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Ecotourism, Ecotourism Potentials, Majang Forest Biosphere Reserve, Gambella, Ethiopia
Purpose – the purpose of this study was to identify ecotourism potentials of the Majang Forest Biosphere Reserve.
Methodology – The study employed qualitative research approach using an exploratory research design. Data was collected through in-depth interviews and focus group discussion besides to field observations. Accordingly, key informants interviewees were held with 12 villages senior leaders (n=60), key informants from 6 departments (n=30) and NGO experts (n=5). Altogether, 95 respondents were involved in this study
Findings – The results of this research revealed that fauna and flora (87%), water bodies (waterfalls, rivers, and lakes) (82%), cultural attractions (54%), manmade attractions as well as historical sites are found to be the major ecotourism potentials of the Biosphere Reserve.
Originality – The study provides complied information of ecotourism potentials of the Majang Forest Biosphere Reserve, which has not been explored before. It enhances the concept of ecotourism and level of understanding of stakeholders in ecotourism potentials of the biosphere. Its findings contributes to better conservation of the biosphere reserve through creating awareness and commitment to decision makers, politicians, experts, leaders, eco-tourists, local community, etc.
Social Implications - Majang Forest Biosphere Reserve has endowed numerous ecotourism potentials. However, the flow of eco-tourists to the destination and ecotourism activities are very weak. As a result, local communities living around biosphere reserve are less benefited from the ecotourism development. This study promotes ecotourism potentials of the biosphere reserve. It enhances the benefit of local communities through ecotourism activities like tour guiding association, beekeeping, souvenir shops, cultural shows, horse riding services, offering cultural foods, drinks and dressings.
Limitations – Further deep study is vital to identify more ecotourism potentials. Promotion and marketing strategies need to be adopted and promoted wherein using internet, big hoardings, billboards, posters, and travel desks. Infrastructures should be improved eco-friendly to facilitate ecotourism activities.
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