Term Paper: Ecotourism in Brazil the Premise

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[. . .] Sightseeing was the preferred activity for free time.

The interesting feature that was revealed by this survey was that a significant interest does exist in ecotourism for the corporate client. However, they still prefer and expect the same amenities that are found in a non-ecotourism hotel. They want comfort, food, a swimming pool. They preferred to travel distances close to home, but would consider traveling to another region. Climate was the most important draw for the corporate customer. They are interested in some of the possibilities that ecotourism have to offer and offer a broad base for a potential in expanding the local market.

However, one must be careful not to ignore the amenities and comforts that they have come to expect from the conventional hotel establishment. The eco-hotel must offer equality in comfort and food. They cannot ignore these items in lieu of the natural resources. In other words, the survey revealed that the natural resources alone will not attract customers on their own, if the hotel is not comfortable.

The third set of surveys was administered to five travel agencies in Brazil. The surveys were subjective in nature. The following summarizes the findings reported by a majority of travel agencies concerning their typical customer base. Most travel agencies reported their typical customer to be middle to upper income (for their country of origin), and between 35-55 years in age. The average client travels yearly and stays approximately 1-2 weeks. Peak travel occurs during the months of December through February. Clients still consider price to be one of the most important factors in their choice of facility. However, they still wish to do so without losing quality in comfort, or distance from desired activities. Most travelers to Brazil prefer mid to small sized hotels. They prefer personal service over larger conglomerates. They want an intimate experience.

All of the travel agencies interviewed said that they would consider selling holiday packages to an ecotourism hotel. They see it as an expanding market and would be eager to participate. All reported that ecotourism has seen a rapid increase and expect this increase to continue well into the future. Travel agencies reflected the answers obtained from the corporate client interviews concerning how to gain loyal customers. Customers consider comfort and food to be the primary considerations in the choice of a hotel. The hotel will attract a certain number of clients based on the natural resources, but clients still want a swimming pool, sauna, restaurant and the other amenities that they have come to expect from the traditional hotel.

The results of the primary research questionnaires revealed several consistent trends among hotel owners, corporate clients and travel agency clients. Several generalizations can be drawn from the results of this portion of the research. It seems as if the ecotourism client is very much the same as a typical hotel customer and that they have many of the same preferences and likes. They may come to the hotel to enjoy the natural resources available, but they will not do so if they have to sacrifice the amenities that they have come to expect from the standard hotel. They want facilities that are comfortable, good food, close proximity to their destination, and other preferred leisure activities such as a swimming pool. This should serve as a cautionary warning to the new entrepreneur not to design a hotel that relies only the natural resources available at the expense of running a less comfortable facility.

Secondary Research

The primary research revealed several important trends that must be considered in the feasibility of expanding the ecotourism industry in Brazil. However, there are other issues that mist be considered as well such as the current state of the business, economic factors, political factors and other issues that will effect the ability of the industry to expand. The following section will give an over view of these factors as gleaned from books, journals, and the Internet.

Several hotels were found to offer ecotourism packages to Brazil from a variety of international destinations. Prices ranged from $599 (USD) for 5 nights including airfare from Miami, Florida, USA to $2,500 (USD) for 16 or 21 days. These packages offered a variety of activities from birdwatching to historical tours to wildlife tours. They also offered many of the same amenities as a standard hotel. One innovative program even offers tourists the opportunity to actively participate in projects aimed at conservation while they stay at the hotel. They can help in many conservation projects including species counts, and wetland restoration projects (Ecovoluntarios, 2003).

Financial revenue is an important factor in convincing owners of natural resources to conserve them. Financial revenue must be used as an incentive for farmers to refrain from deforestation and act in a way to conserve these areas for future generations (Justiano, 1998). The Pantanal is the world's largest wetland reserves and offers great potential for ecotourism. Currently a large project is underway to promote this opportunity including a hotel and conservation center. It is expected to become a major employer and source of income for the local economy (Naturalist Network News, 2003).

One of the major concerns in promoting ecotourism is the effect that the influx of human beings will have on the region (Riverdeep, 2000). Phillip Fearnside (1986) stresses the fact that we have many example to draw from in the past and that we must consider our choices carefully. In 2001, a conference was held to address ecotourism issues in Brazil. This conference addressed planning and product development, monitoring and regulation in regards to sustainability, marketing and promotion, and the costs and benefits of ecotourism (SDMEA, 2001). In May of 2002 many countries joined to discuss these same issues on a global basis (World Ecotourism Summit, 2002).

Frederick Swarts (2000) published a collection of papers directed at various works regarding the Pantanal wetlands area. This is only an example of the collaborative efforts that have surfaced recently. Crisman (2000) identified the following as being important factors in being able to achieve sustainability in the Pantanal region: a detailed understanding of the ecosystem, effect laws based on sound science, and effective law enforcement. Many cooperative efforts have been undertaken to integrate efforts on the local, regional and national levels in regards to conservation of the Pantanal (Ferraz de Lima, 2000). Brazil recently placed a private nature preserve under national protection under these new efforts (Ramscar, 2003).

Several recommendations have been made to boost ecotourism in Ecuador and the same recommendations could work for Brazil as well. Ecoclub.com (2003) suggested greater usage of the Internet as a policy management and promotional tool, the development of educational programs in the school systems concerned with conservancy, and sustainability issues, expanding and improving protected areas, improving waste management through better promotion of Reduce, Recycle, Reuse policies, redesigning the tourism industry to be sustainable, and encouraging cooperation between the various stakeholders involved (Ecoclub.com, 2003).

The Brazilian Embassy in the UK (2003) has launched an intensive program to promote holiday packages to Great Britain residents. Ecotourism is expected to boost local economies in areas of abundant natural resources and to raise the standard of living on a local level (Vieira, 2003). According to the Brazilian Tourism Board (2001), Brazil's history has left it with a variety of contrasting cultures and peoples. Its landscape also offers a variety of environments. This is one of the key factors that draws tourists to Brazil and is one of the key factors that make it favorable or expansion of the ecotourism industry.

Conclusion

Ecotourism is not a new concept for the Brazilian economy. However, only recently has the promotion of this industry become a major undertaking, both for private entrepreneurs, local agencies and national governments. The findings of this research, both the primary and secondary research, indicate that this market is growing at an exponential rate. However, the market is young and there is a lot more room for expansion and growth through the development of new enterprises. Governments and banking institutions see the potential and offer help in growing the ecotourism industry through incentive plans. As far as the marketing aspects are concerned, the expansion of the ecotourism market exhibits all of the signs of a new market just turning ripe for picking and offers a lucrative opportunity for the savvy entrepreneur.

However, the research also reveals a word or caution learned from past experiences in other countries. The rapid influx of people to a natural area can have a devastating impact. This issue is the concern of the Brazilian government in cooperation with several global level organizations. They are working to study the potential impacts and develop effective regulation and enforcement to minimize the impacts. They hope to build the industry and realize the financial gain without destroying the very natural resources upon which this opportunity depends.

In conclusion, the findings of this research indicate that Brazil offers a promising opportunity to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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