TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Tourism industry experts from Taiwan and abroad on Friday (Nov. 19) presented their views on ecotourism during the COVID-19 pandemic at the International Conference on Ecotourism, organized by the Taiwan Ecotourism Association (TEA).
The first day of the two-day conference opened with a five-minute video presentation of breathtaking aerial photos of the country taken by the renowned Chen Min-ming (陳敏明).
The conference focused on four topics: opportunities for ecotourism amid COVID-19, ecotourism and sustainable development, community-based ecotourism, and refocus and rejuvenation. Government agencies, local and international ecotourism experts, and scholars were invited to attend.
The first speaker, Forestry Bureau Director-General Lin Hwa-ching (林華慶), talked about how forest therapy has been trending during the pandemic. Lin said Taiwan’s 18 forest recreation areas have the potential to become world-class attractions, and he went through the agency's plans in terms of software and hardware in order to achieve that status.
Lin’s speech was followed by a talk from Srilal Miththapala, CEO at Serendib Leisure Management, Sri Lanka. Via video link, he spoke about the importance of protecting biodiversity and how it is essential to economic resilience and growth.
Biodiversity makes tourist destinations like tropical forests, beaches, and national parks so much more attractive, he said. "However, if the number of tourists is greater than the capacity of the destination, then the negative impact can be seen quickly.”
“The important issue here is to sit back and take stock, and create a new model for tourism, with an emphasis on nature, wellness, and environmental conservation, which in turn will help safeguard our biodiversity.”
Tony Charters from Tony Charters and Associates offered 10 key lessons for the tourism industry as it moves on from COVID. Diversified supply chains are critical, he said.
“Don’t place all your eggs in one basket,” Charters said, pointing out that businesses solely reliant on international markets have been decimated during the pandemic.
Local markets have proven to be lifesavers for many in the tourism industry, he said, adding that these may yield less revenue but are easily accessible. “As the world experiences more instability, the importance of a diversified income stream is becoming critical to business success," he said.