Ming Ming Su, Dr.* - Renmin University of China, School of Environment and Natural Resources
Development of ecotourism usually concerns sustainability of protected areas. Facilitated by appropriate management, ecotourism can contribute to conservation and development, as well as improving the wellbeing of local communities. Therefore, ecotourism has been practiced in different forms in many countries, including China. This study examines ecotourism development at Xingkai Lake National Nature Reserve in Heilongjiang Province of China. Key informant interviews are conducted with community members and key officials at the provincial forestry department and the NR. Due to its rich and unique resources, the potential for providing quality experience at the NR is high and tourism development is occurring rapidly in recent decades. However, it is revealed that current relationships between people, resources and tourism have yet to provide the mutual benefits necessary for successful ecotourism. The multi-stakeholder management and the ambiguity of landownership within the NR provide structural difficulties for ecotourism management and operation. The local fishing ommunity is struggling due to the rapid depletion of fishing resources. Although participation in ecotourism could provide an alternative livelihood opportunity and interests in tourism participation are identified among community members, the current involvement is low mainly due to the lack of participation mechanism. Therefore, it is recommended that management programs and government policies should be developed to facilitate community participation in ecotourism, which could replace fishing activities as the major livelihood method for the local community. Then, a positive synergetic relationship between tourism, environment and community could be developed.