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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
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Athabascan RavenTribal Tourism Development:
A Handbook for Planners

UNDERSTANDING TOURISM
PART 1

Before tourism became a major industry, small businesses met the needs of travelers across the world. These focused mainly on providing food and lodging. As long distance travel became increasingly available to the general public, businesses expanded to meet the needs and desires of the visitors and economic opportunities within the travel industry flourished. The rapid growth did not come without growing pains. Many communities have suffered as a direct result of tourism and are now trying to cope with some of the negative effects of tourism in their area.

Tourism is big business:
According to the World Tourism Organization, tourism is the world's largest industry.

When you begin the tourism development process, it is important to understand the entire picture of the visitor industry and the different types of tourism development. This section will give you a basic idea of the different types of tourism development as well as information about developing cultural tourism with care and respect for the community and environment.

A. GENERAL TOURISM DEVELOPMENT
B. ECO-TOURISM
C. CULTURAL TOURISM AND CULTURAL INTERPRETATION
D. TOURISM WITH INTEGRITY


A. General Tourism Development
PART 1

General tourism (known as Industrial Tourism in Alaska) regards the economics of tourism development without necessarily considering community or environmental impacts. General tourism companies often value volume and quantity without regards to the local culture. Examples of general tourism businesses include resorts, lodges, hotels, gift shops with non-local retail, theme parks and large cruises.

Example:
Luxury Hotel

PROFILE:

5 Targets a specific tourist market (open in summer, closed in winter)
5 Located in a growing rural community
5 Owned and managed by non-residents
5 15-25% local hiring
5 Near private residences
5 Near a large National Park
5 424 person maximum capacity on 200 acres


In terms of economic development, this hotel has brought business and tourism opportunities to the community. The influx of visitors to the community provides some local people an employment opportunity with the hotel. Locals may also provide entertainment (local tours, rafting, crafts, etc.) to the hotel guests. However, if the local people do not meet the needs of the tourists, non-local businesses (including the hotel) may chose to capitalize on the crowds that the hotel has brought by providing the services they feel are needed.

The Copper River Wilderness Lodge in Copper Center Alaska is an example of “General Tourism” development that has impacted the community.

lodge

The Big Question:

The opening of this hotel for business made the community a tourist destination. Did the community have a chance to develop infrastructure to protect themselves from any negative impacts of having large crowds of people visit the community?

Sinona sign
The photo above shows an Indian owned RV park and Campground in Chistochina, Alaska. RV Parks can be categorized as general tourism, but the owners of this park strive to meet ecotourism standards by educating the tourists about the local culture, participating in community tourism workshops and by networking with other businesses. They are an integral part of community planning and development.

POINTS TO CONSIDER

5Tourism, as a global industry, is relatively new. Most of the major tourist facilities were developed in the last 30 years.

5Tourism can, and does, have significant economic advantages for communities - tourism is big business.

5 Mass tourism can harm communities and exploit cultures if not developed with care.

5 Tourism development can conflict with ecological preservation and local use.

 

Tourism can be developed sensibly and with sensitivity to the local environment.





B. Eco-Tourism Development
PART 1

The defining characteristic of ecotourism is that it has little or no damaging impact on the community and environment, is community based, includes some educational format, and employs local people and expertise.

Ecotourism considers the environmental and community impact of tourism development. Examples of ecotourism businesses include bike rentals, hiking tours, wildlife viewing tours, cultural interpretation, rafting, eco-adventure, small lodges, and community based businesses. Ecotourism can include a wide spectrum of opportunities for the visitor.

Example:
Wilderness Retreat

PROFILE:

5 Locally owned and operated
5 Targets a specific clientele of independent wilderness travelers
5 Located near a large National Park
5 Located in a rural area off of the main road
5 20 person maximum capacity on 80 acres

This remote retreat is an example of an ecotourism business. Cabin rentals, a groomed trail system (for hiking and skiing), guided canoe trips down the local river, and home- made breakfast (often using ingredients from the garden) are some of the services this rural retreat offers. Solar panels and a wind generator power the main house, and the water is pumped to the house using a hydro-ram.


Courtesy of Huck Hobbit Tours

biker
Courtesy of Huck Hobbit Tours
The International Eco-tourism Society defines eco-tourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of the local people.

 

The Big Question:

This moderately developed wilderness retreat is currently a low-impact operation. With continued growth and development, the business may have an adverse effect on the local environment How can an eco-tourism business have maximum user volume and economic benefit without negatively impacting the environment and community?

 

Courtesy of Huck Hobbit Tours
canoeists
Canoeists enjoy a quiet day on the Slana river in Interior Alaska.

POINTS TO CONSIDER

5 Advertising as an ecotourism business will attract a specific type of environmentally conscience clientele.

5 A wilderness tour is not necessarily ecotourism unless it is directly linked to ecotourism principals of protecting nature and bringing tangible benefits to local people.

5 A growing number of travelers are seeking a wilderness experience.

5 Any given wilderness area has a limit as to how many people it can handle without damage to the environment. The ecotourism business must recognize the limit and know when to stop development.



C. Cultural Tourism Development
PART 1

The World Tourism Association defines cultural tourism as “an immersion in the natural history, human heritage, the arts and philosophy, and the institutions of another region or country.”

Cultural tourism is another niche in the tourism industry. A cultural focus can be included in any tourism plan.

Cultural tourism helps the tourist learn about and experience different cultures. Examples of cultural attractions include arts and crafts, language, religion, music, traditions, folklore and history. Cultural tourism can also help the visitor understand the present culture in relation to the cultural history.

A tourist visiting Chistochina, Alaska may experience cultural tourism by looking at a fish wheel and learning about the historical and modern day significance of salmon to the local people. A tourist visiting San Francisco may experience cultural tourism through a museum or an interpretive tour through Chinatown.

Interpretation is an important aspect of providing the visitor with a broad understanding of the local culture.

CULTURAL INTERPRETATION TELLS THE STORY BEHIND THE FACTS AND HELPS THE VISITOR SEE THE WHOLE PICTURE.

fishwheelFor example: A tourist in Chistochina, Alaska can view a fish wheel and learn about how it is used. The tour guide could also tell the visitor the history of the Katie John vs. State of Alaska case. Katie John is a Native Elder who had to fight the state government for the right to fish at her traditional fish camp. The story in itself is dynamic and could lead to a lively discussion of other historical and modern day cultural issues.

The fishwheel turns throughout the summer on the Copper River in Chistochina, Alaska.
Courtesy of Andy Rabung

The goal of cultural interpretation is to tell a compelling story, about a particular subject matter that will ultimately move the visitor and leave them caring more about the area they are visiting.

 

The Big Question:

How do you promote tourism in native communities without exploiting the culture?


A common and valid concern among Native people is that by promoting cultural tourism, the tribe may experience a loss in traditional values and lifestyle. It is essential to put a lot of thought and care into your visitor management plan in order to avoid these complications. The whole community should share input on setting tourism guidelines for the area.

ALWAYS INCLUDE THE ELDERS IN DEFINING HOW TO BEST REPRESENT THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF THE AREA.

It may be inappropriate or disrespectful to share certain information outside of the tribe. Set up a meeting in which the Elders can clearly define what can be shared and what should not be shared. Any business or community member who is giving out cultural information needs to be aware of how the tribe feels about sharing information or describing their culture.

POINTS TO CONSIDER

5 Culture sells: If you don't tell your story, someone else will.

5Tourists are vulnerable to misinterpretation and misinformation. It is important to evaluate how the tourist is learning about the local culture. Who is doing the teaching? Is it accurate? Is it authentic? Is it misleading? Does it give the wrong impression?

5 It is important to provide information about the present day culture as well as the cultural history. This information gives the visitor a well-rounded view and helps avoid stereotypes and misinterpretation.

Elder Jerry Charley
Elder Jerry Charley teaching Mentasha youth how to make a traditional drum.
Courtesy of Megan Holloway




D. Tourism With Integrity
PART 1

TOURISM CAN SUPPORT YOUR EFFORTS TO MAINTAIN AND STRENGTHEN TRADITIONAL LIFESTYLES AND VALUES.

5 It has been said, “nothing destroys culture faster than poverty”. Tourism is a viable solution for boosting the local economy and supporting local pride and creativity.

5 Tribal members can create a home-based economy to provide the tribal members the opportunity to work in the local area and stay close to family and traditions.

5 Tribal members can develop businesses that include traditional practices.

FOR EXAMPLE: Imagine a young tribal member helping an Elder facilitate a moose hide tanning demonstration. By doing this demonstration, the tribal member is learning and practicing a traditional craft and getting paid for it!
Native hide workers in Chistochina and Mentasta use natural materials to tan moose hide.
Courtesy of Laura Hancock
tanning a moose hide

 

Developing Tourism Sensibly and With Sensitivity

IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE COMMUNITY TO DISCUSS A COMMON VISION FOR TOURISM DEVELOPMENT.

meeting A tourism planner should always consider the host community in their development plans. How will the business affect the people that live in the area?
© Doyle Traw
Community members meet to discuss an issue and create a plan of action at a recent meeting.

 

THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITY MAY HELP FACILITATE A DISCUSSION.

    1. Make a list of things that define or are unique to your culture and community.
    2. Of the things on the list, what would you (as a tribe) be willing to share with tourists?
    3. How can certain aspects of the culture be shared in a way that will educate and enrich the tourist without giving the tourist a wrong impression or false information?

THE FOLLOWING TWO PAGES CONTAIN EXAMPLES OF PLANNING EXERCISES YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR COMMUNITY.


 

E. Community Planning Exercise
PART 1

EXAMPLE:

1. What's neat about our community? 2. What part of our community and lifestyle do we want to share?

chart

3. How can we share this part of our community in a positive way?

boots

Develop Hiking Trails

  1. Select trails carefully, keeping in mind how they will impact local people.
  2. Train locals in wilderness guiding and interpretation.
  3. Develop trail systems with interpretive signs and/or an interactive map. The signs and/or map should help the tourist learn about the cultural and historical significance of the land they're on (i.e. summer fish camp) and about the plants and animals they may see.


Healthy Community Planning

HAVE THE COMMUNITY MEMBERS DESCRIBE THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO THE COMMUNITY BY FILLING IN THE BLANKS:

For the community of

___________________________

Favorite Things to do

___________________________

Favorite Places to go

___________________________

Least Favorite Places to go

___________________________

Why Live Here?

___________________________

Intangibles

___________________________

Sense of Community

___________________________

Sense of Belonging

___________________________

Vision

___________________________

Sacred (things that make this
home and should not change)

___________________________

___________________________

Measures of Community Health

___________________________

___________________________

 

End Chapter

This material is based upon work supported by the Environmental Protection Agency Grant No. GA-97002201-1. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Environmental Protection Agency.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

UNDERSTANDING TOURISM
Part 1

  1. General Tourism Development
  2. Eco-Tourism
  3. Cultural Tourism and Cultural Interpretation
  4. Tourism With Integrity

SUPPORTING COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
Part 2

  1. Strategies For Involving The Whole Community
  2. Workshops
    Sample Workshop Agendas
  3. Conducting Surveys
  4. Follow-up
  5. Identify Your Core Group

NUTS AND BOLTS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT
Part 3

  1. Identify Where Your Community Is In The Tourism Development Process
  2. What Do You Do If The Community Doesn't Want Tourism?
  3. Tourism Management
  4. Marketing
  5. Encouraging Good Relations Between Local Businesses
  6. Supporting Local Business Development
  7. Community Beautification

 
 

Go to University of AlaskaThe University of Alaska Fairbanks is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution and is a part of the University of Alaska system.

 


Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
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Last modified September 20, 2006