Ecotourism Strategic Planning in Villages Located in Desert Areas (Case Study: Village Kharanaq, Yazd Province)



This research was conducted in village Kharanq. The village has located in arid areas of Iran. Since Iran is located among arid and semi arid countries of the world. More than 68 percent of the areas in this country have arid and semi-arid climate, and more than 7/43 million hectares of its ecosystems are desert area. About 32 percent of the population lives in the rural areas and they lives on the more than 90 percent of natural resources and cultivated lands .So their activities has more effect on natural resources , including arid areas. The major problems that facing the villagers are economic, such as shortage of available jobs, limit access to new resource of income and low incomes among farmers and other occupation of rural population. Also, these villages encountered with shortage in water resources and arable lands to develop agriculture and animal husbandry activities. Therefore, in order to eliminate these problems there is serious need to diversification and more access to new jobs and income generation through new economic activities in these villages. These new economic activities should also create new budget and income for protection and reclamation of natural resources for achieving to rural sustainable development in the arid regions. The ecotourism is an appropriate alternative option that can create new economic resources to achieve the above two goals.
Because rural planning and development is more sensitive in desert areas, it requires establish appropriate and specific strategies. This research has established to evaluate strategies for planning in the field of ecotourism in arid rural areas. Because rural planning and development is more sensitive in desert areas, it requires establish appropriate and specific strategies. This research has established to evaluate strategies for planning in the field of ecotourism in arid rural areas.The method research that has conducted is descriptive and it was a survey in one of the villages in arid area. Participants in the research have divided to three groups that were included rural residents, tourists and rural managers. The attitudes of research participants in these three groups have been investigated through three factors. These factors include environmental, economic and socio-cultural ones. In these study 75 indicators has been studied. These indicators were identified through interview with villagers, local officials and experts. In this study there Statistical Society were studied. The Statistic Society of research was 435 persons .On the base of Cochrane formula; we choose the random sample of 120 persons. Due to lack of accurate statistics for the number of tourist The 100 tourist participants in the research have been selected through accessibility method. The other required data in this research, is gathered through interviews with 15 people that targeted because of their authority and decision making power such as rural mayor (Dehyar), village Islamic Council, manager of county and cultural heritage, member of Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Yazd province. With the understanding that a diversity of standpoints often exist in cases of tourism effect, an effort was made to capture input about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of ecotourism with applying SWOT analysis method and investigate its potential, to find appropriate strategies for improving ecotourism activities in arid rural areas.
The results indicate that despite the natural attractions in these areas, tourism development has been related on historical and cultural attractions. It seems that natural attractions of village were ignored in tourism planning. The research finding shows that on the basis of strategic analysis, there are 41 items that indicate on strengths points and opportunities. In contrast 35 items have identified as weakness and threats points. So we recognized that the understudied villages have proper potential for ecotourism development. Further analyses indicate that there are convergence between the strengths and opportunities and also divergence in the weaknesses and threats in three research participant groups.
Finally, we applied Quantitative strategic planning matrix (QSPM) to find the final score or grade of the each strategies. Eventually, the "combination of historical tourism programs, by accompany with ecotourism programs in villages" have been known as a proper strategy to develop tourism in the area. Finally research has proposed some solution to development of rural tourism:
- Diversification in the case of economic activities on the village and extension of handicraft production depending on tourists demand and their interest.
- Considering the appropriate rule for protecting of the cultural heritage and natural resources by rural residents.
- The study of environmental Feasibility in order to create and extend ecotourism in arid rural areas.