Estonian Ecotourism Association

Estonian Ecotourism Association

Keskuse, Estonia
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

Ecotourism Estonia - a network of small local operators offering natural and cultural experiences at their destinations.

About You
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Estonian Ecotourism Association

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Your idea
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Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourist experience and educational benefit to tourists .

Organization size

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Year innovation began


Indicate sector in which you principally work

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What is the goal of your innovation? Please describe in one sentence the kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Unite local small tour operators, introduce ecotourism ideas to them, develop tours and promote these ecotours to the global travel audience.

Please write an overview of your project. Include how your approach supports or embodies geotourism or destination stewardship. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the map located on the competition homepage.

Ecotourism Estonia - a network of small local operators offering natural and cultural experiences at their destinations.

Explain in detail why your approach is innovative

Quality Labels criteria are: 1. Respect carrying capacity 2. Support local economy 3. Environmental business practice 4. Support conservation of nature and culture 5. Responsibility, education and respect 6. Safety and quality Based on these common criterias, the local operators applying for the label, are taking into account their own local conditions, natural surroundings, social and cultural uniqueness.

Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?

Our success can be measured by: 1. Local operators involved in our Ecotourism scheme 2. Travelers buying and experiencing Estonian Ecotourism.

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

Ecotourism operators in our network are local residents and they use as much other local suppliers in their tour production.

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

All Ecotourism labelled tour-products are guided by local guides.

Describe how your work helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area's cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues.

Ecolabelled trips that are promoted through or network are based on the unique features of the places what are experienced.

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.

In 2006 and 2007 we have received from Estonian Tourist Board a grant of ca 700 EUR for educational materials and seminar for training local tourism businesses.

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

We have received small grants from our government bodies for training materials and workshops. We have not been supported for marketing Estonian Ecotourism abroad.

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

Lack of human resource for co-coordinating work, lack of skill for Internet Marketing.

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

Estonian Ecotourism Quality Label was established in 2000and was renewed in 2006. We would like to collaborate with similar networks in neighboring countries.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.

Aivar Ruukel has been project manager for 2-years Project "Kodukant Ecotourism Initiative " in 1993-1995 and chairman for Estonian Ecotourism Association since 1996.

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

I have bee 15 years working as private nature tourism operator in Soomaa National Park, Estonia where I live. See my company site I have also 15 years been one of the leaders for Ecotourism movement in Estonia. See my interview for ECOCLUB, International Ecotourism Magazine at their site:

Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.


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

Networks of similar kinds in other countries could benefit from our experience.