Mobilizing Assets for Sustainable Rural Tourism Development in UNESCO’s Frontenac Arch Biosphere

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Environmental Studies , Sustainability , UNESCO , Sustainable Tourism , Rural Livelihoods , Community Development , Community-Based , Biosphere Reserves
UNESCO biosphere reserves are internationally recognized as ‘learning places’ for sustainable development. In the Frontenac Arch Biosphere, sustainable tourism has been recognized as a core avenue for sustainable development, with opportunities for tourism operations to promote more sustainable ways of living, travelling, and appreciating culture, heritage, and the environment, particularly in a post-pandemic context. The aim of this research was broadly to identify and, where relevant, map the tangible and intangible assets that may support sustainable tourism development in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere and to understand the challenges impeding these developments. Three asset mapping workshops were conducted in the Biosphere involving 23 participants, including small business owners, artisans, tourism operators, farmers, and conservationists from across the region. Results consist of both spatial and thematic findings regarding the assets of the Biosphere, which were interpreted using a capital assets lens. 126 tangible assets were identified and mapped, and a series of community capacities attributed to various intangible assets (e.g., human, cultural, and social capital) were identified from participant responses. These findings provide insights into how local assets can be leveraged in a coordinated way to facilitate sustainable tourism. This work also revealed challenges and limitations that are impacting sustainable tourism development in the Biosphere. It was determined that some of these challenges could be mitigated by mobilizing existing assets while others, such as cellular service and insurance coverage limitations, are asset gaps that require further attention.
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