There is a growing support for nature conservation today in China. It is ecotourism that offers the economic potential of having economic gains while conserving the natural resource and environment protection. This is true not only of China, but of the world.
China, which is one of the signatories to the World Conservation Strategies in 1980, recognized its importance by instituting the China Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan of 1994 (Tindell, 1996).
According to Tindell (1996), ecotourism is appealing as a phenomenon because it has the potential to provide economic benefits while conserving nature. There are also socio-economic values derived from ecotourism and these are:
- This can be directly created in ecotourism and in the management of ecotourism assets.
- Ecotourism can lead to economic growth of profitable tourism-related activities. This can be in the form of hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops and the travel agencies or tour operators that support the ecotourism
- In China, ecotourism brings in foreign exchange when foreign visitors visit the natural area.
- There is diversification of the local
- Ecotourism can provide economic support for the preservation of culture.
In the study of He, et al., (2008), on the economic benefits from ecotourism, the researchers looked into the distribution of economic benefits among the stakeholders in the Wolong Nature Reserve of Giant Pandas in China. In terms of investments in ecotourism, the investments are in the form of hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Another economic benefit of ecotourism in China is the creation of local employment. Their findings show that the local residents took only low-skilled and temporary jobs and most employees of the reserve come from outside the region. In terms of goods being sold in the ecotourism site, the local community does not benefit significantly since most of the goods, like construction materials, are purchased outside of the reserve. He, et al., (2008) concluded that the distribution of economic benefits was characterized by inequality among different stakeholders of Wolong Nature Reserve. They suggested that the following strategies be done to address the unequal distribution of economic benefits:
Enhance local participation.
Increase the use of local goods.
Encourage relocation of households close to ecotourism facilities