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Protected Areas Ecotourism Competitive Cluster Approach to Biodiversity Conservation and Economic Growth

  • Date Submitted: 07/13/2011 10:58 PM
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Protected Areas Ecotourism Competitive Cluster Approach to
Biodiversity Conservation and Economic Growth in Bulgaria[1]

By Dr. Donald E. Hawkins, The George Washington University, USA

Abstract
      This paper focuses on how small ecotourism and related supply chain businesses in gateway communities can be linked to protected areas by organizing them into competitive clusters focused on their comparative advantages and uniqueness. The paper highlights how Bulgaria might develop its ecotourism potential, by replicating a sustainable tourism stakeholder management model developed in small communities near the Rila and Central Balkan National Parks. This model can be enhanced using collaborative tools based upon lessons learned from the model sites and from ecotourism cases around the world—for example, how the   Small Tourism Enterprises Program (STEP) approach might be utilized for: (a) a   brands and standards system; (b) coaching and technical assistance; (c) walk-in centers to support product development and marketing;   (c) operating guidelines for small hotels; (d)an   environmental management program (e) financing assistance and an investment fund; (f) volunteer programs and partnerships; and (g )   regional marketing system based upon an “experience” approach. Finally, ways and means of increasing revenue for protected areas though user fees and concession operations are suggested.

Protected Area Ecotourism Competitive Cluster Approach

There has always been strength in numbers. Tourism development is no different. In order to be competitive, all destination players must work together by identifying the elements that make up the destination, beginning with the reasons tourists will travel to the area, the services available to them and the activities that support the tourist services.

Figure 1 presents a graphic representation of this concept. The focus is on meeting three concurrent goals which must be addressed using sustainable principles and...

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