Investment opportunities for nature-based tourism in Coral Triangle destinations

Published on Monday, 21 November 2016

Published by Lida Pet-Soede on Monday, 21 November 2016

Titiru Eco Lodge in Western Province, Solomon Islands. Photo by Jackie Thomas, WWF-Coral Triangle Program.
Titiru Eco Lodge in Western Province, Solomon Islands. Photo by Jackie Thomas, WWF-Coral Triangle Program.

Since the establishment of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) in 2009, the media and scientific papers have come out to confirm something that hundreds of thousands of travelers to the Coral Triangle already knew: coastal areas, islands and village communities, and wildlife around this vast region provide plenty of opportunity for action-packed adventures, special encounters with different cultures, and unique ways to be inspired by the beauty of the Coral Triangle’s biodiversity and people.

Tourism has become an economic growth engine and vehicle for development in the region. This has not come without negative impacts, particularly in mass tourism destinations, but fortunately nature-based and ‘eco’ tourism have also seen rapid growth. Nature-based and adventure tourism are growing annually by 10-30%, currently accounting for up to 25% of the world’s tourist market according to the World Tourism Organization. This provides an argument to minimize the impacts of mass tourism in areas with high conservation value, invest in the preservation of natural areas, and support community stewardship over their reefs and coastal environments.

As the six CTI-CFF countries are at varying stages of tourism development, a wide range of benefits and risks inherent with tourism can be found in each country.

Examples do exist of low-impact, low-volume, sustainable, high-value or high-profile nature-based tourism in the Coral Triangle. This is why we need to increase understanding of the importance for governments and the private sector to invest in protecting the natural capital of the Coral Triangle for tourism benefits. Such investors can benefit from a regional profile that positions this region as offering the world’s best sustainable coastal and marine tourism experiences with environmental, economic, social, and cultural benefits involving communities, governments and private enterprise.

Developing and Promoting Sustainable Nature-Based Tourism in the Coral Triangle, an Australian government-funded initiative implemented by WWF, aims to help the six CTI-CFF countries develop a long-term regional approach to tourism that supports the protection and sustainable use of high conservation value places. It provides an opportunity to harness a dynamic tourism industry to preserve one of the world’s most unique ecosystems and areas while providing benefits to people and communities. A nice example is Atauro Island in Timor-Leste, recently distinguished as one of the 100 Global Green Destinations.

ADB will organize on 22-24 November the first Green Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific. During the event, ADB and WWF will co-host a session dedicated to discussing investment opportunities in nature-based tourism development in the Coral Triangle, with a focus on marine- related tourism destinations in Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. We would like to see growing momentum as we enjoin more partners to contribute to this worthwhile endeavor to ensure the welfare of nature and people in this globally significant region.