This book is dedicated to the heritage of Vermont in a time of change. Although cultures, traditions, landscapes, and populations are transforming and evolving through tourism, industry, and ideas, Vermont’s heritage is still in the minds and stories of locals and visitors alike. Tourism creates change for better and for worse. This book is dedicated to all the communities and travellers who participate in tourism purposefully with a hope towards strengthening community relationships throughout the world and making change a positive force in every aspect of our lives.
Table of Contents
[Marta: need a one-page intro on the fact that tourism is the world's largest industry and on positive impact tourism as a response to problems with conventional tourism. In addition we should give an overview of the various chapters that consitute Part 1]
Traditionally, the discipline of economics concerns itself with the allocation of scarce resources among alternative ends. (or the interactions of economic sectors with each other) The discipline of ecology focuses on the relationships between living organisms and their environment (or the interactions of ecosystems and their components with each other.). Ecological Economics draws on conventional forms of ecology and neoclassical economics, amongst other disciplines. It examines both disciplines critically to define an approach that is better able to address current large-scale ecological issues. The study of “Ecological Economics is a transdisciplinary field of study that addresses the relationships between ecosystems and economic systems in the broadest sense. These relationships are central to many of humanity’s current problems and to building a sustainable future but are not well covered by any existing scientific discipline.”
[Dan: need your most up to date draft]
What comes to mind when you think about tourism? Hopefully fun, relaxation, good food, perhaps adventure. But sometimes on the periphery of the idyllic tourist experience are uncomfortable glimpses of what lies outside the visitor’s window: low paid and demeaning service jobs, a degraded environment and the refuse and disparity of a consumer culture. There is the uncomfortable sense that this vacation you dreamed about isn’t helping those who host your visit and upon inspection appears to be making their situation worse. For many, the answer has been to build taller walls, thicker barriers to prevent reality interrupting the picture of their vacation paradise. Others have begun to seek a reality where tourism does not necessitate the creation of a fantasy but rather enables enjoyment of a truly healthy reality; a visitor experience where there is a partnership between the guests and the hosts in which both benefit and are satiated by the exchange. This chapter provides an introduction to the concept of positive impact tourism .
A few years ago I started showing Stephanie Black’s film “Life and Debt” to my classes at UVM. The film presents two pictures of life in Jamaica. The first is life seen from the viewpoint of the short-term visitor. These tourists see a Jamaica that is all rum and sun, with smiling service personnel whose main concern is the happiness of the visitors. The tourists drink and eat themselves into stupification and spend their time within the confines of the Club Med image created for them. The film juxtaposes this against the world that exists right outside the walls of the club, where poverty is rampant, violence stalks the populace, job security does not exist and farmers cannot sell their produce because of competition with low-cost imports. When I would ask students what they thought of the video I expected them to be appalled at the social inequity or the injustice of hard working people losing ground because the system is set up to guarantee their defeat. Instead the first voiced anger at the filmmakers portrayal of the tourists.
They didn’t like hearing that tourists in Jamaica contribute very little to addressing the pressing needs of Jamaica. The didn’t like the implication that there is an obligation not to ignore the inequity that allows them to live like royalty while the locals fall ever deeper into poverty. They didn’t like the idea that the happiness of the tourist is borne on the backs of people driven ever deeper into hopelessness.
I asked the students to set aside their defensiveness for a moment and to think about how it could be. What could be done to give visitors all they want from a vacation and that would also help Jamaica? Ideas started slowly and then built one on top of the other: locals could own the hotels instead of foreign corporations; local farmers could supply the food for the guests; high-input energy systems could be replaced with better adapted passive systems; expectations of the guests could be changed from a gratuitous and mindless orgy of more and more to a splendid feast that celebrates local culture and builds pride. The short, thick defenses that had arisen in the class transformed into hopeful, imaginative futures that made people smile and feel the potential within the tourism economy.
When people reflect on conventional tourism they recognize that it is often a caricature of our consumer society; one that is overbuilt and unimaginative, simply assuming that more is better, quantity is the single standard and bloated is good. The apparent smorgasbord of tourist goods is actually a lot of a little; the apparent range of choices limited by a narrow definition of what the tourist experience should be, and one that requires blinders as to the costs. The goal of positive impact tourism is to provide a framework for rethinking the potential in the visitor experience to transform the power of visitation toward sustainable development, rather than the shallow, fleeting and ultimately degrading gratification that characterizes the experience today.
What is surprising to many is that creating a positive impact from tourism is possible. It requires a fundamental change in the orientation of tourism planning from one that seeks an increase in tourism business as a good in itself to a view of tourism as a tool of sustainable development rather than a goal in itself. Tourism is not pursued simply because it is a possible source of business activity but used to promote a broader good that integrates and promotes both local goals and the interests of intergenerational equity.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine life in which there are no costs and all is positive. In fact, this is one of the fallacies of conventional economics; that infinite growth is possible. In reality, development will have costs and entropy in the system will increase. PI Tourism approaches this in two different veins.
First, because there will be costs incurred in the activity of tourism whether or not the direction of change is “positive” will be evaluated in terms of the net change across all four forms of capital, as well as the trend in the distribution of those capital resources and their associated services. It is likely that there will be some stocks that may show signs of decline, and these will be evaluated in terms of the change in the system. Thus it is a net concept, rather than a requirement that all change be positive in every time period.
Furthermore, it is assumed that changes that improve a state from an existing degraded or undesirable condition will be counted as a positive impact.
A net positive impact is ambitious. It is more likely that the result for most communities seriously pursuing this concept would be a reduction in negative impacts in many areas and the introduction of positive impact technologies or practices in a few areas. E.g. more fuel efficient transportation, and development of a science school whose students all engaged in streambank restoration.
[Amy: need an abstract and the most up to date draft (?)]
The following sections provide an overview of conventional and ecological economics, and address the costs/benefits and/or trade-offs associated with positive impact tourism as compared to other traditional forms of tourism.
As a visitor engaged in positive impact tourism, a guest visits a host community, and upon leaving, (or potentially later as effects may not be realized immediately--we should recognize the value of reflection, for example, in terms of human capital) the net impact on the visitor and on the host/host community, or even a larger community, will be positive/ beneficial.
To begin to understand the value of positive impact tourism as compared to other forms of tourism, a brief example may be useful. Traditionally, the “positive impacts” of tourism, the benefits, have been measured strictly in dollars for the host community and in pleasure and/or relaxation for the visitor. The community of Island Pond, Vermont, may serve as a contemporary example of the conventional benefits associated with tourism. Island Pond, a small town in the Northeast corner of Vermont, known locally as the Northeast Kingdom, markets itself as New England’s “Final Frontier.” The relatively undeveloped area boasts vast tracks of undeveloped land, both publicly and privately owned, open to public uses, including snowmobiling, skiing, hunting, fishing, and hiking. It is home to the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and the Nulhegan Basin (get the name right here). The surrounding community/environment is worthy of its Final Frontier subtitle given some of the natural attractions in the area including 93,315 acres of public state forest lands and parks, 27,632 acres of federal forest lands and parks, 84,000 acres of private forest land open to the public, 37,575 acres of public lakes and ponds, and 3,840 miles of public rivers and streams. (from http://www.islandpond.com/) Without doubt, the area provides something people often feel is missing from their daily lives, a sense of the wild, untamed, and vastness of open spaces, blended with the appeal of working New England farms and villages.
In the last decade, snowmobile trails and services have increased dramatically in the area, both as an attraction and as a response to growing numbers of enthusiasts. The growth in the sport has brought prosperity to many rural communities in Vermont, as it has to other northern communities across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. “In Vermont, between 1992 and 2000, membership in VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers) increased 75 percent, from 20,000 to 35,000.” (Bethany M. Dunbar, Barton Chronicle 12/20/02-from www.tomifobia.com/vermont_snowmobile.html). VAST reports that snowmobiling contributes an estimated $550 million dollars a year to the economy of Vermont and annual revenue generated from the sale of snowmobiles and accessories in Vermont exceeds $101 million, while $109 million is spent on lodging, meals, gas, snacks, beverages and real estate. (from www.vtvast.org 11/4/04). Needless to say, snowmobiling is a valuable industry within the state.
The North East Kingdom has seen significant growth in the industry, largely as a result of sizeable tracks of open space and snowfall levels that are consistently higher and remain on the ground longer than the state average (get some data to support this). Historically, the area has depended on the forest products and tourism industries for its livelihood. (verify this). In addition to the natural resource bases mentioned above, the overhead for developing a snowmobile touring industry in an area formerly occupied by large timber industries and hungry for employment opportunities is relatively low. Many logging roads and trails already in existence are suitable for snowmobile use and have historically been used as such, albeit by smaller numbers. From the perspective of the land, it can be argued that snowmobiles have little impact on the ground they cross as compared to other forms of motorized recreation, such as All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). Snowmobiles travel on frozen, snow covered surfaces, causing little trail erosion, and as mentioned above, much of the travel occurs on previously established roads, trails, and corridors. In addition, the dollars spent by visitors in restaurants, hotels, and on other supplies and services are invaluable to the community. Overall, this paints a picture, simplified as it is, of a reasonable pursuit of economic development based on recreation and tourism. The financial overhead for the community is fairly low, and the returns are high, especially in a good snow year. Guests enjoy the beauty of the remote woods and trails, and local community members benefit from this financial transfusion.
So what’s the catch? What is wrong with this development model? Why are we promoting positive impact tourism in contrast to this example? Outdoor recreation tourism development is not an inherently flawed model, in fact it contributes to the economic health and prosperity of many communities in Vermont. However, as with any type of growth, there are trade-offs associated with growth and change that must be taken into consideration. The model of Positive Impact Tourism proposed in this book looks at those costs and benefits from the both the perspective of the community and that of the visitor, working towards an industry model that seeks to maximize the beneficial impacts for both groups.
So what are the trade-offs in Island Pond? One pervasive cost may be seen on a winter weekend in the form of smog, hanging over the community, or perhaps to some, heard in the constant hum of snowmobiles in the background. (I’m looking for some succinct data to support this and possibly compare/contrast to issues in Yellowstone, ADK) To many people trying to make a living in a small town, air and noise pollution are a relatively small price to pay, particularly if it is only for a few months out of the year. But regardless of the financial reality of local residents, who most certainly need jobs and a thriving economy, it is generally accepted that inhaling high levels of carbon monoxide has negative health impacts. Rangers at the entrance gates to Yellowstone National Park wear respirators when collecting fees on winter weekends due to the poor quality of the air as a result of snowmobile traffic. On a larger scale, the addition of more carbon to our atmosphere causes global warming and a myriad of associated ecological changes, a cost that people, plants, animals, and entire ecosystems will continue to pay for years to come. This is a simplified example begins to touch upon the intangible costs of standard forms of economic development, costs that often are overlooked, costs born by people, communities, and ecosystems, (the world) that cannot be adequately reimbursed by dollars alone.
However, associated with the intangible costs mentioned above are a host of intangible benefits that are often undervalued in standard assessments of economic impact. It is fairly easy to identify the tangible benefits to the host communities like Island Pond. Benefits to local businesses are perhaps the greatest direct impact. According to 2002 article in a local newspaper, the Barton Chronicle, Kingdom Cat Corp., an Arctic Cat snowmobile dealer in Island Pond, started their business in 1998 and sold 17 sleds. In 2002, they sold 100 sleds. (Bethany M. Dunbar, Barton Chronicle 12/20/02-from www.tomifobia.com/vermont_snowmobile.html). (Some more, better supporting data here)
But what are some of these intangible benefits given the Island Pond example? Visitors traveling by snowmobile through tracts of northern forest may learn more about the local ecosystem as a result of their time spent in it. This awareness can lead to a greater appreciation for and value given to a particular environment, as well as greater awareness as they visit other ecosystems and communities. Members of the community have an opportunity to share local culture and stories, sharing and increasing their pride in their place. Visitors may choose to support local projects, businesses, or conservation initiatives as a result of what they have been exposed to in their travels (Nulhegan). Snowmobilers may join a local club and participate in trail maintenance, safety training, or community fundraisers. Positive interactions between hosts and their visitors lead to return visits, and may eventually lead to second home or retirement home purchases. Each of these benefits is dependent upon the visitor and the host community. One or both must take the initiative to promote activities, regulations, and interactions that create opportunities like those listed above. Ultimately, the responsibility falls on both parties, but the host community must choose how they measure positive impact and work to promote those practices that not only benefit their bank accounts, but also benefit their personal health and happiness, their community networks, and their natural environment.
These intangibles, the effects different types of tourism development may have on people, communities, and natural environments, cannot be measured by traditional economic analysis. By definition, Positive Impact Tourism seeks to broaden the categories included in a cost/benefit analysis of the economic impact tourism has on local economies and communities. If one engages the discipline (transdiscipline?) of ecologocial economics in this analysis, the result is a more holistic view of the trade-offs involved. Following is an overview of the basic tenets of ecological economics that will provide a structure for understanding the value of and evaluating the possibility of Positive Impact Tourism.
The field of economics has traditionally been focused on the allocation of scare resources among alternative ends. (Farley PPt) Neoclassical economics is based on the assumptions that technological advances can outpace resource scarcity and that ecological services can be replaced by new technologies. If we were to apply this thinking to our example of snowmobiles above, we would conclude that advances in snowmobile technology will make them cleaner and quieter machines, and that whatever damage has already been done to our air or water quality can also be rectified through technological advances. If these assumptions prove true, they would lead to what is defined in ecological economics as “weak sustainability.” In circumstances promoting weak sustainability, the built capital base, the physical infrastructure and financial capital of an entity or community, is preserved. Wealth may be passed on from generation to generation, but not necessarily the natural resource base from which that wealth was originally derived. Snowmobiles may pollute less, but the environmental damage already done is not rectified, nor are attitudes shifted towards understanding the underlying problem. Weak sustainability provides band-aid solutions. If, however, these assumptions are not true, as ecological economics would suggest, if there are limits to the carrying capacity of the earth system (Costanza 108), if resource and ecological limits are important, and if technology is not able to solve problems of resource scarcity or poor distribution/allocation, we need to change the way we think about and approach these problems. Considering Positive Impact Tourism is one way to do so.
An examination of the trade-offs associated with positive impact tourism follows. To analyze the trade-offs, it is important to consider a broader definition of capital. If we consider capital to be “a stock of something that yields a flow of useful goods or services,” (Costanza p.105) it is easy to see that these flows exist in human, social, and natural arenas, as well as in our manufactured/built environment. These four categories are interdependent in a community. The education, skills, history, and work that people lend to their communities, and then pass on to future generations constitute human capital. Social capital includes, “those stocks of social trust, norms and networks that people can draw upon to solve common problems. Neighborhood associations, sports clubs, and cooperatives are all essential form of social capital.” (Retrieved from http://www.cpn.org/tools/dictionary/capital.html 10/18/04) Clear running water, a healthy stand of forest, productive agricultural land, or a scenic view can each be considered a useful natural good and/or service, what we call natural capital. Finally, built/manufactured capital provides the foundation for activities in a community. Roads, bridges, airports, railroads, utilities, waste-disposal systems, schools, hospitals, and communication systems are essential factors in any community, particularly one wishing to promote tourist activities.
To understand the value and importance of positive impact tourism it may be helpful to compare it to some other forms of tourism. The following table outlines the impacts different forms of tourism are likely to have on the four forms of capital that were previously outlined. In the chart we can assign positive, negative, or neutral values, at varying levels of magnitude, to the impacts on capital as experienced by the visitor as well as by the host or host community via a chosen activity. By definition, this tool is somewhat subjective, so that it can reach the needs of varied communities over time. The current values listed in the first column of the chart, titled Conventional Tourism, might represent the case of snowmobiles in Island Pond.
Beginning with the visitor’s capital, one can see that tourism has a small or null effect on the visitor’s built capital. A guest may make purchases while traveling, such as a new snowmobile or other accessories, augmenting their built capital, but generally, their built capital is located/centralized wherever they call home. Vacation travel has little impact on the visitor’s built capital. The primary impact the experience has on the visitors aggregate capital is in the form of human capital. The skills, knowledge, awareness, and experience the visitor takes home add to their stock of human capital. Whether a visitor to Island Pond leaves with an increased awareness of the Nulhegan Basin, a better understanding of the rules and safety procedures involved with snowmobiling, or refined skills as an outdoor enthusiast, they have made an investment in their human capital. The visitors social and natural capital, like their built capital, are most likely elsewhere. In the short term, if traveling with friends and family, a visitor may accrue benefits in the form of social capital as a result of time spent together, or over time and after repeated visits, a relationship with the host/host community may add to the visitor’s social capital. In the long term, such experiences are often what lead to second home purchases and the relocation/resettlement of retirees. Generally, however, these two categories are not significantly impacted as a result of the tourist experience.
The corollary to be considered is the impact the activity has on the host community. Tourism in most situations, and Island Pond is a case in point, has a positive impact on the built capital of community. Most visitors will spend some money in the community for food, lodging, or other services, expecting little more than pleasure in return for their investment. Community members feel the effects of that new income. On a small scale, tourism dollars may increases profits for a small business, and on a larger scale, those funds augment the municipal budget to provide new infrastructure and services. The human capital of the host community will likely feel little impact in the short term. The average length of stay associated with a snowmobiling visit provides little time for exchange of ideas, although it would be wrong to say increased human capital for the host is not a possible outcome. A new business owner might attribute some of her increased skills as an entrepreneur and community participant to her clients. In the areas of social and natural capital, it is even less likely to see any positive impacts on the community as a result of conventional tourism. A common scenario of rapid development for tourists strains community resources, and therefore strains community relations. Increased competition for scarce resources inevitably leads to some degree of tension and conflict among community members with differing perspectives and priorities. These conflicts may very well exist prior to an influx of tourists, yet without proper planning, the increased strain caused by visitors will only accentuate conflict. Finally, the natural capital of the community has little to gain from growing numbers of snowmobiles. I do not hesitate to say that the impact snowmobiling has on the natural capital of the host community is negative. Despite what we may do to minimize air pollution, noise pollution, or erosion, the impacts are still there.
To summarize, the first two columns in the chart, identifying the basic trade-offs associated with conventional tourism, illustrate what most communities already recognize; they must take on the majority of the costs of development (more 0 or – values), and that development has particularly strong negative impacts on the social and natural capital of the community. Generally conventional tourism does not have a major impact on the human capital of the host, but large influxes of visitors into the community may cause rapid unplanned growth, stress social networks, and tax the natural capital of an area.
The middle two columns of the chart illustrate (ecotourism) a more sustainable model that many communities have worked towards. The major difference in comparison to the conventional model is gains in the areas of human and social capital for the community. Whereas conventional tourism focuses primarily on financial sustainability, ecotourism works towards what has become known as a “triple bottom line”, which includes conservation and social sustainability in addition to financial sustainability. Conservation of natural resources, cultural preservation, and the empowerment of local residents in host communities are fundamentals of Ecotourism. The impacts on human and social capital within the community are therefore increased through successful ecotourism operations
The final two columns of the chart illustrate (positive impact tourism) the proposed model for a form tourism that will have a net benefit for the host community. Although Positive Impact Tourism is a new idea, some options do currently exist. In this model, impacts on all four capitals for the community are positive, and the visitor experiences a greater growth in human capital. How do we achieve these overwhelmingly positive values in this new model of tourism?
[Kate: need an abstract]
Vermont has been a vacation destination for decades. The rural landscape, environment and rich heritage are but a few of the attributes that draw visitors each year. The image of Vermont has evolved into a brand, which encompasses many attributes, some fluid and some materialistic, that the state has to offer. This brand may be the most valuable marketing tool for expanding and developing positive impact tourism in the state.
According to a recent survey, the most dominant attributes visitors associate with Vermont is “beautiful” and “peaceful”. 1 The strongest personality traits visitors connected to Vermont were “respect of the environment”, and “authenticity”. The image of Vermont is much stronger than a covered bridge, hillside farm or a sap bucket hanging from a tree. It is the understanding that Vermont as a place is preserved and taken care of by the stewards of the land.
Over half of visitors to the Green Mountain state purchase Vermont made products while on vacation.1 Shopping is a common activity among tourists, and searching for authentic, genuine souvenirs is a priority. According to the O’Neal Brand Study, the Vermont image for purchasers of Vermont products identified both these attributes as well as “natural and pure” as some of the most important to them.
The importance visitors place on Vermont’s environment and beauty provides an important marketing tool for building the state’s positive impact tourism. Many references to Vermont natural resources are featured on the state’s tourism website. Cultural and heritage events as well as outdoor recreation are among the popular tourist activities.
Vermont has a long history of working to manage growth in an effort to preserve its natural and built environments. The Land Use and Development Law, also known as Act 250, was first passed in the spring of 1970 by the Vermont Legislature. The creation of the law was in response to rapid growth in the late 1960s. This growth was spurred by the creation of interstate highways 89 and 91, which increased both awareness of and access to Vermont and its rich natural environment. Fundamentally, the law requires large scale developments and/or those in sensitive areas to acquire a land-use permit prior to construction. “In passing Act 250, the Vermont Legislature declared that ‘it is necessary to regulate and control the utilization and usages of lands and the environment to insure that, hereafter, the only usages which will be permitted are not unduly detrimental to the environment, will promote the general welfare through orderly growth and development and are suitable to the demands and needs of the people of this state.’ Findings and Declaration of Intent Vermont’s Land Use and Development Law Title 10, Chapter 151 (Act 250)” An Act 250 permit is required in a number of circumstances, but generally applies to developments on 10 or more acres, of 10 or more units, or subdivisions of 10 or more lots. Construction of roads, construction above 2500 feet, construction of communication or broadcast towers greater than 20 feet tall, and drilling/mining/extraction endeavors all require Act 250 permits. The law encourages developers to think about the 10 criterion prior to development to insure that their land use permit is approved. Review of permit applications is based on the 10 criteria outlined in the act. These criteria “focus on projected impacts on air and water quality, water supplies, traffic, local schools and services, municipal costs, and historic and natural resources, including scenic beauty. Developments must also conform to local and regional land use plans.” Act 250 is administered by District Environmental Commissions, each of which reviews applications for permits and makes decisions and recommendations based on the 10 criteria defined in the legislation. In addition to the applicant and the commission, the municipality and its planning commission, the regional planning commission, and affected state agencies may also be involved in the permitting process. In some instances, adjoining property owners and other persons or groups who qualify under Environmental Board rules may also participate. “Because of the Act 250 process, the quality of development in Vermont is generally higher than in states without comprehensive land use laws. Act 250 was designed to achieve a balance between economic development and the legitimate interests of citizens, municipalities, and state agencies in protecting the environment. Innovative and bold at its inception, Act 250 is now part of the fabric of Vermont.” The forethought Vermont’s citizens and government have put into land-use planning illustrates a high level of commitment to maintaining the ecological and economic health of the State, as well as its natural and scenic beauty and character. Working to develop and promote positive impact tourism is a logical next step for a state that prides itself on being at the forefront of environmental thought and legislation.
Vermont legislators in the late 1960’s were concerned about what impact a growing tourism industry would have on the environment. In 1968, the “anti-billboard” law was passed. Lawmakers recognized that “the scattering of outdoor advertising throughout the state is detrimental to the preservation of those scenic resources, and so the economic base of the state…”1 Furthermore, the same bill declared that Vermont’s “scenic resources of great value are distributed throughout the state, and have contributed greatly to its economic development…”2 The “anti-billboard” law is still in effect today, and contributed to Vermont’s reputation as an environmental conscience population.
The Current Use program is program to value forest and agricultural land by use rather than market value. The program was created in the late 1970’s to address the growing pressure and burden landowners experienced through increased market value, and therefore taxes. The Current Use program bases tax assessments on the land use value versus market value. The result is lower taxes for landowners, and land remaining in forestry and agriculture.
The Vermont Land Trust offers another opportunity for landowners to preserve their forest, meadows and farmland. The private nonprofit organization began in 1977, and has protected almost 250,000 acres of forest and nearly 150,000 acres of farmland.1 This land will forever remain part of the beautiful landscape so valued by Vermonters and tourist alike.
Visitors to the Green Mountain State purchase many goods as part of their Vermont experience. Some bring home cheese and maple syrup, quality arts and crafts, or handcrafted wood, granite and marble products. All of these items have one ingredient in common, a piece of the Vermont image or brand. This brand of authenticity, quality, and craftsmanship adds value to the products. The artisans who produce such unique items are part of what makes up Vermont strong creative economy.
The Vermont Tourism and Marketing Department make efforts to promote the various products and services the state has to offer. Recreation, nature, farms, arts and culture and Vermont products are among a few of the topics featured on the state tourism website.1 The State of Vermont also funds regional marketing organizations throughout the state. The direct allocation of funds targets marketing needs based on the geographic needs of tourist related businesses. State and local Chambers of Commerce also plays a role in state marketing.
Many producers have formed their own marketing groups such as the Vermont Craft Council, Specialty Food Association, Granite Association, and many others. These producers have come together to strengthen their marketing efforts which similar producers. 1n 2003, the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association started the Vermont Forest Heritage Tourism Initiative. This program has designed a trail throughout Vermont for visitors to travel to various wood manufacturers’ showrooms and studios, sawmills and forests.
[Marta: need a one-page intro on the various dimensions of tourism in VT and talk in general terms about promising directions. Also, provide overview of the various chapters that consitute Part 2]
[Danielle: Could you mention the trend of newcomers moving into rural communities. They normally have different values - they tend to post their land more than residents, for example. Need to discuss heritage -Abenaki, in particular: how is the Abenaki culture surviving, can tourism bring a beneficial effect to revive these traditions?]
A common theme throughout the world is of struggling nations meeting their growing population needs by way of integrating tourism into their social structures to improve economic standing. But, what happens when a poorly designed tourist infiltration creates eradication of the local culture that had previously been maintained over time? The traditional tourism model fails because the things that were the unique, initial resource to promote tourism are lost in a perpetual inflow of disrupting ideas and technologies. This leads to the exploitation of the community at large and dissolution of their values. The preservation of rural culture and heritage is at the heart of the positive impact tourism model. It seeks to integrate sensitivity and appreciation for the local culture and people, education about the natural environment in which they live, and respect for the community setting at large. Three vital cultural components to be sustained are those of language, traditions, and customs. Pre-ordained knowledge of the area to be visited is an essential way that prospective visitors can minimize their negative impacts on the community. The goals sought by “positive impact” (as outlined in the first chapter?) seek not only for the tourist to minimize his or her negative impacts, but provide positive methods to accelerate the local economy, social networks, and environment without threat to the community. “Tourism activities revolving around large holiday home developments, big hotels, golf courses, or ski pistes are difficult to integrate into the concept of rural tourism. The distinguishing feature of tourism products in rural tourism is the wish to give visitors personalized contact, a taste of the physical and human environment of the countryside, and, as far as possible, allow them to participate in the activities, traditions, and lifestyles of local people. There is a strong cultural and educational element in this form of leisure tourism; studies conducted on this subject show that the majority of enthusiasts of rural tourism, who are mainly from middle or upper classes, attach great significance to local values and local cultural identity.”1 The state of Vermont is a prime example of a place rich in culture and heritage that must preserve its traditions, not only for the goodness of communities but also to maintain a tourism industry growing at X% per year. The view of Vermont varies according to different target groups. This variation of identity can be illustrated using a “brand”. A brand is a way to associate the place with a service or product provided that exists only in peoples’ minds and not in the place, product, or service itself.2 In the case of Vermont, its brand is seen in many different lights, those being the visitor, the local resident, purchasers Vermont-made products, and business owners, both local and out-of-state. According to a branding study done by an out-of-state agency, the O’Neal Strategy Group, these parties all see Vermont in virtually the same light. Responses that appeared repeatedly were those of Vermont being “beautiful, natural, peaceful, authentic and genuine, respecting the environment, and hosting year round fun”. These marketing strategies are all true of the state, but what does that mean for the local communities of Vermont? How do they see themselves in the midst of an ever-growing international industry? There is a very fragile line between the authentic Vermont that gives residents and visitors alike a “sense of place”, a feeling of well-being, and a change of pace, and a Vermont that is an entity created solely for the purpose of selling the Vermont brand. The town of Stowe in northern Vermont is an example of a community teetering on the edge of being simply a marketing strategy devised by consulting firms to sell a feeling. Consistently throughout the state when asked what they want to see happen to their community in terms of tourism, Vermonters will respond that they “don’t want to be another Stowe”. (need reference?) This image of decreased social capital can be offset by local communities making clear their objectives early in the process and upholding their values throughout a change or shift in economy base or simply an expanding economy.
The Vermont way of life is embedded deep in our culture and heritage. It is alive in the celebrations throughout the state of past traditions and legacies. This step into the life of the past is an important experience for visitors to the Green Mountain state. While several historic sites, festivals and cultural events offer the opportunity to educate people on Vermont life, it is equally as important to balance the need for preservation and protection of its authenticity.
According to the 2002 National Survey of the Vermont visitor, over 40% of tourists visited cultural and historic sites while vacationing in the state1. Cultural heritage visitors, like other Vermont tourists, generally come to Vermont to visit friends and family, and relax while enjoying the beauty and serenity. A majority of cultural tourists surveyed indicated that visiting historic sites and museums was not a factor in planning their vacation. However, once here, visitors seek to experience the real Vermont way of life [Kate: explain].
Experiencing life on a farm is a cultural experience that has seen recent growth. Agriculture has a rich tradition in Vermont, and Agritourism has become an expanding and viable option for farmers and tourists alike. Returning home with an authentic Vermont souvenir is important to tourists. Almost 60% of tourists reported purchasing Vermont products such as crafts, furniture, and specialty foods. This number was even higher among cultural tourists, where almost 90% of people surveyed brought home Vermont made goods.
As Vermont is such a rich state in culture and heritage, it makes sense for the state to further market this type of tourism. Interesting tidbits of Vermont history exist in every corner of the state. Preservation of existing sites of historic relevance avoids development pressure for new forms of tourism, and builds social capital for the community. This social capital can then be used as a marketing tool to build positive impact tourism for the region. Coordination of regional efforts to market Vermont as a historical discovery destination could provide a packaged incentive for new visitation to the state.
Vermont offers many opportunities to experience the history and traditions of the state and its’ people. Some of these include historic homes and museums, site markers, and festivals and events celebrating our past. The Vermont History Expo is held annually, and features over 100 local historical societies, as well as exhibits and performers of Vermont customs and traditions. Approximately *** museums and historic sites are located throughout the state. Its’ relevance and importance in the role of state government marketing is evident, as cultural opportunities are featured throughout their website1.
Vermont made products are available throughout the state, ranging from handmade crafts, furniture, granite and clothing to specialty foods, chocolate, micro-brewed beer and of course, cheese and maple products. There is a growing concern in the state to protect the authenticity of Vermont products by developing guidelines for using Vermont on a label. The Attorney General’s Office has proposed guidelines for enforcement based origin and manufacturing claims and other criteria. Other statewide programs have attempted to protect the Vermont name through logo identification programs such as the Seal of Quality. While producers meet the demand side that tourists create for the Vermont souvenir, government will likely regulate the authenticity these products represent.
Many considerations are taken when marketing a potential perishable fragile product such as culture, heritage and a past way of life. Funding for maintenance of these historic sites is crucial. This funding should include the consideration for protection of the site in balance with marketing strategies to promote visitation. For example, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has discovered a number (***) of shipwrecks beneath the waters of the lake1. Many have significance dating back to the days of the Revolutionary War and Ethan Allen, a legendary Vermont hero. The museum is dedicated to not only sharing these discoveries and their historic significance of Vermont, but at the same time protecting these sites from inexperienced or unmanaged visitation that could result in its’ destruction. (need to quote or provide reference here****). The recent efforts to replicate the Lois McClure, a canal boat that traveled the lake and New York locks in the (**), was built to share the discovery and heritage, while at the same time leaving the original remains undisturbed beneath the waters of Lake Champlain.
Kate or Danielle: need to include a box on Heritage Weekend
Adam or Dan: a box on native community guide services sites (a vision).
The Bread and Puppet theater company got its start in Germany and the United States during the 1960's, but it became best known after it took up residency in Glover, Vermont. Founded by a visionary, radical German expatriate named Peter Schumann, the company became well known for its pageantry, which was overtly political, wildly ostentatious and often allegorical. According to Howard Menikoff, Ph.D., The Bread and Puppet theater had become “a symbol for a community of [former hippies] who chose this lifestyle”1. The lifestyle that he refers to is that of the “new Vermonter” who moved to the state by choice and not by virtue of birth. He notes that the native Vermonters “gain financially and the gain is spread over more people,” and not just businesses, as “the result of migration is “new life, ideas and money in the community” 2. Menikoff recounts the poverty in Glover and in most surrounding towns. He finds that the troupe has little local audience, and although some interest does exists, apathy is a more usual reaction3.
However, the company does conduct workshops and attract volunteers locally, practices considered important by Bread and Puppet touring and business manager (since 1975) Linda Elbow4. She also notes the $10,000 annual sales of Bread and Puppet’s printed material, which is largely consumed by vacationers or those summering in the area5. Ms. Elbow believes that the anti-technology ethos of the troupe and its aging founder, combined with its self-supporting, non-profit structure, will prevent much future growth for Bread and Puppet6. Ironically, the popularity of Bread and Puppet results from its stance against popular, commercial art. The visitors and the company itself both spend sizeable sums at the local supermarket, and (as annual performances grow in popularity), increased rates of occupancy at local inns and lodgings. The company has participated in as many as six local parades in one year, and conducts activities for adults and children alike7. As of 2004, the troupe continues to perform around the country and the world. The contribution of the Bread and Puppet theater to conventional tourism is likely minimal, and hasn’t been studied. But its involvement in the communities of Glover and neighboring Barton has been multiplicitous. The company considers the natural environment in its operation. It picks up trash, uses and reuses local materials (abandoning the use of acetone and using corn starch glue, for instance), and consumes little in the way of modern technology8. The net positive effect on natural capital is evident. Built capital has been developed by consumers of local goods and services, as well as by the purchase of Bread and Puppet publications, which help to sustain the group. In a poor, rural town, the presence of a reknowned group of artists who are intentionally involved in local activities builds and bonds social capital, and the dissemination of artistic skill builds human capital as well. Artists tend to flock to cultural centers, and here is an example of such a center helping to create and sustain a community in the Northeast Kingdom.
[Dave : need and abstract and better titles for the sections that follow (better than the ones I came up with!)]
People long for the land. Maybe this is not surprising, since people hunted and gathered for XX million years, and then tilled the soil for the next ten thousand- old habits die hard. After eons in food production, industrialization shifted people from farm to factory. Instead of seeking food in forests and fields, most now seek sustenance in built environments, surrounded by bricks and mortar. The transformation is nearly total: in the US in 1900, XX% farmed. By the 2000, that number declined to just XX%. In the space of only five generations, almost everyone went from living on the land, to having no contact with a most basic source of life. Yet the land connection remains in our language and culture, revealing our deepest roots. We still speak of “making hay while the sun shines,” though most have never heaved a bale onto a hay wagon. We avoid “counting our chickens before they’re hatched,” though few are expecting young fowl about the yard. Culture change lags technology change by decades or centuries.
Agritourism couples those who long for the country with those who live on it. Until 19XX the Carmen Brook Dairy farm in Highgate Springs, Vermont was a typical New England dairy farm, selling milk through a wholesale dairy cooperative. With milk prices low and fluctuating, owner Karen Fortin says it became clear that “we needed to do something different if we were going to continue farming." The first change was producing maple syrup, another typical Vermont commodity. But at that point the Fortins departed the conventional path to venture into agritourism. It started with adding a sales room onto the sugarhouse, selling maple products directly to the public. The change was small but significant- instead of selling milk to anonymous customers through a wholesaler, buyers started coming to the farm. Besides syrup, buyers also get a drive in the country air, a stroll around a working farmyard, and a chat with their food producer. This is agritourism. Having customers on the farm led Daniel Fortin to improve the dairy barn, making it more accessible and attractive. 4-H projects by the Fortin provided young animals for visitors to pet. An ancient Abenaki medicine cave at the back of the property became a destination for a walk and a spiritual moment. Karen and local Abenaki XX recreated traditional maple sugar production, complete with red-hot rocks boiling sap in birch-bark buckets, and the start of a new spring festival in Highgate Springs. All of these new activities bring people to the farm, and the people buy maple products. Total farm income is now split XX/XX between dairy and maple product sales. Karen guesses the agritourism activities are responsible for at least XX% of the latter. [get numbers and confirm details with Karen]
Examples like the Carmen Brook Dairy Farm can be found around the world. One Italian farmer stated: “I have used the subsidies from the EU to green the environment at my farm. I created a patch of woodland with a hiking trail, and now I want to put some benches along the side, so tourists can rest and watch the animals. Those who come to the countryside search for certain values, that’s why I ... invest in nature.” “People are looking for new experiences- most people today are four generations removed from the farm,” says Jane Eckert of Eckert Agrimarketing in Bellville, Illinois. “They want to capture family memories of picking their own produce, chasing chickens around the farm or petting baby animals. Agritourism allows producers to tap into that market.”7 Within the last 3 years, Over half of all US adults have taken a trip to a rural destination for a leisure purpose.8
In a narrow sense, agritourism provides income to operators, not unlike the financial benefit of conventional tourism. But the agricultural context multiplies positive impacts. Many farmers struggle financially- in Vermont XX% of dairy farms vanished in the last XX years, with milk prices in constant dollars near historic lows [check this]. If commodity prices cannot support farmers, something else must. Agritourism lets farmers expand from commodity production into the service sector. And they can do it without leaving the farm. Agritourism is thus a farm preservation option, and potentially a form of sustainable development. Italy has stated eight goals for agritourism, similar to goals in other parts of the world:
to halt rural out migration by keeping farmers on the land
improved utilization of both natural and built rural resources
enhancement of environmental conservation and management
promotion of typical rural products
support for rural traditions and cultural initiatives
development of agricultural areas
development of youth and social tourism
enhancement of the relationship between city and countryside
Agritourism is a worldwide if not massive movement. The WTO estimated in 2002 that 19 million people, 3% of the worldwide tourism market, had rural holiday experiences, but that just 2% of these participated in agritourism by the WTO’s (narrow) definition. Growth is estimated at to be 6%, higher than for the tourism industry in general.
In Europe most of the focus in on farm accommodations, like the earlier trend in New England. France is the largest provider, with 200,000 beds, followed by Italy at 171,000 and Spain at 50,000. Funding from the EU and national governments has spurred much of this growth. Most European countries have national organizations to develop and promote the industry, and many also maintain services matching potential tourists to potential hosts, frequently through the internet. The range of accommodations is well defined, including self-catering houses and apartments, B&Bs, bunkhouses, and tent sites. In Luxembourg quality of accommodation is denoted by ratings of one, two, or three ears of corn10.
Jenny McKelvie notes of European agritourism that while “there is a general consensus that tourism has a substantial role to play in keeping rural areas alive,” numbers overstate the success of agritourism in preserving working farms: “...in reality a large proportion of businesses are using the term [agritourism] for activities that occur outside of a working farm: for example, generating an income almost entirely from tourism or other employment, while growing vegetables on a small plot of land and calling it “agritourism”; or registering an agritourism product when the farm no longer operates.”
Roberta Sonnino’s study of Italian agritourism find two distinct kinds of farmer: the conservative farmer, who opts to produce reliable, basic commodities for a minimal income, and the entrepreneurial farmer, who is more likely to target higher income in agritourism. The demographics of the two types are also of interest: many of the entrepreneurial farmers are large landholders who are new in the countryside, or not even in the countryside at all, but who live in the cities and hire help on the farms. Many of the conservative farmers have held small parcels for generations.
For the conservative farmer, agritourism may have little appeal. Creating tourist amenities typical requires some investment, which for a small farmer means incurring debt and/or enrolling in government programs. And the prospect of catering to tourists’ needs and schedules instead of tending to crops and livestock seems fundamentally wrong to some, an affront to their most basic values. Sonnino observes:
“By creating financial debts and by projecting farmers into an economic sector that they feel they do not know and do not understand, agritourism is a potential threat to the values of ‘freedom’ and ‘independence’ that constitute [farmers’] patrimony and identity... Agritourism is not addressing the necessities of farmers who interpret development in qualitative terms and aim mostly at conserving their lifestyle.”
Thus while agritourism has potential Positive Impact Tourism strategy, it also has limits. The European experience demonstrates that while agritourism can be used to preserve a farming landscape, preserving actual working farms and working farmers can be more challenging. Another basic premise is that agritourism must remain small enough in scale and widely enough dispersed that it retains an authentic rural feel. When tour buses clog country roads, agritourists will disappear. And like any community development venture, success hangs largely on the extent to which a community believes in the proposed outcomes.
Yet the versatility of agritourism lends itself to a variety of manifestations. For those not inclined to host tourists directly, farm stands and farmers’ markets require less interaction with customers. Sonnino suggests that conservative Italian farmers aim simply to provide fresh, local foods to tourist hotels and restaurants, much like the Farmers’ Diner example in Vermont. Positive impacts can flow from all forms of agritourism.
Dave: need a box on Farmer's Diner
The landscape maintenance function of farmers, and its relation to tourism, has received only minor attention and study. A 1989 study polled Swedes on the value of the Swedish farm landscape, which is similar to New England’s. Of the 1,290 surveyed, 95% felt that it was either “very important” or “fairly important” to preserve the agricultural landscape. Top preservation rationales were “many animals and plants depend on the agricultural landscape” and “the landscape is beautiful.” The study also estimated willingness to pay for farm landscape preservation, concluding that on average people would pay 140 ECU/hectare/year, which compares favorably to the value of Swedish agricultural production.
In 1991 Hackl and Pruckner used a contingent valuation method to determine that existing farm subsidy programs in Austria should be increased to reflect the value of the farm landscape. Over 4,000 tourists were surveyed on their willingness to pay for the farm landscape. While average willingness to pay was only .70 ECU per person per day, the aggregated total median for all summer vacationers in Austria came to over 21 million ECU annually.
In a 2000 study, Nancy Wood of the University of Vermont surveyed visitors on the link between the farm landscape and tourism. Ninety-six percent of visitors surveyed indicated that scenery was a “very important” or “important” reason for visiting the state. Visitors were shown landscape images of Vermont, some with and some without farming, and were asked to pick ones that best reflect the statement “When I visit Vermont this is the kind of scenery I most want to see.” Of eight images, top choices of either first, second, or third preferred scenery types were:
56%: covered bridge scene
49%: farmland, lake, and mountain vista
45%: mountain scene without human elements
Images of explicit farm elements (barns, silos), were actually less popular than implied farm activity in scenes like open fields, suggesting to Wood that “while the farm landscape is important to tourists, it may not be clearly recognized by them.”
Finally, visitors were asked direct questions about the value of the farm landscape: 84% valued seeing cows and farms “very highly” or “highly,” and 59% said they would be less likely to visit the state in the future if farms were not part of the scenery. Assuming that those 59% of visitors would come to Vermont one less time per year without farm scenery, Wood used an input-output model to estimate that farm landscapes contribute $202 million in direct and induced spending to the Vermont economy.
Hackl and Pruckner observe that “since environmental amenities are essential for the prosperity of tourism, the agricultural sector provides intermediate goods for the tourism sector, for which they are not always being compensated.” Agritourism is one mechanism for tourists to directly support the farm landscape that they enjoy, compensating farmers for landscape maintenance services, and filling the farm income gap created by low commodity prices.
This idea is not original or recent. Vermont’s original tourist attractions were its mineral springs- “taking the waters” at Vermont spas was fashionable in the 1800s. The opening of railroads in mid-century brought more both more tourists and easier access for the growing middle class. Lodging at farms and boarding houses was originally thought a low-cost choice for urbanites of limited means, and an alternative to the more crowded resort spas. But using tourist dollars to support farms quickly took hold. By 1894, Vermont Board of Agriculture Secretary Richard Spear had the revelation that “there is no crop more profitable than this crop from the city.”
Dona Brown, in a history of New England tourism, notes that appealing to tourists’ sentimental longing for a simpler country life soon emerged as a tourism development strategy. New Hampshire Governor Frank Rollins declared the first Old Home Week in 1899, inviting former residents “to return and visit the scenes of their youth,” and of course to bring back their urban incomes as well. Rollins did not shy from extolling the virtues of the motherland: “when you think of the old home, you bring back the tenderest memories possessed by man, -true love, perfect faith, holy reverence, high ambitions-the long, long thoughts of youth.”
But Old Home Week may also have been the start of the first branding strategy for rural New England, Rollins having observed that the publicity would make the “name of home...synonymous with that of New Hampshire in the minds of newspaper and magazine readers far and wide.” Within a few years over 100 New Hampshire and Vermont towns had Old Home Week programs. Each summer brought 50,000-60,000 visitors to Vermont9.
An 1893 Board of Agriculture publication, A List of Desirable Vermont Farms at Low Prices, targeted at farmers, was renamed in 1895 with a new audience in mind: Vermont, Its Fertile Farms and Summer Homes. Besides selling farms to tourists, the Board tried to sell the tourism idea to farmers, urging them cash in their “...pure spring water, clear fresh air, and beautiful scenery...at retail price.5” And long before glossy Vermont Life calendars, Vermonters anticipated the coming age of advertising: “It may be advisable to place before the people of the cities more complete information than they now possess in regard to the inducements there are to get acquainted with Vermont.”1
And so the tourist business grew. While Vermont encouraged all kinds of tourism, summer boarding on farms was a mainstay of the early industry. In 1934 31% of visitors lodged in tourist homes, including both farms and villages, exactly the same percentage as used hotels. The age of the automobile had made the Vermont backroads more accessible, with 92% of tourists arriving by automobile2. A 1942 study noted that summer boarders had been a farm staple since the early part of the century, and found average profit of $299.89, returning $.72 per hour for the labor time invested by farm families. Most income came from rooms rented and camping fees- sales from roadside stands were included but minimal3. [find average wage or farm income data for 1944).
And yet farm lodging would soon fade from growing the tourist scene. By the time of a 1958 study, only 8% of tourists stayed in homes, compared to 54% in hotels and motels, mostly the latter4. While the reasons for the change are not entirely clear, presumably the growth of the roadside motels and shortening lengths of stays were at least partly responsible. From the start, farmhouse lodging also had some drawbacks. For one thing, having guests all summer was hard work for farm families, and interfered with their own leisure. According to one farm woman, “They find the morning so fresh after you have served their late breakfast, and the glass of milk so refreshing after their afternoon nap, and the cream is so delicious, and the piazza so cool, you think some day you would really like to enjoy it yourself for a few minutes6.”
Deeper social tensions were apparent as well. Quoting Dona Brown:
“ If urban tourists expected old-fashioned hospitality from a naturally humble farming class, they often met with something rather different. And the conflict was heightened by the structure of summer boarding itself, which included so many uncertainties as to the status of the boarder. It was simply unclear who was in charge. “The visitors with one accord, however humble their social status in the city, [regard] themselves as vastly superior to the farmer,” but “the farmer regards [the city person] as essentially ill-bred, and ... laughs to scorn his pretensions to superiority.” This perspective could be very frustrating to the boarders, who sometimes expected a level of personal service quite out of keeping with the farm family’s understanding of the situation. Small details could become momentous: Once having decided that the boarders would eat alone, and the farm family in the kitchen, who would serve them- and how continuously? Howell’s vacationing family complained that they had to go into the kitchen for second helpings or hot water for their tea. Farm women complained that boarders invaded their sanctum- the kitchen- “at any or all hours.” In these small details, the wide disparities between rural and urban visions of the farm worked themselves out.”
Today farm accommodations are a tiny portion of the Vermont tourist industry, with an estimated XX beds, or .X% of Vermont’s total tourist accommodations. Yet the agritourist industry as whole is on the rise. A 2002 Vermont survey pegged agritourism income at $19.5 million, 4% of all farm income, and an increase of 86% from the 2000 survey. One out of three farms had some kind of agritourism income, averaging $8,900 per farm. Direct commodity sales were the leading sources of income: maple syrup, fruits and vegetables, Christmas trees, cut flowers, nursery products, cheese, and other products. Another 2002 survey in New Hampshire found that 70% of out-of-state tourists bought fresh vegetables and fruit directly from farmers at farm stands or farmers’ markets. Of these, 46% said they were willing to pay a premium averaging 9% for local food products. New Hampshire residents both patronized farm stands more, and were willing to pay a higher premium for locally grown goods.
Becca: I will include your pieces on Billings Farm and Shelburne Farms in this chapter as boxes
The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (NEK) currently has many areas that cater to both the novice and avid fly-fisher. The reasons include the scenic beauty, the rural landscape, and the abundance of rivers and lakes holding healthy populations of trout and salmon. There are a number of quality trout rivers in the area, from small brooks filled with brook trout, to larger waters that contain a wide array of species. One river that does deserve some attention is the Clyde River. This stretch of water was one of the first to have a dam removed for environmental reasons, and as a result has an annual salmon run that occurs in the fall. The Willoughby River, as well, has been in the news recently for being named “the best trout rearing habitat in Vermont” by Vermont Fish and Wildlife director Eric Palmer. The fabled Connecticut River as well has been known to host good runs of trout and salmon. Most rivers in the area are home to brook, rainbow and brown trout, and a few host Landlocked Atlantic salmon. In order for these species to thrive, it is imperative that the quality of water be high.
Fishing in the NEK is certainly a part of the local community, but the fishing pressure derived from visitors may outweigh that of locals. While there is no fishing license data by region in the state, the proportion of non-resident to resident licenses is 1:2 (VT Fish and Wildlife), thus the visiting fishing population is significant. Currently, the main guide service in the NEK is Northeast Kingdom Outfitters, although there are many independent guides throughout the state that bring clients to waters in the area. Fishing is popular throughout the season, whether for the salmon and steelhead runs, or for general trout fishing throughout the summer.
To date, the most notable negative impacts that fishers have on the area, are the pollution of streams with trash, the mishandling of fish and subsequent death, and stream bank erosion. Litter might be the most easily controlled of the three, in that all one needs to do in order to halt its progress, is hold on to old line, and keep all trash in your pockets. INSERT CONN. RIVER CLEANUP HERE. The mishandling of fish in rivers can be remedied by education, but it will not stop all of these unfortunate incidents. As cognizant and careful as one is about the sensitivity of these fish, sometimes the worst happens, and there is not much that can be done in this regard. Stream bank erosion is a problem that is more associated with fly-fishing than any other form of fishing. This is due to the fact that most fishers access the streams by walking (wading) into the river. As well, when traveling on the river, it is common practice to get out of the water whenever possible so as not to scare the fish. This seems to be another problem which cannot be ameliorated entirely, but one that can be lessened if people are willing to look carefully at the stream bottom, and wade through shallow parts, where trout and salmon habitat happens to be less.
So how do we assess the positive impacts of fly-fishing?
Fly fishing benefits social capital (make friends on river, etc.). For locals, friends are made on the rivers, in addition to friends being made at Trout Unlimited (TU) meetings. For the visitors coming in, they typically have friends that they are traveling with, but the connections and friendships made with locals (inquiring about hatches, conditions, rivers) benefit both parties in the social arena.
Benefits built capital (buy flies, guide services, supplies, food) Fly fishers (especially visitors) tend to come to the area with the intent of buying goods while in the NEK. Since most business in the area are small and local, the money goes directly into the locals’ pockets.
Natural capital stays steady or is slightly negative While most fishers practice catch and release, and are gentle with the fish, the erosion of stream banks, and trash deposition may outweigh the neutral effects of good fishing techniques. INSERT TU INFO HERE.
Overall, it seems that the capitals are skewed to the positive. The degree of degradation on the streams is not so grave as to threaten the livelihood of the fisheries, and in light of the three other capitals, the activity should be viewed as having a positive impact on the area as a whole.
Josh: expand on Trout Unlimited
The Northeast Kingdom has many beautiful water ways. There are 40,000 acres of lakes and ponds with 50 fish and wildlife public boat accesses. (travelthekingdom.com) Some rivers that are canoed and kayaked are the Connecticut, Passumpic, black, Clyde, Missiquoi, Wells and the upper Lamoille rivers. Sailing takes place on Lake Memphremagog, Willoughby Lake, Seymour Lake, and Crystal Lake. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail traverses 740 miles of historic waterways from Old Forge, New York through Vermont, Quebec, and New Hampshire to Fort Kent, Maine. The trail use the Connecticut River and it byways to pass through Vermont. There are inn to inn canoe trips provided by Battenkill.com. The impacts from canoes and kayaks are minimal on the environment because they are on the water. Boaters create bank erosion if they don’t launch and load in designated spots or on a non-erosion prone spot like rocks. Most boaters don’t throw their trash in the water but rather clean up trash. They might remove blow downs in the river. This would help to prevent river bank erosion. Boaters don’t have a big economic impact because they picnic but they might buy food and drink. They might buy some Vermont products but overall boaters don’t spend much money. Boaters do help to preserve natural capital though organizations like The Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which try to preserve the beauty of the northern forest. Sailing is a local sport. Not many people come from afar to sail. A lot of summer camps on water have a sun-fish (a small sail boat) for the current inhabitants to use. Windsurfers are also not uncommon on a windy day. Sailing has few impacts on the environment unless the operators use a diesel motor, or bring invasive species on their boat. Another environmental impact to consider is boater relieving themselves while still on the water. Sailors economic impact is storage, maintenance and of the boats. Sailors probably buy a few cases and some food before hitting the water. Sailing promotes close relationships between a few by being in a small area and having to work together to sail. Another sport that has a niche in the Kingdom is sculling. The Craftsbury outdoor center has leading instructors in the field and provides world renowned camps. Scullers are a big part of Craftsbury’s economy and have very little impact on the environment. These camps create a high level of social capital through close interaction of tourist and tour providers, and the local community.
Grant: expand on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, what's happening with their project, their mission, involvement of local communities (education, participation, private landowners granting public access etc.)
Hiking is the simplest of all recreational activities. In its most basic sense, hiking is merely a walk along a trail. Because the activity itself involves no consumption of fossil fuels, hiking has an environmental advantage over snowmobiling and ATV riding [Matt: how about driving to the trail head?]. Hiking is increasing in popularity, both nationally and regionally0. With over 350,000 hiking user days in 2002 alone, Vermont is ranked sixth in the nation for hiker participation per capita0. Hiking is popular throughout Vermont, as is evidenced in the 7500-plus membership role of the Green Mountain Club, a non-profit group whose mission is hiking-based. Vermonters and tourists alike hike along the Long Trail, (which spans the entire State), in state parks and on privately-held lands.
State parks are areas of heavy use among hikers, with hiking cited by visitors as one of their primary activities. Use of state parks is split almost evenly between men and women, campers and day-users, Vermonters and out-of-staters0. State parks are not only a source of revenue (annual economic contribution of parks to the state is $2 million), but also an important recreational resource, because of their management for multiple uses and users.
The GMC educates users and maintains the trails they use, an approach which seems to be working. By stationing employees along trails and installing composting toilets in heavy-use areas, the club has lessened the impact of individual hikers over time8. However, no data exists to confirms that net impacts of humans on the Long Trail have decreased. With annual user days expected to increase 23% by 2050, the impact of hikers on the trails they use could experience a net increase over the next several decades9. Another area of concern in the impact of motorized transport to trails and parks. The GMC tries to mitigate any negative impacts of automotive pollution by encouraging members to carpool to club outings. It is also considering a hiker shuttle. While the GMC is just beginning to scratch the surface of this issue, the State of Vermont hasn’t studied it at all. With so many people hiking in Vermont, it is difficult to measure the impact their vehicles have to the areas in which they recreate. Relative to motorized recreation, however, transport to trails has little impact once hikers turn off their engines.
The impacts of hiking in Vermont can be expressed as relatively positive. In this sense, hiking is seen as less destructive than other forms of outdoor recreation, (snowmobiling, for example), and so it is comparatively less harmful to the ecology of Vermont. Hiking certainly brings some economic benefit to the communities where it takes place, but this impact is currently undocumented. Tourists and visitors contribute to the local economy, but to what extent? The Long Trail is an ammenitity that people value for its wilderness characteristics, but it has no financial value as it isn’t known to increase the value of bordering property10. The relatively positive impacts of hiking are valuable, but there must be a stronger case for promoting hiking as a positive impact activity overall. The impact of hiking on built capital is probably minimal; hikers don’t spend a tremendous amount of money, nor does the local community have to invest a great deal to draw them. Hiking is a healthy activity, and fosters the personal well-being that follows vigorous outdoor activity alone or with a group. Hiking-based organizations, such as the GMC, extend this well-being to larger social networks. Shared positive experiences grow social capital and the sense of stewardship created by the GMC bonds social capital among its members. The impacts of hiking on natural capital are complex. As hikers enjoy their time on the trail, they inevitabley degrade the land. But improvements in hiker ethic and education have lessened these impacts. Hikers act to preserve and protect natural areas, and support initiatives and organizations with similar goals11.
The Kingdom is known for it’s stashes of single track mountain bike trails, and abundant dirt road riding. The scenery and windy roads also attract a lot of road riders to the kingdom during the summer and fall months. East Burke is one of the Kingdoms fastest growing attractions. It is know for its quaint community and 100 plus miles of single and double track mountain bike riding. The Kingdom Trails association was formed in 1994 as a non-profit by area residents and business leaders. Their mission is to provide recreation and education opportunities for local residents and visitors while working to conserve natural resources and create economic stimulation. Kingdom trails is especially neat because 80% of their riding is on private land unlike most other trail systems. Trail fees go to pay for the insurance policy, staff and trail building and upkeep. Kingdom trails is now rated top 10 in the country for places to ride. The trails are also used for running, walking and horse back riding. They are also used in the winter for snow shoe and cross country skiing. There are only 50 miles of trails in the winter due to for profit ski establishments. Mountain biking as a sport has been growing around the Burke community. East Burke Sports Leads a Wednesday night community ride on the Kingdom trails. A weekend in East Burke can be packed. There are bikers from all of the country and from Canada. Craftsbury Outdoor Center is another mountain bike Mecca. They provide bikes, tours and trails. They have single track intermingled with their double track ski trails. They also conduct running and sculling camps and provide yoga instruction. There are a lot of bike tours that provide paved road and dirt road rides. They advertise Vermont’s charm and beauty and lodging at casual inns. The negative impacts of biking are small and vary from soil compaction and erosion to littering. Biking creates new social networks and encourages group activity. The worst thing is probably bike tours because they come in mass and are there for a short period of time and leave. There are so many of they usually overcrowd the facilities. Bikers economic impact is not that big. They might buy some food or just a helmet or something they forgot or broke.
Grant: expand on the East Burke success story - maybe you should start and then complete your piece after class, since we have Tim Tierney coming to talk about that.
Hunting is a traditional way of life in rural areas, even when the game isn’t required for survival. The Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation and Wildlife Management Institute notes that “Family issues play a critical role in...hunting...and some of the greatest satisfactions are derived from the family relationships”2.Hunting bonds social capital in families and rural communities. It makes use of both public and private land3. Hunters need undeveloped land to practice their sport, and their sheer numbers ensure that appropriate lands will remain accessible in regions where hunting is a valued part of local culture. Strict regulation by the government ensures that animal populations will not be decimated.
One positive impact of hunting is the indirect preservation of wild lands. Since 81% of Vermont hunters and 67% of visiting hunters use private lands4, the landowners must keep their property friendly to hunters if they want this level of activity to continue. Landowners who allow recreational hunting on their land may see: improved management of game species, investments of built capital from hunting clubs, reduced vandalism and improved trespass control, and even “improved profitability on marginal farms”5. Jonathan Kays reviews management practices and suggests adequate levels of liability protections for landowners who manage their property for hunting and profit. He lays a groundwork for successful hunting leases (to groups with an interest in hunting on private land), and suggests that the landowner “inventory human resources for the lease hunting enterprise. A family member...could handle the bookkeeping, while another may be better at working with people and...developing and impletmenting a marketing plan, meeting with hunters, and mediating problem”6. This certainly builds human and social capital, both within the landowning family and in the larger community of hunters. Since responsible landowners will maintain a resource inventory, recreational hunting contributes to the body of scientific knowledge for the region in which they live.
The positive impact hunter will leave Vermont with more knowledge of the area than when they arrived. To this end, hunting guides should be trained to educate their clients about diverse subjects including: local history (including native history), traditional hunting culture, and natural history/ecology.
While the popularity of hunting is projected to decline statewide over the next several decades, it is nonetheless the third most popular recreational activity for Vermont residents7. With a large number of adherents and the potential for positive impacts to human, social and natural capital, hunting is a natural choice for nature tourists interested in experiencing traditional values and activities
a chapter on both historical and modern built landscapes. Historical buildings (the effect of tourism in restoring historical buildings) and "green" businesses such as Ben and Jerry, Seventh Generation, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Otter Creek - others ? The role of these businesses in attracting visitors to VT.
Jason: The brewery tour section could go in here
While those in the Vermont tourist industry remind their customers not to forget the fall foliage, maple syrup, and the rustic scenery of old barns, the state loses about 1,000 of its 30,000 barns each year being the victims of fires, demolition, or simple neglect. (Thomas Visser, 1997 Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings). There is a problem with Vermont barns that the farmers who own them often can't afford to reconfigure or adapt outmoded buildings, to modern farming practices. Aging barns are the focus of a growing rural-preservation movement. The appeal of barns is universal, which means that almost everyone wants them saved, and aging barns are the focus of a growing rural-preservation movement. To help accomplish this goal, barn- preservation groups have sprouted across the United States since 1987, the year the National Trust for Historic Preservation began its “Barn Again” program. Because restoring an old barn can cost $25,000 or more, depending on what has to be done, these structures often do not return to their original agricultural use and are being turned into homes or inns. You can't convince farmers to restore an old barn just to appeal to tourists. The barn has to have a use on the farm. Although, for many who like to preserve barns, including many owners, these old barns hold within their walls many memories, their restoration and upkeep do not weighing against the fact that they are often obsolete because of changes in technology. Agritourism, a business conducted by a farmer for the enjoyment or education of the public, to promote the products of the farm and to generate additional farm income (Hilchey 1993) could be the next good use of old barns. More so, positive impact tourism within the context of agro tourism could be the answer to the questions that many ask: How are old barns to be rehabilitated, where is the money come from, and what will they be used for? What if organizers of positive tourism link tourist with interests in timber frame buildings, historic preservation, or need for physical exercise to farms with decaying barns interested in making agritourism a means to generate additional farm income. Old barns would be rehabilitated through the combined work of many positive impact tourists, money upfront would come from specific loans negotiated through the historic conservation program with guarantees through the larger tourist industry, and would be paid back by the farmer deriving income from tourists using the barn for overnight camping and other agritourism activities. Positive tourism on farms could save the barns in the Vermont landscape while generating income for the farmers in the state
Take a drive along Interstate 89, and you can’t help but notice a towering four story barn standing straight and proud against a hillside. It is the Monitor Barn in Richmond, one of two in the town. The structure was built in 1901, and thanks to the effort of the Vermont Youth Corps, Richmond Land Trust and many others, the barn will permanently remain a part of the agricultural landscape. The barn was part of one of the largest farms at the time it was built. It housed approximately 200 cows, and includes about 230 acres with the property. The barn is known as a hill barn, which means that there is access to all four floors from the ground. It is one of the best examples of this type of barn in the area. The town of Richmond saw the cultural value in preserving this piece of Vermont history. About five years ago, the Land Trust began restoring the barn. As the barn was no longer home to dairy cows, the land trust began to search for a use for the barn after it was restored. The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps was in need of a space for headquarters and training, and soon the groups connected and a preservation capital campaign partnership began. The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps began in 1985. The program provides young people between the ages of 16 and 24 with “valuable natural resource training and education and on accomplishing high priority conservation work in Vermont’s parks, natural areas, and recreation lands.”1 The Monitor Barn, once restored, would become a headquarters for the Corps, and provide training facilities and meeting space. The re-construction of the Monitor Barn consists of 30% original material, and 70% new material. All of the new materials however, are produced locally, and in keeping with the same engineering practices as the turn of the century when the barn was originally built. Upon completion, the Richmond Land Trust will transfer ownership of the barn and surrounding 200 acres of land to the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. As the land easements are held by the Richmond Land Trust and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, no development will occur on the property. According to Thomas Hark, Founding President of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, the land will be allowed to rest for a period of about 50 years. Approximately 25 acres of cropland immediately surrounding the barn will continue to be leased to a local farmer. According to Hark, “Barns go to the very heart of what Vermont is all about. There was great joy, jubilation and pride watching the barn go back up.” The size and visibility of the barn are important attributes in its’ contribution to the historic and cultural landscape. The barn will now be a working structure, while preserving its’ exterior viewscape for Vermonters and visitors alike to enjoy.
The Vermont economy has long been sustained by a diverse mixture of enterprise driven by its rural, untouched, and working landscapes. Vermonters are considered the ultimate independent Yankees, an image fueled by the rugged New England setting in which they have thrived. Burlington, Vermont is ranked fourth on a list of the United States’ most creative metropolitan cities.1 This is a trend not only seen in urban areas throughout the state, but is also acutely apparent in its rural towns and villages. The creative environment in Vermont is an underlying economic stimulant and a cultural phenomenon stemming from the irresistible “sense of place” that Vermont provides to its residents and visitors. It is a mix of unique culture, quality of life, engaging community spirit, and an intellectual/thoughtful harboring and exchange of original/independent ideas. “Cultural identity in Vermont is deeply informed by history. Stone walls and Town Halls, downtowns and open lands all help shape whoVermonters are and the values they share. Sugar makers who post a maply syrup sign at the end of their driveway, dairy farmers who invite visitors to observe a milking, artisans who demonstrate and sell their crafts in studios and at farmers’ markets – all of these people embody something that is immediately recognizable as part of Vermont’s distinct character and culture.”2 This is the creative economy of Vermont.
[Marta: need abstract.] Education is a crucial component of PI Tourism. Education is an outcome of many activities that have a net positive impact on environment and local communities. In this chapter are described existing examples and visions of programs that specifically address education on sustainability in the natural, agricultural and built environment.
[Adam: need most up to date draft]
When one goes to a recreation site (parks, museums, battlefields, historic sites, etc.) for the first time, can they really understand how significant a place is without any further knowledge than their own perceptions? The truth is that most of what people remember, without any further knowledge, is what they see. People remember the pretty landscapes and some of the spatial characteristics. But, there is a more to most places than can meet the eye. There are stories of people, places, and the history behind a place determines what it is like in the present day and how the community around a site recognizes these aspects as part of their heritage. For these reasons, people need a form of interpretation of the environment to have a greater understanding of not only the site itself and its significance in the community, but also how it relates to their own daily life. But what is interpretation? Interpretation relates to more than just the facts about a place that you can find in a textbook, it relies on developing the story behind a place. Friedman Tilden in Interpreting Our Heritage1, considered to be the premier writing on the subject, describes interpretation as revealing the “soul” of a site. The natural aspects (plant life, landscapes, wildlife, geologic features, etc.) as well as the social aspects (history, land use, heritage, myths, spiritual aspects etc.) are combined into a story about how the place once was before the visitor arrived, it’s present conditions, and possibly how it will change in the future. Interpretation creates a positive impact on the visitor through educational tourism. According the Vermont Tourism Data Center, attendance in State parks for day use was up twelve percent from last season and attendance to museums for the year was up slightly as well. Since state parks and museums are significant natural and historical sites, they are “hot spots” for interpretive activities and could allow for educational tourism for the visitor. As people drive around the Northeast Kingdom, the visitors could enjoy the scenic views or historic artifacts and along the way they could learn from what they have seen and read. Education is a vital component to positive impact tourism for the visitor. If the Northeast Kingdom Heritage Guide (NKHG) could incorporate a self-guided driving tour on their map, they could educate the visitors while having a positive impact on the community by stimulating the local economy. A partnership including the Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association, the Nulhegan Gateway Association, the Steering Committee, and Businesses for the Northern Forest developed the NKHG in 2003 as a user-friendly map for a visitors driving along Interstate 91 and the Vermont state highways found throughout the “Kingdom”. Included in this guide are pages of recreation sites, heritage sites, agriculture and agro-tourism sites, art galleries, museums, events, and businesses, which are incorporated into six different driving tours that vary in length and location. Most of these tours, however, have been developed as byways to connect small towns that have been struggling economies and need the income from the tourists who come during the summer and foliage season. Box: Self-guided trails can be an effective means of interpreting an area without having a person present it to an audience. Instead, each person or group of people uses a brochure and/or signage to tell the story of the site, as in the case of Ethan Allen Homestead’s Self-Guided Tour of The Wetlands Trail (south) developed by the Winooski Valley Park District. These brochures should be well thought out and convey a pertinent theme so to educate the visitor, keep the interest of the reader, and most certainly provide an interpretation, not just a collage of facts. This self guided trail at the Ethan Allen Homestead is designed in such a way that it has a great flow to it and if you take the time to read through the brochure and follow along as you travel the trail, you will find that it provides effective interpretation of the landscape and it’s dynamic nature. The structure of this particular self-guided trail breaks the trails down into eight stations, which all relate how the landscape can change even in a small area such as the Ethan Allen Homestead. When you examine the different stations, each has a unique way of explaining the landscape through various media such as drawings of plant life and wildlife, not to mention a little imagination. The brochure and signage mixture of this trail provide a sound base of knowledge about succession and wetlands, which could be identified as the theme of the area. The passage sums up the theme very nicely: “As you walk along this trail, you will be able to see the natural successional stages of a wetland area”. A visitor can be educated in absence of a tour guide from the low-cost brochure about plant species and wildlife, as well as geology and how the various soil types effect vegetation. This is an economically viable option for heritage sites, having the main cost being paper and ink, and it saves the use of a staff member performing a guided tour. Most readers would be able to follow along and have a decent understanding of the relationship between the land and wildlife. The interpretation also appeals to the sense of sound and encouraging a “closer look” at what each station was focusing on. For instance, it reads: “If you sit very quietly and still, you may happen to observe a frequent visitor to the dense bushy Jewelweed (see picture at Station Three) or hear the hum of the Ruby Throated Hummingbird, as it hovers and feeds with it’s straw-like bill on the sweet nectar of these brilliant flowers”. This passage is effective for several reasons. First, it encourages you to concentrate very closely on the site by suggesting you to sit quietly. This is great way to get the audience to stop and think about what’s going on around them. Also, it states that you “could” hear the hum of a certain hummingbird. I think this really draws the reader into the world around them because hummingbirds are very fast and they must act quickly if they want to see or hear that bird. Again, this encourages the reader take a much closer look around them and listen intently. If it just said “there are Ruby Throated Hummingbirds here”, you would not be as likely to look and listen around for it. Furthermore, the passage makes “straw-like” simile to visualize what the beak of a hummingbird looks like without having an actual picture of the bird. By appealing to other senses other than eyesight alone and using similes or metaphors, which are both common characteristics of top-rate interpretation, this brochure took what could potentially be uninteresting facts about the vegetation and wildlife in the Ethan Allen Homestead and stimulated your mind into wanting to see this “life” happen right before you. Tilden wrote, “Interpretation is not information, but provocation”, which is manifested in this well-written brochure produced by the Winooski Valley Park District. What are the pros and cons of this? You bring more cars to the region, but you increase local revenues. Effects on built infrastructure: signs and parking space for people to stop and read the signs.
A pertinent example of positive impact tourism in the making, ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain follows a mission of Ecology, Culture, History, and Opportunity for stewardship of the Lake Champlain Basin. The building in which the ECHO Center is located is a reclamation building that has existed since 1949, which originally housed a Naval Reserve Center for training.1 Since acquired from the Navy, it has been included in the City of Burlington’s waterfront revitalization efforts. Through public input it was clear from the start that the location would have an educational focus. After much deliberation between people, committees, and institutions a multi-functional research center, educational facility, and museum was constructed. “An ecological building with and ecological mission”, the building has followed ecological design concepts using passive solar technologies for day lighting and water heating, environmentally friendly materials (of which 56% was from certified sustainable harvest lumber, and 85% of construction wastes were recycled), and half-flush toilets, just to name a few “green” building practices required to meet stringent LEED certification criteria.2 Brick used to construct the building also reflects the major geological processes occurring in the Champlain Basin caused by the Champlain Thrust Fault. The building is a visual projection of processes that have placed older Dolomite on top of younger shale and shows the lakes water levels from its time as a sea.3 The building also improves the quality of the interior environment to human occupants by using concrete blocks rather than steel beams to reduce high humidity levels. This supports one of the major themes common to both ecological design and positive impact tourism, the idea of merging local community and its surrounding environment. To involve visitors in the unseen aspects of the building’s reduction of negative impacts on the environment, ECHO takes them on the “E2 Quest”.4 This quest highlights the importance of buying local, using reconstituted/renewable materials, energy efficient LEDs, and recycling. It also offers helpful home hints on how visitors can use the knowledge that they’ve gained in their own homes to reduce their impacts on the Earth. A visitor can leave the ECHO Center well-prepared to understand better their relationship with the world around them and technologies available to help them change overly consumptive lifestyles.
In this section, a supplementary application to many possible PI activities is introduced. The idea of compensatory land conservation is introduced and the ways in which it can benefit many tourism activities are outlined. Finally, the supplemental effects of this practice on our PI criteria are shown.
A major problem facing many of the nation’s outdoor recreation areas is the fragmentation of the wild land by development. An important aspect to any sustainable tourism plan in the Northeast Kingdom needs to address this problem. In Particular, when paired with the specific use of, improvement, and expansion of recreational trails in the Northeast kingdom, it is important to address how this problem will be avoided. A vision presented here concerns the compensatory protection of lands surrounding the recreation areas as the trails are expanded and as surrounding land becomes available. In many heavily visited outdoor areas, the fragmentation due to tourism infrastructure and related development has been show to be a major threat to biodiversity12. In addition to the ecological threat to the area, the recreation trails become less desirable as they are encroached upon by development. One way to avoid this problem, at least in part, is to practice compensatory land protection each time the recreation infrastructure is expanded in order to prevent a net loss of undeveloped land.
A common practice with the decline of the timber industry is the purchase of easements to a given area. In this vision, every time that a trail network is expanded, an equal amount of land should be sought after either to buy outright and protect or to gain a conservation easement, which is a contract in which the development and management options for the land are purchased14. Furthermore, if possible through financing, surrounding land should be purchased to exceed the amount of expanse in infrastructure. This can be achieved by making it a priority to generate enough revenue to be able to purchase and set aside land as it becomes available. Many methods for achieving this have been outlined including resource rents, and, in one way or another, increasing the costs to the visitor in order to support improved surrounding land management systems13. A compensatory land protection policy similar to this vision is outlined in the EPA’s Clean Water Act. Under the Clean Water Act’s regulations, when development destroys a constituent part of a watershed, a similar area within the watershed must be acquired and protected in order to prevent net loss to aquatic resources over time15. In the vision presented, much of the details involved in compensatory land protection could be found within the regulations of the clean water act.
This vision may not stand alone as its own vision for PI tourism, but it could greatly increase the positive impacts associated with many of the outlined visions. Obviously the greatest impact related to this vision would be its positive impact on the natural capital of the community by protecting the land and resources. However, over time, this increase in the value of natural capital could have a trickle down affect on almost all of the other forms of capital in the system. By setting aside protected land, the very qualities that visitors are looking for and the quality of life of the local community would improve, leading to a greater draw for visitors, which could result in increases in social capital through more visitors visiting the area and having more time to interact with the community. Human capital would eventually increase based on the stronger visitor draw over time by increasing revenue as desirability increases. This revenue could be used in education and health systems. Finally as the sustainability of the natural capital becomes apparent over time, the built capital in the community could actually increase in value as well. All of these positive impacts would come as a result of simply protecting the arguable most important and self-sustaining aspect of the four types of capital and would supplement and improve on any existing positive impacts from the tourism idea that compensatory land protection is attached to.
This exploration of certification stems from a need to identify and quantify what is meant by Positive Impact Tourism and to hold that ideal up to an established set of criteria. Without a standard, Positive Impact Tourism has the potential to loose value and become a catchy phrase that is carelessly thrown around. The absence of established criteria is likely to result in the title taking on its own connotations be they positive or negative. Thus, the term will loose value and become slang as have other types of tourism; when this happens, the concept and all the thought and effort that went into changing tourism into a means for positive impact, goes to waste. Since there are so many terms being used today to describe something beyond the “typical” tourist experience it is important that Positive Impact Tourism set itself apart. The above situation has happened with Ecotourism. “Green Washing” is used to describe the act of abuse, done by business, to the concept of eco or sustainable tourism, by using it as a catchall phrase to describe various services and facilities that often are not in line with the ideology behind ecotourism. It is an attempt by some in the tourist industry to capitalize on the public’s lack of understanding of ecotourism. A Google search shows the popularity of the term “Ecotourism”. At first we are tempted to say this is good, as the concept is widely recognized, however upon research we see that in fact it is an abused terminology. Ecotourism is used loosely to describe everything from lodges in far flung mountain villages with composting toilets, to interstate motels in the Midwestern US who encourage the reuse of towels. The title has been abused through marketing and now there is an industry attempt to redefine and recapture what Ecotourism is so that it can be manifested to its full positive extent.
The certification and labeling of ecotourism can be compared to the labeling of organic and “natural” foods in the market place. Many terms have followed the organic movement to attempt to capitalize on the name without having followed the original ideology set forth. At the grocery store we are inundated with terms like “eco-friendly”, “All Natural*”, “environmentally conscious”, “pesticide free”, and “free range”. The consumer is overloaded with marketing schemes that really mean nothing, anyone can put these terms on a label, just like any tour operator can put “ecotourism” or “positive impact” on their website. It took California to pass the first standard for Organics, now other states have followed suit and now when a product says that it is certified under the California or Oregon Organic Act, the consumer knows what they are buying, they know that it has followed an established set of criteria to be certified. There will always be attempts to capitalize on this by other products and services without following the standards. The hope here is that by offering a certification of Positive Impact Tourism from the outset we are setting a standard that will be difficult to abuse or manipulate.
Within ecotourism there have been several attempts to quantify and certify the experience. Due to “Green Washing”, individuals in the industry thought it best to regulate what was an eco-tourist experience, and what exactly ecotourism facilities are supposed to be. As the demand for alternatives to resort experiences increases, so does the industry to supply this experience. Several attempts are being made at identifying best practices of ecotourism and making this known to the public, so that the consumer can be aware of what they are supporting. Many think that certification is the only way to ensure that this can happen.
Here are a few examples of current certifications available for ecotourism.[The following needs to be put in a box.]
Certification for Sustainable Tourism (Costa Rica)
Categorizes and certifies the degree to which companies meet certain criteria for sustainability. http://www.turismo-sostenible.co.cr/EN/home.shtml
Eco Certification Program (Australia)
seeks to provide an assurance that products (tours) are “backed by a commitment to best practice ecological sustainability, natural area management, and the provision of quality ecotourism experience.” http://www.ecotourism.org.au/eco_certification.asp
New Key to Costa Rica
this differs from certification but is worth note. This is a travel book that has established a “green rating” system for Costa Rica business. (The idea of a “positive impact rating” system is appealing and deserves some attention. It could look at existing tourism activities and evaluate them based on the model we are developing of the four capitals. This could alleviate the need to develop the infrastructure necessary for certification. However, a rating system would not serve as a guiding principal as would a certification. It would be passive or reactive, only responding to existing situations; unless we utilized the rating system to identify areas for improvement. This could be helpful in developing certification as well.)
Center on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development
This center is currently conducting research for an international certification which will address many of the issues we are talking about. They outline the need:
“For assembling already existing "best practices," codes of conduct, and other criteria designed to both protect the rights and respect the culture of indigenous and local communities involved n tourism, and it will develop a directory of organizations around the world that are involved in local/indigenous communities and tourism, as well as a bibliography of relevant literature. CESD/TIES will also examine the need for technical advice and financial assistance for small tourism businesses that are seeking certification, describing the most common technical and skill needs facing community tourism projects, and discuss possible funding mechanisms.”
Sustainable Tourism Eco-certification Project (STEP) (USA)
This group claims to be the only US standard available among 60 world wide voluntary green certification programs. They seek to provide a standard to insure best practices among tourism business. The business applies to them for certification, STEP has a formula which they follow based on a point system. After the points are added up the company or product applying is awarded a certification that ranges from Bronze to Platinum. This certification is good for two years then the company must reapply. The cost for this certification is based on the company’s gross income and ranges from $150.00 to $2250.00. http://www.sustainabletravelinternational.org/ecocertification/
As we can see there are a few efforts taking place already to quantify ecotourism and sustainable tourism and hold it to standardized criteria. The certification process has been hailed by many academics and consultants as the only way to proceed in this industry. However, at an Ecotourism Certification Workshop, held via the web in 2003, to which many operators and consultants were invited, it was established that there was no consensus as to the effectiveness of certification. In fact, many of the small tour operators accused certification of forcing small business, who could not afford it, into the status quo. The major criticisms of the certification of ecotourism from the conference are:
No consumer demand. (major criticism) no one seems to care.
Communities are not involved (fear of creation of cottage industry for tourism)
Stakeholders are left out of the process.
No consensus of need: Operators not interested, Donors not participating.
Who certifies the certifier?
Big business operates from urban center.
Communities get left out of the loop.
Cultural differences. Often 1st world certifiers not matching needs of 3rd world destinations and locals.
Puts pressure on small business owners.
The workshop did not resolve any of these issues for a global standardization of ecotourism. (Mader, 2003) (http://www.imacmexico.org/ev.php?ID=8685_201&ID2=DO_TOPIC)
As we can see, one of the biggest complaints among actual business was that there is no demand for certification from clientele. However, among the websites for the above mentioned programs, I found many of the certification models claim to have been initiated because of a growing demand amongst tourists. We should be wary of the incentive of profit behind some labeling and “certification” programs. Even the Chamber of Commerce in US towns is a company which other business’s must pay to be recognized by.
It is also worth a critical note here to point out that some of the above mentioned programs are not only seeking to enforce a standard but are looking for business that promotes a positive impact on the communities. This positive impact can be generalized by promoting local business, education and by enforcing the need for environmental protection among visitors. How does this differ from our own model of positive impact? It differs on two main points: First, Positive Impact Tourism basis is in making a positive impact, this is a requirement for the model in this book. The positives must outweigh the negatives. Second, Positive Impact Tourism can be applied to a larger context than ecotourism. We are seeking to apply this model even to existing forms of conventional tourism in order to establish what current things are happening that can be improved as well as applying it to forms of Alternative Tourism. This model should apply in all situations, whereas ecotourism will always have a theme focused on natural capital, even though they attempt to account for other forms of capital in some programs.
Another major complaint in the process of regulating and certifying ecotourism business was the lack of community involvement. To our benefit and by contrast, the very nature of Positive Impact Tourism revolves around community involvement. It is community involvement that should be the key to any certification considered for positive impact tourism. For it is only the immediate community that can decide what will positively impact it and its local environment. A certification of Positive Impact Tourism will guarantee to the visitor that the host community was central in this process. It is hoped that by making each individual community responsible for setting their own standards within the framework of the four capitals, that the certification of Positive impact tourism will avoid most of the problems that have plagued the certification of ecotourism. By establishing and approving a state wide or nation wide set of criteria based on the exchange of the four capitals, we can then move this outline to each individual community. The communities, through town hall or other open forums, utilizing the working models, establish what they view as positive impact. This positive impact is then translated into the existing or desired visitor infrastructure. The process insures the involvement of the community and also bypasses outside business that wants to capitalize on the community resources. It ensures that outside business must commit to the communities vision of Positive Impact Tourism or they will not receive the community approved certification. “Community Approved Certification” being the key.
I envision the process to involve looking at tourism as an exchange rather than a vacation. (could this be detrimental)? This exchange has to be equitable and agreed upon. A basic outline could look like this, coupled with the model in this book:
The host community is ready and willing to have visitors.
The host community has some infrastructure in place for visitors.
The host community has set goals of what it would like to gain form visitors outside of currency.
The visitor has to acknowledge community vision/goals before visit.
The visitor is a willing participant in exchange.
The visitor is prepared to give something other than money to the host community.
In order for a certification of Positive Impact Tourism to exist there must be a governing body or council who oversees the outline. Then there must be a group who visits the communities and works with them, through modeling and meetings, to establish what the community wants from the model and through Positive Impact Tourism. This would be an ongoing process, or at least one that would require an initial effort by a team. After the communities have been consulted and developed their own criteria the certification could be given. We could start with two or three communities as a test. Once the model is developed it could be taken out and implemented. If we worked with a state agency or even through the University to maintain the standards of the certification the whole process could maintain its positive value. This is important as to avoid any bias or controversies that may result from having a private for profit group like Chamber of Commerce oversee any certification process. Once the test communities have been certified by going through the workshop, it can be official. There would have to be an add campaign or some sort of marketing done in order to make the public aware of this process and the idea of Positive Impact Tourism and Certification.
Would it be possible to certify a positive impact tourist? If so who would they be, what does this person look like? Typically, we would think of this person as either younger or older, a college or retiree demographic with lots of time on their hands. These are the people who volunteer or join the Peace Corps in order to travel and make a difference in the world. This type of Positive Impact travel has been taking place for quite sometime, but how can we attract the short term visitor? How can we open up a larger segment of the vacating population to making a positive impact when they travel? This book is exploring how other forms of visitation aside from the long-term visitor have positive impacts. But can we certify the visitor? There are some programs currently in place which certify the visitor before they travel in a city or a country. These programs range from marketing schemes to actually trying to get visitors to be conscious about where and how they spend their money and time. A couple of these programs are worth a closer look:
T.O-U.R GREEN (Toronto) – this is a program that certifies that the visitor has agreed to:
Choose public transit or alternate modes of transportation
Make active healthy lifestyle choices
Make a conscious effort to support local entrepreneurs
Enjoy the parks, trails, rivers, ponds and creeks
Enjoy Toronto's vast array of cultural and heritage venues/events
Choose reusable products and containers
Make other consumer choices that minimize environmental impact
For $19.95 anyone can become a certified Green Ambassador. This monetary donation includes a unique map of the city, a guide and a monthly subscription to the T.O-U.R Green Toronto magazine. The programs aim is fairly self explanatory. Is this a marketing ploy? Does it work?
SECOND EXAMPLE HERE
Is it possible to certify a person as a Positive Impact Traveler or Tourist? What would this involve? What sort of generic positive impact commitments would this traveler be making? I say generic because it would have to be inclusive of all destinations. This could happen two ways:
We certify the community through the above mentioned, or similar, process. Then we certify the visitors who agree to go to these “PI” destinations. This would be a fairly simple process once Positive Impact Certification for communities was established. I think it is implied in the above model anyway
The other way is to make a generic Positive Impact Tourist certification. This could look like an oath or could even be a class. The class would involve learning how to best contribute to local economies without being harmful. How would this happen? Would it have to be purely economic? The difficulty I see arising with this method is our assessment, beyond economic impact, as to what is positive. How do we certify a positive impact tourist unless it is very basic? It might look like:
The visitor utilizes public and local transportation.
They visit locally owned restaurants and guest houses.
They participate in locally sanctioned tourist activities and local cultural activities designed for the tourist.
They stay on designated trails and within the designated tourist bounds.
They learn and follow local customs and norms regarding community members, locations, domestic and wild animals.
These guidelines are similar to rules and training that are given to visitors of National Parks. Before a visitor goes into the backcountry in Denali National Park they are given a training video and a talk; this lasts about 45 minutes. They are not allowed into the backcountry until they have completed this “training”, and upon completion they are given a permit that is good for a specific number of days and a designated area. The rangers have no way of denying entry once a person has completed the “training” they can only try to steer them away through suggestions if they seem unprepared for the wilderness experience. The rangers really have no idea as to whether or not people obey the guidelines and park rules all the time. There are patrols but they cover a small portion of the area. It is implied that the system works because of the lack of trash, obvious campsites and the relative absence of human wildlife incidents. This is worth mention because it implies that people take to heart this training. Of course there is always someone who will break the rules but for the most part if people are interested in an activity then they are interested in preserving that activity. It is possible that even a system of PI Tourist certification based on the above criteria could serve to make people aware of their impact on local economies and local cultures. This could lead to a growing awareness of PI in general.