Some hints for successful ecotourism in Madagascar
Tourism can become Madagascar's biggest industry. The key is developing tourism in a responsible manner. The last thing the Malagasy need are a bunch of ugly Westerners spoiling the environment and ruining the culture of Madagascar. Here are a few tips that I would consider were I in charge of launching responsible tourism in Madagascar.
Follow the rules of responsible tourism
Many organizations far more qualified than I will give you the "rules" for running a ecologically and socially responsible tour operation. Take a look at Conservation International for ideas.
Madagascar as it stands today is not a destination suited for all travelers. Target your market by focusing on ecotourists who are willing to overlook the rough edges of travel in Madagascar. Do not overlook the special interest travelers: those who fixate on wildlife, birding, or cultural experiences.
Build on the media wave created with the release of Dreamworks' movie release "Madagascar" and the launch of the Bronx zoo exhibit on Madagascar. Encourage visits by credible members of the media
Encourage the development of resources and materials that will be useful to visiting tourists. Specifically I'm looking at print materials that can be sold in national parks. Materials like maps, pamphlets on local ecology and history, and cards listing species found in a particular protected area.
Continue teaching English and other languages in school. The more languages spoken in tourist areas the better.
Malagasy tourists need to show respect for their environment as well when they travel to other parts of Madagascar. There's nothing that will rile an ecotourist faster than watching other tourists littering the ground with their trash and cigarette butts. Keep the ecotourists happy, discourage littering.
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