Tourism Operating Principles*:
In general, the Palmyra Project Team agrees with the International Ecotourism Society's definition of ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of local people." Of course, the part about local people is not relevant for Palmyra. Ideally, ecotourism generates income (in large measure for the landowners) through sustainable, low-impact operations that are somewhat adaptable to changing environmental conditions and pressures from human activities. Many operations use "ecotourism" more as a marketing tool than as an operating principle. We would like to ensure that "ecotourism at Palmyra" has conservation as its primary objective.
The Conservancy's goal at Palmyra is to find ecologically sensitive ways to generate ecotourism income from the atoll's impressive biodiversity. Birdwatchers, kayakers and bonefishers are generally an educated and affluent lot and tend to be knowledgeable about natural history and conservation issues. As "specialized" ecotourists they are likely to appreciate the unique value of this marine ecosystem, to make an effort to reduce their environmental impact, and perhaps to be motivated to contribute above and beyond the costs of the their trip.
TNC is still exploring the feasibility of ecotourism at Palmyra. Should a tourism program be established, it would most like commence mid-year in 2002.
*Certain concepts based on Stanford University's Center for Conservation Biology.