The theme of Ecodialogue project targeting the development of cooperation between the civil society organisations and public sector, and participation in the policy making process of the civil society in general is environment protection, and especially ecotourism. Within the last thirty years, one of the most important changes seen in the world is observed in the environmental responsibility. Today, the concept of sustainability is no longer sufficient enough by itself; more sensitive concepts towards nature are planned for development. One of these concepts is ecotourism. Thanks to ecotourism, both the sustainability of the protection of the nature is provided, and the upgrading of life standards of the people living in the vicinity is made possible.
Ecotourism, forming the main axis of the ecodialogue project, is defined as the type of tourism providing economical benefits to the community and having the least effect on the nature within the framework of wild nature. The distinguishing characteristics of ecotourism are defined as follows:
In this type of tourism, it is of utmost importance to provide information on the issue of sustainability and local culture with the ecosystem to the visitors. According to the World Bank, ecotourism, together with culture and adventure tourism, is one of the three niche markets, consisting of the tourists, wishing to have the less cultural and environmental effect, even tough duration of the stay is longer with more spending.
According to a research of UNEP, ecotourism today, is one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry. According to the WTO’s projections for an extended period, ecotourism will continue to rise in both the number of tourists and its share in the total. On the other hand, tourism based on nature, assumes a vital role, especially in countries with developing economies, having a weaker financial and industrial production.
Although ecotourism has environmentally friendly objectives, it may have negative impacts when not managed properly. At any rate, it is possible to say that ecotourism to be implemented in areas with mostly sensitive, rare and unprotected cultural and environmental values, will form a big threat on the issue of negative environmental effects. On the other hand, ecotourism can also have very positive social and environmental effects as well. The ecotourists who can do with simpler services can minimise the environmental effects. Most of the ecotourism activities are carried in national parks. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) emphasises that most of the park programs in the world allocate a minimum level of funds for the protection due to financial resource deficiency.
Due to reasons such as ecotourism's critical and sensitive nature, the area where the ecodialogue program to be implemented being one of the most sensitive areas of Turkey in nature and environment, and local people needing social activities to increase their level of income, it is of critical importance that the shareholders be informed in the area of ecotourism, to form a communication network between the civil society and public institutions, to establish institutional consulting mechanisms where the civil society and public sector organisations can exchange information and where the civil society can participate in the decision making process.