Ecotourism as Community Development Tool – Development of an Evaluation Framework

Thomas Winkler, Friedrich Zimmermann


Ecotourism can be seen as a tool for community development, especially when focusing on community empowerment as essential core element as well as ecotourism and how it is influenced by a community-based project. The emphasis is on positive effects of ecotourism on a community as well as on the individual tourist. In order to create a research framework, system theory was used to include all stakeholders as well as inputs and outputs. It shows not only a clear connection between ecotourism and community empowerment but also the mutual influence of additional system elements such as the evaluation framework, internal stakeholders and system parameters such as weather and climate. For the evaluation framework for successful community empowerment through ecotourism projects a set of indicators has partly been adapted and created in order to be applicable to the evaluation of various kinds of ecotourism projects in diverse surroundings. Therefore, this framework can be applied to ecotourism projects with different geographical, historical and cultural background and is still able to deliver comparable results. The evaluation framework was tested through questionnaires and interviews in case studies in Nepal, which included three different target groups; community members, project workers and tourists. The main goals of this study are to show how ecotourism projects can positively contribute to community development, to create an evaluation framework that can help to identify common strengths and weaknesses of different projects and to improve the respective case study projects in Nepal.


ecotourism, community development, community empowerment, evaluation framework, Nepal


Blangy, S., Metha, H. (2006). Ecotourism and ecological restoration, Journal for Nature Conservation, 14, 233 – 236.

Bookbinder, M. P. et al. (1998). Ecotourism’s support of Biodiversity Conservation, Conservation Biology, 12(6), 1399 – 1404.

Bossel, H. (2004). Systeme Dynamik Simulation - Modellbildung, Analyse und Simulation komplexer Systeme (Norderstedt: Books on Demand GmbH).

Butler, R. (1999). Sustainable tourism - looking backwards in order to progress, in: Hall, C. M. and Lew, A. A. (Eds.), Sustainable Tourism. A geographical perspective, pp. 25 – 34 (New York: Addison Wesley Longman Limited).

Changes (2011). Community empowerment. Retrieved from (December 6th 2011).

Chekki, D. A. (1979). A Prolegomena to Community Development and Planned Change, in: D. A. Chekki (Ed.), Community Development: Theory and Method of Planned Change (pp. 3 – 24) (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt Ltd).

Community Development Exchange (2011a). Defining community development, Retrieved from (December 6th 2011).

Community Development Exchange (2011b). Community development’s values, Retrieved from (December 6th 2011

Community Development Exchange and Changes (2008). What is community empowerment?, Retrieved from (December 6th 2011).

Community Development Foundation (2011). About community development, Retrieved from (December 6th 2011).

DNPWC (Ed.) (2010). Annual Report – July 2009 to June 2010 (Kathmandu: Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation).

Dullo, E. et al. (2005). Biodiversity – Chapter 5, in: Chopra, K. et al. (Ed.), Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Policy Responses, 3,pp. 119 – 172 (Washington: Island Press).

Earth Summit 2002 (2001). Tourism, Retrieved from (December 5th 2011).

Fabricius, M., Goodwin, H. (2002). Cape Town Declaration, Retrieved from (December 6th 2011).

Friedmann, J. (1992). Empowerment: The Politics of Alternative Development (Oxford: Blackwell).

Gössling, S. (1999). Ecotourism: a means to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem functions?, in: Ecological Economics, 29, 303 – 320.

Head, W. A. (1979). Community Development in Post-Industrial Society: Myth or Reality?, in: D. A. Chekki (Ed.), Community development: theory and method of planned change, pp. 101 – 113 (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt Ltd).

Hetzer, N.D. (1965). Environment, tourism, culture, in: Reported Ecosphere, 1 – 3.

Honey, M. (2008). Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: Who owns paradise?, (Washington: Island Press).

IUCN (1992). World Heritage Twenty Years Later, (Gland: IUCN).

Jafari, J., Ritchie, J.R.B. (1981). Toward a framework for tourism education: Problems and prospects, in: Annals of Tourism Research,8(1), 13 – 34.

Jetmore, A. (2004). Costa Rica’s “Certification for Sustainable Tourism” (CST) Program: A virtual success or a real failure?, Unpublished manuscript, Yale University.

Kiss, A. (2004). Is community-based ecotourism a good use of biodiversity conservation funds?, in: TRENDS in Ecology and Evolution, 19(5), 232 – 237.

Kerley, G. I. H. et al. (2003). Jumbos or bust: do tourists’ perceptions lead to an under-appreciation of biodiversity?. in: South African Journal of Wildlife Research, 33(1), 13–21.

Local Government (2010). Community empowerment – the basics, Retrieved from (December 6th 2011).

Merriam Webster (2012). community, Retrieved from (December 6th 2011).

Miller, K. (1978). Planning National Parks or Ecodevelopment: Methods and cases from Latin America (Michigan: University of Michigan).

Mowforth, M., Munt, I. (2003). Tourism and Sustainability. Development and new tourism in the Third World (New York: Routledge).

Mowforth, M., Munt, I. (2009). Tourism and Sustainability. Development and new tourism in the Third World. New York: Routledge.

National Occupational Standards (2009). National Occupational Standards for community development, Retrieved from (December 6th 2011).

NETIF-Nepal (2012a). NETIF Projects, Retrieved from (March 15th 2012).

NETIF-Nepal (2012b). NETIF Projects – Phase II (2011 – 2013), Retrieved from (March 15th 2012).

Ossimitz, G. and Lapp, C. (2006). Das Metanoia-Prinzip. Eine Einführung in systemgerechtes Denken und Handeln (Hildesheim: Franzbecker).

Pro-Poor Tourism Organization (2011). What is pro-poor tourism?, Retrieved from (December 5th 2011).

Roe, D., Urquart, P. (2001). Pro-poor Tourism: harnessing the world’s largest industry for the world’s poor (London: International Institute for Environment and Development).

Sahih, P. (2011, August 7). Mega sanitation plan to ensure clean Nepal, Kathmandu Post.

Scheyvens, R. (1999). Case study: Ecotourism and the empowerment of local communities, in: Tourism Management, 20, 245 – 249.

Scheyvens, R. (2011). Tourism and poverty (New York: Routledge).

Schloegel, C. (2007). Sustainable Tourism, in: Journal of Sustainable Forestry, 25(3), 247 – 264.

Sofield, T. (2003). Empowerment for Sustainable Tourism Development (Oxford: Pergamon).

The Responsible Tourism Partnership (2011). What is responsible tourism?, Retrieved from (December 6th 2011).

TIES (2012). What is Ecotourism?, Retrieved from (June 14th 2012).

Tisdell, C., Wilson, C. (2005). Perceived impacts of ecotourism on environmental learning and conservation: Turtle watching as a case study, in: Environment, Development and Sustainability, 7, 291 – 302.

UNEP & UNWTO (ed.) (2005). Making Tourism more sustainable - A Guide for Policy Makers (Paris & Madrid: United Nations Environment Programme and World Tourism Organization).

United Nations (1987). Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, Retrieved from (November 14th 2011).

UNWTO (Ed.) (2004). Indicators for Sustainable Development on Tourism Destinations - A Guidebook (Madrid: World Tourism Organization).

UNWTO (2011). Press release - International tourists hit 1.8 billion by 2030, Retrieved from 2030 (December 9th 2011).

Vermeulen, W. J. V. et al. (2011). Master Programme Sustainable Development, Governance for Sustainable Development Practices, Course Guide 2010-2011 (Utrecht: University of Utrecht).

Wearing, S., Neil, J. (2009). Ecotourism: impacts, potentials and possibilities? (Oxford: Elsevier Ltd).

Weaver, D. B. (2006). Sustainable Tourism (Oxford: Elsevier Ltd).

Wilkinson, P. F., Pratiwi, W. (1995). Gender and tourism in an Indonesian village, in: Annals of Tourism Research, 22(2), 283 – 299.

Winkler, T. (2012). Ecotourism as community development tool - Development of an evaluation framework (Master Thesis) (University of Graz, Graz).

Zhao, W., Ritchie, B. (2007). Tourism and poverty alleviation: an integrative research framework, in: Current Issues in Tourism, 10 (2 & 3), 119 – 143.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.