Community-Based Ecotourism in the Mamirauá Reserve: evaluation of product quality and reflections regarding the economic and financial feasibility of the activity.

Rodrigo Zomkowski Ozorio, Ariane Janér

Abstract


An ecotourism product should, among other things, offer a quality experience for the visitor and improve the quality of life of the one who is visited. This study evaluated the quality of community-based ecotourism at the Uakari Floating Lodge, and analyzed the economic and financial performance of the enterprise, generating reflections regarding the economic impact achieved and the intangible benefits associated with initiatives of this nature. The timeframe for the analysis was nine years (2002 to 2010). The evaluation of product quality was based upon the perceptions of the visitor and generally revealed high levels of quality. Moreover, a comparison with the competition yielded satisfactory results, indicating that the product can compete internationally on quality. From the perspective of financial return on investment, after a promising start, performance was not satisfactory over the nine-year period. An analysis has been conducted on the impact of two external factors and one internal factor, which have negatively impacted performance: the closure of the municipal airport for nine months, large exchange rate fluctuations and a pricing policy that could have been more conservative. Enterprises like the Uakari Lodge (located in remote areas with a differentiated management model) have certain vulnerabilities and this study reinforces the necessity of these initiatives to be better prepared for the risks inherent in this activity. Using simulations, it is possible to show that, if the municipal airport had not been closed or the Dollar had not suffered such a steep devaluation, financial viability would have been reached. Equally, the study shows that inappropriate adjustments in daily rates played a part in contributing to inadequate financial performance. On the other hand, when analyzing the initiative from a macro-economic point of view, it becomes evident that the activity established itself as an important economic alternative for the local communities and that the financial resources generated by the project had a strong multiplier effect. The analysis found that, for each R$1.00 contributed by investors, R$4.72 was generated in the regional economy. Equally, the wide variety of intangible environmental, social and economic benefits, validate the socio-environmental focus of the project and its contribution as a tool for the conservation of natural resources. Another point that merits attention relates to the existence of a consolidated system for monitoring results, which allows for the initiative to socialize lessons learned with academia, not-for-profit organizations and government. The findings of the study will contribute to more efficient planning for the transfer of management of the enterprise to the local communities.

Keywords


Ecotourism; Community-based tourism; Uakari Floating Lodge; Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve; Economic feasibility; Ecoturismo; Amazônia, Pousada Flutuante Uacari; Reserva de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá; Viabilidade econômico-financeira

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.31420/uakari.v8i2.141