Knowing the demand and measuring the impact of ecotourism as a tourist product of great interest and in full development in our country, were two of the objectives that the Ministry of Tourism proposed when it promoted the Observatory of Ecotourism of Spain whose first conclusions we already know. Thanks to this tool it has been drawn for the first time
the profile of the ecotourist, between 35 and 49 years of age, who is recognised as a nature lover, with work and higher education, who travels in his own vehicle with his partner and who organises his journey through the protected natural area he wants to visit, with the main motivation of observing its nature and contracting professional companies in 50% of cases (half-day activity and up to 60 euros) and spending 2-3 nights in tourist accommodation for this purpose. There are different types of travelers who consume ecotourism. 40% of the sample surveyed identify themselves as nature lovers, while 33% qualify as cultural tourists, and only 8% recognise themselves as tourists specialising in nature observation.
This profile has been obtained through an online questionnaire open until May, and with the results of which the first phase of work of the Observatory of Ecotourism in Spain is closed, which is now also working to get to know better the tourism companies that make up this product and to evaluate the role played by the managers responsible for the ecotourism destinations. The online questionnaire, which is linked to a product promotion campaign (#SoyEcoturista) and has a series of awards associated with it, has been answered by 356 travelers who between January 1 and the end of May (the data collection will continue throughout 2018) have traveled to one of the destinations of the Ecotourism Club in Spain and have been invited to participate in the promotion #SoyEcoturista in one of the lodgings or companies of collaborative activities.
This work has allowed us to establish among the first conclusions that the Protected Natural Area is the main motivation for travelers. This means that in Spain, the future of this product lies in extending its consumption to segments of demand in cities with a profile of nature and culture lovers. 80% of travellers travel more than twice a year to natural areas, and more than 80% of those surveyed admit that they hire the services of activity companies on their trips, although the percentage of those who do so regularly is only 5% and 20% do so with some regularity. The vast majority spend less than 60 euros/person, while 5% of the total spend on activities with prices/person in the order of 60 to 100 euros.
Questionnaire also to accommodation
The Observatory also includes a digital questionnaire aimed at those responsible for the accommodation and activity companies that make up the ecotourism experiences. In this first phase, 52 lodgings and 38 ecotourism companies have been characterized. In the case of accommodation, 77% of the establishments have a very marked seasonality, with summer and Easter peak seasons, although 82% are open all year round. Most sales are made directly, although 78% are based on reservation centres, the most used being Booking (81%) and Escapada Rural (55%). Most accommodations use more than one online marketing portal. 40% of direct sales are obtained by 33% of customers who come through reservation centres.
This work has been based on the definition of ecotourism as’the journey to a natural area to know it, interpret it, enjoy it and walk around it, while at the same time appreciating and contributing in a practical way to its conservation, without generating impacts on the environment and having a positive impact on the local population (Daimiel Declaration of Ecotourism, 2016)’.