The Asia Pacific Ecotourism Summit (APES) 2022 IYE+20 initiative of Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) commemorates 20 years of the International Year of Ecotourism (IYE 2002)! This Summit was conducted successfully as a hybrid event from 8th to 9th January 2022, organized by the AEN in collaboration with the Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Republic of Indonesia.
A total of more than 500 participants united for the two-day event and made it a unique global platform for ecotourism practitioners and like-minded stakeholders, particularly focusing on enriching ecotourism talks reflecting diverse environments and socio-cultural backgrounds from the Asia-Pacific Countries. The three themes of the event included sessions on ecotourism supported by political will, ecotourism supported by communities and ecotourism supported by various stakeholders. Wherein, the summit observed a diverse outlook towards ecotourism management via experience sharing of speakers representing 21 AEN member countries. As ecotourism within a destination primarily stands on the sustainable use of its nature-culture resources, the benefits its host communities drive and the satisfaction its visitors claim were enthusiastically discussed among the participants. Simultaneously, specific country-led ecotourism initiatives and case studies were presented followed by question answer rounds.
All talks and presentations delivered directly or indirectly reflected a common point in ecotourism functioning that it will be difficult to achieve sustainability if we don’t have a holistic approach having all stakeholders’ cooperation and participation. Implementation, capacity building, respecting nature-culture elements and ecotourism ethics were put-forward as key successful factors to enable community-led ecotourism development.
Further, AEN in collaboration with the Asian Adventures (India) is also continuing with its online “Ecotourism Talks” to commemorate the “International Year of Ecotourism + 20 (IYE+20)” since 2021. Wherein, one can revisit and enrich their ecotourism understanding as the AEN International Board deliver their country specific ecotourism experiences and case studies from the Asia-Pacific Region. Topics covered so far include – Unravel the untapped power of Ecotourism, A Virtual Journey to The Land of Orangutans – Learning Ecotourism, Nature lovers interested in Ecotourism, marine life, and the culture of New Zealand, Ecotourism destination development in Malaysia – an Integrated approach, Community-based Tourism From Bhutan.
Thus, the initiative of Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) to commemorate 20 years of the International Year of Ecotourism (IYE 2002) is not only to re-emphasize the strengths of ecotourism and identify the ecotourism-directed latent opportunities, but also to value and respect the nature-culture dimensions of ecotourism at all levels. Wherein, all key stakeholders, be it the decision-makers or the supporting players, play a crucial role in making ecotourism function successfully at a destination.
Simultaneously, AEN also supports ecotourism directed actions reflecting synergies between tourism, culture and environment via Asia-Pacific Ecotourism Standards (for accommodations and for destinations separately); declaration on Climate Change Adaptation and Redefining Ecotourism Seasonality; declaration on Indigenous People; and upcoming students volunteer program.