Ecotourism and Heritage Conservation

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COSTA CHAMAS, C and SCHMIDT, A., 2011. Ecotourism and Heritage Conservation. In: Micallef, A. (ed.), MCRR3-2010 Conference Proceedings, Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 61, pp. 234-241. Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy, ISSN 0749-0208.

This case study presents ecotourism as a tool for conservation of a small island in southern Brazil. Campeche Island emerged as a tourist destination due to its scenic quality, clear, calm waters and its proximity to the coast. The landscape factors are enhanced by important archeological sites found along the island's rocky shore.

The recent increase in tourism on the island began to have negative consequences, requiring protective measures. This was one of the reasons for the recording of Campeche Island as a National Archeological and Landscape Heritage site in July, 2000, by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN) of the Brazilian government.

After this recording, closing the island to visitors to assure the preservation of its archeological sites was considered. However, this would contradict with IPHAN's strategy to have public contact with heritage sites become a tool for conservation. Therefore, IPHAN has developed a process of qualified visitation that has been characterized until now as Mass Tourism, in keeping with concepts of Ecotourism.

A Visitation Project has been gradually implemented by IPHAN with the communities involved to provide services responsible for: a) restoring the trail network and establishing a secure infrastructure; b) assessing visiting capacity; c) creating monitor training courses; d) defining and implementing usage regulations; e) defining trails and f) creating monitoring systems.

This paper will detail the methods adopted for organizing visits to the track and underwater trails, presenting quantitative and qualitative data to show that the visitation procedures allow receiving 40 thousand visitors in the most intensive tourist season without harming the natural and cultural patrimony, while involving the public in raising awareness about the importance of conservation measures.

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