ECOTOURISM: NORTH SULAWESI STRATEGY
BIMP-EAGA North Sulawesi, Indonesia
Faculty of Agriculture Sam Ratulangi University, Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
Ecotourism is an important and rapidly growing niche market within international tourism industry. Ecotourism has brought the promise of achieving conservation goals, improving the well-being of local communities and generating new business — promising a rare win-win situation. North Sulawesi is well known as the spice island and the land of waving coconut. It is also a land of magnificent coral reefs protecting beaches, mountains and active volcanoes. Located on the eastern side of the Wallacea’s line, North Sulawesi holds a unique combination of Asian and Australian’s flora and fauna. Marine biodiversity in this province is spectacular. North Sulawesi of Indonesia is among the Coral Triangle countries, known as the amazon of the sea. Tourism industry is on the rise and believed to be the province’s future. North Sulawesi has definitely a great potential in ecotourism. Ecotourism in North Sulawesi is at an early stage development. Efforts have been done including the designation of unique and interesting areas as ecotourism sites and the development of the province ecotourism package. Challenges have been identified including poor infrastructure and accessibility, lack of human resources in tourism, lack of integrated ecotourism package and promotional material, and limited funding which needs to be addressed. Careful planning and management and good collaboration among local people, businessmen, conservationists, government should be taken for a successful ecotourism program. Ecotourism in not a panacea but it is definitely another viable option to promote sustainable tourism which promotes the conservation and protection of the natural areas as well as bring economic benefits for communities living in rural and remote areas.