The Sustainable Development Of Tourism Tourism Essay

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In the late 1980s, the increased concern for global environmental issues contributed to the emergence of interest in sustainability, developing not only in the tourism sector but also all other sectors within economy (Archer and Cooper, 1994; Godfery, 1996, cited in Diamantis, 2004). The need for better spatial, environmental, and economic balance of tourism development is the concept of tourism sustainability, requiring new integrative public-private approaches and policies in the future (Godrey, 1996; Coccossis, 1996; Manning and Dougherty, 1999, cited in Gunn, 2002).

According to the World Tourism Organization (WTO) the growth rate of tourism in Asia-Pacific is nearly twice that for the world overall in 1996 (Lew, 1998). Lindberg (1991, cited in Wight, 1996) mentioned that the whole tourism industry growth 4 percent every year, however, the growing rate of nature-based tourism is between 10 to 30 % which could be seen as rapid growing market in tourism industry. Unfortunately, the tremendous growth rate in Asia-Pacific industry have caused some negative impacts on the environment such as overcrowding at major attractions, environmental pollution and air traffic congestion restricted the development in this region (Muqbil, 1996, cited in Lew, 1998). The exploitation and conservation of sensitive natural environment has become difficulties for government to balance both nature resource and the demand of the tourists.

Ecotourism is one of the methods to meet the goal of developing the sustainability and minimizing people-park conflict to provide benefit to local community and support the conservation of environment (Ormsby and Mannle, 2006). The emergence of the ecotourism into the public consciousness have begun from late 1980s and become an important phenomenon in the 1990s to respond to the sustainable practices and global ecological practices (Wearing and Neil, 2003; Diamantis, 1999). According to Wight (1996), ecotourism is one of the fastest-growing markets in tourism industry, there are more and more people interested in the tourism product which is environmental sensitive or beneficial. Tao et al. (2004) also argue that the growth of ecotourism is because of growing concern over the negative impacts of uncontrolled tourism development and people increased the interest in nature and natural environment.

TIES (2006) states that in 2004, ecotourism was growing globally three times faster than the whole tourism industry. In order to respond to UN’s declaration of 2002 as World Ecotourism Year, some of the Taiwanese social organization began to promote different ecotourism activities. The Taiwanese government also invested around US$ 880,000 dollars to promote ecotourism in Taiwan (Tourism Bureau, 2002). According to Tourism Bureau (2005), 49.5 per cent Taiwanese people like natural scenery and outdoor activities, and among the top ten tourism attractions eight of them are either national parks or public protected areas. It shows that the domestic ecotourism market in Taiwan has grown especially in Kenting National Park. Since 1998 to 2005, Kenting National Park is the most popular national park in Taiwan (Tourism Bureau, 1998-2005).

Given this rapid growing rate of ecotourism, it is necessary for government or private operators to properly operate and manage the destinations in order to balance both the needs of tourism development and the conservation of the natural environment. Higgins (1996, cited in Wurzinger and Johansson, 2006) points out that in order to make the marketing and planning more efficient, it is necessary to have a deeper understanding of ecotourists’ environmental attitude. Therefore, understanding the needs and environmental attitude of tourists who travel in the protected area can help the government to develop and improve the management and marketing strategies. Furthermore, the government can also establish a better interaction with local community, tourists and nature environment.

However, Sirayaka et al. (1999) argue that ecotourism research so far tended to be descriptive types of studies which are more theory-based. Moreover, some of the researchers (Holden and Sparrowhawk, 2002; Meric and Hunt, 1998; Wight, 1996, cited in Wurzinger and Johansson, 2006) argue that there are few of the published studies of ecotourists which is emphasized on the demographics and motivators of the ecotourists. Tao et al.(2004) also state that several researchers have profiled North American Ecotourists (Wight, 1996), but little research has been published on Asian ecotourism market to understand the characteristics and travel motives in that region particularly of domestic ecotourists. Indeed, the research of ecotourism in Taiwan tends to be more concentrated on environmental protection and conservation, and seldom about the motives of the ecotourism and their environmental attitude.

This research of ecotourism in Kenting National Park explores the environmental attitude and the insight into travel motivation of ecotourists in Taiwan in order to provide a model to Taiwanese government to develop a better strategy and plan to manage the public protected area to achieve the goal of sustainable tourism development.

1.2 Research Objectives

The aim of this research study was to explore the motivation of Taiwanese ecotourists in public protected areas to provide a model to the government and private ecotourism operators to sustainable development. This dissertation pursues three related objectives as below:

(1) to critically review the relationship between sustainable development and ecotourism.

(2) to analyze the travel motivations and preference of ecotourists in Taiwan Kenting National Park.

(3) to develop a model to serve as the basis for the government and private ecotourism operators to develop the marketing strategies.

1.3 Dissertation overview

Since ecotourism in Taiwan tends to be a fast growing market and most of the previous research tends to be theory-based rather than emphasize on ecotourists’ motivators and demographics attributes. Moreover, there is little research that focuses on the Asian market, and most of the research concerns with ecotourism concentrated in North American ecotourism market, thus illustrating a gap in the literature. Therefore, the researcher lists three objectives for this research in order to address this.


2.1 Introduction

Francis (1998, cited in Carson et al., 2001:40) states that “it is important to use appropriate literature to justify the research problems at an early stage.” In this part of literature review, the author explains the key issues relating with the ecotourism and their motivations, thus developing the foundation of this research to discover something new and unique. On the other hand, due to a lack of consensus with regard to definition of ecotourist and ecotourism, the following section presents the definition which the author thought is the most properly and consist with this research. In the next section, firstly the author examines the concept of sustainable tourism and in section 2.3 discusses about the origin and concept of ecotourism and ecotourists. In section 2.4 to section 2.6 the author concerns more about the ecotourism market in Taiwan and globe. In section 2.7 focuses on the motivation to push and pull the ecotourists participate in ecotourism activities.

2.2 Sustainable development of tourism

According to Liu (2003), the concept of environmental sustainability originated in the 1970s. In 1972 the Club of Rome released a report entitled “The Limits to Growth” which provided an idea that differentiated with the traditional way of thinking that the unlimited resource providing by natural environment may be used up because of the unfettered population growth and industrial expansion (Dieren, 1995). In 1987, the Brundtland Commission Report defined sustainable development as meeting “the (human) needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1987). Essentially, as stated by Eber (1992; cited in Weaver, 2006:10) sustainable development “advocates the wise use and conservation of resources in order to maintain their long term viability”. However, the Brundtland Commission Report made no mention about tourism and the Agenda 21 strategy document from the seminal Rio Summit in 1992 also made little reference to tourism (Weaver, 2006).

The emergence of the sustainable tourism began in the early 1990s and the obvious development was the publishing of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism in 1993 (Weaver, 2006). Nevertheless, Hardy et al. (2002) argue that the concept of sustainable tourism in the literature existed before the term sustainable development officially used. No matter which one emerged first, considering tourism industry is one of the fastest growing markets and due to the resource of earth being limited the concept of the sustainable tourism has become more and more important.

According to Middleton and Hawkins (2002), in the heavy industrial era tourism is not a smokestack industry, thus it does not produce pollution as other industries. However, it has many critics such as British Broadcasting Corporation who argues that tourism is the primary cause of environmental pollution. Indeed, our natural environment such as beaches, forests and lakes become polluted because of tourism-related construction, waste generation and visitor activity; for example the US beach resort of Atlantic city suffered the declined of the tourist (Weaver, 2006). According to Hardy et al. (2002) the concept of the sustainable development includes both economic development and environmentalism. Weaver (2006) also mentioned that any kind of tourism may cause some impacts but sustainable tourism is to minimize the negative impacts and maximize the positive impacts. According to Newsome et al. (2002), sustainable tourism should include three aspects: economic, social and environmental.

In all types of tourism activities ecotourism could be seen as a part of concept of sustainable tourism (Diamantis, 2004). According to Weaver (2002) ecotourism is a sort of alternative tourism. Alternative tourism is a form of sustainable tourism that differs to a conventional mass tourism which is regarded as being unsustainable. Fennell (1999, cited in Newsome et al., 2002:12) defines that ‘ecotourism as involving a type of tourism that is less socio-cultural in its orientation, and more dependent upon nature and natural resources as primary component or motivator of the trip’. Clarke (2002:235) argues that ecotourism and sustainability are not inter-changeable terms. He also asserted that ‘the purest form of ecotourism seeks sustainability, but not all sustainable tourism is ecotourism’.

However, Wall (1997), argues that ecotourism can be seen as a marketing gimmick by the tourism industry to promote a clean and green image. Wheeller (1993), Maclellan (1997) and Mowforth and Munt (1998, cited in Weaver, 2006), also refer that some of the businesses and governments provide a wrong impression of environmental and social responsibility to the public by using ecotourism in their marketing as a form of greenwashing. They maintain that inevitably ecotourism is used to be the marketing buzzword, because sustainability is not only about sustainable of social, environmental and economic. Therefore the economic sustainability of a destination or a product is also a significant element to achieve the goal of sustainability in general. McKercher (2001; cited in Weaver 2002) notes that most of the ecotourism operations and destinations must meet the financial sustainability in order to survive and simultaneously meeting the other criteria is another challenge.

There are some disputes about whether ecotourism is sustainable or not. Since there are many definitions of ecotourism and some of them are ambiguous, it is difficult to give an absolute meaning of ecotourism (Kristages, 2002). Moreover, as stated by Weaver (2001), the stances people take may also vary, some people may believe more in biocentricity and some may stress an anthropocentric point of view. From the biocentrism’s point of view, all elements of the biosphere have equal value. They contend that one generation should leave the same or larger natural assets to the next generation. On the other hand, those who believe in the concept of anthropocentric would accept that human capital can be substituted for natural capital. Therefore, it is impossible to use a standardized criterion to access whether a particular ecotourism activity or operation is environmentally or socio-culturally sustainable. In the next section the author will discuss more about the ecotourism and ecotourists, and choose a definition of ecotourism and ecotourists which is most appropriate for this research.

2.3.1. The origin and concept of ecotourism

The term ‘ecotourism’ emerged in the English literature in 1985 (Romeril, 1985; cited in Weaver, 2002). It has become known in the late 1980s because of the world’s reaction to the sustainability of global ecological practices (Diamantis, 1999). According to Silva and McDill (2004) through the increased awareness of nature and direct conservation efforts of ecotourism business, ecotourism can promote the conservation of nature resources to the local area. As noted before, the lack of a universal definition of ecotourism results in multiple interpretations. The concept of ecotourism has remained controversial and elusive. Furthermore, the extent of ecotourism is too broad that it is too hard to say what is ecotourism in the current literature. To take the definition of the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is ‘responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people’ (TIES, 1990). Another definition of ecotourism is by Butler (1989:9-17, cited in Sirakaya et al., 1999:169):

“Ecotourism can be described as the type of tourism that is inherently sensitive to communication, awareness and environmental enhancement. These characteristics of ecotourism make it less likely to create social and environmental problems commonly associated with conventional tourism. Ecotourism attempts to give travelers a greater awareness of environmental systems and contribute positively to the destination’s economic, social and ecological conditions.”

In this study the author adopts the definition of ecotourism from Butler because he focuses on the three aspects of a destination and not only emphasizes the environmental or socio-cultural concerns. The establishment of Kenting National Park is based on conserving the natural environment, wildlife and historical spots in order to provide a place for people to recreate and promote the attitude of environmental conservation. Moreover, in this study the author aims to investigate the profile of Taiwanese ecotourists in order to develop the marketing strategies for the government. Wight (2001) argues that ecotourists tend to spend more capita on their trip than the average tourists. Therefore, ecotourism is regarded as a lucrative industry and it is appropriate for some area where is not suite for attracting unsustainable economic activity. Silva and Mcdill (2004) also maintain that ecotourism creates the economic interest to provide incentives for conserving nature resources.

Mader (2002) states that most forms of the ecotourism meet three criteria (1) it provides for conservation measures; (2) it includes meaningful community participation; (3) it is profitable and can sustain itself. According to Weaver (2001) ecotourism is often assumed to be a subset of the nature-based activity, however, it is only a part of nature-based tourism. He also mentions that some parts of cultural, adventure, hybrids, 3S, alternative and mass tourism can also be seen as a kind of ecotourism. It is interesting to note that from the adaptancy platform’s perspective, mass tourism and ecotourism are not mutually exclusive (Weaver, 2001). Wall (1997) argued that if the ecotourist is more demanding environmentally than the mass tourist who may not visit the endangered species in some ecotourism location and whose need and waste can be planned for, the ecotourist also can be considered as mass tourist who may generate some impact to the environment.

Acott et al. (1998) argue that the term ‘ecotourism’ does not necessarily refer to an activity that is environmentally benign, sometimes it can be used as the marketing term that sell products that verge on mass tourism. Given the way the interpretation of ecotourism is different people may operate ecotourism by emphasizing different aspects. Mader (2002) argues that there are advantages and disadvantages for using specific point of view. He addressed that the ecotourism project of the conservation groups may have good conservation plans but tend to lack the marketing strategies and the knowledge to run the tourism business. On the other hand, there are some businesses providing nature tours which are highly profitable but have no community partnership or conservation assistance.

2.3.2 The concept of ecotourists

The ecotourist is similarly complex to define and even no exactly answer to judge. Wight (1996) states that the motivation of the ecotourist overlaps with other type of tourist and also ecotourist cannot be defined by the tourism product in which they interested. He also argued that no one can be called ecotourist until they are in the ecotourism destination. When the ecotourist is visiting the theme park and on the roller coaster, can we still call he/she an ecotourist? Moreover, the tourist who travels merely to see the nature environment and is not ecological friendly or beneficial the nature environment also cannot be considered as ecotourist (Wight, 2001). However, Acott et al. (1998) argues that since it is no reason to determine an individual’s environmental value by the geographic location, thus it is still possible for individual to be a non-ecotourist in an ecotourist destination and in the opposite way to be ecotourists in non-ecotourist locations. According to Blamey (1995:24, cited in Diamantis, 2004:6) an ecotourist is “anyone who undertakes at least one ecotourism experience in a specified region during a specified period of time”. On the other side, Lee and Snepenger (1992: 368, cited in Juric et al., 2002: 261) state that

“Ideal ecotourists are motivated to participate in critically and ecologically sensitive activities, expect their expenditures to be used to support the local economy and resource conservation, and are willing to contribute to conservation and sustainable development in the area of their trip.”

In this research, the author takes the definition of Blamey to define the ecotourist. This is because the objective of this research is to provide a model to the government and private operators to develop their marketing strategies in order to attract and increase the amount of the ecotourists they targeting. Therefore, the ecotourists could be seen as people who are willing to participate in the ecotourism activities in the ecotourism area rather than ‘ideal ecotourists’ who might be deep ecotourists but only a small group of people. In the next section, the author will elaborate the concept of deep and shallow ecotourist.

2.3.3 Deep and shallow ecotourist

Ecotourists can be separated into active and passive ecotourists in Orams’ (1995, cited in Weaver, 2001) model and some of the researchers may call it hard and soft ecotourists. According to a similar dichotomy of Acott et al. (1998) it is called it ‘deep’ and ‘shallow’ ecotourists in this research. No matter which term is used, the differences of deep and shallow ecotourists can be defined below.

According to Weaver (2001) deep ecotourist has a strongly biocentric attitude that is committed to environmental issues. Deep ecotourists desire for the deep and meaningful interaction with natural environment and the activities they do on site are resources based. Deep ecotourists tend to arrange the specialized tour in a small group by themselves and do not require on-site service. On the other hand, the environmental attitudes of shallow ecotourists are not as deep as ecotourists which are more suggestive of steady rather than enhancive sustainability (Turner et al., 1994, cited in Acott et al., 1998.) Shallow ecotourists tend to travel in a large group and they usually see ecotourism as a part of their multiple purpose tour. In essence, Acott et al., (1998) point out that shallow ecotourists represent the viewpoints that stand between deep ecotourist on one hand and mass tourist on the other hand.

According to Fennell (2002) deep and shallow ecotourists can be viewed as an inverted triangle (Figure 2.1). He argues that compared with the larger part of the soft end market, hard ecotourism sector is relatively small. The further up the top of the inverted triangle the greater of the specialization, expectation and time spent with regarding to the ecotourism experience. It also shows that regarding the increase of the tourists demand, it is necessary to increase the facility such as hotel, transportation and any other required amenities. Acott et al. (1998) argue that the wide range of the activities of the ecotourism might have different environmental impacts and attract people with different motivation and set of values. The term ‘shallow’ and ‘deep’ ecotourist is merely used to differentiate the tourists that verge on the mass tourism and truly make an effort to accomplish at environmental tourism.

Specialization, expectation and time spent

Soft path ecotourism

Hard ecotourism

Number of ecotourists

Reliance on built/modified environment

Based of interests/attractions

Natural history realm

Source: Fennell (2002: 18)

Figure 2.1: soft and hard dimensions of ecotourism

To sum up all the arguments the author has explored above, there is growing agreement that ecotourism consists of three criteria (Weaver, 2002) despite the confusion surrounding it. Firstly, according to its attractions ecotourism is basically nature-based. This is including a holistic experience or product that involves with the ecosystem. Secondly, the motivation and interaction of the ecotourists are based on the desire to appreciate and learn about the nature-based attractions. There is an important element to differentiate ecotourism from other forms of nature-based tourism by learning and appreciation. The third core component of the ecotourism is sustainability. Weaver (2002:254) argues that ‘sustainability does not inherently depend on scale at all’. Depending on the circumstances, whether small or large scale tourism could be good or bad in outcome.

2.4 Ecotourism in Taiwan

Griffin (2002) points that due to the September 11, 2001, the trend of travel has changed to safer destinations and modes of travel. The result of this will bring more pressure on the domestic and short-haul destination into major market. In Taiwan, almost half of the domestic tourism activity focuses on nature-related activities (Tourism Bureau, 2005).

However, the high population density and rising economic activity in Taiwan has generated some negative impacts on Taiwan’s natural environment (Tao et al., 2004). Despite these problems, Taiwanese people are still interested in ecotourism and also have become more concerned toward the conservation of natural environment (Tourism Bureau, 1997). The Ministry of the Interior (2004) asserts that improper development of ecotourism will bring some benefit to some people in the short term but this may result in unsustainable tourism development in the long term. However, Weaver (2002) maintains that the ecotourism provides a financial incentive for preserving the undisturbed sectors far more than potentially unsustainable activities. These unsustainable activities such as commercial logging, mining, hunting and agriculture may apply in both protected and unprotected area. For instance, Lindberg (1998; cited in Weaver, 2002) argues that in the East African savanna, wildlife observation can bring far more income than hunting.

Kenting National Park is the most popular destination area in Taiwan, and indeed, much more popular than other public protected areas (Tourism Bureau, 1998-2005). Although Kenting National Park has the most species of wildlife around 3,828 different species both over and below water (Ministry of Interior, 2001), since Taiwan’s government put more attention and emphasis into developing and managing new public protected area, the tourism arrived rate in Kenting National Park has slightly decreased in recent years (Tourism Bureau, 2004). In response to the United Nations’ declaration of 2002 world Ecotourism Year, Taiwan’s government also asserted that 2002 is Ecotourism Year in Taiwan. In order to promote this plan, Taiwan’s government invested about 500 thousand pounds to build up Taiwan as an Ecotourism island (Hsu, 2002).

However, in 2002 Ecotourism White Paper (Ministry of Interior, 2004) stated that due to most of the eco-tour operators not really understanding the real meaning of ecotourism, the eco-tour which they provide does not conform to the goal of the ecotourism such as resource conservation, education of tourists and benefit to the local community. Moreover, the ecotourism market in Taiwan is still limited; thus it can not attract the operators’ interest to join into the small ecotourism market. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the needs and the environmental attitudes of Taiwanese ecotourists to develop more effective plans and strategies. This kind of strategies can contribute to the whole tourism market for more sustainability of development and particularly reinforce the ecotourism market in the environment, economic and social aspects. If the implement of the strategies work, it will offer a sustainable development for countries and local communities, and retain the biodiversity of life which is a means to achieve the goal of developing ecotourism (Wearing and Neil, 2003).

2.5 Trends Affecting Ecotourism

According to Diamantis (1999:101), ‘all the ecotourism definitions regardless of their stance (active or passive) include the natural-based component’, however, ‘all forms of travel to natural area are not necessarily ecotourism’ (Wearing and Neil, 2003:4). Nowadays, people travel to national parks or protected areas for escaping the urban living and also because of the raise of environmental concern (Wearing and Neil, 2003). They also mention that to know the motivation of the tourist can be a way to differentiate the component of ecotourism and nature-based tourism. Goodwin (1996, cited in Diamantis, 1999) states that based on the motivation of their consumers, it is possible to turn nature tourism in to ecotourism. For ecotourist, ‘nature is an integral part of their experience but not the fundamental motivation for them’ (Wearing and Neil, 2003:5). The desire to experience and learn about the nature is result of changing attitudes to the environment (Weaver, 2001). Uysal et al. (1994, cited in Wurzinger and Johansson, 2006) also found that people who take national parks to be their main destination were found to be more concerned about the environment and the balance of nature.

2.6 Market profile

From the socio-demographic point of view, the profile of the ecotourist could be divided into gender, age, education, income and occupation. According to Weaver (2001), one of the most important determinants of the ecotourist is age. The International Ecotourism Society (2006) asserts that the main market of ecotourism in Europe in middle to elderly age. As people age, instead of active, dangerous and out-door recreational activities, they appreciate less strenuous activities. Thus, the changed structure of the demographic will generate more demand of the ecotourism, soft adventure and culture trip (HLA/ARA, 1994; Eagles 1995; cited in Weaver, 2001). However, the Ecotourism Supplementary Survey found that half of the inbound tourists to Australia are in the 20-29 age (Weaver, 2001). In fact, the age of the ecotourist is variable depending on what sorts of activities are held in the ecotourism location (Wight, 1996) and the differences of the target population of the destination (Weaver, 2001). With regard to education factor, TIES (2006) asserted that the ecotourist in Europe tends to have a higher education degree. This is also verified in most of the literature that ecotourists tend to have higher educational qualifications than general tourists (Wight, 1996; Weaver, 2001; Wight, 2001). Potentially, the income of the ecotourist is higher than the general tourist (Weaver, 2001; TIES, 2006).

However, according to Wight (1996) this result does not support by US adventure travel survey. Again, depending on different kind of the activity hold in the ecotourism destination the result will be different accordingly. However, what can be acknowledged here is the age, level of education and income is possible to positive relative with each other. The ecotourists who are elderly may usually have higher income and higher educational level than the young ones. In this research, the aim is to develop a market profile of the Taiwanese ecotourist in the Kenting National Park to get a better insight of Taiwanese ecotourists who spend their time in the national park.

2.7.1 The travel motivations of the ecotourists

Tourism development is both supply-led and demand-driven. In order to respond to the growing demand and to stimulate tourist demand, the provision of tourist facilities and services may also arise (Liu, 2003). However, ecotourism is an exception that is different to mass tourism. Clarke (2002) states that ecotourism tends to be supply rather than demand orientated. Wahaba (1975, cited in Pearce, 2005) suggests that the fundamental in tourism studies and tourism development is based on travel motivation. Weaver (2002:253) also mentions that ‘travel is usually associated with multiple motives’. Several researchers have seen motivation as the leading power behind all actions (Crompton, 1979; Fodness, 1994; Iso-Ahola, 1982; cited in Pearce, 2005). ‘Motivation has been referred to as psychological/biological needs and wants’ (Yoon and Uysal, 2003:46) such as integral forces which direct a person’s behaviour. Fennell (1990, cited in Tao et al., 2004) refers that travel motivation is experiences or benefits which directly affect the choice of trip or destination.

Motivation tends to be changeable in a short period of time, thus it seems to be different when each time people make the decision for a trip. Yoon and Uysal (2003) point that in the psychology and sociology’s point of view, motivation can be divided into internal motives which are associated with drives, mental and instincts and external motives which are involving mental representations such as knowledge or beliefs.

2.7.2 Push and pull factors

Dann (1977, cited in Klenosky, 2002) states that to explaining the motivations underlying tourist behaviour, push-pull framework (Figure 2.2) is a sort of simple and intuitive approach. Push motivations are related to tourist’s desire which is more about the internal and emotional aspects. On the other hand, pull motivations are involve in the attributes of the destination choice which are connected to external, situational and cognitive aspects (Yoon and Uysal, 2003). Generally speaking, Liu (2003:462) points that ‘the demand determinants push a tourist into a travel decision while the supply factors pull the tourist toward a particular destination’. Therefore, push and pull factors can be characterized into two decisions made in two points of time.

Firstly, when people decide whether to go then they will decide where to go and what t

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