Scientific tourism for local development in mountainous areas of chilean patagonia

Ce texte est une note d’intention en vue d’une communication à la Deuxième Université Internationale d’Hiver, rédigée par Fabien Bourlon, CIEP (Centro de Investigación en Ecosistemas de la Patagonia) & PACTE, Université Grenoble Alpes. Retravaillée, la communication finale sera diffusée à la suite de l’événement, complétée et affinée.

Résumé en Français:

Depuis 2007, le Centre de recherche sur les écosystèmes de Patagonie (Centro de Investigación en Ecosistemas de la Patagonia, CIEP) a mis en œuvre un Tourisme Scientifique (TS) pour favoriser les programmes de recherche, de transfert de technologie et de médiation scientifique, afin de renforcer le développement du tourisme durable dans des zones montagnardes reculées de Patagonie. Des institutions publiques et privées du Chili, d’Amérique du Sud, des Etats Unis et d’Europe ont participé à ce processus et appuyé de nouvelles recherches sur le patrimoine culturel et les processus naturels du sud chilien. Le Tourisme Scientifique peut-être défini comme une forme de tourisme d’intérêt spécifique qui génère et partage des connaissances acquises. Il peut être considéré comme une niche au même titre que le tourisme éducatif ou expérientiel, tout en ayant des répercussions et des retombées positives plus larges. Grâce à l’analyse de l’utilisation par le CIEP du tourisme scientifique pour favoriser la recherche, à travers de projets pilotes, ce document examine comment la science devient une ressource spécifique pour un développement socio-économique appropriée. Le tourisme scientifique semble relever le double défi de l’amélioration des conditions socio-économique des communautés locales et d’améliorer la mise en valeur et conservation d’écosystèmes fragiles.

Proposition

Since 2007 the Center for Research in Patagonian Ecosystems (Centro de Investigación en Ecosistemas de la Patagonia, CIEP) has implemented Scientific Tourism (ST) to foster research programs, technology transfer and scientific mediation in order to strengthen a sustainable tourism development in remote and understudied areas of Chile. This participatory process where some 40 public and private entities of Chile, South America, USA and Europe collaboratehas supported research on cultural heritage and natural processes of southern mountainous areas.

Scientific Tourism is defined as special interest tourism that generates and shares acquired knowledge. It can be considered as a niche such aslearning and experiential tourism, but has wider implications and benefits. In a previous research four forms of worldwide tourism practices have been described by Mao&Bourlon (2011): 1) Exploration and adventure Tourism with a scientific dimension, 2) Cultural Tourism based on scientific knowledge, 3) Scientific ecovolunteering and 4) Scientific research tourism.

Through the analysis of Scientific Tourism activities in mountainous areas and surrounding rural and coastal zones, the present work studies how research programs, tourism dynamics and local empowerment can be used as management tool for remote areas. Tourism like industrial fishing, salmon farming and hydro-electrical or mining projects generated impacts on the ecosystem, yet Scientific Tourism seems to meet the challenge of improving socio-economic growth of the local communities and potentially improve the conservation of highly fragile ecosystems. Gathering and sharing knowledge of natural a cultural heritage is attractive to all actors, regardless of the potentially implications of the findings of these participatory research programs. Guided by the idea of “acquiring knowledge in order to value and protect” the “Scientific Tourism” network has united some 80 local operators and public and non-profit organizations since 2011. Researchers, tourism operators, volunteers, professors, students and independent travellers have taken part in multidisciplinary, participatory and co-constructed actions to value local understudied patrimony. Actors have shared views and knowledge to support scientific expeditions and dissemination of research results. The creation of a scientific travel guide, field observation tools and “scientific knowledge” maps with an online data base with spatial references to “hot spots” for scientific tourism and product brochure for travelers are some of the results produced by this scientific and non specialist collaboration.

The tourism destination of Aysén is becoming the first international destination for scientific tourism, recognized both by Chilean authorities and social networks.Scientific Tourism in Aysén has strengthened awareness on the benefit of linking knowledge, conservation and socio-economical development with participatory research schemes and could be replicated to other territories.