Wildlife Ecotourism & Community Engagement in Conservation
Ecotourism activities at Nam Et-Phou Louey (NEPL) National Protected Area (NPA) have been developed to provide an additional livelihood opportunity for local people surrounding the Protected Area. All tours have been designed to create a direct link between conservation and tourism so that the money that visitors pay has a positive impact on encouraging local people to protect endangered wildlife. This is achieved through active community involvement, and the creation of conservation linked financial incentive mechanisms.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been supporting the NEPL Management Unit since 2003, and has assisted with the development of ecotourism products commencing in 2009. During this time significant experience has been gained on how to implement ecotourism in the Laos NPA context, and how to ensure effective operations and meaningful community engagement. Currently 26 villages (more than 2000 households) are participating in ecotourism with 4 villages being directly engaged to provide services for tours. The primary aims of the tourism model are to:
- Create additional income for local people – linked to conservation
- Generate sustainable financing for protected area management
- Increase awareness among local people and visitors about the importance of wildlife conservation
Opened in 2009, the Nam Nern Night Safari is a 24-hour boat-based tour into the core of the NEPL NPA. The trip involves night-time wildlife spotlighting: long-tail boats drift down the Nam Nern River looking for wild and endangered animals. Additional nature activities during the tour include bird watching, wildlife tracking, and a short morning hike. Visitors to the Night Safari stay overnight in traditional Lao bungalows built and managed by the community. View detailed Night Safari itinerary.
In 2016, two trekking products with 2 to 5 day itineraries were opened: “The Nests” and “The Cloud Forest Climb”. The trek project benefits 12 surrounding villages and offers visitors an opportunity to track wild species such as leopards, bears and dhole using camera traps which are set up along the trail and maintained by tourists. The data from these camera traps is incorporated into the protected area wildlife-monitoring program. View trekking itineraries.
Download the Ecotourism Brochure and read the itineraries offline -> NEPL NPA Ecotourism brochure
Ecotourism Model Brief
2017 Ecotourism Model document. English & Lao language.
This brief outlines the ecotourism model implemented at the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area (NEPL NPA) in Houaphan Province, Lao PDR (Laos). The ecotourism products at NEPL NPA have been designed to create a direct link between conservation and tourism so that the money that tourists pay has a positive impact on encouraging local people to protect endangered wildlife. This is achieved through both direct employment of local people in service provider groups, and through incentives that provides benefits to a larger number of villages linked to wildlife conservation.
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