Chérine Khallaf, The British University in Egypt
Purpose: Ecotourism is a concept defined by its positive impacts encompassing biodiversity, conservation and community wellbeing. The identification and measurement of ecotourism impacts using mono-disciplinary approaches has proved to be deficient and detrimental. This paper contributes to the debate on ecotourism and sustainable tourism by proposing a conceptual framework for ecotourism activities in protected areas that sets the stage for the development of the Index of Sustainable Ecotourism Impacts.
Design/methodology/approach: The conceptual framework is verified in the case of Wadi El Gemal National Park in Egypt, using content analysis methodology, whereas the Index of Sustainable Ecotourism Impacts is constructed following the model of alternative measures of welfare. The construction and uses of the index are illustrated using the information extracted from the case study.
Findings: The results highlight the sustainability risks and opportunities in Wadi El Gemal National Park and shed light on important data deficiencies and lack of integration of social, economic and ecological statistics.
Limitations: The validation of the conceptual framework would have been improved if the study had undertaken multiple-case studies. However, the framework was perceived to serve the development of the index.
Social implications: Capturing the developmental impacts of ecotourism calls for the integration of data on ecological and social trends in economic measures.
Originality/value: The paper illustrates the use and application of a comprehensive measure of ecotourism impacts in the case of Wadi El Gemal National Park in Egypt.
Keywords: Ecotourism, Protected areas, Protected Area Ecotourism Sustainability Framework, Alternative measures of welfare, Indicator of Sustainable Ecotourism Impacts