First Workshop of the Series: the Arctic (November 2007)

In a Canadian provincial park setting, 21 Arctic indigenous tourism operators and executives of tourism associations worked with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and with local NGOs and government officers to improve the way their websites address biodiversity. A 3-day workshop was set up in Duchesnay Tourist Station in Quebec in November 2007, in partnership with Carleton University, with whom the Secretariat has a Memorandum of Understanding, and with the financial support of the Governments of Canada and Spain. Participants came from Canada (five Northern provinces and territories), the Russian Federation, the United States, Finland, Sweden, and the International Ecotourism Society.

The series of workshops will assist indigenous communities in various regions of the world to use web-based technologies to better market their tourism products while managing their biodiversity resources in a sustainable way. Tools such as the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development, the CBD Traditional Knowledge portal, the Akwé:Kon guidelines, and various Web-2 resources were shown, discussed and adapted by participants, with a view to improving their websites and their capacity to reflect traditional ways in conserving indigenous land, and to allow potential visitors and clients to learn about indigenous practices and cultures.

The first workshop focused on the Arctic region in recognition of 2007 as the International Polar Year, and considered the distinct challenges of remote rural Arctic destinations. Additional workshops will build on lessons learned and methodologies developed in Quebec, and will take place in Latin America, Africa, the Pacific and South-East Asia, with a focus on forest basins, islands, mountains, and dry and sub-humid areas.

Participants worked with individual computers in small groups to examine existing reference websites, and exchange lessons learned on their own website development and management practices. To facilitate the exchange of experiences, participants produced quality indicators in three important areas: biodiversity, e-marketing and technological tools. Those indicators were then used in a self-assessment of their websites. Based on these self-assessments, participants worked on a plan to enhance their websites. Two researchers from Carleton University (Dr. Jacques Chevalier and Dr. Sylvie Blangy, seconded from Montpellier University) and Olivier Pessin (as technical resource person) acted as facilitators and developed methodologies and techniques specifically for indigenous people of the Arctic region, using aboriginal design templates and socialization techniques based on the Social Analysis System (SAS2).

The resulting toolbox for indigenous communities to design and manage their tourism websites in support of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity was incorporated into a “Wheel” design. It includes:

(a) A list of functions of tourism websites, with examples from indigenous products;
(b) Evaluation checklists for the effectiveness of websites in promoting and supporting cultural and biological diversity and in marketing indigenous sustainable tourism products (quality criteria refer to links to Mother Earth, use of indigenous languages, etc);
(c) Technological tools to enhance the capacities of indigenous tourism websites
(d) E-Marketing techniques.

The final report-is now available. Additional workshop materials, including the results of the participants’ survey, techniques used and the presentations can be found here.

Outcomes will be transmitted to the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the CBD in Bonn, Germany, from 19 to 30 May 2008, as well as the sixth meeting of the ad hoc open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions, scheduled for 2009.

Outcomes of the Arctic Workshop

The Arctic Workshop utilized a series of marketing indicators that measure the marketing effectiveness of indigenous tourism websites. By using the attached chart, tourist operators can understand the extent to which their own websites incorporate effective marketing strategies and how they can incorporate more of the effective elements into their web design and management in the future.

The Indigenous EcoTourism Circle is an assessment tool for evaluating and enhancing the presence of biodiversity and cultural identity within indigenous tourism websites. By ensuring that the four elements of the chart are incorporated in a balanced way on their websites, tourism operators will more effectively portray their personal commitments to biodiversity and protecting their cultural heritage to their own communities using the site and to the tourism market at large.

In this functions survey, tourism operators and members of non-profit organizations participating in the workshop rated the importance of a variety of factors present in a website. The ratings show that the importance of each function varies according to the nature of the "business" and the target market.

“The Wheel” is a tool that can be used to summarize the assessment of websites based on all of the indicators and assessment tools put together. The Wheel incorporates four main indicators of successful web design and management to assess the overall effectiveness of the website.

For more information, contact