SeaTrust Institute focuses on protecting the environment through research and education. Tourism acts to educate people to see the wonders of the world without destroying them. Tourists will always tour. By blending a research and educational NGO, businesses and research academics we provide opportunities for tourists of any class, to gain knowledge through tourism opportunities.
Tourism is a global phenomenon that in its basic form of travel (for family, business and a quest for knowledge of the “Other”) has existed for millennia. The current mass movement of people around the world has arisen as a result of technological and political advances. Globalization has liberalized the movement of knowledge, economies and people. Tourism is listed as among the world’s top 5 industries according to the World Tourism Association. Since WWII, tourism has been regarded as a toll that could provide benefits for peace in terms of increased cultural understanding and by providing opportunities for economic development.
As an area of academic interest, tourist studies in Europe emerged from a “Hospitality and Services” focus. In the US, Tourism studies emerged from a “Land Use” focus while in Australia they have developed through a sustainable development approach. All approaches are vital to the understanding of the phenomena of tourism and all it involves. In the 1980s and 1990s, ecotourism emerged as an approach to link natural and cultural heritage conservation with the business of global appreciation of travel, recreation and tourism.
Why does a research and educational organization engage in tourism? NGOs worldwide link with tourism in an attempt to value add to global conservation efforts through knowledge seeking to obtain additional financial value for that which can’t be relegated to a single set of ‘values’ (e.g. conversation = preservation +use). By engaging tourists with research and other ways of knowing, SeaTrust Institute nature based tourism offers educational experiences that are valuable contributions to research efforts and to deepening cultural understandings in coastal communities and ecosystems.
Nature Based Tourism – The SeaTrust Institute Opportunities
Nature Based Marine Tourism: Western Science and Indigenous Interpretation
The broad project concept, currently titled Nature Based Marine Tourism: Western Science and Indigenous Interpretation, explores the application of indigenous tourism in a symbiotic relationship with scientific research and business opportunities. As we explore the use of nature based tourism and ethnic tourism as a tool for both economic development, we will be capturing scientific data to assist communities with business development opportunities and improve understanding of ecosystems and environmental change.
Researchers and educators from SeaTrust Institute and Murdoch University, together with planned participation by the University of Washington, are working together to forge links with communities and businesses that act to provide global links and shared understanding of those committed to sharing and maintain the wonders of the world. One research and development goal is to develop synergistic relationships between coastal and marine data collection and analysis, business development, and indigenous/local knowledge in support of marine policy decisions. We propose that this symbiosis can improve capacity of coastal indigenous communities for managing the changing demographic, environmental, and climate conditions of their communities.
Tourists in these programs will engage with western science and indigenous ways of knowing while experiencing the coastal environment in the Pacific Northwest. Coastal community tourism opportunities provide unique situations for regional and independent development, particularly for indigenous coastal communities. However, tourism has facets beyond assisting communities. Tourism is a double edged sword that brings potential for both positive and negative impacts for regional, coastal and indigenous communities and ecosystems. Traditional coastal communities have to readdress their dependence on the marine environment and seek alternative means of economic development while also aiming to gain a greater knowledge about climate change and the resultant change to the marine environment.
Indigenous communities that enter into marine tourism may provide a means to link marine policy and scientific (and citizen) research with business opportunities for native communities. Marine Policy should be informed by and connected with marine conservation: preservation plus use considering climate change and human activity. Recreational and tourism activities in the marine environment are considerable. An understanding of both biodiversity and tourism results in adding to the perceived value of natural resources. Knowledge of biodiversity which is a key aspect of indigenous, traditional knowledge is an often overlooked component of marine policy decisions. Cultural diversity and ethnic preservation are also goals which are compatible with some forms of sustainable tourism.
The core of the work focuses on exploring and developing a community, business strategy approach for Marine Based Tourism that provides traditional interpretation and environmental data collection opportunities for tourists, with analytical support from NGO and academic capabilities. The focus of the plan will be on sustainable development that addresses the triple bottom line of socio/cultural capacity building, environmental maintenance and economic viability (people, planet, prosperity). A key approach will be an examination of appropriate training opportunities for indigenous people. Training is designed to build local capacity in order to provide local people who are able to participate in the business in a manner that supports pride in traditional knowledge, provides a positive tourism experience and supports the collection of environmental data for Marine Policy. Currently the bridge between Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is missing in many business development plans and government policies.
Volunteer Project Leadership from Dr. Diane Lee, Murdoch University
Visiting scholar Dr. Diane Lee from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia is working with SeaTrust Institute throughout the year by helping to develop a program in nature based tourism and indigenous interpretation that links with global universities for researcher and student exchange opportunities. Diane is an accomplished scholar, lecturer and researcher with over 20 years work in tourism and indigenous peoples in various parts of the world. We are extremely fortunate to have access to her expertise in working with local tribes and coastal communities to develop a business strategy approach for Marine Based Tourism that provides traditional interpretation and environmental data collection opportunities for tourists, with analytical support from NGO and academic capabilities. The focus of the plan will be on sustainable development that addresses the triple bottom line of socio/cultural capacity building, environmental maintenance and economic viability (people, planet, prosperity).
Having previously spent time here in the Pacific Northwest, Diane is an “old hand” with our customs but will lend some Western Australian spice to our ways.
We are looking forward to a fabulous year together. It is our great pleasure to welcome Diane!