Developing Ecotourism Norway

Developing Ecotourism Norway

Norway
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

«Ecotourism in Norway is enriching nature and cultural experiences,organised by responsible tourism companies with consideration for their guests, the environment and the local community that they are a part of».

Developing Ecotourism Norway: An unique certification scheme for Norwegian ecotourism

The Ecotourism Norway project is run by GRIP - Green in Practice, a Norwegian foundation, in cooperation with Innovation Norway, the Norwegian directorates for Cultural Heritage and Nature Management and a test group made up of tourism companies and a destination. The Norwegian government has financed the project.

As a result of the project a certification scheme for Norwegian ecotourism was officially presented in January 2008 and the first companies are currently in the process of certification. The certification scheme is developed uniquely with the Norwegian nature and cultural heritage in mind, but is fully inline with the prinsiples recommended by the International Ecotourism Society (TIES).

Your idea
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Street Address

Dronningensgate 40

City

Oslo

State/Province
Postal/Zip Code
Country
Year innovation began

2005

Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourism management and impact on the destination

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Indicate sector in which you principally work

Conservation/Preservation organization

Geographic location

Multiple locations.

Plot your innovation within the Mosaic of Solutions
Main barrier addressed

Lack of quality assurance

Main insight addressed

Incorporate sustainable practices

Innovation
What is the goal of your innovation?

Our goal is to establish ecotourism as a concept, network and market for Norwegian tourism, and to motivate and facilitate growth and quality of responsible tourism in Norway.

How does your approach support or embody geotourism?

The development of ecotourism in Norway is fully in line with the global aims of geotourism. We regard our ecotourism consept and criteria for certification to be a great, practical business development tool underneath the geotourism umbrella. Our holistic consept includes and aims to enhance the environment, local traditions, natural and cultural values, heritage, and the well being og local people, guests and workers.

Describe your approach in detail. How is it innovative?

The Norwegian ecotourism concept is based on both the international aims for ecotourism/geotourism/responsible tourism within a framework of the local values, local traditions/cultures and our own outdoor traditions and close relation to nature and culture. The consept and the certification sceme is developed in close collaboration with nature- and culturbased, local businesses from all around the country in addition to advise and support from The Directorate for Nature MAnagement and the Directorate for Cultural Heritage. In the prosess we have learned from other experienced ecotourism countries, but has - together with the local businesses - challenged both our selves and the general ideas of ecotourism. Result is an holistic approach to ecotourism, aiming at developing complete ecotourism businesses. Our vision is that ecotourism is «Ecotourism is enriching nature and cultural experiences,organised by responsible tourism companies with consideration for their guests,the environment and the local community that they are a part of»
Our certification sceme aims at securing quality and credibility of ecotourism businesses, and based on the structure of tourism in our country we decided to certify businesses, not products.Nature- , cultural- and environmental aspects are of equal importance and are included in the certification sceme together with tourism services/hosting, lmarket communication, respect and of local communities, interpretation and story telling etc. We are activiely using marketing criteria to reduce climate pressure from tourism, and are through the certification limiting the business' marketing to closer markets. These are some examples on how we aim to be innovative. See the criteria document for more detailes. www.ecotourismnorway.org

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

Partnership with other ecotourism associations and responsible tourism networks in other countries is of great value. We have learned alot from experienced ecotourism countries around the world, but also from discussing challenges with other "newer" ecotourism countries. The same way that we have been inspired by them, we are happy to share our experience. To work together to secure quality on ecotourism globally is our main common challenge. Partnerships to strenghten ecotourism as a credible, global brand is of vital importance to all within the ecotourism family.

Impact
In one sentence describe what kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Make ecotourism available for the tourism industry in Norway both as a product development tool and a marketing tool, and this way change tourism to become more sustainable and responsible.

Describe the degree of success of your approach to date. Clearly define how you measure quantitative and qualitative impact in terms of how your approach contributes to the sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How does your approach minimize negative impacts? 200 words or less

The holistic and locally anchored approach based on international aims for ecotourism seems to be appealing both to the tourism industry itself, academia and to the media. The certification sceme was launched early this year, and we are now in the process of certifying the first 6 ecotourism highly motivated businesses. These are situated in all parts of the country, and many more are in the process. By now 200 businesses have registered their interest in ecotourism. By year 1 we hope to have 30 businesses certified.Through the certification sceme businesses are measuring environmental load (culture,nature), guest satisfaction and are reporting on change and development. Each business are going through an independent control, both through documents and by personal visit.The media focus on this new ecotourism consept has put focus on responsible tourism and what this means in practice - this supports the spreading of knowledge about ecotourism both within the industry, their markets and other businesses. We measure impacts by counting certified businesses, media attention and throgh control in each business and their annual reports we are able to measure the change of impact for each business.Every certified business do calculate their CO2 emissions and offset this. The certification criteria are also used as a product development, education and quality enhancement tool for other businesses/students and this way the actual impact will be even broder than registered.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

Here exemplified through three of the principles
- contributes positively in the local community, uses the local workforce, local products and services, works for increased collaboration and shows a general responsibility towards the community..
- places particularly high demands on hosts and guides, and communications and interpretation is a central part of the product.
- offers memorable experiences and creates meeting places that give employees and guests insight into local culture, community and environment.

Codes of conducts for travellers are to find on the Norwegian web site www.ecotourismnorway.org

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your innovation, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

Tourism industry in Norway is (still?) mainly run by the local people. This is also the reason for adjusting the international definition of ecotourism to something we call our vision: «Ecotourism is enriching nature and cultural experiences,organised by responsible tourism companies withconsideration for their guests, the environment and the local community that they are a part of».
Local tourism business from around the country took part in developing the consept and the criteria fot certification, and have had an active role in defining ecotourism in our country. Local employees, local produced food, local purchasing, locally registered businesses, local skill (culture, nature,history, community), local guides, respect of other local residents etc are all important part of the criteria for certification.
Contributes positively in the local community, uses the local workforce, local products and services, works for increased collaboration and shows a general responsibility toward

Describe how your innovation helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area’s cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues. How do you motivate them to act responsibly in their future travel decisions?

Certified Norwegian ecotourism gives tourists a choice! It makes people aware of what ecotourism is and what it takes to be an ecotourist. Media focus support the education of people in general, and each local tourism business are local ambassadors for ecotourism. Local skill, storytelling, interpretation, educating own work force, awarenessrising are important issues in any certified ecotourism business.

Sustainability
Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? What is the potential demand for your innovation?

The national ecotourism development project is funded by 3 Ministries (Agriculture, trade and Industry (tourism), and Environment). After the three year developing phase Ecotourism Norway aim to be sustainable. The association model is not yet defined by the project.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

The national ecotourism development project is funded by 3 Ministries (Agriculture, trade and Industry (tourism), and Environment). Annual budget 2007 : 1.650.000 NOK

What is your plan to expand your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

Our main aim is to have many businesses motivated to join Ecotourism Norway as members and to have many businesses certified the first two years. This we think is vital for our future success. Collaboration with other tourism associations in Norway will be important, both on national level and on regional/local level. Schools/Univercities for tourism education is also important chanal to spread knowledge and awareness in future tourism industry.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

Main barrier is to achieve sufficient volume in number of certified ecotourism businesses within the first two years. This is important to play an active role in strenghtening ecotourism nationally and globally.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell your story.

Developing ecotourism in Norway has been a very exciting project starting up as a result of the 2002 UN Year of Ecotourism. At a time when most of us here in Norway, so wrongly thought that ecotourism was only about tourism to and within countries in the southern world, mostly developing countries, and not about tourism in our country. Awakened by the worlds attention on ecotourism in 2002, we started the prosess to learn about the modern ecotourism. We realised that ecotourism is not about about "where", it's about "how". How you run your business and how you travel as a tourist. After a two year process working on convincing government about the values of ecotourism and how well this was matching the type of toursim we mostly have in Norway, we were finally able to start up a three year developing project in 2005. Aim was to develop a national ecotourism consept, to secure quality on Norwegian ecotourism, to establish a network, train the industry and develop a market strategy for Norwegian Ecotourism. The project is now in it's final months and the work has been carried out in close collaboration with a selected group of small tourism businesses in addition to relvant associations and governmental directorates. We soon decided that our aim was to take part in the international work to strenghthen ecotourism as a credible, global brand. Being one of the "newest" Ecotourism Initiatives in the world, we were honored to hosts the Global Ecotourism Conference 2007, together with TIES and UNEP. With almost 500 inspiering ecotourism ambassadors from 78 countries gathered here in Oslo, I think this event did give birth to a strong global network of changemakers. We have developed a challenging set of criteria for Norwegian Ecotourism, and are these days certifying the first Norwegian ccotourism businesses.Criteria are translated to english to inspire other countries to take part in the global challenge to secure quality in ecotourism.If we can share our experience with others, we are happy to do so, the same way as we have been inspired and have learned from those ahead of us. Ecotourism is in our country now prooving to be a great tool of motivation for changing tourism into something better - one step at the time.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

Lone Lamark is the programme manager for Ecotourism Norway. She is senior adviser on sustainable tourism in GRIP, the Norwegian Centre for sustainable production and consumption.GRIP is a private foundation, established in 1995 by the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment to motivate and facilitate a sustainable development of Norwegian businesses. Lone came to GRIP with a broad experience from the tourism industry i 1997, and with a personal aim of changing tourism. She is the author of several practical handbooks and guidelines especially targetiing the travel and tourism industry, i.e. sustainable hotel management, ecolabels and management systems, destination development and ecotourism.

Please write an overview of your project. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the Google map located on the competition homepage.

«Ecotourism in Norway is enriching nature and cultural experiences,organised by responsible tourism companies with consideration for their guests, the environment and the local community that they are a part of».

Developing Ecotourism Norway: An unique certification scheme for Norwegian ecotourism

The Ecotourism Norway project is run by GRIP - Green in Practice, a Norwegian foundation, in cooperation with Innovation Norway, the Norwegian directorates for Cultural Heritage and Nature Management and a test group made up of tourism companies and a destination. The Norwegian government has financed the project.

As a result of the project a certification scheme for Norwegian ecotourism was officially presented in January 2008 and the first companies are currently in the process of certification. The certification scheme is developed uniquely with the Norwegian nature and cultural heritage in mind, but is fully inline with the prinsiples recommended by the International Ecotourism Society (TIES).