY TRAINING PROGRAMS C O N D U C T E D BY N G O S OR G O V E R N M E N T AGENCIES 30 T A B L E 5:POSSIBLE POSITIVE AND NEGAT IVE IMPACTS FROM ECOTOURISM ON L O C A L COMMUNITIES IN BIOSPHERE RESERVES 32 T A B L E 6: INDICATORS USED FOR THE ASSESSMENT OF ECOTOURISM CHANGES IN L A G U N A SAN IGNACIO BETWEEN 1994 A N D 2002 37 T A B L E 7: L O C A L , REG IONAL AND FOREIGN OPERATORS CONDUCTING W H A L E WATCH ING TOURS IN L S I 2004 54 T A B L E 8: GROSS EARNINGS OF OUTSIDE-BASED TOURISM OPERATORS IN L A G U N A SAN IGNACIO IN 1994 59 T A B L E 9: EST IMATED GROSS R E V E N U E DEFINED BY E C O TOURISM OPERATORS IN LS I FOR 1994 AND 2002 62 T A B L E 10: TYPES OF ECOTOURISM R E L A T E D IOBS IN L S I 2002 66 T A B L E 11: L E V E L OF L O C A L E M P L O Y M E N T IN L S I RECORDED IN 1994 AND 2002 67 T A B L E 12: M O N T H L Y GROSS INCOME OF ECOTOURISM A N D FISHING JOBS IN LS I C O M P A R E D WITH -THE M IN IMUM W A G E IN B A J A CALIFORNIA SUR 2002 68 T A B L E 13: N U M B E R OF W O M E N WORK ING IN T H E ECOTOURISM INDUSTRY IN L S I 2002 84 T A B L E 14: RECENT DONATIONS BY BIOSPHERE M A N A G E M E N T AND N G O S TO L S I 89 T A B L E 15: CHANGES IN T H E L O C A L A N D REGIONAL TOURISM OPERATORS NUMBERS OF EMPLOYEES 1994-2002 92 T A B L E 16: NUMBERS OF W H A L E WATCHING TOURISTS IN L S I 2002 DEFINED BY PRODUCT SEGMENT AND OPERATOR 94 T A B L E 17: SERVICES O F F E R E D BY L O C A L A N D REG IONAL TOURS OPERATORS 1994-2002 97 T A B L E 18: A V A I L A B L E TOURISM ACTIVITIES IN LS I D IFFERENT FROM W H A L E WATCH ING 1995-2002 99 T A B L E 19: PROMOTIONAL ACTIVITIES C O N D U C T E D BY L O C A L AND REGIONAL OPERATORS IN L S I 2002 101 T A B L E 20: SALES CHANNELS USED TO PROMOTE W H A L E W A T C H I N G TOURS 2002 102 T A B L E 21: TOURISM OPERATORS ' ABILITY TO SERVICE TOURISM NEEDS 2002 105 T A B L E 22: INFO A B O U T T H E F L O R A A N D F A U N A IN L S I G IVEN OR A V A I L A B L E TO VISITORS IN L S I 106 T A B L E 23: S U M M A R Y OF K E Y CHANGES OBSERVED IN L S I BETWEEN 1994 AND 2002 107 T A B L E 24: COST SAVINGS REPLAC ING 2-STROKE WITH 4-STROKE O U T B O A R D ENGINES IN L S I 2002 123 T A B L E 25: POSSIBLE STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE ECOTOURISM ACTIVITIES IN L A G U N A SAN IGNACIO 138 T A B L E 26: GROSS R E V E N U E EST IMATES OF L O C A L A N D REG IONAL T O U R OPERATORS FROM D A Y TOURS FOR 1994 AND 2002 : : , 154 T A B L E 27: GROSS R E V E N U E ESTIMATES OF L O C A L A N D REGIONAL T O U R OPERATORS FROM FOREIGN CAMPS FOR 1994 AND 2002 155 • vii T A B L E 28: GROSS REVENUE ESTIMATES OF L O C A L AND REGIONAL TOUR OPERATORS FROM L IVEABOARDS FOR 1994 AND 2002 : : 156 T A B L E 29: GROSS REVENUE ESTIMATES OF L O C A L AND REGIONAL TOUR OPERATORS FROM P A C K A G E TOURS FOR 1994 A N D 2002 157 T A B L E 30: GROSS REVENUE ESTIMATES OF FOREIGN TOUR CAMPS FOR J 994 AND 2002 IN LSI 157 T A B L E 31: GROSS REVENUE ESTIMATES OF L IVEABOARDS FOR 1994 A N D 2002 158 T A B L E 32: GROSS REVENUE ESTIMATES FROM FOREIGN T O U R CAMPS M A D E BY L O C A L AND REGIONAL COMPANIES T H A T SOLD P A C K A G E TOURS IN 2002 159 T A B L E 33: GROSS REVENUE ESTIMATES FROM THE FOREIGN TOUR CAMPS M A D E BY L O C A L A N D REGIONAL COMPANIES THAT DID NOT SELL P A C K A G E TOURS IN 2002 159 vm List of Figures FIGURE 1: GROWTH IN PROTECTED AREAS 4 FIGURE 2: BIOSPHERE RESERVE ZONA I ION 6 FIGURE 3: STRUCTURE / PHASES OF RESEARCH 35 FIGURE 4: LINKAGES BETWEEN USED D A T A COLLECTION METHODS AND INDICATORS 40 FIGURE 5: L A G U N A SAN IONACIO'S LOCATION IN BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR. MEXICO 44 FIGURE 6: T H E LOCATION OF L A C U N A SAN IONACIO'S F IVE SETTLEMENTS 48 FIGURE 7: EST IMATED NUMBER OF W H A L E WATCHING TOURISTS IN LSI FROM 1993 - 2002 58 FIGURE 8: EST IMATED ECOTOURISM GROSS R E V E N U E IN LSI DEFINED BY OPERATOR TYPE IN 1994 AND 2002 63 FIGURE 9: L O C A L A N D REGIONAL T O U R OPERATORS' ESTIMATED ECOTOURISM GROSS R E V E N U E IN LSI 1994 A N D 2002 65 FIGURE 9: T H E U M A PROPOSED BY T H E TOURISM OPERATORS 75 FIGURE 10: L A N D CLAIMS M A D E BY 10 EIJIDO MEMBERS IN 1995 81 FIGURE 12: ECOTOURISM GROSS REVENUE IN LSI FOR 2002: PACKAGE VS. MOSTLY DAY T O U R OPERATORS 95 ( i x List of Pictures PICTURE 1 H U N D R E D S OF PILES OF PACIFIC CAL ICO- AND F A N SCALLOPS SCATTERED IN THE L A G O O N T E L L A SAD STORY OF OVEREXPLOITATION IN LSI DURING T H E 49 PICTURE 2: A TYP ICAL ENCOUNTER WITH A "FR IENDLY W H A L E " IN L S I 51 PICTURE 3: C A V E PAINTING FROM SIERRE DEL SAN FRANCISCO 98 x List of Abbreviations: ARIC: Tlie Laguna Baja Asociacion Rural de Interes Colectivo / Coalition of nine small-scale ecotourism enterprises operating in Laguna San Ignacio EJIDO: Organization that oversees communal land shared by the people of the community in Mexico ESSA: Exportadora de Sal. S.A. de C.V./Salt Exporting Company Guerrero Negro GEF: Global Environmental Facilities Program of the World Bank INE: Instituto Nacional de Ecologia/National Institute of Ecology (Mexico) L I V E A B O A R D : A boat designed for tourists to live aboard e.g. for fishing or diving purposes LSI: Laguna San Ignacio NGO: Nongovernmental organization ProEsteros: Mexican ngo PROFEPA: Procuraduria Federal de Proteccion al Ambiente/Federal Attorney General's Office for Environmental Protection (Mexico) ProNatura: Mexican ngo SECTOR: Sectur Secretaria de Turismo/Secretarial of Tourism (Mexico) SEDESOL: Secretaria de Desarrollo Social/ Ministry of Social Development (Mexico) SEDUE: Secretaria de Desarrollo Urbano y Ecologia/Secretarial of Urban Development and Ecology (Mexico) S E M A R N A P : Secretaria de Medio Ambienle, Recursos Naturales. y Pesca/ Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Fisheries (Mexico) U M A : Conservation. Management, and Wildlife Use Unit UNEP: United Nations Environment Program UNESCO: United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization. V IB ERE: Management of the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve W1LDCOAST: Environmental ngo situated in San Diego xi 1 Introduction 1.1 Research Purpose and Objectives This study examines the socio-economic impacts o f ecotourism in the E l Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve of Laguna San Ignacio, Baja California Sur, Mexico [hereafter often referred to as the Reserve]; and makes recommendation for how this activity from the perspective of local whale watching operators, can be improved. More specifically the objectives are to examine: l) how the ecotourism activities in the Laguna San Ignacio have changed since 1994, 2) whether these changes have made ecotourism a more viable socio-economic development alternative for the communities, and 3) what strategies may be useful in overcoming identified barriers to further socio-economic benefits from future ecotourism activities. 1.2 Study Context and Significance In a response to poverty, rapid population growth and overexploitation o f natural resources Mexico has created a rising number o f protected areas, primarily in the form of biosphere reserves. Unfortunately, most are failing to achieve their conservation and development objectives as they have increasingly come under pressure from human encroachment in the form o f illegal settlements, poaching, expanding agricultural frontiers and legally sanctioned large-scale resource extraction such as fishing or logging (Agardy l993;Daniele, Acerbi, & Carenzo l999;Dedina 2000a;UNESCO 2002b;Young 1999c). These conflicts between the Mexican management of Biosphere reserves and people l iving within them have lead to increasing efforts to develop strategies that promote local social and economic development to reduce the pressure on these sites. One specific strategy involves the development o f ecotourism. In a growing number of cases, proponents argue that ecotourism is one o f the few viable alternatives for ensuring the sustainability o f protected areas. This is because o f its non-extractive nature, in addition to a symbiotic and bi-directional relationship in which ecotourism can provide incentives for protection, and well-managed protected areas offer encouragement for visitation (Agardy 1993). Unfortunately, most studies indicate that ecotourism is no panacea for development because o f its potentially adverse economic, social and environmental implications. These include detrimental impacts on wildlife and fragile ecosystems from nature-based tourism (Butler 1991); a breakdown o f local cultural traditions (Crandall 2002;Scheyvens 1999); a lack o f economic benefits to local people (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002); and aggravated conflicts over access to resources (Barkin 1996). This documented scepticism increases the need to critically evaluate current impacts of ecotourism in Mexico's biosphere reserves. Such an investigation w i l l help to define ways o f overcoming identified barriers and increasing the socio-economic benefits for future sustainable development. Tlie E l Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve with its local communities in the Laguna San Ignacio (LSI) represents one region 1 where ecotourism as a sustainable development tool has been employed. While ecotourism has been growing rapidly since the 1990s, it is uncertain whether the socio-economic impacts have been positive or negative. Such a question is important to address, because the future success of the Reserve and its communities depends on finding non-extractive economic alternatives to its non sustainable fishing activities. Empowerment o f local communities is increasingly seen as an inseparable component for minimizing negative impacts. This study argues in an ecotourism context that this can only be done by improving the viability o f local tourism operators and their businesses. It is the stakeholder group from which most socio-economic benefits derive (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Overall, this study provides one step towards a better understanding o f strategies, which can make ecotourism more viable and beneficial for both community and biosphere development. Because, the study is carried out from the perspective of local community and tour operators it is hoped that the findings of this research w i l l be used by them to sustain their ecotourism activities. 1.3 Report Organization This thesis is divided into seven chapters. Chapter one is an introduction, and contains a short description of the study context and significance, and an overview of the methods. Chapter two provides a literature review of several important issues relevant to the development of community based ecotourism in biospheres. First, it briefly outlines the function and purpose of Biosphere reserves and why they are under threat in Mexico . Then ecotourism is discussed as an option for development. Its relevance as a conservation tool is then assessed as well as some of the critical issues that make its use as a development vehicle problematic. Tlie emphasis here is on presenting an indicator framework that from the perspective o f the host community and local tour operators can be used to evaluate the success and viability o f ecotourism in arty given biosphere reserve. Chapter three outlines the research objectives. Chapter four provides an in depth description of the research methods used, including the scope and the limitations o f the investigation. Chapter five introduces tlie case study context, by outlining the history and characteristics of the E l Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve and the local community of Laguna San Ignacio. Tire emphasis is on identifying tlie ecotourism development issues facing the community prior to 1994. Based on the collected data, Chapter six analyses how ecotourism in the area has changed. To guide these discussion indicators was based on economic benefits from ecotourism, local involvement in tourism planning and management, community cohesion and identity, local support for the biosphere reserve and the viability of the tourism operators. Chapter seven discusses the barriers for ecotourism growth, their management implications and a number of general strategies On how to overcome them. Tlie final chapter, Chapter eight, summarizes the findings of the research questions. It also discusses the validity o f tlie results and approach used and suggests what direction future research should take. 2 2 Literature Review This section first outlines the function of biosphere reserves as a tool for conservation, the issues facing these reserves in Mexico and whv they must create local social economic benefits to work. Then the review describes what ecotourism is, why it has become a critical component in the establishment and management of Biosphere Reserves, and the reasons why it has proven so difficult to implement successfully- Finally, an indicator based framework for evaluating ecotourism activities in biospheres reserves from the viewpoint of local tourism operators and communities is presented 2.1 Biosphere Reserves: Origins and Importance •2. J. J The Evolution of Protected A rects Tlie World Conservation Union (IUCN) defines a protected area as an "area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means"(Eagles & Bowman 1999). Tlie concept of protected areas has a long history. For example, in India, areas for the protection of natural resources were created over two millennia ago (Holdgate, 1999). In Europe, parks were set aside as hunting grounds for the rich and powerful since the beginning of the medieval ages. Tlie more recent protected areas movement has its origin in the beginning of tlie nineteenth century in the then "new" nations of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA. More specifically, the first true national park was established in 1872 with the dedication of Yellowstone by United States law "as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people" (Eagles & McCool 2002). Since then there has been a steady increase in both the extent and number of protected areas. Overall, by the year 2002 some 44,000 sites in the world met the IUCN definition of a protected area (Eagles & McCool 2002). 3 F i g u r e 1: Growth in P r o t e c t e d A r e a s 25.0CC bxlenl r i protected areas (kn x ' . U 0 0 ; ' * Number Df protected areas * 5.000 . • * « o . • « * 190C '; ; :r idtc i9i5 - v : : -c-ts t%o t$£ 1975 is*3 S o u r c e : E a g l e s & M c C o o l 2002 With the expansion of protected areas, the conceptual thinking behind them has also evolved. In the developing world they have often been established with little or no regard for the needs of local people (Brandon & Wells 1992). Some good examples of parks in this category arc Andohahhela (Madagascar). Buain and Rumonge (Burundi). Leuser (Nepal). Corcovado (Costa Rica). Kao Yai (Thailland). Usambara (Tanzania) and Yanachnga-Chcmillen (Pern). In these areas local inhabitants have been forcibly evicted or allowed to remain in small enclaves inside the boundaries but are legally excluded from the parks (Wells & Brandon 1992). Communities next to protected area boundaries frequently bare substantial costs as a result of lost access while receiving few benefits in return (Agardy 1993;Roberts & Hawkins 20()0;Wells & Brandon 1992). Local residents, who tend to be poor in the developing world, will often perceive the protected areas as restricting their ability to make a living. It is therefore not surprising that growing populations and unsustainable land use practices frequently lead to illegal and destaictive encroachment. Consequently there has been a growing realization that traditional regulatory policies using guards and penalties to exclude local people - sometimes characterized as the 'fences and fines' approach - fail to protect natural areas (Alder 1996;Brandon & Wells 1992;Eagles & McCool 2002;Leitman 1998;Pollnac & Crawford 2000). Leitman (1998) points out that such policies (1) are often inadequately enforced; (2) can be costly to monitor; (3) can place land owners on the defensive; and (4) often fail to initiate positive action for conservation. 4 Today it is widely recognized that the successful long-term management o f protected areas depends on the cooperation and support of local people. It is no longer ethically nor politically feasible to exclude the poor who have limited access to resources from protected areas, without providing them with alternatives (Kay & Alder 1999;Salm & Clark 2000;Wells & Brandon 1992). New approaches in the developing world have involved promoting multiple use areas - such as biosphere reserves - that focus on integrating local people with conservation efforts ( U N E S C O 2002a ;UNESCO 2002b). 2.1.2 The Creation of Biosphere reserves Biosphere reserves are areas o f terrestrial and coastal/marine ecosystems or a combination that aims to promote biodiversity through sustainable development. Internationally recognized within the worldwide network of U N E S C O ' s program on Man and the Biosphere ( M A B ) , the concept of biosphere reserves arose in the late 1960s as an alternative to the national park ideal (Ishiwaran 1972). Tlie aim o f U N E S C O was initially to establish a network o f reserves that would protect the world's major ecological units in a more sustainable fashion than conventional protected areas. However this goal has, since the 1980s, expanded to include the need to reconcile the utilization of natural resources with long-term protection o f biodiversity (Brunckhoorst & Bridgewater 1999). As o f February 2003, more than 400 biosphere reserves have been implemented in 125 countries ( U N E S C O 2002a). U N E S C O outlines three complementary and mutually reinforcing functions which biospheres reserves are intended to fulfill: • A conservation function - to. contribute to the conservation o f landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation • A development function - to foster economic and human development which is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable • A logistic function - to provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development 2.2 How do Biosphere reserves differ from other parks? Even though biosphere reserves sometimes simultaneously encompass areas protected under other systems (such as national parks or nature reserves) or other internationally recognized sites (such as Wor ld Heritage Sites), they can be distinguished from the conventional model o f national park in a number o f different aspects. First, biosphere reserves are areas o f genuine biological diversity and are usually inhabited by species that are considered to be endemic, threatened or in danger o f extinction. Second, they are fundamentally concerned with whole landscape processes, whether inside or outside the 5 protected areas, across a variety of land tenures and uses (Brunckhoorst & Bridgewater 1999). In this regard, biosphere reserves aim to sustain biodiversity and productive capacity on a regional scale that is appropriate to tlie ecological processes as well as human use and cultural identity within that landscape (UNESCO 2002b). This is different from many national parks that are often not the most biologicallv diverse areas, but instead are noteworthy for historical or aesthetic reasons (Plancta.com 2002). Third, biosphere reserves also differ from the conventional protected areas by being multiple areas where existing local resource use and habitation is permitted in designated areas. A biosphere reserve is. thus, by definition more supportive of local communities. People and their activities are considered a natural part of a biosphere reserve and should be encouraged to participate in related programs at a local level (UNESCO 2002b). Through such involvement greater acceptance and understanding of the need to conserve biodiversity becomes apparent, and helps to ensure the operation of the biosphere reserve at a regional scale, lt also encourages social transformation of attitudes and values towards a more sustainable future (UNESCO 2002b). Not surprisingly biosphere reserves have generally proven better than other types of parks in establishing positive relations with local people (Brunckhoorst & Bridgewater 1999). To integrate human development with conservation, biosphere reserves are usually divided into three different zones that allow for varying degrees of use and protection: core, buffer and transitional zones (Figure 2): In core zones^ human activities are normally forbidden, except for research and monitoring. (UNESCO 2002a). Surrounding the core zone is usually a clearly delineated area referred to as the buffer zone. Activities within this area are strictly regulated to allow only those that do not hinder the conservation objectives of the core zone but rather help to protect it. hence the idea of buffering. Typical uses in this zone include education, training, research and tourism (UNESCO 2002a). In the outer transition zone activities take place tliat may contain a variety of agricultural activities, human settlements and other uses including tourism. It is here that park management seeks to work together with local communities to F i g u r e 2 : B i o s p h e r e R e s e r v e Z o n a t i o n S o u r c e : U N E S C O 2002 6 manage and sustainably develop the area's resources for the benefit of both environmental and people values ( U N E S C O 2002a). Such zoning can define and clarify boundaries, while helping resolve conflicts over land use access. It can also strengthen partnerships among local users with governing agencies, conservation organizations and reserve managers (Batisse 1982, 1986, 1993; Ishiwaran 1992; U N E S C O 1995; von Droste). From a tourism perspective, there are several benefits of such zoning (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002): 1. Tlie process o f zoning helps managers, operators, visitors and local communities to understand which park values are located where; 2. Zoning oriented to establishing standards of acceptable human impact helps to manage the spread of undesirable impacts; and 3. Zoning provides a better understanding o f the distribution and nature of different recreation and tourism opportunities within and around the protected area. Biosphere legislation generally establishes a single management authority responsible for both the fully protected core zones and the other areas set aside for human use. Granting such sole jurisdiction can simplify overall park management and make it easier to coordinate community development projects and conservation projects. Rules and regulations are therefore often more flexible and adapted to local needs, than what is found in conventional national parks ( U N E S C O 2002a). Tlie table below summarizes some of the documented benefits biosphere reserves can provide: Table 1: Benefits of Biosphere Reserves Value category M a i n purpose Conservation values Maintenance o f biological functions and biological diversity; conservation o f representative habitats and habitats of rare and endangered species (Agardy 1993 ;UNESCO 2002a) Recreational values Enhanced recreational opportunities, such as ecotourism (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002) Commercial values Sustainable use o f species and ecosystem (Bohnsack 1996); employment opportunities ( U N E S C O 2002a) Research/Education values Increased understanding of natural systems and human impacts on them (Bainckhoorst & Bndgewater 1999 ;UNESCO 2002a); interpretation for the purpose o f tourism (Agardy 1993) Historic values Protection of archaeological, historical and cultural sites (Agardy 2000) Management values Provision of baseline data; simplification o f use and monitoring; buffer against uncertainty ( U N E S C O 2002b) Community values Greater influence in local land-use decision-making; reduced conflict with protected area management; enhancement o f traditional activities and culture; healthier environment (Bainckhoorst & Bridgewater 1999 ;UNESCO 2002a ;UNESCO 2002b) 7 2.3 Are Biosphere Reserves working? The Case of Mexico Since 1978. biosphere reserves in Mexico have become an increasing popular form of nature protection. Tlie country's 26 biosphere reserves now cover 70% of all its protected areas (Young 1999a)1. Unfortunately many of these reserves are threatened by human activities within and around site boundaries. These negative impacts include spontaneous colonization, poaching, and legally sanctioned, large-scale resource extraction (Dedina 2000a;Young 1999c). A s a result, consensus has been building among policymakers, resource managers, scientists, and environmental advocates that most of Mexico 's reserves have failed, both in ecological and social terms (Vargas M . 1984; Breceda S. and others 1991; Simonian 1995). One example o f such failure is the protected areas of the Lagunas de Chacagua on the coast o f Oaxaca that lost 40 percent o f its forest due to illegal logging. Another is the Parque Nacional El Nevado de Toluca, - a volcano which is now 75 percent deforested (Planeta.com 2002). These problems threaten not only biodiversity, but also the viability of the communities that lives inside or close to these reserves. This raises at least one important question: Why has it been so difficult to translate community-based conservation rhetoric o f biosphere reserves into on-the-ground nature-protection efforts? Ultimately, the future of biosphere reserves wi l l depend not only on understanding these questions, but also finding new or improved community development models to address and solve them. Unfortunately it is difficult to generalize about the underlying causes of the threats facing biosphere reserves in Mexico. Tlie reserves vary not only in geophysical features, size and level of human exploitation, but also in the local institutional structures that govern them. However, some o f the underlying causes frequently mentioned include: • Over-centralized decision-making; • Insufficient community involvement; • Funding shortages; • Conflicting land tenure rights; • Rapid population growth; and • Failure to create socioeconomic incentives for conservation and poverty (Almada, Gomez-Morin , & Fischer 1993;Brandon & Wells 1992;Dedina 2 0 0 0 a ; S E M A R N A P 2000;Young E 2001) These causes are described in the following sections. Not all of Mexico's biosphere reserves are part of M A B . Those that were included in 2002 are Calakmul, E l Cielo, E l Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar. E l Triunfo, E l Vizcaino, Mapimi, Michilia, La Monte Azules, Sian Ka'an and Sierra de Manantlan. i 8 2.3.1 Centralization Mexico has traditionally favored strong centralized policies, where territorial autonomy has been seen as a threat to authority. This form of governance has been characterized as being not only centralized, but also highly autocratic, non-democratic, hierarchical, bureaucratic and corrupt (Dedina 2000a). This has lead to policies not enforced by law, but instead addressed by lobbying the right people inside government (Young 2001). The centralized 'top-down' staictures have also created other institutional hurdles in the form of weak coordination with other public, social and economic agencies; overlapping responsibilities between sectoral and environmental institutions and a lack of long term planning (Young 1999c). For instance it was not until 1995 that it became mandator)' for biosphere reserves to develop management plans ( S E M A R N A P 2000) Tlie highly centralized conservation infrastructure in Mexico has also meant that relatively few resources were historically allocated for on-the-ground programs in protected areas (Young 1995a). Such policies have, thus, impeded the development of conservation infrastructures that integrate local needs, concerns, and priorities into program planning. But more importantly, they have hindered a meaningful, ongoing dialogue among managers of protected areas, local communities, and other stakeholders. Without such communication, community-based conservation is unlikely to succeed. (Almadaet al.. 1993). 2.3.2 Community Involvement Mexico has been slow to reinforce existing stewardship practices among indigenous groups by promoting land security and self-determination (Young 1999c). Such ideas were not part of the political agenda until the institutional reforms became the policy o f Mexico ' s environmental ministry S E M A R N A P in 1994 ( S E M A R N A P 2000). While the participation o f local reserve inhabitants in planning, biological research, and developing environmentally sound economic activities has helped build local support for Mexico's Mapimi Desert Biosphere Reserve in Durango and Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve in Quintana Roo, it has been extremely difficult to integrate local people into efforts to promote nature protection in most of Mexico ' s other biosphere reserves (Young 1995a). Tlie difficulty reflects, in part, tlie nature of tlie communities involved, many o f which may be defined more by division and conflict than by unity and cooperation in local resource use and management (Dedina & E . 1995). Many studies also suggest tliat community involvement by itself rarely is sufficient to create conservation incentives. Communities often lack the needed organizational skills, ideas or financial support to change behavior (Christie & White 1997;Wells & Brandon 1992). In the Mexican biosphere reserves, central-state governments, outside scientists, and international environmental organizations have dominated the discourse of community-based conservation by defining the agendas for local resource management (Dedina 1996). 9 2.3.3 Lack of Funding These previous mentioned problems are not only associated with Mexico 's centralized institutional stmcture, but also with a severe lack o f funding in general (Dedina 2000a). Jn 1995. the federal budget for all protected areas was approximately one mill ion US dollars. This is a meager budget for protecting the 22 mill ion acres that are part of the Mexican system of protected areas (Planeta.com 2002). It makes law enforcement virtually non-existent since there is little money for staff, training and the equipment needed to do the surveillance and enforcement. Indeed, staff turnover has historically been high because o f low-pay and the failure of the Federal Government to pay salaries on time (Dedina 2000a;Knudson 1999). In response to this severe funding shortage, currently, the El Vizcaino Biosphere, in addition to 10 other of the most ecologically significant protected areas in Mexico is now receiving financial support from the Global Environmental Facility Program (GEF) . This program is designed to boost management, training and conservation efforts, with the goal of helping the reserves to become self-financed entities (Planeta.com 2002). 2.3.4 Land Tenure Management of protected areas is also faced with challenges related to land tenure. In Mexico, the federal government owns only 15% of the land within existing protected areas (Planeta 2002). This is a problem because landowners within these are not legally required to follow the plans of government agencies. Protected area managers face great challenges in implementing protected area policies as they depend upon the voluntary actions of landowners (Gomez-Pompa and Kaus 1999). 2.3.5 Mexico's Population Growth Biosphere reserve management challenges are also exacerbated by Mexico ' s rapid population growth. Tlie nation's population has almost tripled from an estimated 35 mil l ion people in 1960 to 103 mil l ion people in 2001. This rapid increase has dramatically intensified tlie pressure on development and exploitation within and around many o f Mexico ' s biosphere reserves. In many areas such pressure, coupled with poverty, has resulted in increasing unlawful activities like poaching, drug trafficking and illegal settlements (Spalding 1999). 2.3.6 Poverty Research shows that poverty tends to force people to opportunistically search for employment, employ unsustainable methods o f resource extraction, and resist management from fear or income loss in biosphere reserves. Poverty and low-income salaries also encourage corruption among resource managers (Christie & White 1997). A s a result, there has been a growing attention to reduce poverty in order to achieve biosphere objectives. 10 ln 1995 the goal o f poverty reduction was stated explicitly in the "Seville Strategy" and the "Statutory Framework" for the World Biosphere Reserve Network. In both these documents the development needs of the local population was highlighted as a basic requirement needed to ensure appropriate management of most parks and reserves. These documents suggested that measures such as education, revenue sharing, participation in decisions, and appropriate schemes for alternative economic development as a means o f addressing this challenge (Daniele, Acerbi , & Carenzo 1999). Mexico has been slow to follow these recommendations. In fact, most Mexican biosphere reserves have traditionally been mn with little or no regard for the needs o f local communities. For example. Young (2001) points out that the inhabitants of E l Vizcaino biosphere reserve have been marginalized by the same conservation process, which was meant to engage them in promoting natural resource protection and reduce chronic marginalization. 2.4 Strategies to Make Biospheres Reserves Work In recognizing the issues and challenges facing its biosphere reserves, since the mid-1990s Mexico has embarked on a number o f new strategies to strengthen and improve the management o f these areas. These strategies include: • decentralization; • restructuring of government agencies; • implementing and enforcing stronger laws; and • alleviating poverty through alternative economic development ( S E M A R N A P 2000). Under former president Salinas, drastic changes were made to the governing structure of Mexico ' s protected areas as a whole. In 1994 and in recognition o f previous management and institutional failures, a new government agency, S E M A R N A P , was established. Its purpose was to integrate resource management .policies and programs spread between different agencies including P E S C A (Mexico's Ministry o f Fisheries), I N E (National Institute o f Ecology) and P R O F E P A (Attorney General's Office for Environmental Protection) (Dedina 2000a). Another important development was the strengthening of the legal foundation for Mexico 's protected areas with the Program for Wildl i fe Conservation and Productive Diversification in the Rural Sector (1997) and the Program for Mexican Natural Areas 1995-2000. Tlie latter program was significant, because it granted more autonomy to reserve managers and emphasized community empowerment through increased local participation, capacity building, and alternative employment opportunities. Tlie government hope that such measures w i l l generate sufficient local benefits to reduce poverty, lessen dependence on traditional development activities and hinder illegal ones ( S E M A R N A P 2000). This program also recognized ecotourism as one o f the important options for improving the sustainability of the biosphere reserves. 11 r Most of these policy changes are relatively new. Consequently, very little has therefore been published on the effects of these changes. Nevertheless, there seem to be consensus that Mexico has taken some new steps to solve some, i f not all of the complex problems facing its protected areas in general (Dedina 2000a). 2.5 Ecotourism - Importance and Relevance to Mexico's Biosphere Reserves TTiis section describes ecotourism as a concept and indentifies linkages with biosphere reserves in an Mexican context. It also outlines the benefits and problems o f ecotourism: and identifies a framework based on principles and indicators that can be used to evaluate the success of ecotourism from the perspective o f the community and local tourism providers. 2.5.1 What is Ecotourism ? General agreement exists that ecotourism is travel to natural areas that supports conservation activities, contributes to local development and leads to greater understanding and appreciation of the natural and cultural environment (Wood 2001b). However, much confusion surrounds the term ecotourism'. Critics point out that the general wording and multidimensional character of most definitions make it impossible to reach a consensus on what actually constitutes this phenomenon (Fennell 2003;Wood 2001a). This is hardly surprising, since ecotourism lacks a common operational definition, contains a variety of players and activities, and only recently has started to develop certification standards (Page 2003). As a result the term ecotourism has often been used as a marketing strategy to dress up existing tourism activities to appear more green (Blarney 1997;Vanasselt 2000). Much debate exists in the literature concerning what criteria should be used to distinguish ecotourism from other forms of tourism. For instance, Pearce (1995) argues that a 'false distinction' is being made between tourism and ecotourism. He finds that both nature-based tourism and ecotourism 'should be considered as woven into the broader fabric o f tourism, and should not be limited by artificially trying to categorize the phenomenon. However, others argue : that ecotourism should indeed be viewed as a separate category. What distinguishes it from nature, cultural, or adventure tourism is not its degree o f specialization, as much as its emphasis on its ethical values and principles (Diamantis 1999;Ross & W a l l 1999). These discussions have led to such distinguishing features as tlie motivations for participating; the presence and scale of environmental, social and economic impacts; and the presence and scale o f environmental services offered by the providers o f these experiences (Blarney 1997;Scheyvens 1999;Wallace 2002). However, much of the confusion and debate stems from the fact that ecotourism 12 can be perceived both as a form of sustainable development, as well as a niche market segment o f nature tourism with sustainable and unsustainable characteristics ( U N E P 2002b;Wood 2001a). Nevertheless, general agreement exist that ecotourism should have all of the following characteristics (Eagles & McCool2002) : • Contribute to the conservation o f biodiversity; • Sustain the wellbeing of local people; • Include an interpretation / learning experience; • Involve responsible action on the parts o f tourists and the tourism industry; • Be delivered primarily to small groups by small businesses; • Require the lowest possible consumption of non-renewable resources; and • Stress local participation, ownership and business opportunities 2.5.2 Definition of Ecotourism Used in This Thesis The definition o f ecotourism used in this study's research is that one used by the Wor ld Conservation Union ( IUCN) Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas ( C N P P A ) definition: "Environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features - both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations" This definition can be applied to subsets o f nature, culture and adventure tourism and has an ethical overlay that links sustainability with community empowerment (Wallace 2002). It also fits well with Mexico ' s Ministry o f Tourism own definition o f what they consider the country's most important tourism product categories for eco- and adventure based tourism activities (Sectur 2001). 2.5.3 Ecotourism in Mexico's Biosphere Reserves Tire link between tourism and biosphere reserves in Mexico is as old as the establishments o f the biosphere reserves themselves. In these areas, tourism has been an acceptable form of economic development from tlie beginning (Ward 1997b). Most biosphere reserves in Mexico have some ecotourism activities already implemented. Unfortunately monitoring of the visitor numbers and tourist activities by ecotourism is limited. Consequently, there are no estimates o f tlie current and projected market size and value o f ecotourism to Mexico ' s biosphere reserves (Sectur 2001). However, since most ecotourism activities take place in protected areas (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002) general figures and trends 13 related to ecotourism do provide some insight into the current nature of ecotourism activities in Mexico's biosphere reserves. Mexico is one of the world's top ten tourist destinations. In 2000. the country had more than 20 million international visitors, ln the same year, tourism employed 6.1% of the work force, and accounted for 8.2% of Mexico's GNP. This made it one of the country's top industries (Sectur 2001). Tlie country has in the last decade, like many others in accordance with changing world trends, shifted towards meeting the increased ecotourism demand. However, Mexico's ecotourism development is still regarded as being in its infancy. Tn 2000, the most popular ecotourism and adventure tourism activities accounted for only 0.62 percent of the US$ 8.3 billion spent by foreign tourists in Mexico (National Tourism Program. 2001-2006) (Table 2). Three ecotourism activities accounted for most of the US$ 5 1.2 million generated in total revenue: scuba diving 47%, appreciation of natural systems 19% and whale watching 7.5% (Sectur 2001). In 2001, approximately 420 local companies were identified as providers of ecotourism and adventure activities in Mexico (Sectur 2001): T a b l e 2 : M o s t P o p u l a r E c o - a n d A d v e n t u r e T o u r i s m A c t i v i t i e s C o n d u c t e d i n M e x i c o 2 0 0 0 Bird watching Butterfly watching Cave exploring Ecosystem observation, star gazing, flora observation, and photographic safaris Hang gliding Hiking Horse riding Hot-air balloon flights Kayaking Mountaineering, rock climbing, and rappelling Mountain biking Parachuting Paragliding Rock digging and fossil hunting Snorkelling, scuba diving and cave diving Turtle watching Ultra light Flying Whale watching White-water rafting S o u r c e : S e c t u r 2001 Tlie relative low level of ecotourism development i n Mexico is hardly surprising. Historically, the country has favored large scale tourism development like that found in Cancun or Acapulco (Ward 1997a). Mexico does not yet have any long-term development plan and strategy for ecotourism development. However, ecotourism is increasingly gaining government support. In 2001, an agreement was signed with various Mexican government agencies to invest U S $250 million in ecotourism - compared to just US$50 14 in 2000 (Fullerton 2002). Mexico hopes to capitalize on the growing demand for ecotourism expanding at about five times the average rate o f the tourism industry as a whole. ( W T O 2003). Proponents argue that Mexico ' s biosphere reserves are in an unique position to benefit from this growth. They feel that this nation has the characteristics needed to make it attractive for ecotourism development (Daniele. Acerbi , & Carenzo 1999;Sectur 2001 ;Ward 1997a). These traits include: • Pristine nature with hundreds of endemic species and an abundance o f charismatic mega fauna o f high interest to ecotourism activities 2 ; • A tropical climate ideal for activities all year round; • A well developed tourist infrastructure already in place to facilitate access and accommodate visitors; • A variety of other high quality' tourism attractions like Aztec ruins and pristine beaches found within or close to most reserves adds value and choice to the tourism experience • A stable political climate safe to visitors; and • A close proximity to the major tourism markets of the U S A and Canada However, the shift towards more ecotourism development is not only a reflection o f the positive prospects for growth, but also mirrors a growing environmental awareness in Mexico (Young 1999a). Having seen the. negative, environmental effects that mass tourism development has had in destinations like Cancun. the government is increasingly searching for economic alternatives to mass tourism (Ward 1997b;Young 1999c). Ecotourism development is not only being pushed by Mexico ' s Ministry of Tourism ( S E C T U R ) , but also by the Ministry of the Environment (1NE) and many of the country's leading N G O s dealing with environmental and community development issues in protected areas. These proponents point out that ecotourism represents one o f the few options available for balancing conservation with economic development. When implemented successfully ecotourism is perceived to create incentives for protection through revenue, education, local participation and capacity building (Ross & Wal l 1999). This is done by providing locals with jobs and income alternatives to traditional resource extractive related employment, illegal activities, and unemployment (Diamantis 1999;Fennell & Dowling 2003). From a management perspective ecotourism can become a source o f financing fall tlie activities needed to keep the environment pristine and well managed (Wallace 2002). Ecotourism is used as an economic justification for the biosphere reserve development because it has tlie potential to improve local l iving standards and 15 help overcome local resistance to conservation oriented management rules and regulations (Brandon & Wells 1992;Leitman 1998). Unfortunately ecotourism is not easy to implement successfully. There are many examples where ecotourism has worked against rather than for local communities and protected areas (Boo 1995;Brandon & Wells 1992;Scheyvens 1999). Some of the numerous drawbacks from ecotourism activities have included adverse impacts on wildlife and fragile ecosystems (Bookbinder 1998;Diamantis 1999;Vanasselt 2000); the breakdown of local cultural traditions (Crandall 2002;Pizam & Milman 1984); few economic benefits to local people (Dedina & E. 1995;Young 1999a) and protected areas (Brandon & Wells 1992;Ward 1997a;Wells & Brandon 1992); and aggravated conflicts over access to resources (Buckley 2003;Salm & Clark 2000). In such areas, ecotourism is believed to be a major activity generating a full range of economic, social and environmental impacts that can be both positive and negative. Although, little has been published on ecotourism activities in Mexico 's biosphere reserves the few case studies available confirm the complexities in implementing ecotourism successfully. In the Mexican biosphere of Si 'an Kaan, it has helped limit unrestricted access to resources, facilitated local empowerment, provided economic means for management and employment while successfully protecting critical natural areas (Agardy 1993). Similar development in Mexico 's Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve has made local agriculture non profitable and forced village farmers into illegal logging practices for survival. This negative development in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve has happened despite rapid growth in the number of visitors from 25,000 people in 1986 to 250,000 in 1998/99 (Buckley 2003). Tlie role o f ecotourism as a tool for community development and conservation management is therefore highly disputed. This situation has increased the need to evaluate the current socioeconomic and environmental impacts o f current ecotourism activities in Mexico. It has also escalated the importance o f understanding the underlying conditions leading to success and failure o f this form of development (Eagles & M c C o o l 2 0 0 2 ; U N E S C O 2002b;Wallace 2002). Mexico 's Ministry o f Tourism ( S E C T U R ) has already warned that the skills and capacities of local operators remains a crucial barrier to overcome for a more economically viable tourism industry to emerge (Sectur 2001). 16 2.6 What is Successful Ecotourism? A Suggested Framework for Evaluating Ecotourism from the Perspective of the Host Community and Local Tour Operators. A number of different issues arise in trying to determine what constitutes successful ecotourism. Wide expectations exist that ecotourism can help balance conservation with development. However, by striving to satisfy a myriad o f loosely defined environmental, social, economic, and cultural objectives at multiple levels o f society, it is inherently difficult to find common ground on how to determine, measure, and analyze the criteria for success o f ecotourism activities in absolute terms (Blarney 1997;Ross & W a l l 1999;Wallace 2002). Generally ecotourism is associated with a wide variety of environmental, social and economic impacts. These impacts can be classified in various ways: positive or negative; direct or indirect; immediate or cumulative; and short-term or long term (Wong 1998). These impacts also tend to van,' dramatically from one reserve to reserve because of various factors. These include differences among state economies; the relative and absolute size of the tourism sector; the rate of growth of tourism, the nature o f the tourism facilities involved; and a score o f environmental factors including geology, climate and existing natural communities (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). It is not surprising that almost all studies find both positive and negative impacts o f ecotourism development (Butler 1992) and it is difficult to generalize about the underlying causes o f its performance (Mason 2003). A l l ecotourism development is likely to involve some tradeoffs between development and conservation. Empirical research suggests that local residents are wil l ing to accept some negative consequences as long as ecotourism is perceived as bringing more positive benefits. However, whether impacts are perceived as positive or negative depends very much on the value position of the stakeholder. According to Eagles (2002), four stakeholder groups are particularly important in decisions concerning ecotourism development in protected areas: (1) society in general, including local communities, (2) park managers, (3) tourism operators, and (4) visitors. Each group views the social, economic or environmental benefits of ecotourism from their own motivations and perspectives: • Biosphere managers primarily see ecotourism as a means to promote conservation, • Local communities adopt ecotourism mostly to improve their livelihood; • Tourism operators work to ensure survival and maximize profit from ecotourism ventures; and • Tourists visit ecotourism areas for enhanced personal experiences. Some important observations emerge from these differences in stakeholder objectives. Tlie first point is that what benefits one group o f stakeholders might put others at a disadvantage since not all groups are 17 likely to benefit or share the cost equally of implementing ecotourism (Fennell 2003). Success and failure of ecotourism is therefore relative to the point o f view o f the stakeholder. It is also evident that it is such differences in values and expectations that can lead to conflicts between these groups. For example, tourism operators might wish to promote tourism development further than permitted by reserve legislation, oppose fees paid to management of the biosphere reserves and efforts to empower locals because such actions are perceived as threats or a hindrance to the achievement of business objectives (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Any evaluation o f ecotourism in biosphere reserves should therefore state the value position of the commentator (Mason 2003). This research suggests a framework to evaluate the success of ecotourism activities based on the following six basic objectives: • Ecotourism must limit environmental impacts and contribute to the conservation and management o f the biosphere reserve. • Ecotourism must direct sufficient economic benefits to local people in ways that complement rather than overwhelm traditional practices • Successful ecotourism should improve the wellbeing and cohesion of the community • Ecotourism should increase the participation of local people in the decision making process • Ecotourism should increase local support for biosphere reserves • Ecotourism operators must be profitable These objectives reflect commonly expected goals and benefits from ecotourism development. However, they also emphasize that ecotourism impacts should be evaluated at the community level and from the perspective of local tourism vendors. Such evaluations must include environmental as well as socioeconomic objectives. From these objectives, indicators and standards for compliance can be developed that are relevant, but also feasible to measure for any given biosphere. Some of the critical barriers that can hinder the achievement of these goals, as well some examples of possible indicators that can be used in conjunction with the objectives to measure success or failure are presented in the following paragraphs. 2.6.1 Ecotourism Must Limit Environmental Impacts and Contribute to the Conservation and Management of the Biosphere Reserve. Tlie most proclaimed benefit o f ecotourism is its potential ability to contribute to the conservation o f the natural resource base. Ecotourism depends on the quality o f the natural and human environment. In most 18 cases it is assumed that ecotourism provides sufficient economic incentives to protect the environment and restore degraded habitat. Good ecotourism operations minimize environment impacts via their dedication to small groups sizes; the appropriate choice o f equipment and modes of transportation; methods of waste disposal; and use of "leave no trace" procedures (Wallace 2002). In such cases, money generated from tourism revenues - like entrance and service fees, donations and taxes - is often used to maintain, protect and offset the costs of conservation in biosphere reserves (Ross & Wall 1999)(Giongo 1993)(Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Indirectly, ecotourism can help protect and restore biological and ecological processes by reducing local dependencies on traditional and potentially non-sustainable practices like fishing, logging and mining (Wells & Brandon 1992). It can also foster broader local environmental commitment among locals and visitors, through emphasis on education and commitment to empowering and involving locals in ecotourism business operations (Scheyvens 1999). This can encourage local people and authorities to better protect their resources (Pizam & Mihnan 1984) and convince them to comply with existing rules and regulations (Roberts & Hawkins 2000) However, ecotourism typically takes place in pristine, often isolated and fragile parts of most biosphere reserves. These areas are also the most vulnerable to degradation (Cater 1995;Toerpfer 2001) In such sensitive areas, even a small number of tourists can bring unexpected or big changes to wildlife and the environment. While small ecotourism projects often prosper economically, they subsequently expand for additional income and revenue. Such growth can be difficult to restrain. There are many cases where ecotourism activities unintentionally have exceeded a site's carrying capacity^, due to rapid growth rates, poor management and the difficulty in identifying tlie deterioration o f the environment soon enough (Diamantis 1999). In such scenarios the distinction between ecotourism and mass tourism becomes blurred. Such issues are facing the Biosphere of Galapagos Islands, where visitor numbers have grown from 4,500 to more than 62,000 in 2000 (Vanasselt 2000). This market growth has lead to a rapid immigration from the mainland o f Ecuador. As a result, the area's permanent population has nearly tripled over a 15-year period. This growth combined with exotic species introductions, big infrastructure development, pollution and over fishing are now causing serious environmental concerns, as well as increasing social tensions between tourism operators and park management. If it were not for efforts on the part o f the Darwin Foundation and tlie Galapagos National Park to halt attempts at development, there 3 A determination of the biophysical limits of productivity of various natural resources , with the idea that harvest or use of those resources would be at or below those limits and the trade-offs (Jackson 1984). 19 is little doubt that the fragile ecosystem of the Galapagos would long since have been converted to other uses (Sitnik 1999). T a b l e 3 : E x a m p l e of R i s k s f r o m T o u r i s m A c t i v i t i e s E l e m e n t E x a m p l e o f R i s k s f r o m T o u r i s m A c t i v i t i e s E c o s y s t e m s • Integrity o f biological reserve processes and wildlife may be disturbed or disrupted by ecotourism development and use S o i l s • Soil compaction can occur in certain well-used areas and from construction. • Erosion from use of trails and roads V e g e t a t i o n • Trampling, transportation and other intensive use in fragile habitats can have a negative effect on vegetation. • Removal o f vegetation for construction, food, grazing and souvenir purposes might have negative impacts on the environment • Introduction o f invasive species might bring disturbance to plant community • Fire frequency may change due to tourists and park tourism management. W a t e r • Increased demands for freshwater • Disposal of sewage or litter in rivers, lakes or oceans increases pollution levels. • Release o f oil and fuel from ships and smaller craft. A i i - • Motorized transportation may cause pollution from emissions W i l d l i f e • Habitat destruction and fragmentation which occurs from a variety of construction purposes e.g. roads, trails, buildings, and moors and settlements might have threatening effects on wildlife populations • Wildlife feeding can lead to behavioural changes, poor nutrition and dependence on artificial food supply • Litter, garbage and pollution might influence wildlife reproduction negatively • Noise, visual or harassing behaviour can increase stress and natural rates of wi ld life mortality by disturbing wild life processes such as breeding, feeding, hunting, migration routes and resting • Human habituation can cause changed wildlife behaviour such as approaching people for food. • Ecotourism growth might increase extraction pressures on existing wi ld life e.g. in the form of over fishing, hunting for game meat, and animal souvenirs made from native species. • Invasive species might accidentally be introduced from effects of transportation, escapement o f pets etc. Sources: (Boo 1995;Cater 1994;Diamantis 1999;Eagles &. McCool 2002;Pedersen 1991;Scheyvens 1999;Toerpfer 2001;UNEP 2002b ;Wearing 1999;Williams 1994;Wood 2001a;Wood 2001b) Tlie potential detrimental impacts o f ecotourism question the validity o f ecotourism as a tool for conservation. However, proponents point out most environmental impacts can be mitigated by proper planning and management (Fennell & Dowling 2003;Mason 2003;Pedersen 1991;Ross & W a l l 1999,Swarbrooke 1998;UNEP 2002a). For example this can happen through management policies and 2 0 activities that reduce the use of the entire protected areas; modify the use of problem areas; adjust the timing o f use; alter the type o f use; modifying visitor access and behaviour; increase the resilience of the resource; and rehabilitate impacted areas (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Unfortunately,, lack o f financing, scarce equipment, poorly trained and insufficient staff, overlapping jurisdictions and centralized management remain serious barriers for effective management in most o f the world's biosphere reserves (Daniele, Acerbi , & Carenzo 1999;Eagles & Bowman 1999;Fennell & Dowling 2003;Mason 2003;Ross & Wal l 1999;UNESCO 2002b;Wells & Brandon 1992). P o s s i b l e i n d i c a t o r s : for measuring environment impacts from ecotourism development include: (i) Measures of biophysical change such as population dynamics, vegetative composition, erosion, water quality, wi ld life behaviour, and habitat; (ii) visitor group size; (iii) mode o f transportation; (iv) methods of waste disposal; and (v) use of leave no trace procedures. These all imply some form of impact monitoring and such activity should be site specific. 2.6.2 Ecotourism must Direct Sufficient Economic Benefits to Local People in Ways that Complement Rather than Overwhelm Traditional Practices. Tlie economic rationale for ecotourism is that it leads to diversification and increases employment and ' income levels ( U N E P 2002a). Prediction o f the level of income and jobs created depends entirely on what kind o f ecotourism is put in place. It is often a function o f the number of visitors and their length of stay (Fennell & Dowling 2003). Direct impacts are derived from money spent by tourists on guiding, visitor fees, donations, transportation, lodging, equipment rentals, food, retail services and souvenirs; or by tourism operators who need supplies, infrastructure and manpower to run their activities (Page 2003). Indirect economic impacts arise, when locals use their ecotourism-related salary to buy other goods and services, and pay taxes. Tire flow o f money from ecotourism has tlie potential to form strong linkages with other sectors o f the economy (Wearing 1999). Such effects can be in the form of foreign exchange (Wood 2001b). One example is in Costa Rica, where general nature tourism was estimated to generate over U S $600 mil l ion in foreign exchange in 1994 (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Similarly, the Galapagos Islands earned in the same year $4.3 mil l ion in visitor fees alone. In fact, the ecotourism activities from this biosphere reserve were responsible for over 70 percent o f Ecuador's foreign exchange in 1999 (Nations 2000). Ecotourism depends on natural areas where resource protection requires low visitor density and small group sizes (Wallace 2002). In addition most ecotourism activities are very sensitive to changes in the 21 season, weather, access, economic and political events (Briguglio et al. 1996). Most operations are therefore small with very modest and irregular economic returns compared to mass tourism (Ward 1997b). For local communities to benefit economically it is critical to minimize the money that flows out of biosphere reserves and to maximize the income that flows in (Sharpley & Telfer 2002). In Tortugero National Park in Costa Rica, less than 10% of local households benefit economically from visitors (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Unfortunately there are numerous other examples where a lack o f local skills, and high start up costs associated with creating the infrastructure necessary to attract tourists has limited local control and involvement (Fennell 2003). Profits therefore tend to go to non-local companies or local elites rather than the community as a whole (Young 1999a). Communities are particularly vulnerable to leakage when (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002): • Local products are poorly diversified, or low priced; • Jobs are occupied by non-locals; • Tour companies are owned by foreigners; • Services and supplies have to be imported or are purchased outside the reserve; • Income from the reserve is used by government for other non related purposes; and • Tourism operators have high ratios of debt and/or low profitability. Tlie growth o f ecotourism can also increase the for more park personnel to control and manage tourism activities (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Unfortunately fees and other revenue generated from ecotourism activities are often insufficient to cover the cost o f managing the impacts from tourism related activities (Fennell & Dowling 2003). Ecotourism can also indirectly conflicts with other economic activities. For instance, in the Biosphere Reserve of E l Vizcaino, fishing is no longer allowed in areas where whale watching is taking place (Dedina 2000a). Opportunity costs can also arise from protected wildlife grazing on locally produced crops (Eagles & Bowman 1999). Such costs should be taken into consideration when evaluating the economic benefits from ecotourism to local communities. Possible indicators: for measuring local economic benefits include: (i) Number o f jobs created from ecotourism development; (ii) changes in visitor numbers; (iii) revenue generated from tourism sales; (iv) investments in infrastructure and ecotourism development; (v) increases or decreases in services provided to locals as a result o f tourism; (vi) changes in income distribution among community members; (vii) payments of entrance fees for biosphere reserve management; and (viii) increases or decreases in the diversity o f economic activity. 22 2.6.3 Successful Ecotourism Should Improve the Wellbeing and Cohesion of the Community Successful ecotourism promotes aesthetic,, spiritual and other values related to well-being. It does this by establishing and protecting attractive environments for residents, and for visitors. Local residents can also take advantage o f improvements made in health services, communications, roads, water and sewage systems, electricity, and recreational facilities, which might have been built initially with tourists in mind (Fennell & Dowiing 2003). Such developments can help local communities maintain or improve their living standards and quality of life (Barkin 1996;Scheyvens 1999). Yet, infrastructure improvement, combined with new economic opportunities, often attracts an influx of people from outside the biosphere reserve. This can lead to rapid population growth, increased levels of pollution, and use o f scarce resources (Page & Dowiing 2002;Pizam & Milman 1984). Tlie price o f real estate can also increase as a result o f speculation, or from foreign investors buying up property and taking over businesses. Tlie economic possibilities created from ecotourism can have both stabilizing and destabilizing effects on communities where locals are struggling to make a l iving from traditional overexploited resources. Ecotourism has for example in some cases been found to create more economic independence for groups, previously excluded from the job market like women and young people (Wood 2001a). While such development is generally desirable, it can cause conflicts in traditional societies, where parents or husbands have always held more power or status (Crandall 1986). Unfortunately, ecotourism activities often only call for seasonal employment, leaving residents unemployed during the slow or off-seasons (Young 1999c). Many biosphere reserves communities are characterized by being small, non-industrialized societies, where tlie preservation o f tradition is extremely important in terms o f maintaining local self-esteem and well-being. Communities already exposed to outside influences, w i l l l ikely respond differently to development opportunities than populations which have not experienced such changes (Brandon, 1996). It is difficult to generalize about the nature o f social impacts, because while some community members welcome change others are likely to oppose it. Other serious socio-cultural effects often occur when locals note the often superior material possessions of the visitors and aspire to these. This may have positive effects in that it can encourage residents to adopt more productive patterns o f behavior. But more frequently it is disruptive in that locals become resentful because they are unable to obtain the goods and lifestyle demonstrated by the visitors (Burns & 2 3 Holden 1995). This-may encourage the more able members of a community to migrate away in search of abetter lifestyle elsewhere (Mason 2003). Negative cultural impacts may also occur where local traditions become too commercialized, and subsequently lose their integrity or authenticity. Foreign tourists often bring different customs and values to the societies that are considered intrusive and offensive to the locals (Butler 1991). At first, this behavior might be accepted and looked upon with curiosity and tolerance. Yet , when tourist numbers increase rapidly, they often become a threat to the social foundation of the local culture and leads to antagonism towards the visitor (Eagles & Bowman 1999). Mansperger (1995) describes how groups o f the Yagua Indians of the Peruvian Amazon have been relocated by tour operators to make them more accessible to tourists. A s a result, they have abandoned fishing and agriculture to become dependent on money raised from cultural performances. Most significantly, the Yagua are now plagued by various forms of depression, apathy and illnesses (Mansberger 1995). In order to avoid such negative effects, some Aboriginal communities in Australia have chosen to shun direct involvement with tourists (Eagles & Bowman 1999). However, there are also examples where ecotourism has helped revive or preserve the cultural heritage of a destination area - more specifically, monuments, ceremonies, arts and crafts and traditions - which otherwise would have been forgotten or died out. Tlie Siaan Kan in Mexico is an example o f such a biosphere ( U N E S C O 2003), where the self-esteem of many community members have been enhanced, because of outside recognition of the uniqueness of their culture and their traditional knowledge. This increased confidence has lead many community members to seek out further education and training opportunities. Possible indicators: for measuring improvements in well-being include: (i) changes to the level and number of tourism related conflicts; .(ii) exclusion or marginalization of certain groups forced by ecotourism development; (iii) local ownership over resources; (iv) changes to infant mortality; (v) visual degradation of the environment; (vi) better access to services; (vii) changes in local attitude towards tourists; (viii) improved training and education possibilities; (ix) accept of changes to community structure; (x) loss of skills and traditions; and (xi) increasing cost of living. 24 2.6.4 Ecotourism Should Increase the Participation of Local People in the Decision Making Process Landuse and other types of conflicts often arise from determining how ecotourism activities should be implemented and regulated. Such tension can arise between: • competing tourist stakeholders benefiting from the same or different activity; • tourist stakeholders vs. traditional resource users (e.g fishing, mining, logging); • visitors and managers; and • tourist users and governing agencies Where individuals, families, ethnic or socio-economic groups compete with each other for the benefits o f ecotourism without cooperating together, such conflicts are often amplified. Ecotourism therefore has the potential to displace certain societal groups (Mason 2003;Pizam & Milman 1984). In such instances, communities can become disillusioned with ecotourism and antagonistic towards visitors and each other (Scheyvens 1999). Failing to resolve such conflicts can be detrimental to ecotourism development as well as the general support for the biosphere reserves (Wells & Brandon 1992). While some conflict is inevitable it can be better minimized i f local stakeholders are involved in designing the rules and objectives for ecotourism development (Agardy 1993;Boo 1995 :UNESCO 2002b). Ecotourism with public participation can help empower local stakeholders politically through actions that: • sets up a dialogue that addresses local needs and concerns better than before; • avoid decisions which may impact negatively on local residents; • encourage a form of empowerment or decentralization, which allows people some control over the decision-making that affects them; • improve cooperation among stakeholders; • encourage tlie development of sympathetic community leaders (spokespersons, trainees, supervisors, advisors); • strengthen links between conservation and development goals with local benefits; • facilitate acceptable distribution o f benefits and costs from ecotourism; and • provide local capacity to monitor and evaluate progress o f projects (Brandon 1996; Ross & Wal l 1999). Tlie key to such participation is the early establishment and continued functioning o f committees, partnerships, and other mechanisms that provide local input to public (biosphere managers, etc.) and 2 5 private (outside concessionaires, conservation groups, etc.) interests that operate in the reserve. Ideally, locals wi l l also belong to those interests groups (Becker & Ostrom 1995). 1 While management actions to involve locals are absolutely critical to make ecotourism successful community participation has turned out problematic to implement well in some situations. Tlie more groups of people and interests that are involved in setting ecotourism objectives, the more difficult it is to achieve agreement on appropriate actions (Kay & Alder 1999). This increases the management requirement in terms o f needed skills, time and cost. A s a general rule, the higher the degree o f community involvement: • Tlie more staff time and energy is required; • Tlie more money it costs to support the process; • Tlie more detailed and sophisticated resource information that is requested by participants; • Tlie greater is the expectation o f stakeholders that their contributions w i l l be valued and used; and • Tlie greater the visible commitments that must be made to use die results, keep stakeholders informed, and explain any deviations from recommendations or decisions (Eagles & Bowman 1999). In additional to the above barriers, governments are often reluctant to devolve power. Often involved communities are viewed as unqualified or unskilled to take on responsibility for managing their resources. Sometimes communities themselves are reluctant to take responsibility for decision making (Wells & Brandon 1992); Kay & Alder 1999). There are many examples where local inhabitants remain marginalized politically from any influence over the development and management o f ecotourism activities(Christie & White 1997;Pollnac & Crawford 2000;Scheyvens 1999;Young 1999c). Possible indicators: for measuring local participation in the decision making process that determine the kind of ecotourism that may occur include: (i) Presence of local institutions to deal with tourism issues; (ii) existence o f collaborative efforts between operators, community and management; (iii) incorporation of local needs in biosphere management plan and tourism regulations; and (iv) local control over tourism concessions and licences. 2.6.5 Ecotourism Should Increase Local Support for Biosphere Reserves Case studies suggest that protected areas fail to work i f they obstruct local needs (Sindiga 1996). Ecotourism can increase local support by providing alternative economic development that encourages conservation and offsets some o f the socioeconomic costs associated with the restrictions to resource use imposed by biosphere rules and regulations. However, in determining support for ecotourism 26 development tlie distribution o f benefits is just as important as the actual benefits a community may receive (Scheyvens 1999). Studies show that local acceptance of ecotourism is directly related to how equitable the benefits are distributed throughout the communities and how much influence locals are able to exert over how ecotourism is to be implemented in the reserve. When benefits are unequally distributed, ecotourism can result in social disharmony, increased land resource use conflicts and the displacement o f certain user groups (Page 2003). This is often the case when profits and ecotourism opportunities go to local elites, outside operators, and government agencies; or when other non-tourism stakeholders bear the brunt of the problems of the ecotourism initiative without getting any benefits in return (Mason 2003;Swarbrooke 1998). However, when benefits are widely distributed it has helped empower locals politically and socially. Such support has been manifested in greater local environmental awareness, higher rates of compliance with management rules, lower levels o f poaching and improved relationship with managing agencies (Agardy 1993;Bookbinder 1998;UNESCO 2002b). Possible indicators: for measuring local support for biosphere reserves include: (i) Tourism revenue reinvested in community projects; (ii) local adherence to tourism and biosphere regulations; (iii) local participation in monitoring and enforcement; (iv) levels o f poaching by locals; (v) local attitude towards managing agencies; (vi) level o f cooperation in infrastructure maintenance and improvements; (vii) perception of visiting tourists; (viii) increased local levels of environmental awareness ; and (ix) local acceptance o f established entrance fees. '2.6.6 Ecotourism Operators must be Profitable It is money spent by visitors on product and services that is the foundation for all tlie socioeconomic benefits created by ecotourism (Fennell 20()3;Kotler, Haider, & Rein 1993). Locals benefits in tlie fonn o f jobs, salaries and potential infrastructure investments; while governing agencies get income to finance reserve activities in the fonn of visitor fees and increased local support for the biosphere reserve (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Success o f ecotourism must.be largely evaluated based on the economic viability o f local suppliers of ecotourism activities (Page 2003). However, there are many problems and barriers that can influence the profitability o f ecotourism vendors. These include: Lack of Low Cost Financing - Ecotourism projects rarely succeed as quickly or as profitably as other sectors. It requires a long-term financial commitment (Wallace 2002). Unfortunately, local tour operators and vendors often do not have the financial resources needed to get the training, supplies, infrastaicture and vehicles required to run a successful enterprise(Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Such problems are intensified by the lack o f access to capital in developing countries where loans tend to 27 be both short term and highly expensive (Phillips 1999). Lending agencies also prefer 'bricks and mortar" projects so they have something to repose should it fail (Robinson 2001). There is a need to identify financial sources and low cost financing mechanisms for long-term investment which develops and supports sustainable forms of ecotourism ( U N E S C O 2002b). High Operating Costs - Often investments in equipment, marketing and services are necessary to attract more customers (Kotler, Haider. & Rein 1993). Unfortunately, ecotourism typically involves small business operations which have difficulty achieving reasonable economies of scale (Wallace 2002). It can therefore be-very risky to invest in efforts to attract more visitors. It is not surprising that many ecotourism companies suffer from low profit margins due to the poor combination of having high overhead costs and few visitors (Thomas 1998). Business and Marketing Skills - Local tourism operators and vendors often fail to stay in business because they lack the international networks, marketing expertise, administration skills and personal attributes needed to deal with clients and to am tourism businesses competitively (Eagles & Bowman 1999;McKercher & Robbins 1998;Page 2003;Sectur 2001). Combined with limited access to funds for training, supplies, infrastructure and vehicles, the barriers for developing ecotourism can become .insurmountable. Such barriers increase the need for outside support and partnerships. This makes local communities vulnerable to exploitation, and increases economic leakage (Scheyvens 1999). Lack o f skills can skew the patterns of Ownership or control to the benefit o f local elites and outside companies, who have the resources and knowledge t6 capitalize on the ecotourism opportunities (Crandall 2002). In such instances, the socioeconomic benefits local communities receive are generally limited to unskilled labor jobs, some fanning and food production, and small scale profits from handicraft production (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Belize is a sad example, where most ecotourism ventures are owned and operated by expatriates. This situation exists despite the fact that ecotourism since 1982 has been a national government strategy for community development (Munt 1997). Critics also point out that while training appears to be the best way to help local communities develop more economically viable ecotourism operations (Wearing 1999), many training programs have had a fundamental lack o f emphasis on all the business-related and financial aspects of ecotourism (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002) ( 28 Table 4). 29 Table 4 : Focus of Community Based Ecotourism Capacity Training Programs Conducted by NGOs or Government Agencies. Elements emphasized Not Emphasized Guide Training Language skills Carrying capacity studies Basic infrastructure (trails, camps) Simple Brochures Economic feasibility/market studies Business Planning Marketing Product Development Hospitality training Source: Eagles 2002 Poor Product Diversification - Sporadic economic return is also caused by a lack of diversified tourism activities (Spalding 1999). Case studies indicate that ecotourism destinations often become more attractive to visit when there is a whole array of activities to choose from (Buckley 2003;Kotler, Haider. & Rein 1993;Page & Dowling 2002). Adding more products and services to existing activities can help increase visitor numbers, encourage tourists to spend more time at the location and possibly extend the tourism season (Swarbrooke 1998). However, diversification can be risky i f it requires large new investments in equipment or i f vendors need new skills to conduct the activities (Kotler 2002). Ecotourism vendors and operators are usually small businesses that do not have a lot of resources to take such risks (Thoinas 1998). They need to concentrate their efforts where they can achieve the most important goals. It takes a great deal of discipline to pass up apparent (as opposed to real and related) opportunities and stick with well conceived and proven business opportunities (Kotler. Haider. & Rein 1993). Seasonality - Local tourism operators and vendors in biosphere reserves with seasonal attractions such as migrating wild life often face difficulties in making a l iving solely from ecotourism (Scheyvens 1999). Finding ways to overcome the problem of seasonality can be tough especially in reserves where diversification is challenging. However, the economic rewards for doing so can be enormous because of the prospects o f more visits, a better spread o f visits, full employment as opposed to part-time employment and better utilization o f existing equipment (Jefferson & Lickorish 1991). Poor Government Regulations - Tour operators and local vendors must operate in a regulatory and legal framework that supports the development o f ecotourism activities (Ross & W a l l 1999). High government taxes, licensing requirements, cumbersome legal paperwork and unclear rules concerning tlie rights to conduct ecotourism activities can make it very difficult to operate and expensive to start up ecotourism ventures (Lew 1998). 30 • Competition - The economic viability of tourism vendors and operators is also tied to the number of companies offering such services. Too many vendors can make it impossible for anybody to make a living (Dedina 2000a), while too few are likely to stagnate development and concentrate economic benefits in the hands of a few. Lack of competition also has the effect of removing pressure for future development and market adaptation (Kotler, Haider, & Rein 1993). Possible indicators: of economic viability and health of local ecotourism industry include: (i) Profitability, sales/ revenues; (ii) operating costs; and (iii) debt rates. However, such data are often too sensitive to obtain from most operators. In such cases, a number of supply and demand indicators can be used as proxies. These include: (a) growth/decline in visitor numbers; (b) number of new tourism businesses and bankruptcies; (c) number of locals working in tourism related jobs, diversification of tourism products, and visible investments in infrastructure and marketing. Table 5 provides a summary of potential indicators and the environmental, economic and social impacts they address: j 31 Table 5: Possible Positive anil Negative Impacts from Ecotourism on Local Communities in Biosphere Reserves IW.i. wa$ft*»y[ 1 «taflSqjSBB' . • '. -V'... • Biodiversity Conserves wildhle and vegetation Increased threats to biodiversity Habitat Restores and preserves habitat Fragments and destroys habitat Ecological Processes Preserves integrity of biological system Threatens integrity of biological processes Creates Incentives for Conservation Generates income for impact management, alternative community income, and increased environmental awareness Speeds up undesired growth, overexploitation of existing resources, and community indifference towards the environment through lack of benefits. Employment Locals benefit from new skilled, full time and well paid jobs New jobs are seasonal, low skilled, poorly paid or occupied by outsiders Salaries Income gains Income loss Biosphere Management Funding Ecotourism revenues pays for tourism management cost Tourism income cannot cover tourism management costs Foreign Exchange Significant Insignificant Leakage Tourism spending is reinvested in the community Most tourism spending Hows out of the biosphere reserve Opportunity Cost Ecotourism does not conflict with traditional resource use Ecotourism adds cost to other sector(s) of the economy Viability of Local Tourism Operators and Vendors Profitable and growing No diversification of local economy; bankruptcies and stagnation >:lpseptJ]^u^J]tHpM , r -Cultural Heritage/Values Increased ethnical awareness: strengthens community traditions; increases pride/self-esteem: encourages local manufacturing Breakdown of local culture, religion, traditions: imposition of foreign/alien values; jealousy, apathy Community Capacities and Skills Improved intercul rural understanding; apprehension of foreign languages; employees are adapting new skills: increased education level of locals Loss of traditional knowledge and jobs Income Distribution Widely shared income distribution in the community Foreigners or local elite are the only beneficiaries Changes in Political/Economic System Strengthened local participation; enhanced democratic structure of local institutions; increased status for lower minority groups . Erosion of local control; Marginalization of certain stakeholders Attitude Towards Tourists Visitors are welcome Resentment and hostility towards visitors Land and Resource Access Possible.resource use conflicts become fewer and resolved Reduced access to resources; forced migration of residents; conflict over land uses Community Demographics Economic opportunities hinders outflow of local inhabitants Population grows uncontrolled as outsiders are attracted for employment Promotes Spirituel/Existence Values Establishes attractive environment for residents and visitors, which may support other compatible new activities Destruction of aesthetic, spiritual and other values related to well-being Environmental Awareness Increased environmental education and awareness for visitors and locals Indifference towards environmental degradation Living Standards Improved services, facilities, infrastructure Higher cost of living (Inflation, real estate speculation etc.) Desirable/ Undesirable Activities Better community compliance with management rules More crime, poaching, noise, and congestion Ownership over Resources More local ownership and rights More foreign ownership and outside control Sources: (Buckley 2003;Crandall 2'002;Diamantis 1999;Eagles & McCool 2002;Fennell 2003;IUCN 1998;Page 2003;Pizam & Milman 1984;Ross & Wall 1999;Scheyvens 1999;Sharpley & Telfer 2002) 3 2 2.7 Summary of Literature Review Many biospheres in Mexico are threatened from human activities and encroachment. In an effort to counter these threats, ecotourism is increasingly seen as an important tool to balancing development with conservation. Mexico's biosphere reserves are in a strong position to benefit from such development since ecotourism is expected to continue to grow rapidly and most of its activities can take place within protected areas. Furthermore. Mexico's biosphere reserves have a number o f features that makes them very attractive as ecotourism destinations. These includes the presence of a high concentration o f biodiversity; cultural history: unique geography of areas; close'proximity to tlie US tourism market, as well as, in place infrastructure available to support ecotourism development. Unfortunately, the few available case studies from ecotourism development in Mexico illustrate that ecotourism is difficult to implement successfully. To suggest that one single factor is likely to be the cause of success or failure o f ecotourism is simplistic. There are likely to be several factors which are interrelated and site-specific. Typically, negative environmental impacts in biosphere reserves are symptoms of: uncontrolled growth and poor management; a lack of community participation; inappropriate laws and institutions; a lack of reserve funding; and insufficient staff to enforce and monitor rules. A lack of socio-economic benefits is caused by local failure to profit from ecotourism opportunities due to limited: investment capital; experience; skills; management support: business oriented training and infrastructure. However, the capacity to attract visitors and thus generate socioeconomic benefits is also dictated by a number o f exogenous factors related to the characteristic o f the reserve itself These include the natural quality o f the reserve; the geographic location; and the perceived safety of traveling there. Tlie strategies needed to mitigate negative environmental and socioeconomic impacts are different with the context. Negative environmental impacts can be mitigated by management policies and activities that reduce the use of tlie entire protected areas and modify the use o f problem areas; adjust the timing of use; alters tlie type of use, modifying visitor behaviour; or rehabilitating impacted areas. On the other hand, minimizing the negative socioeconomic impacts is a question o f empowering local people to benefit more from the development of ecotourism activities. This implies involving reserve residents actively in the design o f tourism rules and regulations to address local needs better. It also involves capacitating local people with the necessary business skills to take advantage o f the new possibilities, and minimizing tlie leakage o f tourism spending out of the reserve. Successful community-based ecotourism requires a level o f business specialization and marketing expertise that often goes beyond the skills and financial capabilities o f most community members. 33 3 Research Objectives The main objectives o f this study was to examine: 1) how the ecotourism operations and activities in the Laguna San Ignacio have changed since 1994. 2) whether these changes have made ecotourism a more viable socio-economic development alternative for the communities, and 3) what strategies may be useful in overcoming identified barriers to further socio-economic benefits from ecotourism activities. This examination was carried out from the perspective of the local tourism operators. 34 4 Methods To address these objectives a descriptive case study method was chosen. This was an ideal method because a holistic, in-depth, and flexible approach was needed for understanding the complex linkages and interactions between stakeholders and events through time. (Feagin, Orum, & Sjoberg 1991). Because the project emphasized exploration rather than prescription or prediction, this approach provided this investigation with greater freedom to discover and address issues as they arose in the field. In addition, the looser format o f the case study research allowed the researcher to begin with broad questions and narrow the focus as the research progressed rather than attempting to predict ever)' possible outcome before the investigation was conducted (Tellis 1997). Tlie case study method was also suitable as it was difficult to use predetennined statistical analysis or quantitative tools for measuring or describing certain events. Tlie research involved four phases as outlined by Figure 3. Each phase is discussed in more detail in the following paragraphs. F i g u r e 3: S t r u c t u r e / P h a s e s o f R e s e a r c h Phase #1: Design ol*Case Study Literature Review Development ol* Indicator Framework for Socio-Economic Analysis from the perspective of operators/local community Phase #2: Conduct of Case study Data Collection: Documentation. Semi structured interviews, Direct Observation, Participant Observation Phase #3: Analyze the case study-evidence Objective #1: How have Ecotourism Activities Chanced Since 1984 Analysis Using Suggested Indicators Objective #2: Have socioeconomic impacts been positive/ negative? Phase #4 Conclusion, Recommendations and Implications Objective #3: How can the viability of local tour operators be improved? Discussion of strategies to alleviate identified barriers Overall conclusion and summary Source: Peter Rossing Agersted 35 4.1 Research Phases First Phase - Design of Case Study The purpose o f this phase was to outline the context and rationale necessary for the investigation. A literature review was carried out to identify success criteria for implementing ecotourism in Mexico's biosphere reserves. Tlie findings from this review were used to develop a framework o f indicators that could be used to address the research objectives, and structure the data collection. Indicators have been found to be an effective means for site-evaluations, provided they are practical; can establish trends; measure temporal and spatial variation; and are relevant to a valid conceptual framework (Kreutzwiser 1993). Various indicators exist to assess and monitor the socio-economic impacts of ecotourism. For the purpose of this case study, the use o f socioeconomic indicators was found to be the most suited for evaluating the existing situation in LSI. This was because of: • Tlie desire to take into account not only economic, but also social factors; • The difficulties o f interviewing respondents o f LSI using formal questionnaires; and • Tlie need to measure changes through time. A total of 34 indicators were developed to reflect issues specific to ecotourism development and related socioeconomic changes in LSI. These indicators were grounded in the theoretical context o f the literature review. They were informed by existing studies, reports and management plans from LSI . Tlie criteria addressed issues relate to: • Economic benefits to local people and the management o f the Reserve (Wallace 2002;Wells & Brandon l992;Wood 200 la) • Participation o f local people in decision-making processes that determine the kind of ecotourism that should occur (Crandall 2002;Scheyvens 1999) • Community cohesion and identity (Crandall 2002;Scheyvens 1999) • Local support for the biosphere reserve (Brandon I996;Eagles & Bowman 1999) • Tlie viability o f tourism operations (Eagles & Bowman 1999;Wallace 2002) Table 6 shows the indicators used for the project as well as the method o f data collection used to address them. Tlie next section provides a more elaborate description of these. 36 T a b l e 6 : I n d i c a t o r s U s e d f o r the A s s e s s m e n t of E c o t o u r i s m C h a n g e s in L a g u n a S a n I g n a c i o b e t w e e n 1994 a n d 2002 • Changes in Visitor Numbers Ssi . Lit • Changes in Ecotourism Revenue Ssi . Lit • Growth in Ecotourism Employment Ssi . Lit • Changes in Types o f Ecotourism Employment Ssi. Lit • Changes in the Local Share o f Ecotourism Jobs Ssi. Lit • Changes in Local Ecotourism Salaries Compared to Local Fishing Income and Other Regional Salaries. Ssi. Lit • Displacement of Traditional Jobs Caused by Ecotourism Development Ssi. Lit • Increases in the Contribution of Ecotourism Revenue to Biosphere Management Funding Ssi. Lit .' ffijEEirMs to^<SQ]aJDD^'t& . O ^ C ^ f f i i f l W ^ ^ M ^ W . M ^ B s ^ to (jQ©.": • ::Sk}y]cil®sfe"' • , •'„;•.••• ••!:-\••:vA^- -:^>^V•'•^'V'^.:f'Vk^.-i , ' . « M • Changes in the Presence o f Staff Delegated to Community Relations Tasks Ssi. Lit . Obs • Changes in Management Efforts to Capacitate Local Ecotourism Development Ssi, Lit , Obs • Changes to the Number o f Effective Local Institutions to Deal with Tourism Issues Ssi. Lit. Obs • Implementation of Local Ideas in Area Management Plans. Tourism Activities and Legislation Ssi. Lit • Local Involvement with the Enforcement of Ecotourism Rules and Regulations Ssi, Lit , Obs • Level o f Conflicts between Traditional Uses and Ecotourism Development Ssi, Lit • Level o f Conflicts over Availabil i ty of Tourism Licenses Ssi. L i t • Changes in Conflicts over Ownership o f Land with Tourism Possibilities Ssi. L i t • Changes in the Number o f Women Involved in Ecotourism Development Ssi . Lit • Changes in the Tour operators' Perception o f their Relationship with Visitors Ssi, L i t • Tlie level o f Ecotourism Revenues Being Reinvested back into Community Development Projects Ssi, Lit • Changes in the Number o f Items and Services Purchased Locally Ssi, Lit • Changes in the Local Acceptance o f the Biosphere Reserve Ssi. Lit • Changes in tlie Educational and Interpretive Experiences for Locals Ssi, Lit • Changes in the Local Efforts to Participate in Conservation Actions Ssi, L i t 37 Table 6 continued • Changes to the Tour Operators' Number of Employees Ssi. Lit • Changes to the Tour Operators' Number o f Visitors Ssi. Lit • Changes in the Tour Operators' Revenue Ssi. Lit • Changes in the Tour Operators' Profitability Ssi. L i t • Changes to the Tour Operators' Services and Infrastructure Ssi. Lit • Changes to Tour Operators' Diversification of Ecotourism products Ssi. Lit • Changes to Tour Operators' Promotional Activities Ssi. Lit • Changes to Tour Operators' Sales and Distribution Channels Ssi. Lit • Visitors Perceptions of Whale Watching Tours in LSI Ssi, Li t , Obs • Changes in the Skills o f Tourism Operators Ssi. Lit • Changes in the Tour Operators' Efforts to Educate and Inform Visitors about the Environment Ssi, Lit, Obs S o u r c e s o f d a t a c o l l e c t i o n : Ssi — Semi structured interview Li t = Literature Obs = Observation Second Phase - Conduct of Case study Tlie objective o f this phase was to use the developed framework of indicators to collect data on the case study of L S I . Several qualitative research methods were used for data collection. More specifically the project consolidated existing secondary data from previous published literature and undertook new primary data collection to fil l in related gaps. Tlie secondary data were collected through archival/library research. They were derived from existing studies, surveys, reports and management plans concerning LSI , as well as other relevant context-setting literature related to whale watching, subsistence communities, and management of protected areas in Mexico. Additional website infonnation was gathered during the same period from governmental, N G O and tour operators with a stake or interest in L S I . From March-June 2002, fieldwork was conducted at LSI in Baja California Sur. This period was chosen because it coincided with the peak of the whale watching season in LSI . Tlie timing o f this work increased the opportunities to speak with the areas most important ecotourism stakeholders and interview whale watching visitors. Interviews were also conducted elsewhere in Baja California and California to talk to researchers, foreign tour operators and government officials with knowledge or interests pertaining to L S I . Methods for primary data collection included: 38 Semi-structured Interviews with Relevant LSI Stakeholders - In pre-arranged settings, s e m i -structured were conducted with 32 individual stakeholders. Questions were based on the indicators shown in figure 2. Most interviews lasted from 35 to 60 minutes. Stakeholders were identified using a non-probability method o f sampling known as purposeful or criterion-based sampling (Bums 2000). It involved the non-random selection o f "information-rich cases"', according to the presence of certain criteria as defined by the researcher (Patton 1990). These stakeholders included: 1 1 people from four local tour operators and a Califomian operator; 5 representatives from government agencies (national, regional and local) involved with tourism and the management of the LSI reserve; 5 stakeholders from local community organizations, cooperatives and communities (tourism and fisheries); 4 N G O members involved with community development and gray whale conservation (local and international); 6 researchers with specific knowledge pertaining to the environmental, socioeconomic and managerial issues in the communities of LSI Focus Group Discussion with Local Tourism Operators - On June the 23 r d , 2002 in LSI , a 2 hour long meeting was held with members the local tourism union ( A R I C ) . It was designed to discuss issues and ideas related to future development of ecotourism activities in the area. Representatives from 4 local whale watching companies participated. Observations of Local Whale Watching Operations/ Tourist Behaviour. Participant observation o f whale watching and other community-based activities also formed a small, but significant part o f the field research. Overall, 15 trips were conducted with several o f the local tour companies. Before, during and after these trips tourists were asked informally to state their opinions about their whale watching experience in LSI . Direct Observation - Living in the community of LSI for a period o f almost two months provided a unique possibility to observe the use of LSI ' s tourism related infrastructure and facilities. It also offereed insights into how various stakeholders were interacting with each other. This approach helped validate the degree to which attitudes towards ecotourism development (as expressed through interviews, expert opinion and literature) were consistent with what was observed first-hand during the personal participation. 39 Figure 4 illustrates how each method contributed data toward the assessment o f the five different categories of indicators. F i g u r e 4 : L i n k a g e s be tween used D a t a C o l l e c t i o n M e t h o d s a n d I n d i c a t o r s Literature Review Source: Peter Rossing Agersted Third Phase - Analyze Ihe Case Study Evidence To analyze how ecotourism activities in the Laguna San Ignacio have changed since 1994,-several o f the indicators were employed. Tire year 1994 was chosen as a baseline point for evaluating ecotourism impact, because it was: • the last year o f most published and available data on ecotourism in LSI ; and • the beginning of significant transitional changes in LSI (e.g., the restructuring o f Mexico's environmental institutions, the publication o f the first management plan for E l Viscaino Biosphere Reserve and increased presence o f N G O s conducting community work within LSI) . Fourth Phase - Conclusion, Recommendations and Implications Tlie fourth phase o f this research provided different strategies for overcoming identified barriers to enhanced future ecotourism activities in the L S I biosphere reserve. From the perspective o f the management o f biosphere reserve general strategies to create and strengthen local tourism activities were developed (Briggs 2000;Kotler 2002;Witt & Moutinho 1994). These included approaches to: • Increasing economic benefits to the local people and the management of the reserve; • Improving the participation o f local people in the decision-making process concerning ecotourism activities; • Enhancing local community cohesion and identity; • Advancing local support for the biosphere reserve; and • Increasing the viability of local and regional tour operators. 4 0 4.2 Project Scope and Limitations From the onset, the investigation was bounded by a number o f important restrictions set by the scope, methods and the characteristics of LSI as a case study area. Defining Local. Regional and Foreign Ecotourism Stakeholders Most inhabitants in LSI are recent immigrants. Some only live in the lagoon temporarily during the fishing season. Others own land in the lagoon and make a l iving solely from activities in the area, but live in the neighbouring town of San Ignacio which is 65 km away. Defining local stakeholders therefore becomes blurred as it depends on the criteria used. In this report "locals" were defined as someone residing, working or located in LSI permanently, while "regionals" referred to people and companies which were based out o f the neighbouring communities o f San Ignacio, Santa Rosalia and Aqua Verde. Tire term 'foreign' was similarly used to describe the camps and the liveaboards that were owned and operated from head quarters outside Mexico. Using a Case Study and Indicator Based Framework "Tlie case study has long been stereotyped as the weak sibling among social science methods," and is often criticized as being too subjective and even pseudo-scientific (Yin 1994). Opponents cite opportunities for subjectivity in the implementation, presentation, and evaluation of case study research. Tlie approach relies on personal interpretation of data and inferences. Results may not be easy to generalize, are difficult to test for validity, and rarely offer a problem-solving prescription. Simply put, relying on one or a few subjects as a basis for cognitive extrapolations runs the risk o f inferring too much from what might be circumstance (Tellis 1997). To minimize these challenges, this study used multiple sources of evidence (e.g. documents, direct participant observation in addition to semi-structured interviews) to address the objectives and the developed framework o f indicators. This form of data triangulation, helped to strengthen the validity of the data collected from case studies. (Decrop 1999). Most o f the information collected was qualitative in nature. This can be seen as a drawback to the strength o f the economic evidence presented in this study. However, the choice o f indicators could not have been much different considering the limited baseline o f economic statistics related to ecotourism development in L S I prior to 1994. Protection of the Tourism Stakeholders' Confidentiality Keeping the identity o f the local tourism stakeholders anonymous in the analysis was a necessity due to the sensitivity o f some o f the business information. To protect confidentiality companies that sold package tours were compared with the ones that did not. This made it possible to lump the most sensitive 41 data together and protect the various tourism operators' confidentiality without losing too much o f the data's relevance. Reluctance to Participation A n issue that was considered carefully in the design of this research was how to approach and interview people in LSI. From previous research conducted by others, it was noted that the local inhabitants were suspicious of the use of standardized questionnaires and tape recorders (Dedina 1996:Young 1995a). LSI is a community where there are considerable social tension among different stakeholders due to unresolved land tenure issues (Dedina & Young 1995).Extra caution therefore had to be exercised in dealing with these sensitive issues. Interviewed respondents were alerted beforehand about the purpose of the study, as well as the types of questions that would be presented to them. Fol lowing the ethical guidelines set out by University o f British Columbia, respondents were also advised that they had the right to refuse to answer. They were also told how the information was going to be used. A factor that helped establish the necessary trust with the communities was the researcher's job as a volunteer for the N G O Wildcoast, a California based organization working mostly with turtle conservation in Mexico. I was working actively with community members to exchange their old outboard engines for newer more efficient ones. A s a result, the community informants reacted positively to my questions. This situation was not perceived to influence the objectivity o f the study since the outboard engine project played a small, role in the data collection. Socio-economic Impact Focus The scope of this case study investigation focuses only on socioeconomic impacts. This limitation is justified because a recent U N environmental impact assessment o f LSI was conducted in 1998. It concluded that the current level o f ecotourism activities posed no threats to the ecological integrity of the lagoon. Tlie area's natural resources remain in a pristine condition, except for its fisheries resources ( U N E S C O 1998). Calculations of the Economic Benefits from Ecotourism Development in LSI Estimating the economic benefits from ecotourism development was done using the same assumptions and methods used by Young in 1994. This was perceived to be the most feasible way to compare figures from 1994 with 2002 in light o f the tourism operators' reluctance to disclose precise financial data. The crude nature o f the calculations and nature of the assumptions, however, weakened the validity of the economic analysis. 42 Evaluation of Strategies One research objective was to identify general strategies that may be useful in overcoming identified barriers to further socio-economic benefits from future ecotourism activities. Tlie suggested strategies are only analyzed very little in terms o f viability and feasibility, or with reference to other biosphere reserves and case studies. To do so would require empirical research and work way beyond the scope o f this study. A more in-depth analysis is, however, included as an appendix for evaluating the economic advantages o f changing the tourism operators two-stroke outboard engines with new four-stroke ones. Representativeness Direct observations o f whale watching activities conducted by some of the foreign tour operators were underrepresented in this study. They were not in LSI when the fieldwork was conducted. Some o f their perspectives were collected through email, telephone conversations and visits to the U.S. Likewise one o f the five local tourism operators was unavailable for interviews due to more important family matters. Due to budget and time constraints, it was not possible to talk with any government officials from managing agencies based in Mexico City. Since most management decisions and actions concerning tourism in LSI are the responsibility of the Reserve's headquarters in Guerro Negro, information from Mexico City government agencies was not expected to yield new information. 43 5 Introduction to the Case Study of Laguna San Ignacio This section introduces the case study area of Laguna San Ignacio in terms of its biophysical, human habitation and ecotourism development characteristics. Special focus is placed on how resource use patterns have changed from fisheries towards ecotourism activity; the significance of LSI as a whale watching ecotourism destination; and the issues that have arisen with this development. 5.1 Location Laguna San Ignacio is located on the Pacific Coast of Baja California Sur. Mexico in the municipality of Mulege. It is situated approximately 700 kilometers (km) south of the U.S-Mexico border. Originally established along with the neighbouring lagoon Ojo de Liebre as a migratory bird refuge, it was declared a whale refuge and a maritime-tourist attraction in 1979 (SEMARNAP 2000). In 1988. a new biosphere reserve was created. It included all of Laguna San Ignacio as well as the surrounding desert areas - a total area of more than 2.5 million hectares. Called the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, it is the largest reserve in Latin America (Dedina & Young 1995). Figure 5: Laguna San Ignacio's location in Baja California Sur, Mexico ^San Di»(jo Calif. j ^Tijuana -Jfyj- A l i z ° i a S drifts Baja California , Sonora r. l l l i . i l . r i .Mli im I ijt.Hin j l l J i . ' Hi.. |iln i . K.'.MUI | |W»iH Hnit.il* Silt LSI Laguna Ojo " l « U e b l e , / . V G u e r r e r 0 \ O \. '<~~1\ i v, o-I El Vizcaino San Ignacio* \ \ % lar ,« i . l v O l Bahia M t g M i m Complex. i * \ Laguna San I \ / \ L a P a z # 100 kiloineteis 7 ; 44 In 1993. UNESCO recognized the exceptional value of Laguna San Ignacio as a sanctuary for grey whales and designated it as a World Heritage Site (Ortega-Rubio 1998). Tlie 80.000 hectare (ha) lagoon forms the southern boundary of the Vizcaino Desert. It is one of the most and deserts in North America (SEMARNAP 2000). Three mountain ranges surround the lagoon: the Sierra de Santa Clara to the north, the Sierra de San Francisco to the northeast, and the Sierra de Guadalupe to the southeast. Laguna San Ignacio is divided into northern and southern sections or "arms" and contains three entrances to the Pacific Ocean. Two barrier islands protect the lagoon from the open ocean (Dedina & Young 1995). Relatively isolated, the nearest town. San Ignacio. is located approximately 68 km to the northeast of LSI (Figure 6). A badly maintained dirt road made in the 1970s connects the isolated lagoon with the date-palm oasis and old Spanish mission site of San Ignacio and Highway One. This is the main north-south road in the peninsula (Young 1995a). A series of poorly marked, intersecting tracks pass southward through salt flats and sand dunes, connecting Laguna San Ignacio to San Juanico. Ciudad Insurgentes. and Highway One via a dirt road approximately 170 km to the south. A dirt road passes northward to the fishing community of Punta Abreojos. Laguna San Ignacio also has a primitive landing strip built. This was built in the 1980s when fishing for clams was at its highest level of economic importance (Dedina & Young 1995). F i g u r e 6 : the M a i n G a t e w a y to L a g u n a S a n Ignac io is the T o w n o f S a n I g n a c i o 70 k m to the N o r t h e a s t 45 5.2 Biological Significance of Laguna San Ignacio Considered one o f the most biologically important areas of the northwestern Pacific Ocean. LSI is part o f the largest remaining undisturbed coastal wetlands in Mexico ( S E M A R N A P 2000). Tlie surrounding landscape and coastline is o f exceptional beauty and contains salt flats that are unique to the coast o f Baja. Inland columnar cacti, barrel cacti, saguaros, chollas, cardons, and pitayas are among the more than eighty species o f Cactaccae that form a continuous mosaic of some of the most pristine desert found in the world ( S E M A R N A P 2000). Likewise the littoral zone o f the lagoon plays a key role in sustaining a rich marine and bird life (Dedina 1996) in LSI: • Is one o f only three remaining lagoons on the Pacific coast where the grey whales (after their yearly migration from the cold waters of Alaska) find the optimum conditions for nursing and calving. More than half o f the world's gray whales calves are born inside the protected waters of Laguna San Ignacio and the neighbouring lagoon of Ojo de Libre ( S E M A R N A P 2000). LSI has played a crucial role in bringing the grey whales back from near extinction in the late 1940s to a healthy stock of approximately 27,000 animals in 2000 (Dedina 2000a). • Serves as a significant feeding grounds for various species of resident and migratory marine wildlife such as the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops trunccilus). California sea lion (Zcilophus- ccilifornicimis), black sea turtle (Chelonici cigcissizzi), and green sea turtle (Chelonici mydcis) ( S E M A R N A P 2000). • . Is located in the westernmost strand of the Pacific flyway for migratory birds. 70,000 shore birds visit each year to feed, rest, and breed. Overall, 221 species have been observed in Laguna San Ignacio ( S E M A R N A P 2000). • Has shallow water that make it an important hatchery and habitat for commercially valuable fish and shellfish like broomtail grouper (Mycerempercci zenarcha). California halibut (Pcidichthys californiciis), shortfin corvina (Cynoscion parvipinnis), sierra (Scornbemmorus sierra), lobster (Panitlinis spp.), abelone (Haliotus spp), and Pacific calico scallop (Argopecten circidaris). Tire southern shoreline near El Delgadito contains one of the most significant areas for the harvest of Pismo clams (Tive/a stultorom) along the Pacific Coast o f North America ( S E M A R N A P 2000). 46 5.3 Laguna San Ignacio's people and settlements Little is known of the indigenous people that once exploited the near shore waters in LSI . They were virtually wiped out by diseases brought by early European contact and colonization ( S E M A R N A P 2000). In the mid 18th century, whalers from first the United States and then Europe were the most frequent visitors. As a consequence, whales became so scarce in the lagoon by the 1920s that whaling was abandoned (Dedina 1996). Starting in the 1930s, pioneer settlers migrated seasonally inland from drought-parched ranches to harvest lobster, shark and sea turtles. This was done for subsistence and for sale to merchant ships from San Diego (Dedina 1996). In the 1970s and 80s the human population o f the area grew rapidly. Many people settled in LSI . They came from the interior of Mexico seeking jobs in the emerging scallop industry. Demographic statistics reflect these changes. Tlie resident population increased from 26 to 506 people between 1970 and 1995 (Dedina & Young 1995). Tlie scarce and sporadic rainfall (less than 50 mm annually); hot summer temperatures, intense winds, depleted soils, lack of infrastructure and limited fresh water are constraints that have kept LSI one o f the remotest, least populated and developed areas in Mexico (Dedina & Young 1 9 9 5 ; S E M A R N A P 2000;Young 2001). In 1995 there were no basic services like drinking water, stores, sewerage, electricity, telephone, policing or proper roads. Liv ing in LSI was hard, as locals existed without most modern conveniences. They also spent considerable effort and money to bring portable water, propane, and food products to LSI from San Ignacio and surrounding ranches (Dedina & Young 1995). Locals often refer to the area as the zone the government abandoned. Today L S E s five human settlements (La Laguna, L a Base, L a Fridera, Ejido Luis Echeverria and E l Cardon) are home to approximately 60 families of about 300 people ( S E M A R N A P 2000) 4 . '1 Two other settlements, Boca de los Cardones and El Delgadito are located in the southern end of the lagoon. However, as these communities feels little affiliation with LSI, are physically poorly connected, belongs to a different political municipality and have no ecotourism activities they were not included in this study. 47 F i g u r e 7: T h e L o c a t i o n of L a g u n a S a n I g n a c i o ' s F i v e S e t t l e m e n t s : * . r - ~ ! (J Dirt Ho-iKl bia Poticanos fcLa Laguna La Fridera B"Cardor>"", -.. Puna x -y~L "..Bromugh! \-, Bahia Ballenas / E l j r c n • 1 \/stole \ L-syjSVjIwna 8oea ow Soqjktoo Punta Maitx>tr>b'\ ^ & Abarca Boca la Pilahaya " / 6> ,NA«JiK8bc» , ide los Caidones (^ WiEl Di^ lgadito 10 Kilometers To Sun Jujmlco These settlements are highly heterogeneous. Rapid habitation and population growth in LSI has translated into a lack of community cohesion (Young 1999c). The inhabitants of LSI arc divided into three highly polarized groups defined by their place of origin, education, income level, resource use and political influence (Dedina & Young 1995): • Families of the original settlers live in the three oldest settlements. Each settlement averages 5 households. They are La Laguna. La Base and La Fndera ( S E M A R N A P 2000). They share close family ties and values, and have lived in the lagoon since the early 1920s (Young 1999c). These people make a living from a combination of tourism and fishing and reside in rudimentary brick houses. Few of them have a formal education. Historically, few of these residents have been 48 members of the local eijidV named Ejido Luis Echeverria that oversees communal land. Until 1995 most land was either communal or federally owned. Tlie families of the original settlers has traditionally had little political influence over resource development in the lagoon (Young 1999c). Nevertheless, having lived in the area prior to the establishment of both the Eijido and the Reserve, their right to live inside the coastal zone is recognized by the management of the Reserve (Sanchez 2002). • Impoverished rurals from mainland Mexico are those temporary workers, who came to seek jobs in the seasonal scallop fisheries during the 1980s. Many of those have settled permanently in approximately 30 households in the fish camp of El Cardon (SEMARNAP 2000). This group live illegally inside the coastal zone of federal and Eijido owned land. Permanent habitation is prohibited in this area. Most of these inhabitants are poor and have little formal education (Young 2001). Their low income status is reflected in a deficiency of appropriate housing. Many houses are constructed from plywood, cardboard, plastic tarps, driftwood and even old truck freezer compartments (Dedina 2000a). Tlie transient nature of this community, combined with illegal poaching and daig smuggling activities have given this settlement a reputation of lawlessness (Dedina & Young 1995). Some of these residents have recently moved to the planned community of Ejido Luis Echeverria, located two km inland from El Cardon. As of 1995 this group had almost no involvement in tourism activities (Dedina & Young 1995). • Educated professionals from Mexico City and La Paz living in San Ignacio represent a small group of people who came to LSI in the 1980s as part of a government project to provide technical assistance and training to local fishing cooperatives (Young 2001). After the government program ended, they settled in San Ignacio, and worked in the lagoon to set up a small-scale aquaculture project. They also built the first (and only) primary school in Laguna San Ignacio with federal funds, and founded a gray-whale tourism company. Highly organized, skilled and innovative, this group became the most powerful entity in the lagoon when they gained control with the local ejido organization in 1985. Their power is based on a good relationship with management and a highly advantageous whale watching pennit (Young 1999a). Considerable tension emerged between these people and the other inhabitants of the lagoon when they obtained the legal rights to already settled land in El Cardon and La Laguna, La Base and La Fridera in 1995. 5 Eijido - Organization overseeing the communal lands granted by the Mexican government. 49 5.4 Resource Use Small scale fishing, aquaculture and tourism represent the most important economic activities in the lagoon. However ecotourism has been growing in economic importance, while fishing activities have become increasingly unprofitable due to rising costs and declining fishing stocks. 5.4.1 Fishing and Aquaculture In 1995 fishing was the most important source of income for most of the lagoons inhabitant. Tvpical to other parts of coastal Baja. fishers work independently or as members of local cooperatives using small skiffs with outboard motors, gill nets and diving equipment. As in other parts of Mexico it is mostly men who participate in fishing activities (Young 2001;Young 1999b) Throughout the 1980s. LSI saw a vast overcxploitation of some of its most valuable fisheries resources. Outside entrepreneurs in the state capital of La Paz used their political ties to gain control of local scallop fisheries throughout the state. Using a mobile workforce consisting of temporary and impoverished workers from the mainland of Mexico, as many as a 1.000 people would come to LSI seasonally to harvest scallops indiscriminately around the clock (Young 1995a). In less than the five years, the Pacific calico- and fan scallops went commercially extinct, as there was little enforcement and no incentives to protect the resource (Arizpe C. 1992; Maeda M . 1990; Reyes S. 1990). Picture 1 Hundreds of Piles of Pacific Calico- and Fan Scallops Scattered in the Lagoon Tell a sad Story of Overexploitation in LSI during the 80s 50 In the 90s a cooperative began a small-scale Pacific calico scallop and oyster aquaculture project near El Cardon. However, by 1995 this venture was constrained by finding available seed stock: lack o f investment capital; a small market with few buyers; and the highly fragile nature of growing the Pacific calico scallops (Dedina & Young 1995). Unfortunately, during the 1990s fishing activities had still has not recovered from the collapse o f the 1980s. Fishing operatives were barely breaking even. This not only resulted in economic hard ship, but also increased the level of social tension among the different resident groups of LSI . In addition, beginning in the 1990s there was an increased level of illegal poaching of sea turtles and abalone, and LSI was being used as part o f a daig trafficking corridor (Dedina & Aridjis 2002). By 1995 most lagoon residents were sceptical that fishing would become economically feasible again as: • commercial stock showed no sign o f recovery; • fishing costs were increasing; and • market prices remained low 5.4.2. Ecotourism Ecotourism in Laguna San Ignacio mainly focuses on watching the gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus). The season extends from December 15 o f one year to Apr i l 30 o f the next. During that period whales visit the lagoon as part of their yearly migration between Alaska to Mexico. Tours typically take place in small open 7m skiffs with outboard engines that can accommodate a maximum of ten people at a time. Whales are usually spotted less than 25 minutes from where the boats are launched. Tours typically average 2-2.5 hours in duration. A number o f features have made LSI one o f the world's most unique places to watch these whales: • Rides to see the gray whales are very comfortable as waters are sheltered from the open ocean by barrier islands. These calm waters enable visitors to see the whales much better and more comfortable that what is.normally possible on the ocean. • Tlie concentration o f gray whales in the lagoon is the largest in the world. It is not uncommon to see as many as 300-400 whales inside the lagoon at certain times. Large pods tend to concentrate in specific shallow waters (Russell 2001). 51 In LSI. gray whale behaviour can be seen that is rarely observed along the coast of British Columbia. Washington State and California. These behaviours include spy hopping, breaching and mating (Jones. Swartz. & Lcathcrwood 1984). Unique to LSI is its "friendly" whales. Attracted by the revving noise of the outboard engines, whales often approach tour boats and allow boat passengers to touch them (Nickerson 1987). Little is known about why the whales enjoy these interactions (Russell 2001). From one interaction with a fisherman in the 1970s, the behaviour has since spread to many individuals. In 2002. the chance of having such an encounter was about 75% per trip (Fischer 2002a). Tlie presence of one friendly whale may also attract others. At times, boats are surrounded by up to twenty curious animals. In many cases, a calf will visit the skiff with its mother so passengers can pet or aib it. In many other instances the whales rub gently against or lift the skiff partially out of the water (Russell 2001). To protect the whales from harassment, the Reserve's whale watching guidelines stipulate that boats must stay at a minimal distance of 30 m from the whales, except in the cases where the animals choose to come closer (SEMARNAP 2000). Baja California has the only three lagoons in the world where grey whales nurse and calf. However, only LSI has a landscape that remains almost completely unaltered by man. Its pristine scenery, beauty and demarcation as a World Heritage Site within a biosphere reserve adds to the uniqueness of the tourist experience (Dedina 2000a). Picture 2: A Typical Encounter with a "Friendly Whale" in LSI 52 The History of Whale Watching in LSI US based tourism companies were the first to bring visitors to see whales in the 1970s. Tlie first visits involved tourism companies that organized nature oriented travel by land in Baja and commercial sport-fishing enterprises from southern California that hired out their boats during the low-fishing season for natural history excursions (Russell 2001). One important aspect of these trips involved going out in small boats to watch the whales. There was limited cultural and economic exchange with locals since all companies brought their own supplies, food, and equipment (Dedina & Young 1995). This situation changed in the late 1980s, when one of the oldest-established families in the lagoon was contracted to use their fishing skiffs for the purpose of whale watching. Logistically and economically, it made sense for foreign companies to hire locally rather than bring skiffs and boat drivers themselves. Outside companies perceived this move as a good way to build closer ties with the local community (Young 1999b). In 1991 rules were implemented that forbade fishing inside the whale watching zone during the tourism season (Dedina & Young 1995). A s compensation, local inhabitants were granted exclusive permits to work as skiff drivers. Some o f the foreign camps and visiting tours boats were initially reluctant to hire locals due to concerns over safety and inadequate training. This changed quickly to a growing appreciation of the skills, knowledge, and experience of local fishers in driving skiffs and observing area wildlife (Young 1999b). Tlie legal requirement to hire locals coincided with a new trend o f more Canadian and American tourists arriving overland on their own to see the whales. B y 1994, two San Ignacio based and three local and whale watching companies had emerged to provide day tours, camping facilities and home-cooked meals to this growing independent travel market segment (Dedina & Young 1995). In 1994 LSI , became the centre o f prolonged environmental dispute between Baja's largest corporation, E S S A , (a company jointly owned by the Mexican government and the Mitsubishi Corporation) and a worldwide coalition of N G O s (Russell 2001). E S S A was planning to transform 116 square miles of protected area adjacent to San Ignacio Lagoon into an industrial salt production facility (Spalding 1999). In March 2000, Mexico's president Zedil lo announced a stop to the salt works on the grounds that it would alter the landscape permanently. Tlie conflict had then reached epic proportions. Approximately 750,000 protest letters had been sent to the Mexican government; numerous prominent Hol lywood celebrities participated in whale watching in tlie lagoon; big mutual fund companies had advised clients 5 3 not to buy Mitsubishi stock, and body guards had been used to protect the leader of "'the Group of Hundreds" (Mexico's most prominent environmental group) from death threats (Dedina 2000a;Mader 2000;Russell 2001). With this exposure, LSI went from being a relative unknown whale watching location to one recognized as the most significant and unique place in the world to see the gray whale (Dedina 2000a). Today five local and regional tourism operators continue to make a living from businesses providing day trips; packages based out of camps; and from servicing the foreign camps and tour boats that operates in LSI. In 2002 these outsourcing services included two foreign camps and nine boats tour boats (liveaboards) (Table 7). These foreign operators were almost all based in San Diego, California during this period. Table 7: Local, Regional and Foreign Operators Conducting Whale Watching Tours in LSI 2004 C o m p a n y Locat ion Act iv i t ies offered Ecorurismo Kuyima San Ignacio whale watching, camping/lodging facilities, outsourcing, food and drinks, and transportation Pachico's Eco Tours Laguna San Ignacio whale watcliing, outsourcing, food and drinks Baja Adventure Laguna San Ignacio whale watching, camping/lodging facilities, food and drinks Antonio's Eco Tours Laguna San Ignacio whale watching, food and drinks, camping/lodging Cantil Rey Laguna Tours San Ignacio whale watching, transportation Baja Discover)' San Diego whale watching*, upscale camping/lodging facilities Baja Expeditions San Diego whale watching*, upscale camping/lodging facilities Lindblad Expeditions (Sea Bird, Sea Lion) New York whale watcliing*, liveaboards Horizon San Diego whale watcliing*, fishing, liveaboards Shogun Sport Fishing San Diego whale watcliing*, fishing, liveaboards H & M Landing (Spirit of Adventure) San Diego whale watching*, fishing, liveaboards Royal Star Sports Fishing San Diego wliale watcliing*, fishing, liveaboards Royal Polaris Sports Fishing San Diego whale watching*, fishing, liveaboards Pacific Queen Sports Fishing San Diego whale watcliing*, fishing, liveaboards Searcher Sports Fishing San Diego whale watching*, fishing, liveaboards Note: A l l liveaboards and foreign camps present in LSI must use local companies to conduct whale watcliing activities. Source: (CONANP2005) 5 4 5.5 Perceived Benefits from Ecotourism Development in LSI Historically the remote access of the lagoon and its few inhabitants has served as a mechanism for sustaining and protecting the environment. However, over the last 30 years. LSI has changed dramatically. Its population has increased more than 20 times, and valuable fisheries resources that once were abundant have become scarce. Poverty' among some residents, poaching and resource conflicts increased during this period. Meanwhile the demand for whale watching activities has grown in the lagoon. Tlie development o f ecotourism activities is increasingly seen as a hopeful economic alternative to fishing among the community and the management of the Reserve (Dedina & E. 1995;Young 1995). However, research conducted by Dedina and Young warn that, prior to 1994, the socioeconomic benefits from ecotourism were sporadic. They contended that these activities have increased rather than reduced local resource use conflicts (Dedina & E. 1995;Young 1995). These problematic issues included: • Lack of Economic Benefits - During the 1994 season only 16 people from LSI were employed in the whale watching industry. O f the $3.3 mill ion spent by tourists visiting the lagoon through tours organized by outside-based companies only $40,300 (1.2%) was spent on salaries and purchases i n the area (Young 1995). It was therefore concluded that most benefits generated from ecotourism activities benefitted people living outside LSI. • Continued Reliance on Fisheries - Tlie short duration of the grey whale season from December to Apr i l has made whale watching a supplement rather than a substitute for fishing (Dedina & Young 1995;Nations 1999) • Poor Management of Tourism Activities - Instead o f resolving tourism related conflicts, governing agencies have augmented them (Dedina & Aridjis 2002). In 1995 a report was released to the U.S . Marine Mammal Commission on the conservation and development in the Grey Whale Lagoons (Dedina & Young 1995). It noted four problems related to the whale watching in L S I . These challenges related to: 1) overlapping and poorly defined regulatory agency jurisdictions; 2) lack o f access by lagoon residents to whale watching permits; 3) non-uniform interpretation o f and ineffective enforcement o f rules and regulations; and 4) limited communication between resource users and regulatory agencies. 55 • Lack of Local Stakeholder Involvement - In 1994. the first management plan for Viscaino Biosphere Reserve was reviewed. Tlie plan was heavily criticized by scientists in Mexico's most prestigious independent newspaper, La Journada. It highlights a lack o f public participation and focus on sustainable development in the area (Dedina & Young 1995) • Outside Control over Tourism Activities - Tour boat operators and whale camp operators based outside LSI controlled a large share of the recreational whale watching market. In 1994, 12 pennits out of 16 were given to one o f the San Ignacio based companies (Dedina & Young 1995). As a result this company gained almost exclusive rights to service foreign tour boats and camps with guided skiffs. Additionally, there were in 1994 few local restaurants, shops, hotels, or other local businesses to cater to tourists within LSI (Young 1995a). • Growing Resource Conflicts over Tourism Issues - In 1995 significant conflicts emerged among the inhabitants of LSI over the ownership rights to the most land most strategic important to ecotourism activities. Since 1995, substantial changes have occurred regarding how the tourism operators are cooperating and conducting their businesses in order to attract more visitors and become more competitive ( A R I C 2 ( ) 0 0 ; S E M A R N A P 2000b). Tlie extent to which these changes have increased, local socioeconomic benefits and the viability of local tourism operators w i l l be assessed in the next chapter. 56 6 Case Study Analysis Tins chapter analyses how ecotourism in LSI has changed from 1994 to 2002. It uses 34 indicators related to five socioeconomic objectives associated with biosphere reserves to guide the analysis. Tlie five goals are: • Ecotourism must direct sufficient economic benefits to local people that complement rather than overwhelm traditional practices; • Successful ecotourism should improve the wellbeing and cohesion o f the community; • Ecotourism should increase the participation of local people in the decision making process; • Ecotourism should increase the local support for biosphere reserves; and • Ecotourism operators must be economically viable. 6.1 Indicators of Economic Benefits to the Local People and the Management of the Reserve. To measure the economic impact o f ecotourism development in LSI from 1994 to 2002 eight indicators were used. These were chosen based on what data historically had been published about the economic development in LSI . This was done to make a comparison between the two periods possible. Tlie indicators 5.1.1-5.1.3 were initially used to analyze ecotourism growth in terms o f visitor, revenue and employment statistics. These were followed by indicators 5.1.4-5.1.7 that discussed the local share,, types and income of these jobs. Tlie final indicator, 5.1.8, examined how ecotourism contributes to the financing of the Reserve. 6.1.1 Changes in Visitor Numbers . . Changes in visitor traffic are often used as an indicator for ecotourism growth (Wallace 2002). Since 1994 LSI has seen a dramatic increase from 1,000 to a peak of almost 4,000 visitors in 2000 (Sanchez 2002). A closer look at these statistics reveals that foreign tour companies have seen their visitor numbers stagnate while local and regional tour operators have seen their visitor volumes increase dramatically (Figure 8). This change reflects a growing demand from travellers arriving on their own (Young 2002). These numbers also suggest that local operators have increased their share o f economic benefits and diminished their dependence on income from the outsourcing services o f foreign companies. A major underlying cause for the growth in visitor numbers is believed to be the good press L S I received in the news media in North America and Mexico during tlie salt flat conflict from 1996-2000 (Dedina 2002). However, demand for ecotourism remain fickle as visitor traffic fell approximately 20% to 3,300 visitors in 2002 following the 9-11 attack in the U.S (Fischer 2002a;Galvan 2002;Sanchez 2002). 5 7 Figure 8: Estimated Number of Whale watching Tourists in LSI from 1993 - 2002 5000 -, 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Sources: Compiled through litterature by Young, E. (1994, 1996, 1997) and interviews and with tour operators in LSI, the tourism union ARIC and the management of the reserve VIUERE (2002) • A l l local tourism operators as well as the two foreign operated camps reported many cancellations of tours due to the 9-11 attack. This was particularly noticeable for the month of January when tourism demand diminished by an estimated 30-50% (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2002a;Mayoral 2002). • A s noted earlier (p59) When environmentalist in 1996 made LSI the center o f world attention by-fighting E S S A ' s proposal to build a salt extraction flat, the lagoon went from being a relative unknown whale watching location to one recognized at a global level (Dedina 2000b;Russell 2001). By the time the conflict ended, more than 750,000 protest letters had been sent to the Mexican government; numerous prominent Hol lywood celebrities including Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan had been whale watching in tlie lagoon; and more than 50 N G O s had been involved in helping to stop the project (Dedina 2000a;Mader 2000;Russell 2001). Tlie end to die massive media exposure o f L S I is therefore part of the likely explanation for the recent decline in visitors. 58 • From 1994 to 2002 the foreign companies' and the tour boats' share of the visitors declined from approximately 65% to 20% of the market (From 1,420 to 640 tourist) (Lopez 2002:Young 1999b). One upscale foreign U.S. operator expressed that this trend was likely to continue as local operators were becoming better at offering competition to market segment previously occupied by only foreign businesses (Ivey 2002). • Historically approximately 10-15 boats o f various origins visited LSI for whale watching purposes. (Young 1999b) In 2002 this number fell to approximately 7-10 (Ivey 2002;Lopez 2002). It was therefore not surprising that the number of people arriving by boat since 1994, decreased from 400 to approximately 230 people in 2002. 6.1:2 Changes in Ecotourism Revenue Previous calculations of revenue have been very rudimentary Only very rudimentary estimates have been published for ecotourism revenue in LSI . Young found that the gross earnings o f outside-based tourism operators in LSI were approximately U.S. $3.3 million in 1994 (Young 1999a). These numbers were found by multiplying the number of visitors from selected whale watching segments with an estimated average price of these tours (Table 8) Table 8: Gross Earnings of Outside-based Tour i sm Operators in Laguna San Ignacio in 1994 Type o f tour operation Number of Typical period o f Average Tour tourists stay in the lagoon price/person Operators' (days) ($U.S.) gross earnings ($U.S.) Caiise ships (2) 560 1.5 $3,500 $1,960,000 Tour Boats (6) 500 -> $1,500 $750,000 High-priced tour camps 360 3 $1.300 $468:000 Low-priced tour camps 175 2.5 $800 $140,000 Total 1.595 $3,318,000 Source: (Young 1999a) These numbers presented a weak and incomplete economic analysis of the tourism activities in L S I for a number o f different but valid reasons: • No estimate of local operators revenue - N o estimate o f gross revenue was made for any o f the local tourism operators (although Young noted that three fishing families and one individual 5 9 netted between $2000 and $6000 from providing guided whale watching tours, camping facilities and home cooked meals). • Estimations were flawed because they accounted for revenue mostly spend outside LSI - Young wrote in her analysis that less than 1.2% of the $3.3 million generated by outside operators were spent locally on food, supplies and salaries. This gave the impression that locals benefitted very little from the money spend by the foreign operators and tour boats. However, Young 's calculations o f the gross revenue for liveaboards and foreign camps included airfare or boat transportation costs from the U.S . They also included revenue spent on other activities outside LSI . For liveaboards this money was substantial as the primary purposes of these trips were fishing along the pacific coast. These estimations o f gross revenue calculations can therefore not be used as indications for leakage as most o f this money was spent outside LSI . • Price estimates were likely to be highly uncertain - Young did not indicate how she calculated the average tour prices and estimated the number of visitors. Tlie visitor numbers were considered to t be relatively certain as tourism operators kept track of each other had to submit their visitor numbers to the reserve in 1994. More uncertain were the historic price estimates for the various segments. In 1994, visitor spending depended on numerous factors including the duration o f overnight stay; number o f whale watching trips, purchased food, nationality; age; and the mode o f transportation offered to LSI from the U.S. Estimating correct prices would therefore have required access to detailed visitor records from the various companies. Young's methodology was used, but slightly improved by adding ranges to better show uncertainties Young 's methodology and most data points were nevertheless used as the basis for estimating ecotourism revenue in L S I . This was done because the lack of other historical data points dictated the use o f this methodology to be able to compare 1994 with 2002. It was also not an option to ask the tourism operators to submit their revenue numbers because o f the perceived sensitivity of these numbers. However a few changes were done to strengthen Young's methodology: • Local and regional gross revenue from day tours; outsourcing guide services to foreign camps and liveaboards were calculated. This was done to obtain a better estimate for what was earned inside L S I during 1994 and 2002. It was possible to create these historical data based on visitor number given by A R I C and the Reserve; and by assuming that some of the observed price and visitor data estimated for 2002 were valid assumptions for 1994. 6 0 • In lack of access to the tour operators' accounts it was not possible to make very precise estimates of visitor prices. To account for these uncertainties a range of prices were used representing a typical, worst and best case scenario (where the data permitted it). • Young estimated that 175 people on average spent 2.5 days and $800 each on low priced outside based camps in 1994. Then only operator, a regional operator, offered these tours. In 2002, it charged $ 135 for its all inclusive package tours. It also claimed that its prices had not changed significantly since 1994. Young's estimate of revenue for this segment ($320 per visitor per day) was therefore discarded as being vastly overestimated. $135 per day with an average stay of 2 days was chosen as a more conservative estimate instead. Tlie following two tables indicate the assumptions, visitor numbers and estimated ecotourism revenue for 1994 and 2002. For a more detailed breakdown of the calculations and assumptions see Appendix 1. 61 Table 9: Est imated Gross Revenue Defined by Ecotour ism Operators in L S I for 1994 and 2002 T O U R I S M S E A S O N 1994: Segment Visitors Price Duration Estimated Gross Revenue L O C A L / R E G I O N A L OPERATORS Range Typical Range Typical Range (thousands) Typical (thousands) Day tours 605 $30-35 per trip J>JJ 1 -2 trips 1.05 trips $18-42 $21 Outsourcing Foreign Camps 360 $17-28 per trip $23 4-6 trips 5 trips $24-60 $41 Outsourcing Liveaboards 1060 $17-28 per trip $23 1 -2 trips 1.5 trips $18-59 $37 Package Tours 175 n/a $135 1-3 davs 2 davs $24-71 $47 T O T A L 2.200 S84-232 S146 FOREIGN C A M P S / L I V E A B O A R D S Foreign Camps 360 n/a $1,300 n/a n/a n/a $468 Liveaboards Cruise Ships Tour Boats 560 500 n/a n/a $3,500 $1,500 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a $2,710 T O T A L 1.420 S3.178 T O T A L A L L O P E R A T O R S 2.200 S3.324 T O U R I S M S E A S O N 2002: Segment Visitors Price Duration Estimated Gross Revenue L O C A L / R E G I O N A L OPERATORS Range Typical Range Typical Range (thousands) Typical (thousands) Day tours 2.280 $30-35 per trip Do J 1 -2 trips 1.05 trips $68-160 $80 Outsourcing Foreign Camps 400 $17-28 per trip $23 4-6 trips 5 trips $27-67 $46 Outsourcing Liveaboards 250 $17-28 per trip $23 1-2 trips 1.5 trips $4-14 $9 Package Tours: - Company A - Company B 300 70 $135 per day $185-225 per day $135 $200 1-3 days 1 -4 days 2 days 3 davs $53-185 (Company A+B) $123 (Company A+B) T O T A L 3.300 S152-426 S258 FOREIGN C A M P S / L I V E A B O A R D S • Foreign Camps 400 $1,500-1.700 per tour $1,650 n/a n/a $600-720 $660 Liveaboards 250 $3,125-5.500 per tour $5,500 n/a n/a $781-1.375 $875 T O T A L 650 Sl.381-2.095 S1.535 T O T A L A L L O P E R A T O R S 3.300 Sl.533-2.521 S1.793 Sources: Based on visitor numbers and prices submitted by Young (1999), the Reserve, ARIC and 4 local tourism operators. ON to Discussion of Results: Looking at changes in the gross revenue of all the tourism operators LSI saw a number of significant changes between 1994 and 2002 (Figure 9.) Figure 9: Estimated Ecotourism Gross Revenue in LSI defined by Operator Type in 1994 and 2002 $3,500,000 -i $3,000,000 -$2,500,000 • 1994 • 2002 -• Estimated Min. to Max. Revenue $2,000,000 $1,500,000 i 1.000.000 $500,000 $0 • 1994 • 2002 4-Local and Regional $146,000 $258,000 Foreign Camps $468,000 $660,000 Liveaboards $2,710,000 $875,000 Total $3,324,000 $1,793,000 Sources: Based on visitor numbers and prices submitted by Young (1999), the Reserve. AR1C and 4 local tourism operators Overall ecotourism declined from approximately US $3.3 to $1.8 million during this period (or using the best case and worst case scenario to somewhere between $1.5 and $2.5 million). This decline reflected a drop in the number of tourists arriving by liveaboards from approximately 1 000 to 250 visitors. Because of the high cost of these tours (between $3 125 and 5 500 per visitor in 2002) this segment's gross revenue dropped from approximately $2.7 million to approximately $ 1.4-2.1 million between 1994 and 2002. Foreign camps saw during this period their revenue increase from approximately $470,000 to somewhere between $600,000 and $720,000. This improvement was a combination of higher prices and small increases in visitor numbers. 6 3 Based on the estimated typical scenario, local and regional tourism operators increased their revenue from approximately $150,000 to $260,000 between 1994 and 2002 (or gains o f approximately $70,000 adjusting these numbers for inflation). Looking at the worst case and best case scenario showed that local and regional ecotourism operators made between $80,000-230,000 in 1994. These amounts increased to $150,000-430,000 in 2002. B i g uncertainties were therefore involved in estimating local and regional tourism revenue. However, it appears quite certain that tourism operators increased their revenue because of tlie strong growth in visitors. Tlie defined ranges also indicated that local and regional tourism operators share of the total generated ecotourism revenue increased from approximately 3-7% to 10-17% between 1994 and 2002. A further breakdown of the local and regional revenue showed that it was the combined growtii o f local package and day tours that were the driving force behind the local and regional increase in gross revenue (Figure 10). Tlie growth o f these was more than sufficient to offset the decline in outsourcing revenue from liveaboards during the 90s. Using the estimated typical scenario these segments accounted together for approximately 80% of the local and regional gross revenue in 2002 (up from 46% in 1994). This-scenario suggested that day tours grew the fastest (from approximately $20,000 to $80,000), while package tours remained the segment that generated the most revenue (from $47,000 to $123,000) between 1994 and 2002. However, considering the worst and best scenarios it could not be firmly concluded that package tours were the largest segment in 2002. 64 F i g u r e 10 : L o c a l a n d R e g i o n a l T o u r O p e r a t o r s ' E s t i m a t e d E c o t o u r i s m G r o s s R e v e n u e in L S I 1994 a n d 2002 $450,000 $400,000 $350,000 $300,000 $250,000 $200,000 $150,000 $100,000 $50,000 $0 • Estimate 1994 • Estimate 1994 • Estimate 2002 —• Estimated Min. to Max. Revenue Range Davtours $2 1.000 Outsourcing Camps $41,000 LSZL Outsourcing Liveaboards $37,000 Package Tours $47,000 Total $146,000 • Estimate 2002 $80,000 $46,000 $9,000 $123,000 $258,000 Sources: Based on visitor numbers and prices submitted by Young (1999). the Reserve. ARIC and 4 local tourism operators 6.1.3 Growth in Ecotourism employment A change in the number of jobs is a commonly used indicator for measuring ecotourism growth. trends, and economic benefits (Eagles & Bowman 1999;Wallace 2002). In LSI the number of people working directly in ecotourism businesses during the whale watching season increased significantly from 34 in 1994 to 68 people in 2002 (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2()02a;Lopez 2002;Mayoral 2002;Young 1999b). Ecotourism in LSI also indirectly supports an additional 25 lodging, restaurant, and transport jobs in the neighbouring town of San Ignacio (Galvan 2002). These employment numbers for LSI also discount the handful of foreign naturalists and staff that accompanies visitors travelling with the two upscale foreign camps. 6.1.4 Changes in Types of Ecotourism Employment When ecotourism grows it often leads to the establishment of new kinds of jobs (Buckley 2003). Such structural changes were also visible in LSI as the growth in the number of visitors and the tourism operators camps increased the number and types of jobs needed for cleaning, cooking, camp maintenance, accounting, sales, and entertainment also expanded. As a result of these 65 structural changes, land based jobs grew from roughly 50% to 70% of the ecotourism job market in LSI between 1994 and 2002 (Aquilar 2.002;Fischer 2002a:Lopez 2002;Mayoral 2002;Young 1999b). However, skiff drivers continued to be the single biggest source o f employment (Table 10). T a b l e 10 : T y p e s o f E c o t o u r i s m R e l a t e d J o b s i n L S I 2002 Job type Total Skif f driver 25 Kitchen staff, cleaners 15 O f f i c e staff / managers 8 Camp maintenance 6 Naturalist 4 Cooks 4 Outside promoters 2 Drivers 2 Camp entertainers, musicians 2 Lifeguard 1 T O T A L 68 Sources: Compiled through literature by Young, E. (1994, 1996, 1997) and interviews with tour operators in LSI and the tourism union A R I C and the management of die Reserve V I B E R E (2002) • According to biosphere regulations from 1992 only people from the region can become whale watching skiff drivers (Dedina & Young 1995). Tlie number o f these jobs has traditionally been proportional with the amount o f boat permits. A s the number o f permits increased from 16 to 25 so did the amount o f skiff driving positions between 1994 to 2002 (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2002a;Lopez2002;Mayoral 2002;Young 1999b). • A person that monitors the behaviour of tourism operators on the water and stands by a shore with a skiff in case o f emergencies has been hired by tourism operators union, A R I C , since 1997 (Fischer 2002a). Tlie tourism operators also usually hire a doctor for the tourism season. However, in 2002, the money for this salary was put aside to hedge against a proposed Mexican tax on whale watching activities (Lopez 2002). 6.1.5 Changes in the Local Share of Ecotourism jobs. • A n important criterion for local communities to benefit economically from ecotourism development is for locals to hold associated jobs (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). If local is defined as someone who resides permanently in L S I , then 50% or 17 more local people were employed in the tourism industry compared to 1994 (Moreno 2002). Based on a recent 66 census by a local teacher these jobs accounted for approximately 14% of L S l ' s adult population in 2002 (Moreno 2002). However, comparing 1994 with 2002 showed that the local share of the ecotourism jobs had remained unchanged at 50% (Table 11). In 2002, the remaining jobs were mostly held by people from the neighbouring towns o f San Ignacio, Santa Rosalia and Aqua Verde (43%) with a minor share held by people from other parts o f Mexico (4%) and from other countries (3%) (Moreno 2002). T a b l e 1 1 : L e v e l of L o c a l E m p l o y m e n t i n L S I R e c o r d e d in 1994 a n d 2002 1994 2002 Total Local Total Local 34 17 67 34 Compiled through literature by Young, E . (1994, 1996, 1997) and interviews with tour operators in LSI and the tourism union A R I C and the management o f the Reserve ( V I B E R E ) (2002) . 6.1.6 Changes in Local Ecotourism Salaries Compared to Local Fishing Income and . Other Regional Salaries. Income levels can be a useful economic indicator for measuring direct economic benefits and changes to l iving standards (Scheyvens 1999). In LSI salary information was collected for guides and operators of whale watching skiffs, the monitoring lifeguard, and one cook. These data were compared with the estimated income and salary o f local fishers. To put these salaries in a wider regional context these data were also compared with the minimum wage o f Baja California Sur. These findings are summarized in Table 12. These data suggest that working in tourism in L S I is well paid both by local and regional standards. Unfortunately, these salaries are only available three months o f the year (Dedina 2002). Moreover tourism salaries were in 2001 in L S I lower by as much as $200 a month due to the effects of 9-11 (Aquiliar 2002;Ramirez 2002). Sustaining a family in LSI either from fishing or tourism alone is therefore difficult. A recent estimates suggested in 2001, a monthly salary o f over US $500 was needed to provide for a household o f four in Baja California (San Diego Dialouge 2001). 67 Table 12: Monthly Gross Income of Ecotourism and Fishing Jobs in LSI Compared with the Minimum Wage in Baja California Sur 2002. Whale watching guide / Skiff driver (1) $690-810 Lifeguard / Tourism Observer (2) $500 Cook (3) $220 Independent Fishers (Own Boat) (4) $320-560 Fishers (Helper/Crew) (5) $230-250 Minimum Wage in Baja California Sur (6) $120 Sources: 1. Range o f average monthly income from January through March reported bv 5 skiff drivers in 2002. 2. A R I C reported in 2002 the observer's salary to be $20 per day. Monthly salary = 20 x 25 days 3. Monthly salary as reported by one tourism operator in 2002 4. Independent fishers and boat owners did not have a fixed salary in 2002. Their gross income was what was left after expenditures like, gas and oi l , ice, equipment maintenance and wages for crew had been paid. Tlie above estimate was based on what 2 independent fishers and boat owners stated they made during the fishing season after these expenses had been paid from Apr i l through December 2002. 5. Monthly salaries paid to fishing staff as reported by 2 independent Fishers. Fishing staff were paid a percentage o f whatever was caught in 2002. Their salaries were calculated as an averages based on what they were paid totally from Apr i l through December 2002. 6. Daily minimum salary of $4.8 x 25 as reported by the Mexican Ministry o f Infonnation in 2002(Comisi6n Nacional de los Salarios Minimos 2002) • Tourism salaries were estimated to be 20 to 250% higher than fishers earned during the fishing season in 2002. In addition these jobs were perceived to be more attractive as they were safer and involved shorter working hours than fishing (Dedina 2000b). Skiff drivers were paid approximately 5-7 times higher than the monthly minimum salary in tlie state o f Baja California Sur in 2002. Tins was competitive since less than 15% of the employees in Baja California earned more than 5 times the minimum salary in 1998 (San Diego Dialouge 2001). 6.1.7 Displacement of Traditional Jobs Caused by Ecotourism Development Ecotourism job creation must supplement rather than replace existing jobs except for the few instances where such a substitution is desirable (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002;Orams 1999;Scheyvens 1999). A desired objective in L S I is to transform the local economy to one 68 reliant more on ecotourism and less on fishing (Nations 1 9 9 9 ; S E M A R N A P 2000). In 1997 new fishing regulations were implemented within the biosphere reserve of E l Vizcaino. Fishing licenses are now restricted to reserve residents and local cooperatives. In addition outside fishing boats are denied access to fish within five miles o f the coastline of the biosphere reserve (Esliman 2002). These measures have helped reduce the number o f temporary and outside fishers. Tlie governing agency diat oversees fishing issues inside L S I . the Mexican ministry of fisheries ( P E S C A ) , never monitored these changes (Dedina 2002). It could therefore not be established how many of these fishers have disappeared. What is more certain is that most local resident males living in LSI continue to be involved in fishing. This is also tme for the ones involved with ecotourism as the peak fishing season occurs Apr i l through November outside o f the tourism season. Due to lack o f other job opportunities, most local male employees begin fishing immediately after the tourism season ends (Young 1999b). Ecotourism development has therefore not resulted in any significant reduction in fishing jobs (Young 2002). Approximately 100-130 people were involved with fishing in LSI in 2002 (Esliman 2002). 6.1.8 Increases in the Contribution of Ecotourism Revenue to Biosphere Management Funding Management of tourism-related activities in biosphere reserves (research and program development, direct problem solving, negotiations, habitat protection, monitoring, tourism infrastructure etc.) implies expenses. To sustain such activities, ecotourism revenue must eventually be directed back to the management o f tlie Reserve ( S E M A R N A P 2000). In 2000, the management o f E l Vizcaino imposed a whale watching visitor fee o f $2 per trip. When the management o f Reserve realized how high the administration cost would be, the local tourism union A R I C was put in charge o f collecting and reinvesting the money for future tourism activities and the common good o f the community (Sanchez 2002). Revenue from ecotourism activities have therefore never been contributed directly to the Reserve. 6.2 Indicators for Increased Participation of Local People in the Decision-making Process that Determines the Kind of Ecotourism that should occur. Five indicators were used to measure the changes to political involvement and local participation in ecotourism development from 1994 to 2002. Tlie indicators 5.2.1-5.2.2. evaluate how management support for local ecotourism has evolved. Indicators 5.2.3-5.2.5 suggests extent to which locals have become actively involved in the design, management and enforcement o f 69 ecotourism activities. These indicators were chosen based on what was feasible to examine based on the historical published data. 6.2.1 Changes in Ihe Presence of Staff Delegated to Community Relations Tasks Experiences from biospheres suggest that management staff must visit local communities frequently to establish a good working relationship with locals. (Wells & Brandon 1992) Such visits give communities opportunities to voice local concerns and management the needed input to react to these issues (Scheyvens 1999). In LSI staff has rarely come to visit historically. In 1994. numerous locals indicated that they had never seen or interacted with staff from the Reserve (Young 1995b). However, over time management staff visits have increased as LSI ecotourism activities grew in scale (Fischer 2002a). This presence was reflected in the significance the management o f the Reserve places on ecotourism development; the actual relocation of the biosphere reserve's head quarters to the region; their efforts to involve locals more fully in the development of the Reserve; and the need to evaluate E S S A ' s proposal to expand it salt extraction facilities. (Cortez 2002;Dedina 2002;Sanchez 2002): • In 1994 the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve had only a handful of employees. They also had a high turnover of labour because o f delays in G E F funding and irregular payment of salaries (Dedina & Young 1995). In 2002. the Reserve had 22 employees, five o f whom core staff (a director, a vice-director, an administrator, and two project coordinators. Tlie other 17 were field support staff and patrol officers (Esliman 2002). Despite these improvements the management o f the Reserve remains heavily understaffed. In some cases, only one person is responsible for two or three reserve management components in an area covering 2.5 million hectares (Esliman 2002). Tlierefore limited opportunities exist to management staff to visit the entire area (Young 2002). However, most tourism operators noted management's wil l ingly to come when needed to specific sites. • In 1994 nine fNE monitors and five P R O F E B A inspectors were dispatched to the lagoon at different times over a two-month period to deal with local complaints over illegal fishing and tourism activities (Young 1995b). These unprecedented visits served as an important first step by tlie Mexican government in taking a more active role in the administration o f E l Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve. They sent personnel to learn firsthand about the realities o f actual events happening in the area (Young 1999c). 70 • From 1995 to 2002 many government officials and scientists extraordinarily visited LSI . They did so to examine the threats from the proposal to expand ESSA/Mitsubishi ' s salt production facilities (Nations 1999); (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002;Mayoral 2002;Moreno 2002). • In 1995 the Reserve's management headquarters was relocated from L a Paz to Guerrero Negro ( S E M A R N A P 2000). While the new location is still at least a 3hrs drive from LSI it is now much easier for staff to visit (Camacho 2002). Equally important was the establishment o f a fax and phone service in El Cardon in 1999. This improved the communication between the Reserve's management and the inhabitants of LSI . It facilitates routine matters and concerns to be addressed more directly and quickly (Moreno 2002). • Prior to 1994 government officials would often take bribes or demand illegal fees (Dedina & Young 1995;Young 1999b). Today tourism operators noted that they no longer have such problems with the staff from the management of the Reserve. This has helped improve local confidence in governing agencies. (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002;Mayoral 2002;Moreno 2002). 6.2.2 Changes in Management Efforts to Capacitate Local Ecotourism Development Ecotourism is more likely to succeed i f management actively helps locals to benefit from ecotourism development (Scheyvens 1999). Historically, this has not been the case in LSI . In 1994 tourism operators for example expressed a "wait-and-see attitude in asserting whether the increased official attempts to establish o f rapport w i t h area residents would bring about positive changes for the families and the community as a whole" (Young 1995b). Today most tourism operators speak highly o f die good relationship with the management o f die Reserve and its efforts to be attentive to local needs. A s a result management is now seen as an active partner that organizes tourism activities; supports local involvement in tourism management, and experts efforts to increase local tourism operators' skills (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). • Tlie management supported from 1997-2000 a joint program with U N E S C O and the N G O R A R E to train local ecotourism guides (Mahoff 2001). (Section 6.5.10 provides more information on this training program) 71 • In 2001 the management of the Reserve partnered with U N E S C O World Heritage Centre, the United Nations Environment Programme ( U N E P ) and R A R E to develop a long-term action plan for preserving the biodiversity o f El Vizcaino 's two world heritages (Sanchez 2002). Tlie foundation for this plan included integrated ecotourism and awareness strategies that focused on methods to reduce environmental threats, participatory planning, partnership building, and policy awareness. Tlie project that is estimated to take 4 years has 5 objectives ( U N E S C O 2001): o Enhance site management capacity for using tourism to support conservation, o Increase revenue generated from tourism at each site to fund unmet operating needs and long-term conservation costs, o Bui ld local awareness of and support for conservation efforts at the Wor ld Heritage sites. o Provide local economic incentives for biodiversity conservation by strengthening local capacity for creating community-based enterprises and employment through training, technical assistance, and support to entrepreneurs. o Link regional, national, and international-level tourism marketing strategies and programs in each country with site and community needs and capabilities. o Promote the sharing of experiences and best practices for linking sustainable tourism with biodiversity conservation. • In 1999 the management of biosphere reserve hired in conjunction with Wildcoast, a local woman to oversee the building o f a community center and conduct environmental workshops for the school children of LSI (Dedina 2002). Popular with the community, she has become an important communication liaison between the management and the locals o f LSI . • When important events happen in L S I , the management o f the Reserve now send people to participate. For instance this was the case when three employees from the biosphere reserve attended the opening off LSI ' s new community centre in A p r i l 2002 (Moreno 2002). Approximately 200 locals showed up for the event. 6.2.3 Changes to the Number of Effective Local Institutions to Deal with Tourism Issues The existence o f local institutions or foaims where concerns can be dealt with effectively and fairly is an important venue for locals to become involved and exert influence over how ecotourism is developed (Ostrom et al. 1999). Empirical research suggests that this is more likely to happen when local institutions are democratic, transparent and well managed (Becker & Ostrom 1995). This was hardly the case in LSI in 1994. Tourism operators were then poorly 72 organized and had little influence over the activities in the lagoon (Dedina & Young 1995). This changed in 2000 with the establishment of A R I C the tourist service union. Local tourism operators now have an effective local institution to deal with tourism conflicts and issues (Fischer 2002a:Lopez 2002). Its success is manifest in the increased cooperation amongst the operators, the organization's clear objectives, good management practices and the influence it exerts over decisions concerning tourism development issues (Sanchez 2002). However, critics see A R I C as a non transparent organization that makes no efforts to communicate its plans and ideas to the wider community of LSI . For instance, they claim A R I C has deliberately chosen not to inform the public in LSI about its plans to create, register and oversee sustainable wildlife units ( U M A S ) in LSI . One member o f A R I C expressed that involving people in LSI would be too cumbersome (Galvan 2002). However, the proposed plan wi l l , i f approved, give the tourism operators unprecedented power over the future economic development of the lagoon. Critics argue that A R I C is keeping the plan hidden to quell any possible local resistance, to legitimize perhaps illegal privatizations o f property made by the Eijido and to permanently exclude other local residents from future access to tourism activities (Martinez 2002;Moreno 2002) • A R I C was established as an organization to provide a constructive, community-based response to the development o f cutthroat competition for tourists among town residents (Galvan 2002). In the neighbouring lagoon o f Bahia Magdalena, such competition led to price wars that quickly eroded the profitability o f tour operators in the mid 1990s(Young 1995b). Conversely in L S I the tourism operators have effectively used A R I C to set fixed prices for whale watching day tours (Fischer 2002a). • Overall, all tourism or conservation organizations within Baja California Sur with a interest in LSI can apply to become members o f A R I C . However, new applicants must be approved by 66% of A R I C ' s general assembly (Moreno 2002). Currently nine organizations are members o f A R I C . These include all the tour operators, the local Eijido and two land owners that rent out land for camping purposes ( A R I C 2000). Most o f tiiem agree that A R I C is well managed and works in manners that is both democratic and transparent to its members. Each member organization has equal representation on A R I C ' s general assembly tlie decision-making component of the organization. Decisions are reached by majority vote. In tlie event votes are tied, another vote is cast. I f the votes 73 remain tied, the elected president of A R I C gets to make the final decision (Moreno 2002). More importantly, the current distribution of A R I C members makes it difficult for any one faction within the organization to dominate the.decision making process (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). This has increasingly fostered cooperation among previously very opposed stakeholders (Dedina 2002;Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). Prior to 1994 it was challenging for tourism operators to renew their tourism permits. Legal papers had to be signed and renewed personally in L a Paz and sent to Mexico City (Aquilar 2002). In one instance one local operator was wrongfully denied his pennit (Dedina & Young 1995). While the situation was later resolved, it caused considerable distrust towards the governing agencies (Young 1999b). Today A R I C coordinates the application process for all the tourism operators. Renewal papers and other applications are now handed over to the headquarters of the biosphere reserve in Guerrero Negro ( V I B E R E ) . They send copies to the central governing agencies in L a Paz and Mexico City ( A R I C 2000). Since this system was initiated no existing tourism operators have had problems renewing their pennit (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). A R I C is actively working towards establishing an U M A (Unidad de Manejo para la Conservacion de Vida Silvestre [Management Unit for the Conservation o f Wildl i fe ( U M A ) ] ( A R I C 2000). A n U M A is a voluntary zoning plan that commits landowners to conserve certain attributes of their land and wildlife. According to the 200 page management plan suggested by A R I C , the tourism union would assume the wildlife management responsibilities for all Eijido lands, as well as all privately owned property, and federal land and waters including the whale watching zone and the Isla Ibiota (see Figure 1 J ) ( A R . I C 2000). In 2002, the proposal was rejected by the Mexican government on unclear grounds. This happened despite the strong support from the El Vizcaino biosphere reserve management (Moreno 2002). A R I C is now in the process o f appealing the decision (Lopez 2002). Tlie proposed management plan demonstrates how ambitious A R I C have become with respect to the ecotourism development in L S I . 74 F i g u r e 11 : T h e U M A P r o p o s e d by the T o u r i s m O p e r a t o r s • A La l. Bahla Lanterns 00Ct del SutgKSwo Punta gtttodmt O BocMaPitatwya'JjV \$°QI~)\ ' L 10 Kionwuw • In 2002, ARIC successfully approached the US based NGO "Tlie Ecologic Development Fund" to obtain cheap loans for its members to replace their 2 stroke outboard engines with more economical and environmentally friendly 4-stroke alternatives. Tlie tourism operators embraced this program and its low interest loans. Tlie new engines were expected to bring substantial cost savings (Dedina 2002). 6.2.4 Implementation of Local Ideas in Area Management Plans, Tourism Activities and Legislation Recent publications assert that local community participation in the development and management of ecotourism activities is a prerequisite to empowering people with the ability to mobilize their own capacities, generate more innovative and flexible policies; engender support for biosphere regulations, and create a more equitable distribution of ecotourism benefits and costs (Agardy 1993;Eagles & McCool 2002;UNESCO 2002b;Wells & Brandon 1992). In LSI, local tourism operators have historically had no such influence as all policies originated from 75 Mexico City or La Paz (Young 2001). Similarly, government agencies rarely bothered to solicit local knowledge or inform LSI about important changes to rales and regulations (Dedina & Young 1995). More recently this has changed as tourism stakeholders now work closely together with the management of the Reserve to regulate and develop the tourism activities (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). Indicators o f these changes can be traced to their local influence over the development of new whale watching guidelines; recent scientific reports on the status o f the L S I ; and the responsibility A R I C now has to administrate whale watching visitor fees. However, governing agencies in Mexico City still retained the power to judge the legitimacy and feasibility o f the advice given by the tourism stakeholders (Dedina 2002). This was witnessed in the government's recent refusal to grant them a U M A . • When the first management plan for E l Vizcaino biosphere reserve was released in 1995 it was criticised for the lack of community consultation (Dedina & Young 1995). When the management plan was revised in 1997 it involved consultations with 63 different social organizations including local ecotourism operators (Nations 1999). • In 1999, a U N E S C O team consisting o f international and Mexican scientist was sent to the lagoon to determine i f LSI was an endangered world heritage site. In terms o f local involvement the report noted that L S I ''remains an example for both international co-operation to enhance capacity building and improve administrative operations, and for facilitating the involvement of local people" (Nations 1999). • Tourism operators were instrumental in the design of new whale watching guidelines and regulations for the biosphere reserve were redesigned in 1998 ( S E M A R N A P 2000). • Representatives from A R I C are now elected to the biosphere Reserve Technical Assessment Council (Fischer 2002a). Established in 1997, die objective o f this council is to discuss and find solutions to arising development and conservation issues in E l Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve. Botii its Board of Directors and the sub-councils are democratically elected ( S E M A R N A P 2000). Within the Council the intention is to reach consensual agreements to procure better solutions for all. Local input therefore plays more than just an advisory role. 76 • In the late 90s the biosphere management scrapped plans to personally charge a $5 whale watching visitor fee as it would be costly to administrate relative to the benefits (Sanchez 2002). Instead this responsibility was given to A R I C on the condition that it uses the money to strengthen tourism capacities and for the common good in LSI . This agreement represents a milestone as it is the first and so far the only management component were tourism operators in LSI have been given full sovereignty (Moreno 2002). • Tlie rejection o f the U M A can be perceived as a step back from recent efforts to devolve more powers locally. Some analysts, however, see this rejection more as a political manifestation as the current biosphere reserve manager o f E l Vizcaino belongs to a different political party than the new environmental minister elected under Presidente Fox in 2002 (Heckel 2002). 6.2.5 Local Involvement with the Enforcement of Ecotourism Rules and Regulations Local involvement in enforcement activities can help increase compliance with biosphere reserve regulations (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). This is especially true i f the locals themselves have been involved in the design of tlie regulations they are meant to enforce; and i f the rules and regulations are perceived to be fair (Becker & Ostrom 1995). Prior to 1995 In L S I , locals had prior to 1995 no involvement with the enforcement o f ecotourism activities. A t that time, they complained then that they had been marginalized from reserve endeavours, and that the inspectors "often implied double standard in implementing the rales, demonstrated leniency towards outside based tourism operators, while strictly enforcing the rales towards locals" (Dedina & Young 1995). Today these issues have disappeared as the tour operators now help monitor the whale watching activities using their own voluntary guidelines o f behaviour in addition to the official ones (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). This is a system tliat is perceived by both management and the tourism operators to be an appropriates approach (Sanchez 2002). • Since 1997, tourism operators have paid a lifeguard to monitor and regulate die boat traffic during the whale watching season (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). This system has increased compliance and reduced conflicts on the water. Tourism operators must wait their turn to approach the whales (Fischer 2002a). V I B E R E now refers to whale watching activities as some o f the most exemplary and best organized in the world ( S E M A R N A P 2000). 77 • V I B E R E has also given A R I C the responsibility to oversee one of .only two social surveillance committees in the biosphere reserve This committee reports unusual observations (poaching threats, whale standings, dead sea turtles, fish die-offs) to the Mexican Ministry o f the Environment ( P R O F E B A ) ( A R I C 2000). Albeit poaching remains a problem, the work of this committee has done some progress in protecting sea . turtles (Dedina 2002). (Section 6.4.3 describes local efforts to participate in conservation initiatives) 6.3 Indicators for Improvements to Local Community Cohesion and Identity Five indicators were used to analyze how ecotourism impacted L S F s community cohesion from 1994 to 2002. Tlie indicators were initially used to evaluate how ecotourism development had affected local access to fishing, tourism and land resources in LSI . Then they were used to examine the extent to which women and other groups previously uninvolved with ecotourism benefited more from this activity. Section 5.3.5 described the relationship between locals and the community from the perspective of the tour operators. This was followed by comments on how tour operators' efforts to reinvest ecotourism revenues back into the community have progressed. These indicators were chosen because they reflected what could be established about the local community cohesion and identity in LSI based on previous studies from the area in 1994. 6.3: J Level of Conflicts between Traditional Uses and Ecotourism Development Tlie development of ecotourism activities in biosphere reserves often conflicts with other traditional uses (Buckley 2003;Eagles & Bowman 1999). Fortunately, ecotourism activities have caused very little displacement o f fishing activities in LSI (Young 2001). In fact recent biosphere legislation and zoning has helped protect local fishers' access rights: • Tlie original zoning regulation of the biosphere reserve stipulated that fishing inside the whale watching zone was prohibited during the viewing season (Young 1995b). Historically this aile have caused only minor conflicts as most fishers would never fish close to whales in fear of losing their net from entanglement with these mammals (Young 1995b). In addition, most fishing takes place outside the tourism season and in the open sea where the whales do not congregate (Dedina & Young 1995). This restriction has nevertheless been eased as fishers now. are allowed to use traps and lines inside the lagoon ( A R I C 2000). 78 • Prior to 1995 outsiders could obtain fishing permits. However with recent amendments to Article 48 to the Biosphere Legislation local cooperatives have been granted exclusive fishing rights within 5 miles from the coast (Esliman 2002). • According to the same laws, landowners cannot restrict fishers' access to the maritime zone unless these rights have been acquired specifically. Many locals continue to launch their boats from the properties o f tour operators (Fischer 2002b). 6.3.2 Level of Conflicts over Availability of Tourism Licenses When ecotourism grow from a benign activity to a more significant economic one, the incentive to join these activities becomes more attractive (Wood 2001a). Conflicts often emerge among existing tourism stakeholders, the community and the governing agencies over how the number of tourism licenses should be set and regulated (Eagles & Bowman 1999). In 1994 when the permits system was first initiated, government officials attempted to give priority to operators with the longest documented experience in gray-whale watching tourism, as' well as to enterprises that would benefit tlie largest number o f local people (Dedina & Young 1995). Because some of the local operators had previously operated on an informal basis, they had few papers that documented their previous experience. O f the 16 distributed permits 12 permits were awarded to one o f the regional operator (Young 1995b). Tins allocation created considerable tension as the remaining four operators were left with insufficient capacity to service foreign tour boats and camps (Young 1995b). Through close collaboration with the management of the Reserve, most o f this tension has been resolved. Since 1994, the number of boat licenses has increased from 16 to 27. A l l have gone to the existing local and regional tourism operators that had only permit in 1994 ( A R I C 2000). However, die outside-based operator still retains 48% share o f the boat permits (down from 75% in 1994). Unfortunately, discontent is now emerging from fishers in E l Cardon who feel they have been excluded from access to such tourism pemiits (Young 2001). They argue that existing operators have obtained an unfair monopoly on such permits. This tension is l ikely to grow as it is unlikely that new permits w i l l be issued or that existing tourism operators w i l l lose or give up any o f those they already process (Danemann 2002;Galvan 2002;Moreno 2002). 79 • Current permit allocation policies favor existing tourism operators. Indeed, permit preference is based on the historical allocation and experience with ecotourism activities (Young 1999b). Va l id for three years, licenses can only be lost i f they are not renewed in time or i f a tourism operator is found guilty o f neglecting to comply with existing biosphere reserve regulations ( S E M A R N A P 2000). This situation is unlikely to occur as the conduct of existing operators is typically seen as exemplarily ( S E M A R N A P 2000). • Tlie number of available tourism permits is based on a limit appropriate to protecting the whales, as well as the viability of the tourism operators themselves (Young 1995b). This policy was adopted to avoid a development pattern similar to diat found in the neighboring whale watching lagoon o f Bahia Magdalena. Too many permits were distributed there in the beginning of the 1990s. It not only resulted in chaotic whale watching activities, but also in low revenue for operators due to overcapacity and discounted pricing (Young 1995b). • With the new LSI whale watching guidelines implemented in 1997, tourism operators and V 1 B E R E now work closely through A R I C to control the number of pennits distributed ( A R I C 2000). It is unlikely more wi l l be issued, as the current number of pennits seems acceptable to these stakeholders (Young 2002). • Tlie El Cardon Fishers' chances o f obtaining tourism pennits are compromised by their status as illegal settlers inside the federal zone o f the Reserve (Young 1999c). In addition other illegal activities like drug smuggling and poaching are associated with this settlement (Dedina & Young 1995). Tlie failures of these residents to enter a constaictive dialogue with management to address these issues in the 1990s has not only alienated these stakeholders from reserve management sympathy, but also diminished their political influence over tourism development in L S I (Dedina 2002). 6.3.3 Changes in Conflicts over Ownership of Land with Tourism Possibilities Not all land within a biosphere reserve is equally suitable for ecotourism activities. For example: charismatic animals might only be found in certain spots; some areas o f the Reserve might be inaccessible or impractical for use, or subject to restrictions that prohibits the use of the area (Eagles & Bowman 1999). Land use conflicts therefore often emerge as different stakeholders try to gain control over strategically vital areas (Wood 2001a). 80 Historically, the distribution of land with tourism potential in the Laguna has not been a problem. Until the early 1990s, all land were either communally owned by the Eijido (20%) or held by die federal government (80%) (Sanchez 2002). In 1994 this situation changed drastically. A change to Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution made it possible to privatize communal land, giving Ejido members the chance to acquire their own land (Young 1995b). This made it possible for the large outside based operator and a handful of other Eijido members to purchase all major tourism and whale watching access points in LSI. Excluding La Laguna. these purchases included the intermittent airstrip, and all of the best beachfront property in El Cardon. La Fridera. La Base. Punta Piedra. and Campo Catarina (Young 1999c)( Figure 12). Figure 12: Land Claims Made by 10 Eijido Members in 1995 Whalewatchimj Departure Point I • j Existing Tourism Camp | >> ] Airstrip • j : Acces Roads Permitted Whalewaiching zone Land claimed by 10 Eijido Members Mangroves J \ \ ft \ V Kuymvta. KuyimaP Campo Catarina? Campo RamonyC, Punta Piedra i j O La Laguna d t p La Base fcfLaFreidera i j £ \ _"o El Poblando ^ 7 - y ' ' ^ v 'El Cardon. Bahia Ballenas Boca dot Surgidero Punta Ma!comb\ This move caused enormous anger in LSI as it included land already used or inhabited by 15 households in La Fredeira and La Base; approximately 100 illegal settlers in E l Cardon; and two foreign and local tour operators. Furthermore, the extent of these purchases effectively barred 81 locals from future access to ecotourism activities. During the mid 90s the conflict escalated, when the new owners tried to evict people. Yet . almost all locals have refused to move away from the land, stating the purchases were illegal (Young 1995b). Most o f the long term residents in LSI contended that the land sale was illegal, as the ejido used a majority vote to override the protest of one member who stood to lose his home, land and tourism access. Tlie new owners denied these accusations, blaming the locals for a lack o f political involvement and interest in community affairs (Young 1995b). A s a result a stalemate over property rights emerged that for years deteriorated the relationship internally among the tourism operators; made the new owners feared and distrusted; slowed down tourism development in some parts o f L S I ; and excluded El Cardon residents from access to ecotourism benefits. Young therefore stated in 1995 that ecotourism development had escalated resource conflict and hindered local stewardship practices from emerging (Young 1995b). Today the conflict has reached an unstable equilibrium. Some o f the existing local and foreign tourism operators have signed leases with the new owners to continue to live and work in the area (Moreno 2002). Improved cooperation and more dialogue through A R I C represent another big signs of progress. V I B E R E and the new owners have also recently begun to approach residents of El Cardon to find solutions to the stalemate over the property-issues there. Unfortunately the property issues remained unresolved as of 2002. It therefore continues to be source o f tension as most locals hope to reverse the land purchases. • Tlie new owners stopped their efforts to evict people from E l Cardon in the mid 90s when they began to receive death threats. A s a result a gridlock has emerged that for more than a decade has blocked the development of ecotourism activities in E l Cardon. While this has enabled settlers to continue to live there illegally, it has excluded them almost entirely from access to ecotourism benefits. Two forces lie behind this fact. First, these residents continue to have a very poor relationship with the new owners. This has shunned residents o f E l Cardon from getting ecotourism jobs with this employer (Young 2002). Second, their illegal status has hindered them from obtaining the necessary pennits to establish their own companies. In the late 90s V I B E R E and the new owners tried to solve the gridlock by offering residents cheap land in planned population centre o f El Centra in return for leaving E l Cardon (Lopez 2002). So far only a few people have accepted the offer to buy 50x50m lots for $US 100. Residents from E l Cardon claim the lots are located to much inland for fishing purposes. In comparison to where they live now these lots also lack scenery and the possibilities for tourism development. 82 • Tlie gridlock and bitterness emerging from the conflict increased in the 90s significantly the levels of insults and harassment between the opposing parties. One operator, for example, explained that he once lost a significant amount of clients because he was denied access to use the local airstrip by the new owner. Existing operators also complained that the outside based operator on more than one occasion had stolen clients by denying the existence of other companies or by claiming they had gone bankrupt. In a more serious incident, one tourism operator almost lost his boats as the anchoring lines had been cut. However, recently the tourism operators have increasingly begun to cooperate as they have realized they stand more to gain from working together. One big catalyst for this development has been the establishment of the tourism union A R I C in 1997. Signs of a softening o f the conflict include: o Increasing number o f meetings involving all tour and whale watching operators (Dedina 2002): o Cooperation to apply for loans for new outboard engines, obtain tourism licences, avoid price wars and establish an U M A (Dedina 2000a), and o Invitations for social gathering and year end parties at the premises of Ecoturismo Kuyima (Moreno 2002). • Acknowledging the problems surrounding tlie privatizations o f eijido land in all of Mexico the government has recently amended some of its land laws and set up a commission whose purpose is to provide legal aid to solve property rights issues and reverse illegitimate privatizations ( S E M A R N A P 2000). According to tlie lawyer and president of ProNatura, Laura Martinez, the long-term residents o f L a Fredeira and L a Vase stand a good chance o f getting back their property because of the irregularities surrounding the privatization (Martinez 2002). Their claims are also strongly supported by the fact that they lived in the area prior to the establishment o f the eijido and the biosphere reserve. However, the land issues are unlikely to be solved through tlie court as nobody in LSI wants the conflict to flare up again, have the money, and fear losing more than what they have already been lost (Dedina 2002). A more likely scenario would therefore be for the affected old time residents to buy back the land cheap from the new owners. According to the management o f the biosphere reserve, it would be almost impossible for the new owners to reject such a proposition due the long time settler's historic rights to the area (Sanchez 2002). 83 6.3.4 Changes in Ihe Number of Women Involved in Ecotourism Development. Often ecotourism jobs benefit only a subset o f residents (Orams 1999;Pizam & Milman 1984). Young noted in 1994 that relatively few women held ecotourism jobs (Young 1999b;Young 1999c). Since then, the number o f woman working in the ecotourism industry has increased from approximately 5 to 21 people. This represents an increase in the share o f all ecotourism jobs from 15 to 31% (Aquilar 2002; Fischer 2002a; Lopez 2002; Mayoral 2002; Young 1999b). This reflects a growing need among the companies with lodging facilities to service visitors in their camps. Most of these new jobs created have therefore been relatively low skilled (See Table 13). T a b l e .1.3: N u m b e r o f W o m e n W o r k i n g in the E c o t o u r i s m I n d u s t r y i n L S I 2002 Number of Total women Employment employed Skiff Driver 24 Naturalist 5 5 Drivers 2 Cooks 2 4 Kitchen Staff. Cleaners 10 14 Camp Entertainers, musicians 2 Camp Maintenance 6 Outside promoters 2 Of f i ce Staff / Managers 4 7 Lifeguard 1 T O T A L 21 67 Sources: Compiled through literature by Young, E . (1994, 1996, 1997) and interviews with tour operators in LSI and the tourism union A R I C and the management o f the Reserve ( V I B E R E ) (2002) 6.3.5 Changes in the Tour operators' Perception of their Relationship with. Visitors. Perceptions o f visitors often change over time from local euphoria over tourist development to apatiiy, irritation and antagonism as tourism numbers grow (Doxey 1974). Other symptoms o f such negative perceptions arise when personal contacts between tlie local community and visitors becomes more formal, when visitors are perceived to encroach into the local way o f life (Mercer 1995). Such negative perceptions and behaviours have not been seen in LSI . Interviewed tourism operators, staff and other locals were overwhelmingly positive in tiieir evaluation o f their relationship with visitors (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2002a;Friday 2002;Gardea-Ojeda 2002;Mayoral 2002). Tourism operators were keen to point out the pride that tourism had brought to their 84 community and that many friendships had evolved over time with repeating visitors (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2002a;Mayoral 2002). One local tourism operator for example reported that one group o f naturalists had been visiting for almost 15 years in a row (Aquilar 2002). One o f the foreign operators also stated that 40% of its visitors were repeats (Ivey 2002). • Local tourism operators have sometimes received donations from pleased visitors. Items have included used computers, clothing, school supplies and money to buy a new outboard engine. Tips exceeding 10-15% of the tours are also quite normal (Moreno 2002). 6.3.6 The level of Ecotourism Revenues Being Reinvested hack into Community Development Projects Tour operators can help increase support for ecotourism development by reinvesting some of the tourism income back into projects that improve local people's living standard and quality of life (Barkin 1996;Scheyvens 1999). In LSI there were few signs o f such revenue used for local purposes prior to 1994 (Young 1995b). Today this has changed as tourism operators through A R I C have become increasingly involved in the development of the community. Recent projects and services include the payment for a community doctor, building of a shaded courtyard in the school, and trips for school children to visit whales. (Lopez 2002;Moreno 2002). • In LSI a primary school (age 6-12) was built in 1990 with funding raised by one o f tlie operators. In 2000, the school was expanded to teach secondary levels (age 12-16). These new buildings were made with money donated by National Resources Defence Council ( N R D C ) and other N G O s . Prior to this development many children did not attend school as the closest one was located in San Ignacio (Moreno 2002). In 2002, tourism operators also helped organize and donate money to a build a sun shelter in the school yard (Lopez 2002). They have also on several occasions organized field trips to take local school classes whale watching (Lopez 2002). • In 1999 A R I C took the initiative to improve landscape's aesthetics by removing many burned out and abandoned cars along the road o f the lagoon (Camacho 2002). • A R I C and V I B E R E donated in tlie end of the 90s money to help Mexican artist, Francisco Hernandez Zamora hire local school children to complete two large figures on the ground 85 depicting grey whales in LSI . Made from thousands o f empty scallop shells the designs measure approximately 2,000 x 1,200 feet (Lopez 2002) . Similar in idea to the geoglyphs o f the Nazca lines in Peru they are,best seen from an airplane. • In 2002, A R J C paid $1200 towards the salary o f a doctor to be present in LSI during the weekends of the tourism season. Unfortunately no doctor was hired for the 2002 season, as the money was put aside to safeguard for a proposed government tax o f US $1,100 per boat (Lopez 2002). 6.3.7 Changes in Ihe Number of Items and Services Purchased Locally If tourism operators buy items and sen'ices locally they can help minimize tlie money generated from ecotourism that flows out of biosphere reserves (Sharpley 2000;Sharpley & Telfer 2002). Besides the added economic benefits to the community, such local purchases are also likely to strengthen tlie relationship between the tourism operators and the host communities (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). In LSI it has historically been difficult for tourism operators to make their purchases locally as there were no shops, food services, and products available (Dedina & Young 1995;Young 1999b). N o w a couple o f small stores have emerged that sells candy, beer, a few food items and potable water. However, as prices are high and selection poor, these shops are used by locals for mostly "emergencies"(Moreno 2002). Locals as well as tourism operators therefore continue to buy most of their commodities including gasoline, water, and food elsewhere. Tlie one exception is fresh seafood, which all operators buy locally when they do not have time to catch it themselves (Fischer 2002a). • Tire lack o f drinking water, the low population and die poor condition o f the road makes it unlikely that more local products o f use to the tourism operators w i l l emerge anytime soon (Young 2002). • One tourist operator has made a commitment to pay local fishers more than the local fish buyers so as i f to ensure a fair price and the best fish for the tourists (Lopez 2002). 6.4 Indicators for Local support for the biosphere reserve To measure whether or not ecotourism development had a positive influence on local support for the biosphere reserve three indicators were used. Tlie first one, 5.4.1, evaluated how local acceptance o f the biosphere reserve changed from 1994 to 2004. This was followed by 5.4.2. that 8 6 estimated the impacts o f educational efforts and interpretive experiences for locals. Finally, 5.5.5. addressed whether ecotourism development increased local efforts to participate in conservation actions. Tlie above indicators were chosen based on the available published historical data on these issues in LSI . 6.4.1 Changes in the Local Acceptance of the Biosphere Reserve When ecotourism empowers local people economically and socially it is it likely to result in a greater local acceptance o f biosphere reserves ( U N E S C O 2002a). This is a development that can be clearly seen in LSI . In 1994 residents were mostly dubious about the Reserve. One long term resident expressed then: "In reality, we don't know what the Reserve is for." Another added that i f there was a reserve, "it shouldn't be in name only, it should be set up to take care of the lagoon."(Young 1999b) Today all tourism operators and long term residents interviewed express strong pride and support for the Reserve (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2002a;Friday 2002;Gardea-Ojeda 2002;Mayoral 2002). It also materialized in improved compliance with whale watching legislation (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). Catalysts for the increasing local support include the increasing economic benefits from ecotourism; the controversy over building the salt extraction factory; local involvement in the design o f tourism regulations; the educational work done by a coalition o f N G O s ; and the improved relationship with the management of the Reserve (Dedina 2002;Lopez 2002;Sanchez 2002). However, less enthusiastic were the fishers from E l Cardon that have a hard time seeing what good the Reserve has brought them. This is not surprising considering how little they so far have benefitted from ecotourism development and their strained relationship with the management o f the Reserve. • When ESSA/Mi tsub ish i in 1994 proposed to expand its salt extraction facilities, LSI grew very rapidly from being a relatively unknown whale watching destination to one o f the world's premier location (Dedina & Aridjis 2002). Wi th the ensuing attention from the growing number o f tourists, scientists, government officials and N G O s , locals now know they live in one o f the most significant and unique biological habitats in tlie world. Prior to 1995 only 45% of tire people interviewed by Emi ly Young were aware, that they lived in a biosphere reserve. Another 9 percent knew that they lived in a protected area but referred to it as a national park, not as a biosphere reserve (Young 1995b). In 2002, all respondents interviewed knew that diey lived in a biosphere reserve. 8 7 6.4.2 Changes in the Educational and Interpretive Experiences for Locals Educational and interpretive experiences are likely to create support for biosphere reserves and ecotourism activities because they improve local peoples environmental knowledge and concern for the environment (Dedina 2002). Looking at LSI there were prior to 1994 no such efforts being made (Young 1995b). Today, locals have gained a much better understanding o f the unique nature of the biosphere reserve and their role as environmental stewards. This is a consequence of a number of ecotourism training courses and community development programs held by a number of N G O s in cooperation with tourism operators and management (Aquilar 2002:Fischer 2002a;Friday 2002;Gardea-Ojeda 2002;Mayoral 2002). However, efforts have targeted mostly children and stakeholders already involved with tourism activities. These efforts have focused on educational rather than interpretive experiences (Dedina 2000a). • Tlie N G O s including Proesteros, N R D C . International Fund for Animal Welfare (1FAW), National Resource Defense Council ( N R D C ) , Global Green Grant, Homeland and the management o f the biosphere reserve ( V I B E R E ) have since 1999 donated approximately US $25,000 to the community of L S I (Moreno 2002). Most of this money has been used to raise the environmental awareness among the children in LSI (Table 14) (Dedina 2002). Donors believe these steps have had positive impacts on the perception of the Reserve, support for ecotourism and the efforts to conserve the environment. Dedina from Wildcoast for example states that adults now eat less turtle meat because their children ask them not to do so (Dedina 2002). 88 Table 14: Recent Donations by Biosphere Management and NGOs to LSI Date Event Organisation Donation Feb. 1999 Papier-mache workshop ProEsleros $500 Apr. 1999 Whale watching excursion for local children NRDC $1,000 Mar. 2000 Donation of schoolbooks materials ProEsteros. 1FAW $400 Apr. 2000 Whale watching excursion for local children NRDC $1,000 Maj. 2000 Donation of medicine ProEsteros $200 Jun. 2000 Administrative training course in Mexico City for community representative ProEsteros, IFAW $1,000 Jun. 2000 Community development course for community representative ProEsteros, IFAW $1,000 Jun. 2000 Donation of school materials ProEsteros $300 Aug. 2000 Coastal wetland workshop for children in the primary School ProEsteros, IFAW $800 Nov 2000 Establishment of the local community NGO "Organization Comunitaria Pro Desarrollo y Conservation de la Laguna San Ignacio" ProEsteros, Wildcoast, Global Green Grant $2,000 Dec. 2000 Donation of school materials ProEsteros $300 Apr. 2001 Whale watching for locals children NRDC $1,100 May 2001 Donation of office and computer equipment for the new community centre Homeland $4,000 Jul. 2001 Donation of school materials Ocean Futures $500 Aug. 2001 Donation of environmental education material concerning turtles Wildcoast $4,000 Sep. 2001 Donation of one computer Wildcoast $800 Oct. 2001 School excursion to clean the islands "Isla Garza" and "Isla Pelican" VIBERE $250 Nov. 2001 A workshop for protecting turtles for primary and secondary students Wildcoast $500 Nov. 2001 Opening of a bank account for the local NGO Global Green Grant $100 Nov.2001 Donation of solar panels and batteries Homeland. N R D C $2,500 Dec. 2001 Money for construction of community centre with four rooms. 20 chairs Global Green Grant, Wildcoast $3,700 $25,950 Source: Rubi Moreno, WildCoast 2002 • Tlie locals who attended the guide training courses conducted by R A R E from 1997-2000 indicated that tireir environmental knowledge had improved significantly (Lopez 2002;Moreno 2002). 89 • There are no interpretive signs in LSI to inform visitors or locals about the biosphere reserve or the significance of the area (Moreno 2002). However, the management of the Reserve intent to place a total of 94 interpretative signs inside communities, tourist areas, core areas, and entrances where access is restricted (SEMARNAP 2000). 6.4.3 Changes in the Local Efforts to Participate in Conservation Actions When ecotourism is successful it will result in more locals taking actions to protect their environment (Eagles & McCool 2002). Prior to 1994 there were few signs of such involvement besides the indirect efforts of tourism operators to work with visiting scientists. This is changing as tourism operators and locals are becoming more involved in conservation and monitoring activities. Catalyst for this development have been not only the growth of ecotourism, but also the high numbers of N G O s that during the salt extraction flat conflict from 1995 to 2000 came to the lagoon to conduct community development work (Dedina 2002). Indications of these changes are seen in the tourism operators plans to set up an UMA, and their involvement in a local monitoring and surveillance committee to protect turtles (Dedina 2002). However, intervening is not without its risks as poaching and drug trafficking often is conducted by tlie same people (Dedina & Aridjis 2002). In 1997 a resident from El Cardon was shot when he was poaching Abalone in the neighbouring community of Punta Abreojos. Fearing a further escalation of the conflict the Mexican army was subsequently called in to stop a growing rash of arsons that followed apparently in retaliation for the man's death (Young E 2001). Another serious incident happened in the late 90s when a reserve employee had reported an abandoned taick full of drugs and turtle carcasses. Facing death threats for reporting the truck he was given a new identity and moved to a different part of Mexico (Sanchez 2002). Incidents like these are hindering tour operators from becoming more personally involved in conservation efforts (Wallace 2004). • Tlie suggested UMA represents a significant local attempt to become more involved in the future development and conservation actions of the lagoon (Lopez 2002). Tlie matching 200 page management plan divides tlie lagoon into 5 different conservation systems containing a total of 15 management subunits. Each subunit is described according to its biodiversity, environmental threats and the actions needed to mitigate these impacts (ARIC 2000). From a wider perspective tourism operators believe the UMA can help strengthen Mexico's property right to the grey whales. This will help safeguard the whales from the renewed international interest in whaling (Lopez 2002). Many of the tourism operators for example expressed their concern over the annual kill of 90 five grey whales that the Makah tribe of Washington's Cape Flatten' region resumed in 1998 - a revival the 13 Canadian bands of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council would like to share (Meissner 1998). • Tire establishment o f the local environmental N G O ""Organizacion Comunitaria Pro Desarrollo y Consen'acion de la Laguna San Ignacio" in 2001 is a recent indication that local interest in conservation have begun to spread beyond the tourism operators (Moreno 2002). • Until recently, poaching was seen as a relatively low-risk activity with high financial returns as there was little enforcement of fishing regulations. Efforts to crack down illegal poaching have since been stepped up considerably ( S E M A R N A P 2000). One aspect o f these efforts has been a local monitoring and surveillance committee setup by V I B E R E and mn by A R I C . This committee has since the late 90s worked closely-together with other Baja coastal communities in a nation wide turtle-monitoring network set up and funded by Wildcoast. In Apr i l 2000 this network caught a notorious poacher with a tmck load o f dead turtles. His arrest marks a significant victory as he was responsible for ki l l ing more than 2,000 sea turtles annually to the Tijuana black market for more than a decade. This poacher has since become a prominent advocate for turtle conservation. Tire result has been a positive increase in sightings o f turtles (Wallace 2004). • Tourism operators have slowly begun to replace their 2 stroke with 4 stroke engines. This wi l l significantly help reduce engine emission and oil pollution released to the lagoon (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). 6.5 Indicators of The Viability of Local and Regional Tour Operators Tlie viability o f the five local and regional tourism operators that operate in LSI are in this section analyzed by comparing the two companies that sold all inclusive package tours with the three that did not between 1994 and 2002. Tlie indicators in 5.5.1-5.5.3 first analyze tlie difference between these two groups in terms o f growth in employees, visitor numbers and gross revenue. These are followed by changes to these operators' profitability 5.5.4; diversification o f services and products in 5.5.5-5.5.6; promotional efforts in 5.5.7; and sales and distribution channels in 91 5.5.8. Finally indicator 5.5.9-11 looks at the quality of the whale watching experience in LSI . Tlie above indicators were chosen because they were seen as the most feasible to use given the restriction o f not having access to the various tourism operators' financial statements and records. 6.5.I Changes to the Tour Operators ' Number of Employees A common indicator for measuring company growth is employment change. Since 1994 three out of five companies have seen their numbers o f employees increase by over 50% (from 26 to 58 people). Tlie growth in employment reflects that more staff was needed to service the tour operator's camp and lodging facilities. The companies that sold package tours saw die biggest employment growth. Their share of the job market grew from 50% to 72% between 1994 and 2002. Analyzing these numbers further showed the largest of one of these employed 60% of the total workforce or 4-14 times more than any of the other operators in 2002. Table 1.5: Changes in the Local and Regional Tourism Operators Numbers of Employees 1994-2002 Employees 1994 Employees 2002 Companies that sold package tours (2) 22 49 Companies that sold mostly day tours (3) 1 1 18 Compiled through literature by Young, E. (1994, 1996, 1997) and interviews with tour operators in LSI and the tourism union A R I C and the management of the Reserve V I B E R E (2002) 6.5.2 Changes to the Tour Operators' Number of Visitors Tlie number o f visitors is a commonly used indicator for measuring the size and market share o f individual tourism operators (Wallace 2002). In LSI the various tourism operators all reported significant growth from 1994 to 2002. Unfortunately the data did not make it possible to analyse the individual historical records of these companies. In 2002, die companies that sold package tours had a slightly bigger share o f the visitors as one o f them also did well in tenns of outsourcing and selling package tours ( 92 Table 16). This company serviced almost 50% of the visitors in 2002. Table 16: Numbers of Whale watching Tourists in LSI 2002 Defined by Product Segment and Operator Day tours Package Tours Sen icing Foreign Camp Servicing Liveaboards Total Visitors Companies thai sold package tours (2) 1.040 370 260 250 1.920 Companies that sold mostly day lours (3) 1.240 140 1.380 T O T A L 2.280 370 400 250 3.300 Source: Young. E. (1994. 1996. 1997). Tour operators in LSI (2002). A R I C (2002) 6.5.3 Changes in the Tour Operators ' Revenue Tlie turnover of tourism operators is another indicator that can be used to analyze the structure o f the tourism market and hint at the performance o f individual companies (Kotler, Haider, & Rein 1993). It was not possible based on the data provided by Young to make any comparison of the local and regional operators' income for 1994 as these were lumped together. For 2002, this was done using the visitors' numbers provided by four tour operators, the management of the Reserve and A R I C . To protect the identity o f the various tour operators and to highlight some important differences among them these were lumped into two categories: companies that sold package tours and ones that did not. Using the same method as outlined in section 5 x . x three scenarios (most likely, worst and best) were calculated for each o f the four existing whale watching product segments found in LSI in 2002 (day tours, package tours, outsourcing to boats and outsourcing to camps). These different scenarios were calculated to highlight the uncertainties involved in estimating these numbers. Looking at LSI the local and regional tour operators saw a growth in their revenue from approximately $150,000 to $260,000 between 1994 and 2002 (or $220,000 adjusting 2002 to 1994 levels). These estimates showed that package tours and day tours were the most important market segments in terms o f revenue (Figure 13). A closer look at the typical estimated scenario showed that the companies that sold package tours accounted for approximately 75% of local and regional generated ecotourism revenues generated in L S I in 2002. Tlie worst and best scenario showed that companies that sold package tours had a market share between 50% and 90%. These extremes scenarios were, however, considered unlikely as it would have entailed severely underestimating one group of tour operators while 94 overestimating the other similarly- or vice versa. The way the calculations were done it would have been more likely to underestimate or overestimate the calculations for both groups. Doing so implied that local and regional package tour operators had a likely market share between 70% and 75% - similar to what the typical estimate showed. Figure 13: Ecotourism Gross Revenue in LSI for 2 0 0 2 : Package vs. Mostly Day Tour Operators $350,000 $300,000 $250,000 $200,000 $150,000 $100,000 $50,000 SO • Package Tour Operators (2) • Mostly Day Tour Operators (3) • Package Tour Operators (2) • Mostly Day Tour Operators (3) Estimated Min. to Max. Revenue ll Dav lours S3 7.000 S44.000 Outsourcing Camps $30,000 SI 6. Outsourcing Liveaboards $9,000 Package Tours $123,000 Total $199,000 $60,000 Sources: Based on visitor numbers and prices submitted by Young (1999), the Reserve. ARIC and 4 local tourism operators. It is not surprising that the calculations showed that the local and regional package tour companies had the highest turnover as they also were involved in selling day tours like the other companies. More important, however, was the high revenue generated from package tours relative to day tours. Visitors who purchased a package tours (including food, lodging, and whale watching activities but excluding transportation) paid from $ 135-$ 1.000. stayed 1-4 days and went whale watching 2-6 times in 2002. In comparison most day tourists spent an estimated US $25-70 depending on whether they went whale watching once or tw ice. Operators that sold package tours therefore needed much fewer visitors to generate a significant turnover compared to the others operators in 2002. 95 6.5.4 Changes in Ihe Tour Operators' Profitability To be successful long-term, ecotourism operators must make sufficient profits to operate, invest in future activities; and be able to survive unforeseen declines in demand (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). Unfortunately, it was not possible to analyze the tour operators5 profitability well. One reason being the insufficient published historical data, another the reluctance of most tourism operators to disclose detailed financial infonnation. However, three of the four local tourism operators in LSI did report their profits in 2002 to be roughly between $3,500 and $6,500. These tourism operators noted that their profitability had been seriously affected by the 9-11 incident. A bigger concern, however, among the operators was a new proposed ecotourism tax for 2003 (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2002a;Friday 2002;Gardea-Ojeda 2002;Mayoral 2002). Tins would add an annual levy o f 1,020 pesos ($110) per seat for each 10-man boat. In addition tourism operators would have to pay for using the government owned shorelines and fees for overnight staying visitors (Lopez 2002). Depending on the tour operator this would increase yearly operating ' expenses by $3,200 to $14,000. Tire tax was therefore seen as a major threat to the viability of the ecotourism industry in LSI in 2002 (Fullerton 2002). • A l l local tourism operators and the foreign operators reported many cancellations o f tours due to the 9-11 attack (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2002a;Fnday 2002;Gardea-Ojeda 2002;Mayoral 2002). Tins was particularly noticeable for the month o f January 2002 where tourism demand was down an estimated 30-50%. • To alleviate the new taxes A R I C agreed with the whale watching organizations in the neighbouring lagoons to increase day trip prices from $35 to $42 beginning 2003 (Lopez 2002). Tourism operators were anxious about this strategy because of the risk for further decline in the visitor numbers. However, they saw no other way to avert the treat as the consensus that the tax would come in one fonn of the other (Aquilar 2002). 6.5.5 Changes to the Tour Operators' Services and Infrastructure. Tourism companies often add services to existing tour activities to increase revenue (Briggs 2000). In LSI such services include food sales, lodging in the fonn of huts and camping facilities; souvenir sales and transportation to the lagoon from San Ignacio (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2002a;Friday 2002;Gardea-Ojeda 2002;Mayoral 2002). Comparing the various local and regional companies showed that the number and kinds o f these activities changed little between 1994 and 2002. Tlie companies that sold package tours therefore remained tlie ones with the highest integration o f such services in 2002 (See Table 17). 96 T a b l e 17 : S e r v i c e s O f f e r e d by L o c a l a n d R e g i o n a l T o u r s O p e r a t o r s 1994-2002 Food Sales Lodging_ Souvenirs Transport 1995 2002 1995 2002 1995 2002 1995 2002 Companies that sold package tours (2) all all all all all all all all Companies that sold mostly day tours (3) all all one one one one Sources: Compiled through interviews with lour operators in LSI (2002) A further analysis also revealed that it was the companies that sold package tours that had done the most to expand these services during this period. This was particular seen in their effort to improve their camp and lodging facilities. Observed Developments in the Tourism Operators' Lodging Facilities - In LSI repeat visitors, generally agreed that the three local and regional run camps with lodging facilities had become tidier, cleaner and had more common dining area facilities than before. Analyzing the changes made by the two companies that sold package tours to improve their camps showed that one had expanded its camping facilities with 12 simply furnished, rustic cabanas on stilts while the other had upgraded its camp with 8 high quality safari tents. In 2002 these camps would charge in the range from $135 to $250 for an all inclusive one night stay including whale watching, food and other activities. In the new millennia, these changes helped increase these operators turnover because they could charge more for overnight stays; made it possible to accommodate more people at the same time and made it more attractive for visitors to stay longer. These results contrasted starkly with the operator that did not sell package tours. During the same period this operator's camp generated much less income because of its low capacity and rustic accommodation that necessitated low prices. In 2002, this camp's overnight facilities consisted of a basic campground and two plywood sheds with 4 beds each that could be rented for $ 15-$25 depending on the number of people. Underlining the basic nature o f these sheds were their lack o f proper windows, concrete floors, and nails that would stick out various places. This camp would therefore only appeal to travellers used to "roughing it". However, these visitors generally liked the intimate atmosphere of this camp and the insight they got into local life as the owners unlike the other camps lived permanently on the premises in 2002. 97 Despite the overall improvement noticed in the tourism operators lodging facilities visitors were quick to point out that all the camps remained rustic compared to hotels and motels found in San Ignacio. Some of the criticism included the outside and shared toilets; the poor showers limited to day use only; the lack of access to electricity outside the common areas; the poor insulation against the cold and howling desert winds and the lack o f windows facing the ocean. Transportation of Visitors to and from LSI - Three out o f five companies had the capacity to bring visitors on their own to LSI in 2002. Tlie two companies located in San Ignacio did so by having their own vehicles there to bring visitors to and from the lagoon. They reported that having your own vehicles had made it easier for them give visitors a more seamless and integrated tourist experience; made it more timely to plan whale watching tours and use lodging facilities and cut the cost o f bringing supplies to the lagoon. Tlie other company, reflecting its strategy to attract clients from far away, had recently begun to offer tours that included airfare to LSI from the U.S . , driving people down from San Diego or picking up visitors in Loreto by minibus (respectively . This company stated that having these different travel options had been a strong sales parameter, because it made it convenient for visitors to chose among a number of unique trips with a fixed itinerary. Food Sales - Not enough data was readily available to make a valid comparison o f the quality of the different tourism operators' food offerings. However, visitors' general impression was that the food was delicious. Some even stated it was among the best they had had in Baja California. A l l tourism operators cook themselves or have someone employed to cook and prepare meals for the visitors. They typically charge 7-15 dollars perineal depending on the dish (Moreno 2002). These meals are usually included with the package tours. Most meals consist of fresh seafood served with beans, rice and tortillas. Souvenir Sales - Most tourism operators did little to sell souvenirs. Tlie exception was one of the tourism operators that sold package tours. Its sales office in San Ignacio was also a dedicated souvenir shop. Located on the main town square it includes a large selection o f books, post cards, maps, and figurines related to the main tourist attractions in the area. This setup has according to the tourism operator also increased tire sale o f whale watching tours as it has brought people into the store that were initially either unaware or uninterested in diis possibility . 98 6.5.6 Changes to Tour Operators ' Diversification of Ecotourism products. Tourism operators can also diversify their activities horizontally by adding new ecotourism products (Kotler, Haider. & Rein 1993). In 1994 tourism operators from LSI focused almost primarily on whale watching activities. Tlie management o f the Reserve therefore noted that tourism activities were insufficiently diversified in 1998 ( S E M A R N A P 2000). Tlie same observation was made by the mission team send by the United Nations to evaluate the status o f the biosphere reserve in 1999 (Nations 1999). However, tourism operators that sell package tours have recently been promoting new activities including kayaking, summer camps for children, tours to see Cochimi Indian cave paintings and guided tours o f the other natural attractions of the lagoon (mangroves, cacti, birds and salt flats) (See Table 18) (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2002a;Friday 2002;Gardea-Ojeda 2002;Mayoral 2002). With the exception of the cave painting tours and camps for the school children these new activities have mostly been promoted as part of package tours. In contrast the other tourism operators have done little to diversify their products. For the two tourism operators without camps this development is hardly surprising considering day visitors come to experience the whales and leave the same day they arrive (Moreno 2002). Day trippers therefore have little time to benefit from other activities considering the transportation time to and from the lagoon. It also never was an option for the companies located in LSI to offer cave painting tours as these are located in the world heritage site of Sierra de San Francisco because it is necessary to obtain a permit in the museum at San Ignacio. Tlie cave paintings are also located in the opposite direction from L S I making the trip from San Ignacio a much shorter drive. Tlie overall impression, however, is that all companies could do more to diversify their activities considering L S I pristine nature and abundant plant and animals life (Nations 1999). Table 18: Available Tourism Activities in LSI Different from Whale Watching 1995-2002 Kayaking Birding Salitrales / Cacti Tours Mangrove Tours Cluldren Camp Cave Painting 1995 2002 1995 2002 1995 2002 1995 2002 1995 2002 1995 2002 Companies that sold package tours (2) all all all all one all Companies that sold mostly day tours (3) one Sources; Compiled through interviews with tour operators in LSI and the tourism union ARIC (2002) 9 9 • Three educational summer camps for Mexican children (aged 8-13) were held by one of the operators as a pilot project in 2002. Taking place outside the whale watching season, the children were taught about nature through creative and fun educational activities that included drawing and painting; music and singing; arts and crafts; camping and hiking; astronomy; cycling; bonfires; use of wind and solar energy; boat trips and visits to aquaculture and fishing production centres. These youth camps involved considerable amounts of planning with a number of educational institutions across Mexico. The success of these camps have yet to be determined (Lopez 2002). • Tours to see the Cochime Indian cave paintings take place either on mule or by foot and last from 1-3 days. Painted between 3000 AD and 1600 and hidden in deep impenetrable canyons in the world heritage site of Sierra del San Francisco they are considered one of the truly underdeveloped cultural treasures of North America ( S E M A R N A P 1997). Picture 3: Cave Painting from Sierre del San Francisco 6.5. 7 Changes to Tour Operators' Promotional Activities Promotional efforts play an important role in attracting existing and new ecotourism tourists (Kotler 2002). Unfortunately, many ecotourism companies often do little to market their products as they have few resources available and lack marketing skills (Buckley 2003). In LSI. companies have historically relied on word of mouth, the odd review in guidebooks for Baja California and Mexico and a few rudimentary signs (Young 1995b). As of 2002, promotional 100 activities generally remain poorly developed reflecting the lack of resources put aside for such purposes and the lack o f skills (Moreno 2002) (See Table 19). It is also likely that tourism operators historically have perceived little need to improve their promotional activities because visitor numbers was growing rapidly until 2001. However, the companies that sell package tours have recently begun to do more to attract visitors. One significant aspect of this development was the establishment o f company homepages in 2001. Both companies reported that these had helped increase turnover significantly because the web had not only enabled them to reach potential customers worldwide, but also established a quick and efficient means for making bookings and addressing concerns. One o f these companies reported that internet sales in 2002 accounted for 30-40% of its sales. Another indication of a more proactive approach to sales and marketing was seen in one o f the package tour operator's effort to become ecotourism certified in 2002. Table 19: Promotional Activities Conducted by Local and Regional Operators in LSI 2002 Signs Brochure Website Ecotourism Certification Companies that sold package tours (2) all one all one Companies that sold mostly day tours (3) all Sources: Compiled through literature by Young, E. (1994, 1996, 1997), interviews with tour operators (2002) and tour operators websites (2002) • Most o f the interviewed visitors knew of specific whale watching companies because of word o f mouth or from die recommendations listed in guidebooks like Lonely Planet or from online articles, news papers, books and nature program about LSI . A recent I M A X movie e.g showed more than 5 minutes o f footage o f whale watching activities from LSI (Mayoral 2002). • Unlike the neighbouring whale watching community of Guerrero Negro there are no signs along the Baja Transpeninsula highway which inform potential visitors o f tlie possibilities o f whale watching activities or that they are approaching a biosphere and world heritage site. This makes it easy to miss LSI as a whale watching attraction. 101 6.5.8 Changes to Tour Operators ' Sales and Distribution Channels For ecotourism companies to sell their products they must setup ways to service and reach potential clients (Kotler 2002). In LSI ecotourism activities have traditionally been sold on location; at hotels and motels in San Ignacio; or through dedicated sales offices in San Ignacio (Young 1995b). However, recently the companies that sell package have expanded their sales offices to other parts o f Baja California or abroad to California in the U S (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). These companies have also increasingly discovered the web as a means for sales, distribution and customer support (See figure Table 20). This combination of a dedicated sales office and the use o f the web allowed these companies to reach more potential customers, service them better and sell more package tours in 2002. In contrast, day tour companies continued to rely mostly on tourists finding their own way to the lagoon or from the sales the motels and hotels in San Ignacio can generate for them. For two o f these operators this development can be explained from the lack of telecommunication facilities in the lagoon (Aquiliar 2002;Mayoral 2002). Tlie tour operators with a sales office outside LSI therefore enjoy a huge competitive advantage as they can service their clients more actively not only through the office, but also over the phone, internet and email. This level of customer contact and communication has been important to sell package tours, because they compared to day tours often were booked in advance and involved more coordination and exchange of infonnation (Friday 2002). Table 20: Sales Channels used to Promote Whale Watching tours 2002 Office San Ignacio Sales Office Elsewhere Online Website Commissioned Motels/ Hotels Travel Agencies Companies that sold package tours (2) all all A l l Companies that sold mostly day tours (3) one two Sources: Based on interviews with tour operators in LSI and the tourism union ARIC (2002) • Only one company has made efforts to sell it tours using independent travel agencies. In 2000, the company distributed 500 brochures to travel agencies in California. However, these efforts only produced a single lead. Tlie company therefore reached the conclusion that the general U .S . based travel agencies were poorly suited to sell specialty tours like whale watching in L S I (Friday 2002). Another contributing failure is, however, likely to be tlie rather unattractive and homemade feel of the black and white brochure. 102 • A s of 2002 a small communication centre with a satellite phone has been established in LSI (Moreno 2002). However. C B radios still remain the only way to contact people directly living in LSI (Dedina 2002). • Tlie companies that sell package tours are showing an increasing level of sophistication in their sales setup. One o f the companies can be contacted directly via phone, email, or fax to contacts in Tijuana, and Ensenada as well as its San Ignacio office. Written inquires can also be handled by sending mail to San Ysidro in the U.S. Tlie other one has no office in San Ignacio, but can be reached in two regular offices situated in L a Paz, Mexico and one in Ocean Side, California. These setup differences highlight a few strategic differences between the two companies that sell package tours. One is better set up to sell tours locally where the other one focuses more on reaching upscale clients in the U.S. • Tlie commission tourism operators pay to local hotels and motels for selling day tours is set by A R I C . It was $5 per visitor in 2002. But because these hotels also run some o f the taxi services that take visitors to the lagoon their financial gain is usually much bigger (Romo 2005). 6.5.9 Visitors Perceptions of Whale Watching Tours in LSI Tourists' perceptions o f the tour activities can be important indicators o f the quality of the attractions as well as the services and products offered by the individual tourism providers (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). In LSI this indicator was examined by speaking informally with approximately 60 visitors in L S I during and after whale watching activities in 2002. Visi tor comments were also analyzed by looking at tourism operators' guest books, articles, websites and travel books. These sources indicated very high level o f visitor satisfaction diat was independent o f tlie operator. They also showed that ecotourism activities had become better organized and professional. A strong indication o f die latter was seen in the recent praise given to one o f the tour companies selling package tours. This company was listed as one o f ten organizations in the world to offer the best ecotourism travel experiences by E magazine in 2002 (E: Tlie Environmental Magazine 2002). In 2005 this company also became the world's first to be certified by Green Globe under the International Ecotourism Standard (IES) (TIES 2005). 103 • Most visitors stated the experience by far exceeded their expectations in terms o f scenery and seeing the whales up close. Some stated touching a whale had been the greatest wi ld life experience they had ever had. O f the visitors that had been grey whale watching elsewhere, only two visitors thought it had been better elsewhere. • Most tourism operators reported that LSI had received many donations from happy visitors in the form of materials for the local school, computers and clothes. One visitor ' had even helped an operator f inance the purchase o f a new outboard engine (Aquilar 2002;Fischer 2002a;Fnday 2002;Gardea-Ojeda 2002;Mayoral 2002). • One company estimated 20-30% of its clients were repeats. Some of these clients had come to the lagoon for almost 15 consecutive years (Moreno 2002). Repeat visitors noted that tours generally had become more professional, and better organized. • Tourism operators' guest books were full of superlatives like: "it was one o f the most touching experiences o f my life": "everything was unbelievable" or "we w i l l be back next year". 6.5.10 Changes in the Skills of Tourism Operators Tire ability of tour operators to service tourist well often increases when staff have received training in skills like hospitality management, foreign languages, and natural sciences (Eagles & M c C o o l 2002). In LSI most tourism operators and their staff have historically had no formal training specifically related to ecotourism (Young 1995b). Most guides have nevertheless considerable knowledge about the fauna in LSI from working with visiting whale scientists; foreign ecotourism companies and from years of fishing in the lagoon. (Dedina 2002;Dedina & Aridj is2002;Young 2002). From 1995-98 the management o f the Reserve, U N E S C O , and the N G O R A R E conducted a series of intensive ecotourism guide training courses for ecotourism operators in Baja California Sur. During the three-month R A R E course students lived and studied in an English only environment. Tlie curriculum focused on English, local natural and cultural history, interpretation and guiding skills as well as basic tour planning and marketing (Mahoff 2001). These courses were seen as a big success by both the organizers and the participants. However, o f the 49 104 graduating guides only an estimated 10-12 people were from LSI . Tlie courses also focused vers' little on the business aspects o f ecotourism development like marketing, administration and product development (Friday 2002). It is therefore not surprising that these aspects were perceived as the tourism operators' weakest skills. Comparing the companies showed that the ones that sold package tours generally had better skills with the exception o f their knowledge about the biota and biosphere reserve. It is not surprising they had better language skills as they unlike the other companies had someone employed that either spoke the language fluently, natively or had academic experience using it (See Table 21). Table 21 : Tourism Operators' Ability to Service Tourism Needs 2002 Ability to Sen ice Clients in English Knowledge about the Biota and Biosphere resene Promotion Skills Companies that sold package lours (2) Vers' Good Vers' Good Fair lo good Companies that sold mostly day lours (3) Poor Very Good Poor Sources: Based on interviews with tourism operator, clients and personal observations in LSI • 60-70% of the people who took the R A R E courses from 1995-2000 were still working in ecotourism or related fields in 2001. Acknowledging this success in 2002, the non profit organization Baja Ecofund wanted to set up a general guiding school based on the Rare Center's Interpreting for Conservation: A manual for training local nature guides (Mahoff 2001). • Tlie management o f the Reserve and R A R E is now planning a new series o f training courses. However, unlike previous courses these wi l l only be available to tourism operators within the two world heritage sites o f E l Vizcaino biosphere reserve. Tlie idea is to teach tourism operators in these two locations how they can strengthen and diversify-their activities (Sanchez 2002). 6.5.IJ Changes in the Tour Operators' Efforts to Educate and Inform Visitors About the Environment A n important aspect o f ecotourism is that it helps educate or fulfill visitors need to learn more about the natural wonders or attraction they have come to see (Scheyvens 1999;Wood 2001b). In LSI the improvement in the skill levels o f companies and guides has since 1994 generally resulted 105 in better and more information given to visitors prior and during whale watching tours (Dedina 2002). These improvements were most apparent for visitors who had purchased package tours as visitors were presented with formal lectures and videos about the whales and other natural attractions in LSI (See Table 22) (Fischer 2002a;Lopez 2002). Tlie companies who sold package tours were also better at addressing visitors' educational needs because they had English speaking naturalists hired specifically to address this purpose. Day visitors, in contrast, got little info besides from what the mostly Spanish speaking skiff drivers told them during the trip. This was perceived as an insufficient learning experience by some visitors. Tab i c 22: Into A b o u t The F lo ra and Fauna in LS I G iven o r Ava i l ab le to V is i tors in L S I Lectures Naturalists Videos Books Companies (hat sold package tours (2) X X X X Companies that sold mostly day tours (3) X Sources: Based on inters'iews with tour operators in LSI and the tourism union ARIC (2002) • A couple of day tourists expressed that whale watching activities in Guererro Negro had been better than LSI as they prior to the departure had received a 30 min slideshow on the whales. • A l l tourism operators had a large selection of field guides concerning the flora and fauna o f LSI that could be consulted prior of after the trip. 6.6 Summary of the Changes Identified by the Indicators This chapter illustrated that economic, social and political significant changes occurred in L S I between 1994 and 2002. These are summarized in the table 23: 106 T a b l e 2 3 : S u m m a r y of k e y c h a n g e s obse rvec i n L S I be tween 1994 a n d 2002 ;&!!•' agMij ' fe . JBsBSute (fe (OB feral •®s$0''ss& (fi© m m y ; , • • .|sa& .• • . • :. 1 i 6.1.1 Visitor Numbers 2,200 visitors 3,300 (but down from 4,000 visitors in 2001) 6.1.2 Ecotourism Revenue $ 150,000 in local and regional revenue out of $3.3 million totally $260,000 in local and regional revenue out of $ 1.8 million generated totally 6.1.3 Ecotourism employment 34 people 68 people 6.1.4 Ecotourism Employment Little diversity in job types More types of jobs especially related to servicing needs on the ground 6.1.5 Local Share of Ecotourism jobs. 50% 50% 6.1.6 Local Ecotourism Salaries Compared to other Local and Regional salaries n/a Skiff drivers were 20% to 250% higher than local fishing jobs 6.1.7 Displacement of Traditional Jobs Caused by Ecotourism Development None None 6.1.8 Contribution of Ecotourism Revenue to Biosphere Management Funding None None mm - mm 6.2.1 Presence of Staff Delegated to Community Relations Tasks Infrequent visits When required 6.2.2 Management Efforts to Capacitate Local Ecotourism Development No effort Considerable efforts 6.2.3 Number of Effective Local Institutions to Deal with Tourism Issues No local institutions The local tourism union ARIC 6.2.4 Implementation of Local Ideas in Area Management Plans, "Tourism Activities and Legislation None Some 6.2.5 Local Involvement with the Enforcement of Ecotourism Rules and Regulations None A lot « f c » S 3 ! 1 1 , 'i" , l T r ^ Im Ii mm 'ii^iiiiiffliiiiiii , tup ?*3||t • fJSfil|l;||f'BSilfK.f'} IffK'|P!|:ffeViff" •'" A1-6.3.1 Level ot Conflicts between Traditional Uses and Ecotourism Development Few problems No zoning issues between tishers and tourism operators 6.3.2 Level of Conflicts over Availability of Tourism Licenses A lot Emerging 6.3.3 Changes in Conflicts over Ownership of Land with Tourism Possibilities A lot Some 6.3.4 Number of Women Involved in Ecotourism Development. 5 women (or 15% share of tlie total jobs) 21 women (or 31 % share of the total jobs) 6.3.5 Tour operators' Perception of their Relationship with Visitors. Excellent Excellent 6.3.6 Ecotourism Revenues Reinvested back into Community Development Projects Little Some 6.3.7 Number of Items and Services Purchased Locally Almost none except for purchase of sea food produce Almost none except for purchase of sea food produce 107 ... .cont inued f rom prev ious page 1198$ .wm 6.4.1 Local Acceptance ol' the Biosphere Reserve Good among tourism operators, indifference among fishers Excellent among tourism operators, improving among fishers 6.4.2 Educational and Interpretive Experiences for Locals None Some for people working within tourism, but also for children living within the reserve 6.4.3 Local Efforts lo Participate in Conservation Actions , Little local involvement Some involvement among tourism operators; increasing among other local residents mm ... ;,, •, •/ mm\ :. •.•'">•••.•, : : :' ;..v : i 6.5.1 Tour Operators' Number of Employees 22 with package tours operators; 1 1 with companies that sold mostly day tours 49 with package tours operators; 18 with companies that sold mostly day tours 6.5.2 Tour Operators' Number of Visitors 2,200 visitors 1,920 with package tours operators; 1,380 . with companies that sold mostly day tours 6.5.3 Tour Operators' Revenue $150,000 total in local and regional revenue $260,000 total in local and regional revenue. (200,000 with package tours operators; 60,000 with companies that sold mostly day tours) 6.5.4 Tottr Operators' Profitability Low Most likely low 6.5.5 Tour Operators' Services and Infrastructure. Limited to basic lodging, food sales, souvenirs and transportation services Big improvements in package tours operators lodging facilities 6.5.6 Tour Operators'Diversification of Ecotourism products. Whale watching activities only Some diversification among package tour operators (kayaking, birding, mangrove tours, children camps and cave painting tours) 6.5.7 Tour Operators' Promotional Activities Signs Some improvements among package tour operators (use of home pages, brochures and ecotourism certification) 6.5.8 Tour Operators' Sales and Distribution Channels On-site; from offices or hotels in San Ignacio Additional outlet for sales among package tour operators (sales offices outside LSI and use of the web) 6.5.9 Visitors Perceptions of Whale Watching Tours in LSI n/a Excellent 6.5.10 Skills of Tourism Operators n/a Some deficiencies in the business skills and proficiencies to serve clients in English particularly among the companies that mostly sold day tours. 6.5.11 Tour Operators' Efforts to Educate and Inform Visitors About the Environment Very little Good for package tours visitors; poor for day tours travelers. 108 7 Strategies to Enhance Ecotourism Further in LSI The case study analysis in the previous chapter suggests that LSI experienced growing socioeconomic benefits from ecotourism development in the period from 1994-2002. However, some residents remain marginalized from these benefits primarily due to unresolved property issues. Furthermore, there are opportunities for ecotourism operators to capitalize much better from the existing ecotourism possibilities through improvements to their marketing, products and services. This chapter discusses the most important barriers to greater ecotourism benefits. Tlie implications o f these barriers and strategies to remove them are then suggested. 7.1 Strategies to Improve the Local Economic Benefits The research suggest that ecotourism in LSI has increased local and regional benefits dramatically. Visi tor numbers have grown almost 50%, employment 100% and local and regional revenue almost 90% from 1994 to 2002. This represents about a 57% increase in real tenns adjusting for inflation. This analysis also showed that it was highly attractive to work in the ecotourism industry as jobs were well paid compared to local fishing and other regional tourism jobs. Despite these positive changes, only 14% of the adult population in LSI was involved with ecotourism activities in LSI in 2002. About 50% of the ecotourism jobs continue to be held by-people residing outside LSI. Another challenge is that ecotourism income is available for only 3-4 months of the year. Consequently, LSI continues to be highly dependent on its fisheries activities. Tlie tourism operators must also find a way to divert some o f the current tourism income to help pay for the administration and maintenance of the Reserve. However, perhaps most worrisome is that visitor numbers appear to have peaked. It is therefore necessary to identify strategies that lead to higher numbers o f low impact visitors, levels o f local employment and revenue. Some ways to do this could are to strengthen tlie tourism and business skills o f local residents and tourism operators; enhance or diversify existing tourism activities; improve tourism infrastructure and increase the promotion of tourism activities in LSI . Most of these strategies are discussed in detail in section 6.5 as they relate directly to the viability o f the industry and tlie tourism operators. However, strategies that address biosphere reserve income and infrastructure improvement are discussed below as they depend primarily on tlie actions o f V I B E R E . 109 STRATEGY 1: Divert the Proposed Government Ecotourism Tax lo the Management of the Reserve (VIBERE). The proposed Mexican ecotourism tax was perceived to be a big threat to the viability o f ecotourism activities in the lagoon in 2002 (Fullerton 2002). However, some of its negative effects can be averted i f it is earmarked for funding the biosphere reserve and for strengthening ecotourism activities in LSI . However, it is uncertain whether the management and tourism operators wi l l be able to negotiate such a deal with the Mexican government. Another one is a potential inefficient use of the money associated with collecting and administrating the money. STRATEGY 2: Improve Roads - In the neighbouring whale watching lagoon, Guerrero Negro, tourist numbers have consistently been three times higher than LSI from the period 1994 to 2002 (Dedina 2002;Sanchez 2 0 0 2 : S E M A R N A P 2000). Unlike LSI this location has substantially fewer friendly whale encounters. It has no world heritage designation and it is located in a highly modified landscape (Dedina 2002). The differences in visitor numbers can therefore be contributed to Guerrero Negro's excellent access roads. Paving the road to LSI would likely increase the numbers of visitors to LSI drastically. It would also make it easier and less costly to bring goods to and from the lagoon. This would benefit all lagoon residents. However, improving the roads could have big adverse environmental impacts and impose unforeseen development pressures. Hence, mitigation needs to be a part of the planning. Financing a road improvement to LSI could also be a big problem. This could partially be solved by implementing user fees for visitors. Part of the suggested ecotourism tax could also be used for this purpose. STRATEGY 3: Establish Better Telecommunication Facilities - Tlie lack o f telecommunication infrastructure in LSI makes it difficult for some of the tourism operators to communicate with their clients and suppliers through (Moreno 2002). This is believed to be a major cause o f lost ecotourism sales and marketing opportunities (Friday 2002). Historically, the low population o f LSI has made the cost of establishing telephone and internet services prohibitive. However, with changes in mobile, satellite and wireless technology it might be more economically feasible to establish better telecommunication facilities. Some o f the tourism operators must also improve their English, marketing and computer skills i f they are to benefit from better telecommunication infrastructure. Considering these barriers, another option might be for these tourism operators to partner with a professional tour agency to take care o f reservations and customer questions. 110 7.2 Strategies to Improve the Participation of Locals in the Decision Making Local tourism operators and the managers o f the Reserve have been working closely together since 1994. This has resulted in (i) strong ties with the management o f the Reserve; (ii) the establishment o f the influential tourism union A R I C ; and (iii) increased local involvement in the planning, management and monitoring of the tourism and conservation activities in LSI . Tourism operators for example played a major role in designing the new whale watching guidelines; have become permanent members o f the biosphere's Reserve Technical Assessment Council ; and have been given sovereign powers to administer tourism visitor fees originally designated for the management o f the Reserve (Lopez 2002;Moreno 2002;Sanchez 2002). However, tourism operators' attempts to gain more autonomy over the management of LSI came to a quick halt when their proposed U M A was rejected by the Mexican government in 2002. This dismissal came despite the strong support for the plan by V I B E R E (Heckel 2002;Sanchez 2002). It might nevertheless be possible to overturn the central government's scepticism towards further decentralization i f tourism operators can raise wider support for their ambitious U M A plan. Two components o f this strategy could be to make A R I C more transparent locally and to involve local N G O s in overseeing the U M A . • STRATEGY I: Make ARIC Ideas and Plans more Transparent - Tlie tourism union A R I C has proven itself to be an effective organization that looks after the interests o f the tourism operators. However, its lack o f transparency in communicating its ideas like the U M A plan to the wider community o f LSI has created some discomfort among some N G O s and inhabitants o f the Reserve that question the motives of the organization (Martinez 2002). This situation is l ikely to have undermined some of A R I C ' s political strength. One solution is therefore for the organization to consult more openly with the rest o f tlie community to alleviate these concerns. This could be done through community meetings or by making the U M A plan publicly available. However, results are likely to be slow and time-consuming due to the historical distrust between some o f the residents and the tourism operators. Some operators are also afraid to communicate more openly as it could stir up old conflicts. Using an experienced and neutral mediator could therefore be useful in establishing a more constructive dialogue. • STRATEGY 2: Involve NGOs more in Overseeing the Proposed UMA - Partnering with N G O s could prove a big step in overcoming governmental and local concerns for implementing tlie U M A . Organizations like Pronatura, Wildcoast, and the Natural 111 Resources Defense Council ( N R D C ) have already a established successful working relationship with the management of the Reserve and local tourism operators (Danemann 2002 ;Dedina 2002 ;Young 2002) . These organizations could increase the credibility o f the U M A by adding local training, administrational experience, supervision and funding to the plan. This would help override concerns that tourism operators do not have the skills or resources to carry out such a project. Supervision by these N G O s would also help calm local fears that tourism operators have designed the U M A primarily to exclude others from political influence and access to tourism activities(Dedina 2002) . Moreover, the above mentioned N G O s are likely to lobby hard for these activities. Recently these organizations are becoming worried that the decision to protect LSI from large scale development could be unraveled by a renewed interest in salt mining, resort development, and land speculation (Dedina & Aridjis 2002) . However, involving N G O s in local management plans like the U M A is not without its risks as their objective for conservation might conflict with local development objectives. 7.3 Strategies to Improve Local Community Cohesion and Identity Tlie indicators used to analyze the impacts on local cohesion and identity from ecotourism generally showed improvements from 1995 to 2002. Albeit LSI remains a highly divided community. Some of the positive aspects include more tourism income invested for community purposes, more women employed in the local ecotourism industry, and an excellent relationship between residents o f LSI and visiting tourists. Tlie latter have helped strengthen local pride and identity. There have also been dramatic improvements in what was previous a very antagonistic relationship between residing tourism operators in LSI and the larger outside based ecotourism operator. A catalyst for this development has been a more acceptable allocation o f permits and increasing levels o f cooperation internally among tourism operators. Unfortunately, distrust still remains between these players as the conflicts over property rights remain unresolved. More problematic is the situation facing the settlers in El Cardon. These residents continue to be shunned from ecotourism jobs and permits due to their refusal to settle legally elsewhere in the Reserve, a very strained relationship with the tourism operator that has acquired the land, and their general lack o f tourism experience and skills. Finding solutions that solves the historical land use conflicts and offers residents from E l Cardon ways to gain more benefits from ecotourism developments are therefore key to improved community relations in L S I . Such strategies could be to: 112 STRATEGY I: Renegotiate Land Settlement Between Long-term Residents and the New Owners - Finding a solution acceptable to both the residents who have lost their land in L a Fredeira and L a Vase and the new owners who purchased it from the Eijido is important to avoid the conflict from flaring up again . One solution could be for the residents to buy back their land cheap from the new owners. According to the management of the Reserve it would be difficult for the new owner to reject such a suggestion because of the questionable privatization o f the purchased land and these long-term residents' historical rights to the area. Moreover, the land only represents a small fraction of what the new owners would have to give up. Long-term residents are likewise more wil l ing to pay for the land than risk losing their rights permanently to the land through the courts. STRATEGY 2: Improve the Living Conditions of El Centro - Residents from E l Cardon continue to be shunned from accessing ecotourism benefits and jobs because of their illegal occupation o f the area. This can only be resolved i f these residents move to a different part o f the Reserve as it is unlikely they wi l l ever be able to obtain legal rights to the area. E l Cardon's is a wetland zone where settlements are excluded. Resident's from E l Cardon also have no historical rights to the area. Furthermore, the instances of poaching, drug smuggling and death threats stemming from this community have isolated these residents from sympathy and political support. One idea is therefore to offer these residents cheap land in the planned community o f El Centro. Such a proposal was rejected in the late 90s by the residents of El Cardon because the inland lots of this location offered nothing in return for the direct ocean access, tourism possibilities and beauty o f E l Cardon. However, this attitude could change i f E l Centra's infrastructure was improved to make it a more attractive place to live. This could be done for example by offering amenities like electricity, cheap housing, garbage collection, sewerage and easier access to drinking water. A very problematic element o f this strategy is, however, the cost o f such initiatives. STRATEGY 3: Push for Ecotourism Development in El Cardon - Tlie estuary of E l Cardon is one o f the most scenic areas in L S I and offers tremendous potential for bird watching, kayaking and as alternative departure point for whale watching activities. One incentive for making the residents move to a different part o f the Reserve could therefore be to promise them some o f the benefits associated with the future tourism development of the area. This could for example be in the fonn of jobs, a share of the income, or pennits to conduct their 113 own ecotourism operations. However, this is likely to be met with resistance from the tourism operator that has obtained exclusive ecotourism use rights to the area. • STRATEGY 4: Issue more Permits - A quick way to redistribute income to locals not previously benefiting from ecotourism in LSI could be to issue more permits. This strategy-was instaim'ental in solving some of the tension over access to ecotourism activities that existed between residing tourism operators and one of the regional operators i n the mid 90s. However, such a strategy can only be defended in a rapidly growing market as it leaves room for new tourism operators to emerge without damaging the viability o f existing ones. This is no longer the situation for LSI considering the recent stagnating visitor numbers; the underutilized capacity for existing whale watching permits; and the apparent weak financial situation o f the tourism operators. Moreover, more permits could increase the whale watching impacts. A few viable tourism operators are therefore better for LSI than many small weak ones. • STRATEGY 5: Train Residents from El Cardon - Most local residents from El Cardon have had no ecotourism work experience or any formal guide or language training. This limits dieir potential for employment. This problem could be offset i f these residents were given better access to future ecotourism workshop and training programs in LSI 7.4 Strategies to Improve Local Support for the Reserve Support for the biosphere reserve o f E l Vizcaino within LSI has generally increased since 1994. A major catalyst for this increasing support has been the rapid growth o f ecotourism as it has brought significant economic benefit, jobs and pride to the lagoon; improved the working relationship with the management o f the Reserve; increased local influence over policy and management issues related to L S I ; and raised local awareness o f the positive linkages between ecotourism and biosphere reserves in sustaining local livelihoods, interests and the environment. Unfortunately, this is not uniformly expressed throughout LSI . Tlie residents of El Cardon continue to show little support for the Reserve. This is not surprising considering their poor relationship with the management o f the Reserve and some o f the tourism operators over their rights to stay where they are. Increasing tiiese residents' support for die Reserve is unlikely without solving this stalemate. Strategies for doing so have already been discussed in the previous section on improving local community cohesion and identity. Generally, however, local support 114 for the Reserve and the tourism activities could be strengthened by making more effort to educate residents about what makes LSI significant as a world heritage site and biosphere reserve. This could be done by: • STRATEGY J: Erecting more Signs - There are few i f any informative signs telling locals or visiting tourist that they are inside or approaching a world heritage site and biosphere reserve. This is a missed opportunity for educating local and visitors about the uniqueness of the area. • STRATEGY 2: Creating Special Community Events and Festivals Tied to the Grey Whale and the World Heritage Site - Tlie new community center provides an excellent opportunity for infonning locals more about the activities of tourism operators and the managers o f the Reserve (Moreno 2002). This could be in the form of meetings or educational seminars. Tourism operators and the management of the Reserve could also help sponsor and arrange more informal events - like festivals - that celebrates the world heritage site and the whale. Experiences from other whale watching communities show that such events can help raise not only local awareness conservation and ecotourism activities but also help to boost community cohesion and attract visitors (Hoyt 2002). • STRATEGY 3: School Programs for Children - Wildcoast and other N G O s are already supporting a number o f conservation activities related to turtle conservation in the local schools o f LSI (Dedina 2002). These could be enhanced to include other relevant biosphere reserve issues. 7.5 Strategies to Improve the Viability of the Tourism Operators The indicators used to evaluate the viability o f the local and regional tourism operators indicated that they generally have become more competitive from 1994 to 2004. One explanation is that all tourism operators have seen their revenue and visitor numbers grow more rapidly than the upscale foreign camps and tour boats. This reflects a shift in demand towards more tourists arriving on their own. Another reason is that tourism operators have begun to operate their own camps and offer value added package tours that makes visitors spend more money in the lagoon (Fischer 2002a;Young 2002). Improvement in the camps and the skil l levels o f the tourism operators are also factors that have helped tourism operators improve their competitiveness (Dedina 2002). A 115 very good sign is also the very positive perception visitors generally have of the tourism operators' service, food and whale watching activities. It is. however important to point out that not all tourism operators have been equally successful. Two operators out of the five included in the survey employed generated 76% of the local and regional ecotourism revenue in 2002. These two companies also employed 77% of the workforce involved with ecotourism in LSI. Their success can be contributed to a number o f factors including (i) better ecotourism business skills; (ii) the offering o f lodging and package tours, (iii) more marketing activities; (iv) superior sale channels; (v) internet access; and a (vi) favourable historical distribution of permits. Unfortunately most ecotourism companies made less than a few thousand dollars in profits in 2002. These low levels of profits continue to make the ecotourism industry in LSI vulnerable to unforeseen events, like fluctuations in visitor levels (Moreno 2002). Low profits have also made it difficult and risky for the ecotourism companies in L S I to invest in new activities or improve the existing ones (Dedina 2002). A major constraint is that profits are likely to be squeezed further in the near future considering the recent stagnation in visitor numbers, the proposed ecotourism tax and rising gasoline prices. Tourism operators must therefore focus on a number o f strategies that can stimulate growth and raise profits. This can be done by increasing the number o f visitors, stimulating visitor expenditure, and cutting operating costs. Some practical suggestions to do so are discussed below. -7.5.1 Better Promotion Promotion is an essential part o f any marketing activities to increase visitors (Kotler 2002). In an ecotourism context typical media for promotional activities include newspapers, traveling magazines, classified advertising, direct mail , flyers, newsletters, brochures, outdoor advertising, trade shows, and other public relation activities. These media vary in flexibility, cost, level o f information that can be conveyed and how easily results can be tracked (Briggs 2000). Notably, so far most of the companies in LSI have done very little to promote their activities. More and better targeted promotion activities are dierefore likely to have a positive effect on sales. Some o f the most likely options fordoing so follow: • STRATEGY 1: Distribute more Flyers in the Gateway Community of San Ignacio - Few of the tourism operators in LSI have been using flyers to attract visitors. This is surprising 116 considering that flyers are relatively inexpensive to produce and easy to distribute to people already visiting San Ignacio (Briggs 2000;Kotler 2()()2;Witt & Moutinho 1994). Tliis can for example be done as handouts on the street or at hotels. STRATEGY 2: Send Newsletters to Repeal Visitors - Most tourism operators in LSI have many repeat visitors. However, attracting even more of these visitors could possibly i f newsletters were sent out to them on a regular basis. Such newsletters are often very effective as a sales tool (Briggs 2000:Kotler 2002;Witt & Moutinho 1994). They help maintain contact with regular customers without pressuring them. They also strengthen a company's credibility and image. However, newsletters can be expensive to make i f professional help is needed to write and design them (Kotler, Bowen, & Makens 2006). It might also be an inefficient use o f resources i f the numbers o f regular customers are small. On the other hand distribution costs can be very low and fast i f newsletters are send out as email messages. Moreover skills are needed to build and maintain a database of contacts (Kotler, Bowen, & Makens 2006). STRATEGY 3: Brochures - This fomi o f marketing has the advantage that it provides in depth infonnation about tourism products and services. However, they are expensive to make, to print, and can be unnecessary i f distributed to people who have not expressed interest in ecotourism. They also need to be continuously updated in terms o f product infonnation and pricing. Consequently, brochures might only be useful especially for tourism operators who want to target more upscale costumers abroad. STRATEGY 4: Ensure all Tourism Operators have well Functioning Websites - Only 2 out o f 5 tourism operators had a company website in 2002. For the companies without a website this represents a significant loss of sales and marketing opportunity. A problem that is likely to intensify as ecotourism visitors increasingly are relying on the web to get detailed travel infonnation and book tours quickly (Kotler, Bowen, & Makens 2006). Moreover, the infonnation is global in reach. Unfortunately, websites are costly to build and maintain; and must get indexed properly in tlie search engines so visitors can find and access the infonnation (Mader 1999). Furthennore, most tour operators lack the necessary computer skills and access to internet in the lagoon (Dedina 2002). These barriers are cracial to address i f some of the smaller tourism operators in LSI are to remain competitive. 117 • STRATEGY 5: Improve Outdoor Advertising - Raising a number o f large whale watching bil l boards along Highway One prior to entering San Ignacio is a very cost effective way to attract more whale watching tourists. Such signs would be highly visible from passing cars due to the sparse desert vegetation. This would alleviate the problem that LSI is easy to miss as a whale watching destination for the unaware, but potentially interested tourist travelling by car. Tire effect o f signs could be enhanced i f they were coupled with an information booth / visitor platform with info concerning the uniqueness o f the whale watching activities in LSI : the significance o f the area as a world heritage site, and contact information and directions to the various tourism operators (Dedina 2002). • STRATEGY 6: Conduct Promotions through Guidebooks and Specialty Magazine - Many o f the tourism operators have overlooked the value of getting publicity from guidebooks and specialty travel/outdoor magazines. Not only is this kind of promotion often free, but it also targets the people likely to be interested in ecotourism activities. Information found in these publications also builds company credibility as it is perceived favourable by readers (Kotler 2002). Bad reviews can therefore have long-term negative demand. So visitors' experiences need to be consistently of high quality. Getting more promotion through guidebooks and specialty magazines is also time consuming and requires good public relation skills (Kotler, Bowen, & Makens 2006). • STRATEGY 7: Advertise in On-line Travel Directories - These portals have the advantage that they can specifically target people interested in ecotourism, Baja or whale watching activities. They can help market local ecotourism activities and are often capable of cross linking to the tourism operators own website (Kotler, Bowen, & Makens 2006). This cross linking helps improve the ranking o f websites in the search engines like Google. However, using on-line travel directories can become expensive as each typically charges $150-200 a year. Finding the right ones and keeping the info updated requires some computer skills and awareness of which sites potential clients visits (Kotler, Bowen, & Makens 2006). This is knowledge most o f the tourism operators do not yet have (Dedina 2002). A feasible idea would be for some of the N G O s involved in LSI to assist operators obtaining tliis. • STRATEGY 8: Increase the Number of Tourism Operators with Ecotourism Certification -So far only one company in L S I has chosen to become a certified ecotourism operator. It might be beneficial for otiier tourism operators to do the same. Certification is likely to 118 increase sales, because it gives visitors the assurance that a ecotourism operation's products and services meets specific standards (Honey 2002). However, as ecotourism certification is a relative new phenomenon its value has yet to be established (Medina 2005). Certification can be both costly and time consuming to acquire and requires renewal (Honey 2002). 7.5.2 Better Diversification of Tourism Products Most companies in LSI have made efforts to diversify their tourism activities. These activities include kayaking, bird watching, mangrove tours, cave painting excursions and camps for school children. Unfortunately, most o f these activities have been insufficiently developed and fall within the existing short whale watching tourism season (Nations 1999;Spalding 1999). It might be possible for tourism operators to increase dieir revenue by adding products that extend the tourism season, encourage tourists to spend more time in LSI and increase visitor numbers ( S E M A R N A P 2000). Growth from successful diversification can have a positive impact on local employment and help offset the problem of too many people trying to make a l iving from offering identical activities. However, diversification can be risky i f it requires large new investments in equipment or i f tourism operators need new skills to conduct the activities (Kotler, Bowen, & Makens 2006). For some ecotourism operators in LSI it might therefore be better to improve existing activities than pursuing new opportunities. A workshop focusing on options for diversification involving people with such experiences could therefore be helpful. Some obvious ideas for diversifying tourism activities in LSI include a strengthening o f bird watching, kayaking activities, cacti tours, sport fishing ones and the addition o f unique adventure tours/photo safaris: • STRATEGY J: Birding - To date more tiian 220 bird species have been observed in LSI ( S E M A R N A P 2000). Some of these are rare and threatened and live permanently inside the Reserve. Charismatic nesting species include die white pelican (Elecanus erythrorhynchos), the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinns), ospreys (Pandion haliaetns), the snowy plower (Charadrius alexandrinus), the least tern {Sterna antillanim browni), the black vented shearwater (Puffinns opisthomelas) and the Leach's storm petrels (Oceanodrama leucorhod) (Robles G i l & Berger 1998). LSI should therefore have a very high potential for attracting birders that is another fast growing segment o f nature tourism (Cordell 1999). Such potential could be enhanced by building hides and viewing platforms; linking to bird websites and involving bird clubs abroad to organize tours. To benefit from these possibilities tourism operators would need to upgrade their skills concerning ornithology. However, little new equipment needed to conduct such tours. Birding in LSI can also be conducted year round, 119 but the best seasons are spring and autumn when the lagoon becomes an important migratory stop for thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl (Robles G i l & Berger 1998). • STRATEGY 2: Kayaking - This activity is currently being offered by some o f the tourism operators, but only as part of whale watching package tours. However, it could easily be offered as a separate activity as the calm waters and channels inside LSI provide fantastic opportunities for kayaking excursions to see mangroves, birds, turtles and remote swimming beaches year round (Dedina 2002). Investments in new equipment are minimal. However, tourism operators need to do more to promote this activity outside the season. • STRATEGY 3: Cacti Tours - Despite the harshness o f the surrounding desert, the Reserve, has the highest concentration of plant species on the peninsula. O f Baja California's 1 10 cacti species, 80 are found nowhere else (Robles G i l & Berger 1998). Tourism operators should therefore have good possibilities for offering interesting botanical tours in tire area around L S I . Such trips require little investment in equipment as most tourism operators own 4x4 trucks or can arrange for mules suitable for the purpose. However'tourism operators would have to gain more knowledge about the flora and where to most interesting species to focus tours to specific areas. . • • STRATEGY 4: Sports Fishing - LSI provides some sports fishing opportunities for bass and groupers outside the whale watching season. Better opportunities exist outside the lagoon mouth for catching bigger game fish like yellow fin tuna (Aquilar 2002). However, investing in bigger boats with covered decks w i l l be necessary i f tourism operators are to take advantage of the latter opportunity. Tire small pangas used for whale watching activities provide insufficient comfort and safety from the rugged open sea and the sun during the summer season when fishing is the best (Dedina & Young 1995). • STRATEGY 5: Unique Adventure Tours / Photo Safaris - The above ideas for diversification o f activities also provide unique possibilities for creating new and exciting package tours that combine many of the elements to create unique outback tours or photo safaris. 7.5.3 Upscaling of lodging facilities Many ecotourism operators are increasingly moving upscale to offering more luxurious accommodation, food and services (Buckley 2003). While most tour companies in L S I have 120 made significant upgrades to their camps they remain relatively aistic. Consequently, the older camp facilities in LSI might therefore increasingly be perceived as unsatisfactory by future visitors. However, some improvements can cheaply and easily be implemented in some of the camps: • STRATEGY 1: Use Local Materials - Locals often use palm leaves as a mean to build roofs (Moreno 2002). These are inexpensive materials, and can give buildings a charming, unique and beautiful look. Using these materials, which are readily available in LSI , could be a simple solution to replace some of the camps use of plywood or corrugated plastic (Marcer). Tlie big piles of abandoned clams shells leftover from the overexploitation o f clams in the 80s could likewise be incorporated into make interesting walls (Dedina 2002). • STRATEGY 2: Make Windows Facing the Sea - Some of the tourism operators have huts without windows facing the sea. This is-problematic as this is a feature important most visitors expect (Dedina 2002). Getting a breeze from the sea it also likely to make huts more comfortable. 7.5.4 , Increase prices LSI has become of the world most renowned place for whale watching ecotourism Reasons include the lagoons high concentration of friendly whales, its pristine unspoiled nature, and its world heritage designation. It might therefore be possible for tourism operators in LSI to increase their prices on some of their products and services without any significant loss in the number o f visitors. In fact higher prices can sometime increase demand, because people perceive the activity or product offered to be of higher value than before (Kotler, Bowen, & Makens 2006). Unfortunately little is known about the price elasticity o f whale watching activities in L S I (Lopez 2002). Tourism operators are tlierefore generally afraid to increase prices as they believe the poor access road and distant location o f LSI makes it difficult to price ecotourism products more expensively than the other Mexican grey whale watching locations. What is more, tourism operators in LSI have already increased their prices on day tours to alleviate the impacts o f the new ecotourism tax in 2002. Finally, visitors' expectations of services and amenities offered are likely to increase with higher prices. Increasing prices might therefore necessitate costly improvements to tlie tourism operators' camps, amenities and services. 121 • STRATEGY J: Initiate a Study to Evaluate the Price Elasticity of Whale Watching Activities in LSI - As the price elasticity o f tourism goods and services is unknown in LSI it might be a good idea to initiate a study to examine how changes in price would affect demand. Both A R I C and the management o f the Reserve is likely to support such an idea. 7.5.5 Reduce Cost Some of the tourism operators may be able to become more financially viable by finding ways to reduce their operating costs. Yet . such measures must not degrade the quality of the ecotourism services and products offered as it could have negative impact on visitor demand for local tourism activities. Cutting staff and salary levels is therefore an unlikely option considering the small size o f the ecotourism operators in LSI and the increasing visitor demand for better services. A more promising option is to focus on reducing the operating costs of boats and camp facilities. These represent a very large share of the tourism operators' overhead. • STRATEGY 1: Continue lo Replace 2-stroke Outboard Engines with more Economical and Environmentally Friendly 4- stroke ones - Four stroke outboard engines are much cheaper to operate. They use 30% less fuel, operate without oi l mixed into the gasoline and outlast 2-stroke engines. (Fischer 2002a). Unfortunately, 4-stroke outboard engines were approximately 40% more expensive to purchase in 2002. They are therefore initially more costly to use. Changing the engines in LSI therefore only makes sense economically i f the old 2-stroke engines have to be replaced or tourism operators can use them for fishing purposes outside tlie tourism season. Estimations show that doing so would save tourism operators approximately $2,700 to $26,000 per engine over a five year period (See Table 24). It w i l l therefore be advantageous for most o f the tourism operators to speed up the process they started in 2002 to replace their 2-stroke engines. ( 1 2 2 Table 24: Cost Savings Replacing 2-stroke with 4-stioke Outboard Engines in LSI 2002 Scenario Estimated point in time when total cost of 4-stroke engine becomes less than 2-stroke one Total Savings . in US $ using 4-stroke engine after 5 years of use Buy new 2-stroke or 4-stroke (Used for tourism purposes Only) >2.2 years $2,671 Buy new 4-stroke or keep existing 2-stroke (Used for tourism purposes Only) >8 years -$3,040 Buy New 4-stroke or new 2 -stroke (Used year round for tourism as well as fishing purposes) >0.5 years $26,000 New 4-stroke or existing 2-stroke (Used year round for tourism as well as fishing purposes) >1.5 years $20,000 Source: Peter Agersted (2002) - See appendix 2 for detailed calculations 7.5.6 Look for Funding to Enhance Future or Existing Tourism Activities. Lack of capital and limited access to cheap loans continue to be substantial barriers for tourism operators. As a result some of the tourism operators can only slowly improve their camps, invest in new equipment, improve their promotion activities; and diversify-' their tourism activities. Some of these barriers could possibly be addressed by looking for funding e.g. from the Mexican government; environmental foundations and trust funds; or from finding new business partners. • STRATEGY J: Apply for Funding through the Mexican Government - According to some i residents o f LSI loans with low interest or subsidies are sometimes available for rural development projects. Priority to these loans and funds is often given to the Mexican communities in most need (Danemann 2002). It is uncertain to what extent tourism operators can get access to these available, but hard to get funds. However, such possibilities should be examined through close cooperation with the managers o f die Reserve. It represents L S I and the tourism operators at the federal level. In addition, tourism operators could benefit from teaming up witii N G O s to learn more about how to prepare successful funding proposals e g in the area. • STRATEGY 2: Establish Ties with Environmental Foundations / Trust Funds - Tourism operators entered in 2002 a partnership with the U S based N G O "The Ecologic 123 Development Fund" to obtain cheap loans for the replacement of its outboard engines(Lopez 2002). A R I C was able to do so because it presented a cost benefit analysis that demonstrated significant environmental and economic gains from replacing the tourism operators' old outboard engines with new ones. It might be possible to find other attractive projects. Examples o f these could e.g. be funding for a community windmil l , land f i l l or the suggested U M A . 7.5. 7 Develop Business Partners Another potential alternative for the tourism operators to get funding and strengthen their capacities is to develop strong partnerships with outside enterprises. Such partnerships can take many forms and can create various degrees of integration between players. While partnerships are likely to increase economic leakage and a dependence on outsiders, they can e.g. also help strengthen capacities too costly or difficult for local stakeholders to obtain by themselves. Partners w i l l often assume some o f the financial burden related to administration, marketing and sales activities used to attract tourists in return for a commission or a share of the profit. Partnerships can help reduce the financial risk to local vendors. One example is the advantage a local tourism operator might obtain from partnering with a tourism agency abroad. Such an agency could provide the needed administrative skills, marketing clout and human resources. A proper partner is also likely already to have an appropriate clientele interested in ecotourism tours. For most ecotourism operators, such access and skills would be impossible to acquire without a strong partner, because it would involve big investments abroad. However, it must be stressed that while partnerships can be very desirable, establishing a well working relationship can be very difficult - especially across cultures. Typical causes o f failure include the inability to find a good partner, communication problems, lack o f taist, and contractual disagreements. 7.5.8 Improve the Ecotourism and Business Skills of Tourism Operators. Tlie ecotourism skill levels o f local tourism operators have generally improved from 1994 to 2002! One factor is simply the experience all tourism operators have accumulated from a decade of involvement with ecotourism development. Moreover, the guide training courses conducted by R A R E have helped improve tourism operators' skills in tenns of tlie natural environment, English, and hospitality - management. That said, tlie business and the foreign language capacities need to be strengthened. This is particular taie among the smaller tourism operators. 124 • STRATEGY 1: Provide more Training Courses - One way to improve the skills of local tourism operators and their employees is to provide more intensive training courses. However, besides English courses such courses should do much more to emphasize business planning, marketing, product development and internet use, as these are aspects where local tourism operators could benefit dramatically. Involving R A R E again would be one feasible way to implement such courses, as they already have a good working relationship with VIBERE, ARIC and LSI. • STRATEGY 2: Feedback from Visitors - Some of the tourism operators have currently little awareness of how they could improve their activities. Simply asking visitors about their experiences is a fast and inexpensive way to get important feedback. This could be done formally through surveys or questionnaires, or informally through talks after the whale watching tours (Kotler, Bowen, & Makens 2006). • STRATEGY 3: Guide Training Manual - It is unlikely that all staff and locals will ever have access to ecotourism training courses. The)' can be costly to run and time-consuming to attend. However, it should be possible from the previous training material to replicate or adapt some of the training manuals. This would make it easier for staff to refresh or gain new ecotourism knowledge. Such manuals have the advantage that they can easily be updated or improved. • STRATEGY 4: Offer Internships and Study Possibilities for University Students - Another way for tour operators to gain new insights and improve their ecotourism skills could be to partner with universities in Mexico and California wanting to study ecotourism or provide internship possibilities to their students. 7.6 Management Implications The preceding section has shown that many possibilities exist to alleviate some of the negative impacts, as well as increase the economic benefits associated with ecotourism development in LSI. However, tourism operators will most unlikely be unable to implement many of these strategies alone as they require additional knowledge, skill and political influence. It is therefore caicial that the management of the Reserve and the NGOs in LSI continue to support tlie tourism stakeholders with training, expert advice, access to funds and lobbying efforts. Tlie most 125 important barriers to the future development of ecotourism of LSI are the land use conflict and tour operators' skill levels. Once they are addressed implementing the above strategies will be much easier and ultimately result in increased demand for ecotourism activities and higher levels of socioeconomic benefits in the community of LSI. 126 8 Conclusion 8.1 Questions Asked and the Overriding Answers to Them To address human-induced threats to Mexico 's 26 biosphere reserves, ecotourism is increasingly being used as a strategy to promote more sustainable development within these areas. However, i f not implemented cautiously, ecotourism can create both negative environmental and socio-economic impacts, lt is therefore important to evaluate existing ecotourism activities in the Biosphere Reserves, not only to identify how to mitigate their possible negative impact, but also to identify- ways to increase the socio-economic benefits from such development activities in a sustainable fashion. A case study approach was applied to examine the socio-economic impacts o f whale watching tourism in the Laguna San Ignacio (LSI) Wor ld Heritage Site, which is located within the E l Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve in Baja California Sur, Mexico. It is an area where ecotourism activities have been grown rapidly over the last 15 years, but also where the socio-economic impacts from such development remain uncertain. Hence, the specific objectives o f this case study were to examine: 1. How existing ecotourism operations and their activities in the LSI have changed since 1994; 2. Whether these changes have made ecotourism a more viable socio-economic development alternative for the local communities; and 3. Which strategies may be useful in overcoming identified barriers to further socio-economic benefits both from existing and future ecotourism activities. Overall, thirty-six indicators were used to examine five socio-economic parameters commonly used to evaluate ecotourism activities. Tlie first four parameters examined changes in benefits during die period of 1994-2002 from the perspective o f the local communities. Tlie 5 t h parameter was applied to look at the viability o f the five local and regional whale watching companies operating permanently in the Lagoon. 8.1.1 Observed Changes to Ecotourism Operations and Activities in LSI since 1994? During the review period from 1994 to 2002, whale watching activities in small boats continued to be the main ecotourism activity in LSI . Throughout this period it was the same three local and two regional tourism operators who were involved in tiiese whale watching activities. They serviced one or more of four distinct whale watching tour segments found in L S I : half-day or day 1 2 7 trip tours; overnight packages based out o f whale-watching camps; and outsourced guide services to two foreign camps and 7-12 tour boats (liveaboards). Visitors also continued to come mostly from the U.S . and Mexico (respectively 72% and 26% in 2002), Yet the ecotourism activities in LSI underwent several changes: E c o n o m i c c h a n g e s : Demand initially increased, but then stagnated - Tlie number of whale watching visitors in LSI grew from 2,200 to 4,000 between 1994 and 2001, but dropped to 3,300 passengers in 2002. Two exogenous events had a significant influence on this development. Tlie ESSA/Mitsubishi ' s proposal to build an industrial salt factory close to LSI led to massive worldwide protests fron) J995 to 2000. Tins led to influx of many N G O s that came to LSI to do development work; visits by many prominent people including famous Hollywood actors and the Mexican president and massive media exposure in the U.S and Mexico. These events likely had a positive effect on whale watching demand as they transformed LSI from being a relative unknown whale watching location to one recognized at the global level. Tlie other event, the 9-1 1 attack in 2001, had the opposite effect as many visitors chose to stay home rather than travel abroad. Day tours and overnight stays became more prominent - Between 1994 and 2002 the structure of the market for whale watching activities changed significantly as more visitors arrived overland by car on their own than by boat. During this period the combined number of people who bought a day tour or who purchased a package tour in LSI grew from 48% to 80% of the visitors (compared to tour boats that saw their number fell from 48% to 8% and foreign upscale camps whose market share declined from 16%> to 12% of visitors). A s a result o f the decline in tour boat visitors the total revenue generated by local, regional and foreign tour operators fell from approximately US $3.3 to $1.8 mill ion between 1994 and 2002. However, because o f the strong growth o f day and package tours this had little impact on the revenue of the local and regional tourism operators, who saw their income increase from approximately $150,000 to $260,000. More staff hired by tour companies to service tourists on land - Eco-tourism jobs in LSI doubled from 34 to 68 between 1994 and 2002. Notably only the three companies with camps hired this additional staff, which reflected a need to service the increasing number o f overnight visitors. Women's share o f these jobs also increased from 15%to 31%. 128 P o l i t i c a l c h a n g e s : LSI saw more management staff involved in ecotourism local activities - Tlie local tourism operators saw in the mid 90s an unprecedented level of staff visiting from the biosphere headquarters. This reflected a number o f issues. For one the biosphere's headquarters was moved much closer from L a Paz to Guerrero Negro. More funding was also secured for staff and on the ground development activities through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) . Tlie Reserve's first Management Plan was also published. Tins led in the mid 90s to increasing numbers of initiatives to involve locals more in the management o f ecotourism development. This cooperation increased the number o f whale watching permits from 16 to 27 giving local operators much needed capacity. Local tourism operators also became instmmental in the design of new whale watching guidelines in 1997. The tourism operators established a tourism union - Local tourism operators established in 2000 the local tourism union A R I C . Initially established to avoid cutthroat price competition and settle conflict among the tourism operators, the organization have since assumed additional responsibilities. It has for example been given the rights to use visitor fees originally destined for the management o f the Reserve. A R I C has also become a member of V I B E R E ' s technical council, which addresses matters such as development problems and conservation issues inside the Reserve. Tire organization's work has also led to increasing cooperation internally among the local and regional tourism operators as it has coordinated a number o f activities that tourism operators previously undertook as individuals such as permit renewals. C o m p a n y spec i f i c c h a n g e s : Package tour operators experienced the biggest growth - Tlie two companies who offered package tours out o f their camps experienced die biggest growth. Tlie combined number o f their employees more than doubled from 22 to 55 to accommodate an increased need for people to service tourists in the camps. Data also showed that the two companies with package tours serviced more than 50% of the approximately 3300 people that went whale watching in 2002. In terms o f revenue this amounted to approximately 75% of the $260,000 generated by all the tourism operators. Tlie estimated revenue numbers were however considered relatively uncertain because o f the many assumptions that had to be made concerning the tour prices. 129 Camps expanded and became belter organized - To make it more attractive to stay the package tour operators upgraded and expanded the capacity of their camps significantly. One did do so by-building 12 cabanas; while the other purchased 8 quality safari tents. In 2002 these camps charged approximately $135 to $250 for an all inclusive one night stay including whale watching, food and other activities. The remaining operator, who offered lodging, would in contrast charge $10-15 a person offer for one of his two basic sheds. Repeat visitors remarked that camps had become tidier, cleaner and had more common dining area facilities than before. However, they also noted that the camps still remained rustic. Package tours operator began lo diversify their products and improve their sales activities - In addition to whale watching, lodging, food, transportation and souvenir sales package tour companies also began to offer kayaking, cave pave painting tours, mangrove excursions, children camps throughout the 90s. But these activities were mostly offered as part o f all inclusive package tours during the whale watching season. Moreover, their sales and marketing expanded to use websites to promote and sell their tours in the new millennium. They also expanded their reach by setting up contact numbers and sale offices elsewhere. 8.1.2 Have these impacts been positive or negative? Tlie investigation suggested that the benefits from ecotourism improved significantly in many areas between 1994 and 2002. However, the results also suggested that some negative impacts and barriers remain to be addressed and mitigated. Economic Impacts Tire indicators used to analyze tire economic impacts from ecotourism in LSI showed that both local and regional benefits have increased dramatically. From 1994 to 2002, visitor numbers increased almost 50%, employment 100% and local and regional revenue almost 75% (or 55% in real terms adjusting for inflation). Tlie factors behind this positive development were a strong growth in visitors arriving on their own, combined with the improved ability o f some o f die tourism operators to sell overnight stays and package tours. Tlie indicators also revealed diat working in the ecotourism industry in LSI was considered highly attractive, because these jobs were better paid, involved shorter hours and were safer compared to tlie ones in fishing. This was particularly true for the 24 people working as whale watching guides and skiff drivers. In 2002, their salaries averaged between $700-800 a month. This amount was 2-3 times higher than the 130 pay o f the typical local fishing jobs and 6-7 higher than the minimum wage of unskilled workers in Baja California, Mexico. Despite these positive developments, ecotourism activities are still far from fulfilling the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve management's goal of turning these efforts into a viable economic alternative to the depleted fishing resources in the lagoon. Only 14% of the local adults from LSI were involved with ecotourism, as almost half of the workforce was from other communities outside L S I in 2002. Furthermore, tourism income continued to be available for only 3-4 months o f the year. Ecotourism has therefore not led to any significant reduction in the reliance on local fisheries for income. However, for the people, who worked both as guides during the tourism season and fish during the rest o f the year, ecotourism accounted for 50% of their annual income in 2002. Ecotourism activities did not help finance the Reserve's administration cost associated with its development. LSI is therefore likely to experience increasing demands to do so as it is clearly stated goal in the Reserve's management plan that the management o f tourism activities has to be self-financed. Even more worrisome is the recent decline in visitor numbers from approximately 4,000 to 3,300 visitors between 2001 and 2002. Tlie most likely reason for this development was the 9-11 terrorist attack and the subsequent decline in visitor numbers in the spring o f 2002. Yet , it might also mask the fact that LSI is no longer getting the same extensive media exposure from newspapers in the U.S and Mexico, as it did during the period from 1996 to 2002, when N G O s were fighting a proposal to expand its salt extraction facilities in the biosphere of E l Vizcaino. LSI may therefore face further declines in visitor numbers, unless more is done to stimulate demand. A lack o f such stimulation could seriously affect the future growth potential and viability o f the local ecotourism industry - especially considering the Government o f Mexico ' s recent proposal to implement a new ecotourism tax. Impact on Local Community Cohesion and Identity A t present there are many signs of improving community cohesion at L S I . Vis ible signs o f this development have been a decline in conflicts related to tourism access and permits, strengthened ties between tourists and the visitors, increasing economic and political empowerment, and more pride in the Reserve and its resources. 1 3 1 Tourism income today is not only larger, but also more widespread as more jobs have been created, salaries have increased and the income of the tourism operators has gone up. Another positive sign is that more women are becoming involved in the ecotourism industry, as fisheries-related jobs continue to be reserved primarily for men. Moreover, increasing effort made by tourism operators, the management of the Reserve and NGOs to support community projects and improve local services has also benefitted the sense of cohesion. Yet. some of the most noticeable improvements are related to the building of a secondary school, the availability of a doctor throughout the tourism season, the cleanup of scrap metal and the construction of a community center. Tlie growth in ecotourism activities is also likely to have had an influence on the emergence of a few small stores that sell basic commodities and drinking water. In general, since 1994 the quality of life has therefore improved for many of die lagoons residents. Tlie analysis also showed that ecotourism and fisheries activities continue to co-exist. In fact, the changes to the biosphere and ecotourism regulations from 1997 have granted local fishers better access to their livelihood, as they have exclusive rights to fish inside a 5-mile zone from the coast. Likewise, the restrictions to use traps and lines inside the lagoon during the whale watching season has been lifted. Another telling factor is that the relationship between residents and visiting tourists continue to be excellent. In fact, the high number of repeat visitors, donations and the tourists' general expressed awe for the nature, people and whales in LSI has helped strengthen local pride and identity. An additional catalyst for this development has also been the visit of the many high-profile people, including famous Hollywood actors and the Mexican president associated with the proposal to expand it salt extraction facilities. There have also been dramatic improvements in the previously very antagonistic relationship between residing ecotourism operators in LSI and the larger regional-based ecotourism operator. Important catalysts for this development have been (i) a more acceptable allocation of pennits among the existing tourism operators; (ii) increasing levels o f internal cooperation among tourism operators; and (iii) increased local influence over whale watching guidelines and the establishment of the tourism union ARIC. As a result, ecotourism operators now meet regularly to resolve issues and problems, while socializing at each others' premises - actions, which would 132 have been unheard of in the mid 90s. Yet. distrust still remains between some o f the ecotourism operators, as historic conflicts over property rights remain unresolved. A more serious negative impact on social cohesion is related to the situation facing the illegal residents o f El Cardon. Their refusal to move elsewhere has led to a disastrous relationship with the management o f the Reserve and the operator that now claims the land, on which they live. Hence, for more than a decade, this dispute has isolated these residents from access to ecotourism permits, jobs, training and political influence. As a result, these illegal residents are becoming increasingly frustrated and disillusioned with the biosphere reserve and the development of ecotourism activities. Impact on Decision-Making Influence over Matters Related To Ecotourism and the Biosphere Development In LSI there are significant signs of such empowemient as ecotourism stakeholders have gone from having little to considerable influence between 1994 and 2002. Signs o f such influence were notable in. the extent o f local involvement in the revision of the management plan and whale watching regulations. Tourism operators now work closely with V I B E R E in determining the number o f permits. They have also become permanent members of the Reserve's Technical Council , which advises management on current or future issues related to the biosphere that needs to be addressed. In addition, tourism operators have been granted die rights to collect and spend visitor fees originally destined for V I B E R E . As a result of these decision-making changes, a strong synergistic relationship has emerged between tlie management o f the Reserve and the local tourism operators. In comparison with tlie 1994 situation, this partnership is very different, as local tourism stakeholders were treated as passive beneficiaries and had little or no trust in V I B E R E ' s management. Tlie catalysts behind these changes are a number of inter-related factors. A n important one is the dramatic shift in Mexico ' s protected area policies that took place in the mid 90s. Tlie new policies recognized the need for more community involvement, decentralized management policies, along with the need for more economically sustainable ecotourism development. From an organizational point o f view, it was also important that V I B E R E ' s headquarters was moved to Guerro Negro from L a Paz, combined with the fact that more funds were allocated for on-the-ground work. These developments made it possible for V I B E R E to communicate better and more regularly with local residents. 133 In LSI . the pace of these efforts were undoubtedly speeded up. because the Mexican government came under scrutiny to ensure the world's stakehold that the perceived threats to the lagoon's grey whales from the proposal to expand the salt extraction facilities were taken seriously. This led to an influx of local and international N G O s that over time - together with V I B E R E - has assisted local ecotourism stakeholders in getting better skills and more confidence to become politically involved and to cooperate more with each odier. Tlie establishment of the tourism union A R I C is another strong sign o f this development. Since its creation, this organization has gradually become a very influential forum, through which tour operators can raise questions, have their ecotourism concerns dealt with and provide influence. Unfortunately, A R I C is perceived by some N G O s and community members as having a self-interested leadership that does not seek the advice o f other community groups. This perceived lack o f transparency has raised some concerns that the organization is working solely to secure its own interests. This might also be a contributing factor in explaining why the management plan ( U M A ) suggested by tour operators was rejected in 2002. Impact on the Local Support for the Biosphere Reserve. Local support for the biosphere reserve increased during the study period. Prior to 1994, few local residents knew about the Reserve - and those who did, expressed their doubt about its purpose. B y 2002, this situation had changed, as local indifference was replaced by widespread support and a growing recognition o f the positive synergies that was created between the biosphere and ecotourism development. Tlie strongest indications o f tins attitudinal change were measured in the ecotourism operators' efforts to become more actively involved in the management, monitoring and conservation of the biosphere reserve. In addition, other locals have also become more involved, as witnessed by the setup of a new local environmental N G O . Moreover, increased support for the Reserve was reflected in better compliance with V I B E R E ' s tourism rales and regulations. Finally, tlie ecotourism operators also noted that illegal fishing and turtle poaching activities were beginning to decline slowly. Behind this growing support for the biosphere reserves lies a number o f factors, with the most important being (i) the acknowledged growing economic importance o f ecotourism; (ii) the educational work and training courses conducted by foreign N G O s ; (iii) the increasing local 134 involvement in the politics of the Reserve; and (iv) a vastly improved relationship with the management o f V 1 B E R E (Dedina 2002;Lopez 2002:Sanchez 2002). Despite these improvements, the case study analysis showed fishers from El Cardon had much less enthusiasm for the Reserve, than the other settlements in LSI . This is not surprising, considering that these residents to date have benefitted little from the ecotourism development. As a result, there is a continuing poor relationship between them and the management o f V I B E R E and the largest tourism operators -primarily because o f their illegal status. Their indifference could also be attributed to the fact that during the 1990s, efforts to inform local residents about the benefits of the Reserve focused almost entirely on children or the stakeholders already involved with tourism activities in LSI . Impact on the Viability of Local Tourism Operators In LSI , the analysis revealed that the overall viability of the local and regional ecotourism operators improved between 1994 and 2002. This was indicated by their strong growth (in visitor numbers, revenue and employees), combined with their gain in market share from the foreign camps and tour boats (both in terms of visitors and revenue). Another strong indicator was the very high rate in satisfaction expressed among visitors and the high rate of repeat visitors. A further analysis o f these numbers showed that it was the two companies, who made the critical transition to sell more package tours and overnight stays. Contributing factors to their success were: (i) efforts to improve and expand their camps; (ii) their use of the internet as a sales and marketing tool; and a (iii) diversification o f their products and services to make people stay longer and pay more. However, it was also evident that having a dedicated sales office outside LSI played a crucial role in this transformation. It allowed tourism operators to reach more potential clients and service tiiem directly, either in person or through email, telephone and fax. Notably, one o f tiiese companies was identified by E-magazine as one o f the world's top ten ecotourism companies in 2002. This was a reflection o f the preceding changes and achievements. In 2005, this company also became the first in the world to be certified by Green Globe under die International Ecotourism Standard (IES) (TIES 2005). In contrast, the three remaining ecotourism companies did little to diversify dieir products, services and sales infrastructure, as they chose to focus almost entirely on servicing day visitors between 1994 and 2002. This strategy could be justified, because of the strong growth in day 135 visitors in the 1990s. However, considering the recent decline in visitor numbers; the fixed low prices of day tours; raising operating costs and the proposed ecotourism tax these companies face stagnation or possible declines in their revenue i f they continue the status quo. This poses a threat to the already small profit margins o f these companies. Unfortunately, low profits appear to be a considerable problem for all the tour operators in LSI , as they made less than a few thousand dollars in profit before equipment renewals and write-offs in 2002. On one hand, this small profit margin continues to make it difficult and risky for these companies to invest and improve their ecotourism activities. On the other hand, it also makes the operators in LSI very vulnerable to declines in demand or increasing expenses. These financial constraints are one o f the main reasons, why so few of the tourism operators have managed to diversify their activities outside the whale watching season. LSI is first and foremost known as a whale watching destination. Moreover, most of the companies do not yet feel they have the experience or know-how to promote different attractions independently from the whales. 8.1.3 Strategies to Increase Ecotourism Benefits Tlie LSI case study strongly suggested that both the socio-economic benefits from ecotourism and the viability of the ecotourism operators improved between 1994 and 2002. However, it also showed that further ecotourism growth would be restricted by o f the factors with the most important being: • Unresolved historic land use conflicts over rights to land with ecotourism possibilities • Lack o f activities diversification possibilities outside the tourism season • Stagnating visitor numbers • Uneven business skills among operators • Poor marketing and promotional efforts • Insufficient ecotourism infrastructure • A proposed ecotourism tax • L o w profit margin o f the ecotourism operators • Lack o f funding for further investments To alleviate these threats and barriers, while further improving the viability o f the ecotourism activities in L S I , 13 general strategies were identified. A n elaboration o f these resulted in 39 concrete operational strategies for how potentially to implement them (Table 25). These strategies were selected for the following four reasons: (i) They were the ones perceived to have the most potential for growth; (ii) were relatively financially viable; (hi) adhered to V I B E R E development goals for sustainable tourism development; and (iv) were reasonably hands on. 136 However one important exception to the above criteria was the suggestion to pave the access road from San Ignacio to LSI as it would be costly to finance, could lead to severe environmental impacts and likely would be met with resistance from stakeholders interested in protecting the pristine nature and whales from any development of this kind. Another somewhat controversial was the strategy involved engaging the illegal residents from El Cardon as these residents do not officially belong in the lagoon. Solving the issues facing these people is a key to the future stability of LSI as a community. • Generally it is unlikely that LSI will be able to implement many of these strategies on its own, as they will require additional support in the form of financing, training, expert advice and political leverage. It is therefore crucial that the LSI management and NGOs continue to be actively involved in building the capacity for and further the development of ecotourism activities in LSI. 137 Table 25: Possible Strategies to Improve Ecotourism Activities in Laguna San Ignacio Ind icator Group General Strategy Sub-Strategies for possible implementation Strategies to improve the economic benefits to the local people and the managements!' the Reserve in LSI Divert ecotourism income to V I B E R E Divert the proposed government ecotourism tax to the management of the Reserve (VIBERE). Improve local Infrastructure Improve road from San Ignacio to LSI Establish better telecommunication facilities Strategies to improve the participation of locals in the decision making of VIBERE Strengthen local participation Make ARIC ideas and plans more transparent to local people Involve NGOs more in overseeing lire proposed U M A Strategies to improve the local community cohesion and identity in LSI Solve land use conflicts Renegotiate the land sales from 1994 between old time residents and the new owners Improve the living conditions of El Centro Involve marginalized groups more in ecotourism development Push for ecotourism development in E l Cardon Issue more permits Give residents from El Cardon access to tourism training programs Strategies to improve the local support for the Reserve m LSI Info mi and educate locals more Erect more signs with info about the biosphere and world heritage Creating special community events and festivals tied to the grey whale and the world heritage site Support more educational programs for children about VIBERE Strategies to improve the viability of tourism operators in LSI ' Improve promotion activities Distribute more flyers in the gateway community of San Ignacio Send newsletters to repeat visitors Create brochures Ensure all tourism operators have well functioning websites Improve the tourism operators' outdoor advertising Get-more promotion through guidebooks and specialty magazine Advertise in on-line travel directories Increase the. number of certified tourism operators Increase the diversification of tourism activities Enhance birding activities Improve kayaking activities Create cacti tours Establish sports fishing Make unique adventure tours / photo safaris Improve lodging tacilities Use local materials more Make windows facing the sea Examine local ecotourism prices Improve amenities to increase prices Study the price elasticity of whale watching activities in LSI Reduce operating costs Continue to replace 2-stroke outboard engines with more economical and environmentally friendly 4- stroke ones Look for funding to enhance future or existing tourism activities. Apply for funding through the Mexican government Establish ties with environmental foundations / trust funds Find business partners Hire consultant to find suitable partners / investors Improve operators' business and tourism skills Provide more training courses Make feedback forms from visitors Create guide training manual Offer internships and study possibilities for university students 138 8.2 What Were the Strengths And Weaknesses of the Selected Approach/Method? 8.2.1 Relevance and Utility One o f the strength of the chosen case study methodology was its flexible and exploratory approach. This was highly useful as it was unknown from the onset o f the research what would emerge as the most significant ecotourism issues i n LSI . This approach was also warranted, considering the lack o f solid and reliable historical data, which made it difficult to use pre-determined statistical analysis or quantitative tools for measuring or describing certain events. Hence, this approach, coupled with the chosen indicators, became an excellent and very practical tool for evaluating changes in the development of LSI ecotourism activities over time. A very important aspect o f the evaluation framework was the decision to not only use indicators to measure socio-economic changes, but also to measure the viability o f the local and tourism regional operators. This combination o f indicators led to a more precise and detailed understanding of the underlying, and often complex, inter-related factors that shaped the ecotourism development in LSI between 1994 and 2002. This approach was useful in identifying the strengths and weaknesses o f the current ecotourism development in LSI . It also provided strong indications o f which ecotourism-related issues should be addressed in the future. Tlie latter insight was important, as the' guiding rationale behind this research was to give local stakeholders and the management o f the Reserve input on how to strengthen LSI ' s ecotourism activities in a sustainable and more economically beneficial fashion. Tlie selected methodological framework was also straightforward to apply, as most indicators with the exception of tlie economic ones were relatively easy to collect through previously published literature or through interviews with relevant stakeholders. However, some design weaknesses were also noted: • One weakness associated with the framework design was the high number o f indicators. While this increased the understanding of the ecotourism development issues in LSI , it proved lengthy to apply this set o f indicators in its entirety when interviewing stakeholders. 139 A s a result some respondents were only presented with a subset of the indicators based on their perceived knowledge and background. This undoubtedly caused some bias in the results. • Some problems o f parallel structure were noted in the five criteria chosen for evaluating ecotourism development in LSI . This was caused by the inter-related nature o f the criteria, which made it difficult to choose indicators that did not overlap. For instance, changes in visitor numbers were not only a good measurement for economic impacts, but also for the viability o f the tourism operators. Some o f the indicators used to evaluate economic, social and political changes could likewise also have been used to evaluate local support for the biosphere reserve. However, some o f the repetition also occurred in the analysis because some events in L S I were found to be catalyst for multiple changes. For instance, the proposal to expand E S S A ' s salt flat facilities was found to have had substantial impacts not only on ecotourism demand, but also on community cohesion and the political changes in the lagoon. This made it difficult to avoid some degree of redundancies in the analysis. 8.2.2 Validity A study's validity is threatened i f it fails to measure what it sets out to do and i f logical errors arise from drawing conclusions from the data. This problem can occur i f the construct (i) lack analytical soundness; (ii) use poor or insufficient sources; or (iii) i f the study is subject to significant biases in interpreting and collecting the data. To avoid these problems, this study relied on indicators that had been adequately documented to be o f known quality in the ecotourism, biosphere and business literature. In tlie data collection and analysis, multiple sources and methods were used to look at tlie same phenomenon. This triangulation' helped increase the validity o f the investigation, as most indicators showed converging results. Using multiple sources also helped reduce personal and methodological biases. This was particularly important to secure the validity of the quantitative indicators. However, a few areas were problematic: • Tlie lack o f data, the reluctance of some ecotourism operators to submit financial figures and previous researcher's radimentary methods o f estimating historic economic impacts made it difficult to measure economic changes precisely. This was particularly true for tlie data points related to key economic figures, such as profits, spending, visitor numbers and 140 turnover. Tlie investigation therefore had to base its estimates on very rough assumptions for both 1994 and 2002. While these numbers likely indicated the correct direction of trends, they would need to be further validated, as these had a high degree o f uncertainty. • Tlie conclusions concerning the cause and effect o f the social and political changes that occurred in LSI is also likely to be biased by the researchers' interpretation, as these indicators were o f qualitative nature. • Some biases were also involved in the selection of respondents as it was non-random. However this is believed to have been a very small problem as these people represented a wide spectrum of the most important tourism stakeholder in LSI including the tourism operators, community organizations, government officials, social scientists and local fishers. 8.2.3 What does this mean for the conclusions in terms of transferability to other locations? Few o f the indicators were specific to LSI . Tlie framework can therefore with be used to analyze any biosphere reserve independent of its kind o f ecotourism development. Tlie simplicity o f this methodology combined with its low cost and ability to generate valid data concerning impacts, trends and viability makes it a strong management tool. Tlie low cost is a highly relevant factor, considering the financial restraints facing most biosphere reserves. However, some limitations in the framework design wi l l make it difficult to do useful comparisons between various biospheres without developing tlie framework further. One challenge would be to address how to make the used qualitative indicators more comparable among sites. Currently this is difficult because they provide no fixed point o f reference that makes statistical ordination possible. This could be solved by ranking some o f these indicators according to a worst and best case scenario using an ordinal scale. Tlie issue then becomes how to specify precise criteria that ensures that the measurement o f the same phenomena at different times and places yields consistent outcomes. 8.2.4 Future proposed research directions Tliis study has highlighted the importance of improving the viability o f tlie local and regional tour operators in LSI to sustain the future growth o f the ecotourism activities in V I B E R E . To do so, the research recommended a number of strategies. However, the feasibility o f these recommended 141 next steps in terms of costs and risks wi l l need to be assessed in more detail. Recommended future research would be to look at: • What the best options for ecotourism operators to diversify their products and services would be to generate ecotourism income year round; • How changes in tour prices affect ecotourism demand and whether current prices are set too low; • How tourism operators can take better advantages o f the opportunities the internet provides to attract and service visitors; • What the best options for tourism operators would be to maximize the limited funding diey have for promotional activities; • How tourism operators can attract good investors, capital and partners to increase investment and expertise to strengthen existing and new ecotourism development; • How feasible is it for tourism operators to invest in their camps and services to attract more upscale clients; and • Whether ecotourism certification is worthwhile obtaining considering the work and cost involved? 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Described in this appendix are the assumptions, calculations and results used to estimate the tour operators' gross revenue from whale watching activities in LSI for 1994 and 2002. This is first done for the local and regional operators according to the four whale watching product segment found in LSI: day trips; package tours, guide and boat services to foreign camps and to liveaboards that visited LSI. Then the section estimate the gross revenue made by the foreign camps and liveaboards. Finally calculations are used to estimate the gross revenue for the local and regional tour operators that sold package tours and the ones that did not for 2002. Tables are included in the end that compare and summarize the most important results from these estimations. 153 GROSS R E V E N U E O F L O C A L AND R E G I O N A L O P E R A T O R S (1994 AND 2002) Gross Revenue Generated from Day Tours All five local and regional operators were involved in this product segment between 1994 and 2002. Tlie number of day tour visitors was approximately 605 people i n 1994. This number was found by subtracting the total visitor numbers given by the management of the Reserve from the numbers reported by Young for the outside based operators (as her visitor numbers included all but the number of day visitors). In 2002, the number of day tour visitors increased to 2280. This number was estimated based on the visitor number submitted by the tourism operators and tlie management of the Reserve. All local and regional companies charged $35 per person for adult foreigners between 1994 and 2002. Mexican nationals and children received then a 15% discount. According to local tour operators approximately 70% of the visitors were adult foreigners in 2002. Most visitors conducted one trip. However, about 5% of the visitors conducted two trips. These visitor patterns were assumed to describe 1994 as well. Consequently the typical price per whale watching trip was estimated to be approximately $33 per trip [($35 per trip x 0.70 foreign visitors) + ($35 per trip x 0.3 Mexican or child visitor x 0.85 discount)]. Tlie estimated worst case scenario was estimated to represent if all visitors were Mexican or children and only conducted one trip each. Tlie best case scenario was estimated as if all the day tour visitors were adult foreigners and conducted two trips each. Table 26: Gross Revenue Estimates of Local and Regional Tour Operators from Day Tours for 1994 and 2002 1994: Typical Scenario 605 visitors x $33 per trip x 1.05 trips »$ 21.000 Best Case Scenario 605 visitors x $35 per trip x 2 trips « $ 42.000 Worst Case Scenario 605 visitors x $30 per trip x 1 trips * $ 18.000 2002 Typical Scenario 2280 visitors x $33 per trip x 1.05 trips * $ 80.000 Best Case Scenario 2280 visitors x $35 per trip x 2 trips = $160,000 Worst Case Scenario 2280 visitors x $30 per trip x 1 trips * $ 68.000 154 Gross Revenue Generated from Servicing Foreign Camps One local and one regional operator were involved in servicing two foreign camps with boats and skiff drivers between 1994 and 2002. Young reported that 360 visitors stayed with one of the two upscale foreign camps in 1994. ARIC reported in 2002 that this number had increased to approximately 400 in 2002. These visitors typically conducted 4-6 trips each during their stay in LSI. Five trips were used as the typical number of trips for both 1994 and 2002. It was not possible to obtain a good estimate for what tourism operators were paid from renting out their boats and guides services. However, one of the foreign camps reported that it paid the skiff drivers $50 per whale watching trip in 2002. This amount represented according to a number of skiff drivers exactly 30% of what foreign companies paid totally in outsourcing expenses for renting a skiff including guides and other expenses like gas. $165 was therefore assumed to be what local and tourism operators were paid per skiff [If 30% = $50 then 100% = $165]. In 2002, each skiff was typically filled with 6-10 people. Tlie income per passenger from these trips was tiierefore likely to be between $17 and $28 ($165/6 passengers or $165/10 passengers). Tlie average, $23, was assumed to be the typical revenue per passenger from outsourcing activities. Table 27: Gross Revenue Estimates of Local and Regional Tour Operators from Foreign Camps for 1994 and 2002 1 9 9 4 Typical Scenario 360 visitors x $23 per trip x 5 trips ~ $41,000 Best Case Scenario: 360 visitors x $28 per trip x 6 trips ~ $60,000 Worst Case Scenario: 360 visitors x $17 per trip x 4 trips ~ $24,000 2 0 0 2 Typical Scenario 400 visitors x $23 per trip x 5 trips ~ $46,000 Best Case Scenario: 400 visitors x $28 per trip x 6 trips ~ $67,000 Worst Case Scenario: 400 visitors x $17 per trip x 4 trips ~ $27,000 Gross Revenue Generated from Servicing Liveaboards Only one operator was involved in renting its skiffs and guides to liveaboards between 1994 and 2002. According to the data provided by Young and ARIC this segment declined in passenger numbers from approximately 1060 to 250 visitors during those years. Most visitors onboard 155 these boats typically-did one or two trips as they only stayed one night in the lagoon. 1.5 trips were used as the average number of trips per visitor in lack of more precise data. Estimating the local and regional gross revenue per passenger from this product segment was done using the same calculations and assumptions described in the previous section on servicing foreign camps. These estimates indicated that local and regional tour operators earned between $ 17 and $28 per passenger with $23 being the typical average. Table 28: Gross Revenue Estimates of Loca l and Regional Tou r Operators from Liveaboards for 1994 and 2002 1994 Typical Scenario 1060 visitors x $23 per trip x 1.5 trips ~ $37,000 Best Case Scenario: 1060 visitors x $28 per trip x 2 trips ~ $59,000 Worst Case Scenario: 1060 visitors x $17 per trip x 1 trips ~ $18,000 2002 Typical Scenario 250 visitors x $23 per trip x 1.5 trips ~ $9,000 Best Case Scenario: 250 visitors x $28 per trip x 2 trips ~ $14,000 Worst Case Scenario: 250 visitors x $17 per trip x 1 trips ~ $4,000 Gross Revenue Generated from Package Tours From 1994 to 2002 the number of local and regional operators that sold package tours increased from one to two companies. Their tours varied significantly in terms o f price and duration: Company A: Young estimated that 175 visitors stayed 2.5 days and paid a total o f $140,000 on low priced camps with outside based operators in 1994. Then only one operator was involved in selling these tours. This regional based operator charged $135 per day for its package tours (including accommodation, food and whale watching activities) in 2002. Visitors would typically spend from 1-3 days in the camp that year. Young 's estimate o f revenue ($320 per visitor per day) was therefore discarded as being vastly overestimated as the company stated it had not lowered its products prices since 1994. $135 and a length o f stay o f two days were therefore assumed to be the typical numbers for both years. A reported approximate o f 300 people purchased a package tour with this company in 2002. Company B: This company stated that approximately 70 people purchased one o f its package tours in 2002. These ranged in price from $185 to $225 per day. The visitors would stay 1-4 156 days , but three days were the typ ica l stay acco rd ing to the owner . $200 was chosen as the average pr ice in lack o f more precise info. U s i n g these numbers it was poss ib le to est imate the t yp i ca l , best and wors t case scenar io fo r the loca l and reg ional gross revenue f rom package tours: Table 29: Gross Revenue Estimates of Local and Regional Tour Operators from Package Tours for 1994 and 2002 1994 Typical Scenario 175 visitors x $135 per trip x 2 trips « $47,000 Best scenario: 175 visitors x $135 per trip x 3 trips ~ $71,000 Worst case scenario: 175 visitors x $135 per trip x 1 trips ~ $24,000 2002: Typical Scenario (300 visitors x $135 per days x 2 days) + (70 visitors x $200 per day x 3 days) = $123,000 Best scenario: (300 visitors x $135 per days x 3 days) + (70 visitors x $225 per day x 4 days) = $185,000 Worst case scenario: (300 visitors x $135 per days x 1 days) + (70 visitors x $185 per day x 1 days) = $53,000 GROSS R E V E N U E G E N E R A T E D BY F O R E I G N C A M P S FOR 1994 AND 2002 Y o u n g reported that a total o f 360 people pa id an average o f $ 1.300 per tr ip fo r an a l l i nc lus i ve tr ip i nc l ud ing air fare w i th one o f the two fore ign camps operat ing in L S I in 1994. B y 2 0 0 2 , the v is i to r numbers had increased to 400 . T l ie average cost that year was assumed to be $1 ,650 as pr ices then ranged f rom $1,500 to $1,800. Table 30: Gross Revenue Estimates of Foreign Tour Camps for 1994 and 2002 in LSI 1994: Typical Scenario 360 visitors x $1,300 per tour = $468,000 2002: Typical Scenario ' 400 visitors x $1,650 per tour-$660,000 Best scenario: 400 visitors x $1.800 per tour ~ $720,000 Worst case scenario: 400 visitors x $1.500 per tour ~ $600,000 157 GROSS R E V E N U E G E N E R A T E D BY F O R E I G N L I V E A B O A R D S FOR 1994 AND 2002 Young reported diat 560 visitors paid an average of $3,500 to visit LSI onboard two cruise ships in 1994. During the same period LSI was also visited by five tour boats. Tlie number o f these visitors totaled approximately 500 people who paid $1,500 each. Except for the price it was not clear how Young defined the difference between these boats. A n y kind of boats visiting LSI with the purpose of whale watching was therefore classified as a liveaboard. According to A R I C only 250 people onboard liveaboards went whale watching in 2002. These boats included the "Searcher", "Royal Star", "Pacific Queen", "Shogun", "Spirit of Adventure", "Horizon", "Sea Bird" and "Sea L ion" . A n analysis o f these boats tour prices showed that were priced from $3,125 to $5,500 for trips lasting from 8 to 16 day trips. Most of these boats would only stay one night in LSI as the primary objective for most of these boats was fishing. $3,500 was set as the mean price for these tours in lack o f better data. Table 31: Gross Revenue Estimates of Liveaboards for 1994 and 2002 GROSS R E V E N U E O F T H E L O C A L AND R E G I O N A L C O M P A N I E S T H A T S O L D P A C K A G E T O U R S IN 2002. A n estimated total o f 1920 visitor numbers went whale watching with one o f the two companies that sold package tours in 2002. Breaking down these numbers according to the four whale watching segments showed: 1.040 were day tourists, 260 came from foreign camps, 250 were boat passengers and 370 had purchased a package tours. A further breakdown of the package tour showed that 70 went with one operator and 300 went with another. Using the previous established assumptions for prices, trips duration and local income from outsourcing the following estimates were calculated: 1 9 9 4 : Typical Scenario (560 visitors x $3,500 per tour)+ (500 visitor x 1.500) ~ $2,710,000 2002 Typical Scenario Best Case Scenario: Worst Case Scenario: 250 visitors x $23 per trip x 1.5 trips ~ $9,000 250 visitors x $28 per trip x 2 trips ~ $14,000 250 visitors x $17 per trip x 1 trips ~ $4,000 158 Table 32: Gross Revenue Estimates from Foreign Tour Camps made by Local and Regional Companies that Sold Package Tours in 2002 Day Tours Typical Scenario 1.040 visitors x $33 per trip x 1.05 trips - $37,000 Best Case Scenario 1.040 visitors x $35 per trip x 2 trips ~ $73,000 Worst Case Scenario 1.040 visitors x $30 per trip x 1 trips ~ $31.000 Outsourcing Income from Foreign Camps Typical Scenario 260 visitors x $23 per trip x 5 trips ~ $30,000 Best Case Scenario: 260 visitors x $28 per trip x 6 trips ~ $44,000 Worst Case Scenario: 260 visitors x $17 per trip x 4 trips ~ $18,000 Outsourcing Income from Tour Boats Typical Scenario 250 visitors x $23 per trip x 1.5 trips ~ $9,000 Best Case Scenario: 250 visitors x $28 per trip x 2 trips - $14,000 Worst Case Scenario: 250 visitors x $17 per trip x 1 trips ~ $4,000 Package Tours Typical Scenario (300 visitors x $135 per days x 2 days) + (70 visitors x $200 per day x 3 days) ~ $123,000 Best scenario: (300 visitors x $135 per days x 3 days) + (70 visitors x $225 per day x 4 days) = $185,000 Worst case scenario: (300 visitors x $135 per days x 1 days) + (70 visitors x $185 per day x 1 days) = $53,000 GROSS R E V E N U E OF T H E L O C A L A N D R E G I O N A L C O M P A N I E S T H A T DID N O T S E L L P A C K A G E T O U R S IN 2002. Three and regional companies belonged to this category. In 2002, they all sold day tours. One also had income from servicing one o f the foreign local camps. According to Young and A R I C 1240 day visitors and 140 tourists from the foreign camps were serviced by these operators in 2002. These numbers generated the following estimates of gross revenue using the previous established assumptions for prices, number o f trips and outsourcing income: Table 33: Gross Revenue Estimates from the Foreign Tour Camps made by Local and Regional Companies that did not sell Package Tours in 2002 Day Tours Typical Scenario 1240 visitors x $33 per trip x 1.05 trips - $ 44.000 Best Case Scenario 1240 visitors x $35 per trip x 2 trips =$87,000 Worst Case Scenario 1240 visitors x $30 per trip x 1 trips -$37 ,000 Outsourcing Income from Foreign Camps Typical Scenario 140 visitors x $23 per trip x 5 trips ~ $16,000 Best Case Scenario: 140 visitors x $28 per trip x 6 trips ~ $10,000 Worst Case Scenario: 140 visitors x $17 per trip x 4 trips ~ $24,000 1 5 9 ASSUMPTIONS AND PRICE RANGES USED TO ESTIMATE GROSS REVENUE GENERATEDBY ALL TOURISM OPERATORS INVOLVED IN WHALE WATCHING IN LSI IN 1994 AND 2002: Segment Visitors Price Duration Estimated Gross Revenue L O C A L / R E G I O N A L OPER. Range Typical Range Typical Range (thousands) Typical (thousands) Day tours 605 $30-35 per trip 1-2 trips 1.05 trips $18-42 $21 Outsourcing Foreign Camps 360 $17-28 per trip $23 4-6 trips 5 trips $24-60 $41 Outsourcing Liveaboards 1060 $17-28 per trip $23 1-2 trips 1.5 trips $18-59 , $37 Package Tours 175 n/a $135 1-3 days 2 davs $24-71 $47 T O T A L L O C / R E G O P E R 2.200 S84-232 $146 FOREIGN C A M P S / L I V E A B O A R D S Foreign Camps 360 n/a $1,300 n/a n/a n/a $468 Liveaboards Cruise Ships Tour Boats 560 500 n/a n/a $3,500 $1,500 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a $2,710 T O T A L F O R O P E R 1.420 $3,178 T O T A L A L L O P E R A T O R S 2.200 S3.324 T O U R I S M S E A S O N 2002: Segment Visitors Price Duration Estimated Gross Revenue L O C A L / R E G I O N A L OPER. Range Typical Range Typical Range (tiiousands) Typical (thousands) Day tours 2.280 $30-35 per trip (p -) -> 1-2 trips 1.05 trips $68-160 $80 Outsourcing Foreign Camps 400 $17-28 per trip $23 4-6 trips 5 trips $27-67 $46 Outsourcing Liveaboards 250 $17-28 per trip $23 1-2 trips 1.5 trips $4-14 $9 Package Tours: - Company A - Company B 300 70 $135 per day $185-225 per day $135 $200 1-3 days 1-4 davs 2 days 3 days $53-185 (Company A+B) $123 (Company A+B) T O T A L 3.300 S152-426 $258 FOREIGN C A M P S / L I V E A B O A R D S Foreign Camps 400 $1,500-1.700 per tour $1,650 n/a n/a $600-720 $660 Liveaboards 250 $3,125-5.500 per tour $5,500 n/a n/a $781-1.375 $875 T O T A L 650 Sl.381-2.095 S1.535 T O T A L A L L O P E R A T O R S 3.300 Sl.533-2.521 S1.793 o ASSUMPTIONS AND PRICE RANGES USED TO ESTIMATE GROSS REVENUE GENERATED BY LOCAL AND REGIONAL TOUR OPERATORS DEFINED BY WHETHER THEY SOLD PACKAGE TOURS OR NOT IN 2002: Segment Visitors Price Duration Estimated Gross Revenue Companies that sold package tours: Range (Min- . Max) Likely Range (Min-Max) Likely Range (thousands) Typical (thousands) Day tours 1.040 $30-35 per trip J J J 1-2 trips 1.05 trips $31-73 $ 3 7 Outsourcing Foreign Camps 260 $17-28 per trip $23 4-6 trips 5 trips $18-44 $ 3 0 Outsourcing Liveaboards 250 $17-28 per trip $23 1-2 trips 1.5 trips $4-14 $ 9 Package Tours: Company A Company B 300 70 $135 per day $185-225 per day $135 $200 1-3 days 1-4 days 2 days 3 davs $53-184 (Comp. A + B ) $ 1 2 3 T O T A L 1.920 S106-316 $199 Companies that did not sell package tours: Day tours 1.240 $30-35 per trip -> 1 -2 trips 1.05 trips $37-87 $44 Outsourcing Foreign Camps 140 $17-28 per tnp $23 4-6 trips 5 trips $10-24 $ 1 6 T O T A L 1.380 S47-111 $60 T O T A L A L L LOC/REG. Companies 2.200 S153-S427 $259 APPENDIX B: Feasibility Study of Changing From 2-stroke to 4-stroke Outboard Engines in the Lagoon of San Ignacio, Mexico Feasibility Study of Changing From 2-stroke to 4-stroke, Outboard Engines in the Lagoon of San Ignacio, Mexico By Peter Rossing 2002 The Wor ld Heritage Site of Laguna San Ignacio, located in the Biosphere Reserve o f E l Viscaino in Baja Mexico Sur. represents one o f the three most important breeding lagoons for the eastern Pacific population o f the Gray Whale (Eschrichtius robnstus). This Pacific lagoon, surrounded by desert, also provides habitat for J41 species of birds, many fish and marine invertebrates, dolphins, sea lions, and sea turtles. It is also home to five small fishing communities totaling 500 people that depend solely on the lagoon and the sea to make a l iving in the fonn of small-scale fishing and ecotourism. Suffering from rising cost of fishing and the recent drop in tourism due to the 9/11 terrorism attack, these communities have been hard hit. Finding ways to raise income while maintaining the integrity of the San Ignacio Lagoon ecosystems is therefore a real concern. This paper explores the feasibility o f exchanging the outboard motors used for whale watching and fishing in the Lagoon of San Ignacio from the mostly 2-stroke to 4-stroke engines as a means to cut costs, raise the disposable income o f the community-, and cut pollution in one o f the most unique and important lagoons in the world. There are many obvious benefits from exchanging 2-stroke with 4-stroke engines: • Tlie 4-stroke engines use 30-70% less fuel. • Tlie 4-stroke engines are quieter. • Tlie 4-stroke engines do not need fuel mixed with oi l , which both cuts the cost o f buying oi l and eliminates trash from discarded plastic oi l bottles. • Tlie 4-stroke engines have fewer mechanical problems. • Tlie 4-stroke engines last longer. • Tlie 4-stroke engines pollute significantly less because both water and air emissions contaminated by fuel are far less with 4-stroke engines. However, 4-stroke outboard engines are more expensive to buy. For fishermen and tour operators who are stniggling due to increasing operating cost and for environmentalists who are becoming increasingly concerned about pollution, it is therefore a relevant question to ask under what circumstances and when the direct economic benefits from a new 4-stroke engine exceeds tlie use o f either a new or existing 2-stroke. In other words, how many days does it take before the fuel and o i l savings balance the extra cost o f a new 4-stroke engine, making it cheaper to use than a new or existing 2-stroke? 162 In order to examine this question, four different scenarios were explored: 1. New 4-stroke or new 2-stroke used for whale watching only. 2. New 4-stroke with existing 2-stroke used for whale watching only. 3. New 4-stroke or new 2-stroke'if used both for whale watching and fishing. 4. New 4-stroke with existing 2-stroke used both for whale.watching and fishing. Fishermen and whale-watchers with both types of engines from Laguna San Ignacio were consulted to establish the days of use and fuel and oil consumption. From discussions with different people, it was determined that an engine of approxamately 80 hp was needed to fulfill the need of both fishing and tourism use. In these calculations, a 4-stroke Yamaha 80hp is compared with a 2-stroke with 85hp (Yamaha does not make a 2-stroke with 80hp). Tlie calculations are based on the following important assumptions: Gasoline 7 pesos Oil 25 pesos Exchange Rate pesos to dollars 10.1 Number of fishing trips pr. year (20 days each month x 8 months) 160 days pr year Number of whale watching trips pr. year (20 days each month x 4 months) 70 days pr year Tlie number of days of use seems reasonable since it not possible due to bad weather to conduct whale watching or fish everyday and both activities are seasonal. Yamaha 2-Stroke 85hp A E D L Yamaha 4-Stroke 80hp A E T L New price in dollars 8288.5 11830.5 New price in dollars with 30% rebate 5802.02 8281.35 Use of gas pr. whale trip in liters 30 12 Use of gas pr. fishing trip in liters 80 56 Use of oil pr liter gasoline (1.5 liter for 50 liter gas) 0.03 pr liter gas None Price pr. whale watching trip 232.5 (US$22.91) 84 (US $ 8.28) Price pr. fishing trip 620 (US $61.08) 392 (US$ 38.68) Tlie use of gas, as before mentioned, was estimated based on the consultations of various tour operators. In terms of gasoline saved while fishing, the factory estimate by Yamaha of 30% was chosen. This represented a much more conservative choice rather than the 50-50% experienced by the fishers and tour operators. In the calculations the retail price of the new Yamaha motors has been discounted with 30%. According to fishers and tourism operators such rebates were quite common to get i f the engines were paid up front and/or in quantities more than one. 163 Ex.1: New 2-stroke or 4-stroke Tourism Use On ly? Should I buy a new 4-stroke or 2-stroke if I only use it for tourism 70 days pr year? IF f(2-stroke N e w ) c o s l p e r y e a r = $5802.02 + ($22.91 x 70 days) f(4-stroke N e w ) c o s l p c r y e a r = $8281.35 + ($8.28 x 70days) THEN f(4-stroke New) becomes cheaper to operate when 5802.02+1603.7x> 8281.35+ 579.6x New Yamaha 4-stroke (80hp) vs New 2-stroke (85hp) - Tourism Use Only Q ra ,2 4000 -2000 -0 -I ; '-, 1 1 , , , , , 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 Years of Use It is more economical to use 4-stroke after 2.4 years. Conclusion: Buying a new 4-stroke Engine saves US $2.641 over 5 years. E x . 2 : N e w 4 - s t r o k e o r E x i s t i n g 2 - s t r o k e T o u r i s m U s e O n l y ? I am a tourism operator who has a 2-stroke already and who does not fish. Should I scrap my 2-stroke and buy a 4-stroke? IF f(2-stroke Existing) c o s l p e r y e a r = $22.91 x 70 days f(4-stroke New) c o s t p e r y e a r = $8281.35 + ($8.28 x 70days) TFIEN f(4-stroke New) becomes cheaper to operate when 1603.7x> 8281.35+ 579.6x New Yamaha 85 hp 4-stroke or Existing 2-stroke (Tourism Use Only) With 70 days of annual use it takes 8.1 years before the investment pavs off. Savings (losses) in 5 years: US $ -3161 Conclusion: Keep old 2-stroke until time to replace. 165 E x . 3 : N e w 4 - s t r o k e o r N e w 2 - s t r o k e ( T o u r i s m a n d F i s h i n g ) ? Should I buy a new 4-stroke or a 2-stroke engine for both whale watching and fishing? IF f(2-stroke N e w ) c o s t p e r y e a r = $5802.02 + ($22.91 x 70 days) + ($61.08 x 160 days) f(4-strokeNew) c o s , p e r y e a r = $8281.35 + ($8.28 x 70days) + ($38.68 x 160 days) T H E N f(4-stroke New) becomes cheaper to operate when 5802.02+1 1377x> 8281.35+ 6759x New 80 hp Yamaha 4-stroke or New Yamaha 2-stroke 85hp {Tourism and Fishing) 70000 • N e w 4-stroke • N e w 2-stroke It only takes 4-5 months before the savings in fuel pays off the more expensive 4-stroke. Savings in 5 years are astronomical: $20,500 dollars in saved fuel and oil costs. Conclusion: If you are fishing and have a tourism operation, too, you would save $20.000 over 5 years by buying a 4-stroke engine. 166 E x . 4 : N e w 4 - s t r o k e o r ex i s t i ng 2 - s t roke ( T o u r i s m a n d F i s h i n g ) ? I am a tourism operator who has a 2-stroke already for tourism and fishing. Should I scrap my 2-stroke and buy a 4-stroke? IF f(2-Existing) c o s ' p c r y c a r = ($22.91 x 70 days) + ($61.08 x 170 days) f(4-stroke N e w ) c o s l p e r y e a r = $8281.35 + ($8.28 x 70days) + ($38.68 x 170 days) THEN f(4-stroke New) becomes cheaper to operate when 1 1377x> 8281.35+ 6759x Even with an existing engine, it only takes approximately 1.5 year before the benefits from 4-stroke engines outweigh an existing 2-stroke. In 5 years the total savings is almost $15,000 dollars. New Yamaha 80hp 4-stroke or Existing 80hp 2-stroke (Tourism and Fishing) Years Conclusion: Buying a new 4-stroke engine and scrapping the existing 2-stroke engine will save more than $20.000 over 5 years. 167 Conclusion: Tlie above analysis showed major economic gains from shifting to the use of 4-stroke engines except for the person that only conducts tourism and already has a 2-stroke engine. To save between $15,000 to $20,000 US in fuel and oil expenses over 5 years for people conducting both tourism and fishing is not unrealistic at all. Tlie input numbers have been chosen very conservatively. First, fuel savings for fishing are likely to exceed 30% used in the calculations. Most of the fishermen in the community' are reporting fuel savings of more than 50%. Shifting to the use of 4-stroke engines wi l l also save other costs that were not taken into consideration in the calculations. Fewer trips to the inland town o f San Ignacio w i l l be required to purchase fuel. Substantial savings can also be expected for repairing and replacing the engines. This is a true example of a win-win situation that wi l l benefit both people and the pristine environment o f Laguna San Ignacio. However, the change towards the use of 4-stroke engines w i l l be very slow unless some kind o f up-front, low-cost loans can be arranged. Few people who operate tourism or fishing activities have the capital up front to pay die dollars it w i l l cost to replace their engines (as much as $8,000 or higher for a new 4-stroke engine of sufficient horsepower). Interest-free or low interest loans could be secured to make the effort to replace 4-stroke outboards take off. Without a doubt, this project represents a great opportunity' for the right donor to make a substantial environmental and economic impact. 168 

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