Anna (Anya) Phelan
This paper examines the role of community-based ecotourism within the developing market dynamics of the blue economy. The blue economy has become synonymous with generating wealth from ocean-related activities while protecting and supporting marine ecosystems. For remote coastal communities and Small Island Developing States, local economic development is a challenging balance between protecting marine biodiversity and maintaining sustainable and direct access to ecosystem services. In this paper, we present results of a study in the coastal region of South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia in the Coral Triangle. The paper illustrates that community-based ecotourism supports sustainable use of marine resources and offers an entry point for low-resource coastal communities to take part in the blue economy. Complementary livelihood pathways that enhance primary income and support ecosystem services play a key role. Study findings show that three key areas where multilateral support is most needed for communities with ecotourism aspirations are: waste management, hospitality skills, and market access. From these findings, we present a model for community-based ecotourism in the blue economy. The model demonstrates important interactions between community, the local economy, and coastal ecosystems, and the important role community-based ecotourism plays in creating effective mechanisms for preserving natural and cultural heritage.
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