Communication Strategy for Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group

related: tapas, public-facing
google: communication working group

Some background. Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS) is part of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).

Communication Strategy

The Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group (TAPAS) envisions a future where travel in protected areas is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. This Tourism Journey is underway and our work is to communicate the news, research and policy in a timely manner, taking full advantage of the social web.

In the 2017-2020 period we foresee a continued growth of social web communication. In addition, expect increase usage of open education resources which permit use and reuse of reports and educational textbooks, and innovative hybrid conferences which engage participants in the room and around the world on the web via livestreaming video.

Internal Communication for TAPAS members: We use private email and phone calls for private, internal communication with TAPAS members.

Internal Communication for the executive committee: The executive committee conducts a real-time video conversation about every month using Zoom (and previous Google Hangout). The committee also has its own private Google Group.

Internal Communication using the IUCN Portal: We are exploring how to make the most of the IUCN Union Portal.

External Communication: The majority of meaningful TAPAS communication is managed publicly on social web channels, including Facebook, Flickr, Google+ and Google Docs, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Twitter, YouTube and the Planeta Wiki. Beyond online communication, TAPAS is present at hyperlocal and global events. Our goal is to mainstream the dialogue on sustainable tourism, including the conservation of biodiversity and Indigenous culture.Current snapshot (2017): Events are announced on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. Presentations are archived on Slideshare. We showcase members via live video. Feedback and editing is invited on Google Docs and the Planeta Wiki. Photo Challenges are issued on Flickr for City Parks and World Parks. We encourage colleagues to edit Wikipedia and as important, learn how to wiki. As for the future, we expect changes and we are ready to make the most of newly-created avenues for communication and engagement.

2017 Agenda

Improve TAPAS online presence by encouraging members to help other members, particularly with social web channels Facebook, Twitter, blogs and wikis.

Specific measures:
Update TAPAS info online the IUCN website and IUCN Union Portal.
Find additional editors for Planeta Wiki's TAPAS page (and regional biodiversity and parks spotlights)
Launch TAPAS' own website in the second half of the year
Encourage the use of live video from TAPAS members on Facebook, Periscope, YouTube and other channels.
Highlight examples of Open Education / Open Access
Encourage the use of archives for presentations: Slideshare
Publish directory of members online

2016 Contributions

We take nerdy pride in TAPAS' Twitter lists --
IUCN 5 Members
Parks/Tourism Connections 6 Members
TAPAS Members 9 Members

Our Twitter List goal for 2017 is to increase the number of accounts in each of these lists.


February 22 #PlanetaTalks Call of the Board focusing on technology and travel
March 31 Panorama Webinar
April 7 Panorama Webinar
April 14 Reframing Sustainable Tourism Hangout

Publications made with TAPAS members
Reframing Sustainable Tourism Hangout
Hawai’i Hosts International Coral Reef Symposium #ICRS2016
National Park Week in the USA #FindYourPark
Preview: 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
#NatureForAll at the #IUCNCongress

Slideshare Presentations
The Path From #COP13 (El Camino Desde COP13)
Evaluating the IUCN World Conservation Congress
Tourism Journey at the 2016 World Conservation Congress #IUCNCongress

Inventory of Social Web Usage

Launched in August 2011, TAPAS Facebook Page generated 600+ likes. Additional stats are available.
Key uses: sharing and liking posts already made on Facebook by parks and tourism experts

TAPAS' private Google Groups share news among TAPAS members and the executive committee.

We are using Google hangout for private conversations among members of the executive committee and for public hangouts.

In 2013 we launched the TAPAS page on Google+

Google Hangouts: Examples:

We changed LinkedIn from a private to a public group to encourage the outreach of the LinkedIn group and allow more people interested in tourism and protected areas to participate and who may also want to formally join the TAPAS group.


We have prepared an overview of TAPAS for Slideshare

In addition we have encouraged TAPAS members to share presentations on TAPAS

Slideshare Examples

The TAPAS Wiki is hosted on the Planeta Wiki

2015 Contributions

Twitter: @IUCNTourism https://twitter.com/IUCNTourism
Hashtags: #IUCNTourism, #IUCNCongress, #CBDCOP13, #COP13

Embedded Tweets

Key Messages
There are a number of key messages and tools that the TAPAS group aims to communicate, including
  • Knowledge on tourism and protected areas, including case studies and best practice syntheses.
  • Strategic advice on the optimum approaches to tourism in protected and natural areas.
  • Training and capacity building materials for actors, including government, protected area managers, and the tourism sector.
  • Assistance to tourism managers who ask for specialized advice.

3. Communication Partners
As a widespread community of professionals working on tourism and protected areas around the globe, our strategy of communication is to improve information sharing and knowledge among the following groups:

1) TAPAS' membership
2) Members of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
3) Protected area professionals
4) Tourism sector
5) Funding bodies

Members of groups 2-5 are sometimes members of TAPAS. That said we break down communication for internal and external audiences

Communication for Exco

Technical tips: If you have headphones/microphone, use them please as this helps improve the sound quality. If your computer is buggy (sometimes mine is), reboot the whole machine 30 minutes before the hangout begins and start with minimal applications running.

Social tips: The hangout is private, but we encourage members to post announcements on Facebook, Google+, Twitter. Likes, shares and retweets are also appreciated from our generous exco.


There are two major complaints with Google Groups -- some people have difficulty accessing the group and the navigation sucks when it comes people quoting entire digests to reply to a particular point. It is useful if we want to send out a TAPAS news blast, but we do need something better if we want to stimulate discussion and collaboration.

We see a shift from private emails to private groups and a willingness to edit private documents in a collaborative fashion (Google Docs and wikis) without the need for email attachments; increased use of real-time collaboration.

March 2015


  • Provide guidance to the WCPA, IUCN and others, on the relationships between tourism and protected areas.
  • Identify the size and characteristics of protected area tourism.
  • Develop case studies to investigate best practice models for tourism management.
  • Develop guidelines for the management of tourism in protected areas.
  • Communicate tourism management theory and practice to planners, managers and others.
  • Provide opportunities for parks and tourism people to work together on shared issues within protected area tourism.

Key Issues

For a century, the tourism use of protected areas has developed and increased. After 1945, the increase accelerated due to expanding populations, more affluence and greater availability of parks and protected areas. Worldwide, park managers adapted their policies and management structures as the use evolved. Many countries, for example Australia, Costa Rica, Kenya and New Zealand, attribute a significant portion of their tourism industry to protected area tourism. The size of the industry is so large that a vital public debate has emerged.
Many studies document the relationship between tourism and parks. However, most occur at the park or subpark level. Fewer studies highlight successful planning and management approaches at a broader scale. A few countries are developing national policies. There is strong interest in many other countries to learn from the experience of the policy leaders in this regard.
There is an emerging need to develop a broader understanding of the complex relationships between tourism and protected areas. There is a lack of baseline inventory of the scale of protected area tourism. Over time, managers developed successful approaches, both theoretical and applied, for tourism management in protected areas. These need to be documented, analysed and made available to the broad community of interest.

Goal 6: Communications Jeremy, with support from Ron
  • Improve TAPAS online presence by encouraging members to help other members, particularly with social web channels Facebook, Twitter, blogs and wikis.
  • Update TAPAS info online the IUCN website and IUCN Union Portal.
  • Find additional editors for Planeta Wiki's TAPAS page (and regional biodiversity and parks spotlights)
  • Launch TAPAS' own website in the second half of the year
  • Encourage the use of live video from TAPAS members on Facebook, Periscope, YouTube and other channels.
  • Highlight examples of Open Education / Open Access
  • Encourage the use of archives for presentations: Slideshare
  • Publish directory of members online

Goal 4: Communication RON
How we could improve online external communication in 2016-2020

Improved use of the social web
We recommend using social web channels including Facebook, Flickr, Flipboard, Slideshare, Twitter and YouTube. Options include hosting public chats via the Facebook page and Twitter, Google hangouts, recording skype conversations for distribution via Ipadio and YouTube and creating specialized groups connecting formal presentations archived on Slideshare.

Participation in online events
Online events are routinely held in various formats ranging from webinars to unconferences. TAPAS members are cordially invited to participate in the 2015 Responsible Travel Week (February 9-15) hosted by Planeta.com.

If there is interest, a new public website could be developed on Wikispaces at a cost of $50/year. The site could provide timely information and enable TAPAS members to contribute directly. Ron Mader volunteers to facilitate such a site if half of the executive committee members agree to participate in a positive fashion. Such a site could serve as an example of specialized collaboration. Until this time, Planeta.com is offering free space on the Planeta WIki for the TAPAS page. Volunteer editors are sought.

Face to Face Communication

Upcoming tourism and conservation events include the 2014 World Parks Congress (WPC). It would be a good idea to figure out how to connect TAPAS friends and friends of TAPAS as they meet face-to-face.

Seminars and Webinars
There is an identified demand for training seminars. We would like to create an inventory of public and private seminars led by TAPAS members.

TAPAS members, what are your plans in 2017?
Miembros de TAPAS, ¿cuáles son tus planes en 2017?
Membros do TAPAS, quais são seus planos em 2017?

TAPAS: Improving Our Communication Survey 2014

2014 Survey

Your thoughts please ... how do we improve TAPAS communication and engagement?

I think if it was posted a few case studies about issues related to tourism in protected areas seeking to know if these issues are common and if has examples of how to treat them. There appears to me to be an overload of communications for people who are busy. This results in one reading messages to the point where, with so few of them being pertinent, you start ignoring them. A better categorisation of what should be targeted to who would help, if that is possible. Perhaps a more in-depth analysis of member's interests and then preparing more specific grouping emails, so that certain interest groups can be targeted for specific topics, so that people don't get too many non-specific emails? Engaging a TAPAS exco or other member to manage these groups and ensure that they are active and more involved.....could be arranged as per the Groups we have in Exco already? I do think a TAPAS website would be useful in terms of having all relevant information in one place. I find the e-mail list quite adequate. The posts could be a little cleaner (removing forwarding, removing multiple blank lines.) but it's a great start. I am a new member of TAPAS, so I would like to see more frequent communication between members and the leadership, as well as more information regarding current priorities and initiatives. Also, some sort of membership directory would be useful, in order to better promote networking and collaboration among TAPAS members. I think engagement has to be linked to specific initiatives. For example, the TAPAS representative in the MEET project could lead periodic discussions about the project. TAPAS members should also be encouraged and supported to establish structured relationships with tourism institutions in their countries and/or region. I think TAPAS is already doing great with its communications via e-mail and Facebook , but it is possible that some, or if not many, members like me are constrained by the too many hats we wear. E-mail discussions frequently requires much thoughts and time to respond, whereas Facebook allows members to make quick comments/remarks or posts information/news/opportunities informally. So I guess, from my end, I must make it a point to visit the TAPAS Facebook more often. However, there is a tendency (for some people like me) to visit those Facebook pages that post information, frequently - say, couple of times a day. Maybe, TAPAS Facebook should (if not already) include non-TAPAS members, or TAPAS members on Facebook should be encouraged to add their friends, colleagues, students who can benefit from the Facebook page and likewise contribute to it. Engagement could possibly be improved by organizing a/an (in)formal meeting among members, maybe as side event at major related conferences e.g. WCPA in Sydney. 1. Membership directory prepared and posted for public / group view 2. Nomination of country specific leaders to facilitating distributed leadership 3. Activities resulting in final & concrete white papers for future review 4. Engaging academic institutions in the groups to comment and give us a momentum. Ideally, we should be able to curate news, announcements, publications of TAPAS members on a regular basis. I would love to see more volunteer editors on the Planeta Wiki. And we need to find a way to create incentives for members who share news on the social web -- Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Twitter and YouTube. I think the communication is fine. I would like to know if the projects/consultants people have requests for pan out? If not maybe this is not the best venue for it. Conference information is always helpful. Visitation or economic data that is available for sharing would be beneficial I am new to this group, less than a month old. However i liked the information/updates that came from different members on different happenings, including publications, consultancies, workshops. I will have more to say next time As I have only recently joined TAPAS, I don't feel like I am fully familiar with the existing system in place. - experience sharing could be encouraged... - list available to members which detail specialisation topics/ working areas and locations of members It looks like google group is not very convinient for communication More engagement by more members - with members communicating more of their news/work/opportunities and initiating more TAPAS-theme activities. Getting members to nominate (say) 5 others to become members/be sent membership information Dear Ron, thank you very much for this survey! I am a quite new member (+/- 1 year) and I really would like to participate. But I find it really complicate. I already asked for something like a member-list for getting an idea who is involved, what institution he/she is representing and what his/her responsibilities are. That already would be great. For me this group is something like a black hole. I do not even know how many members the group has. Having an idea about the members also could faciliate to iniciate group meetings. At the moment everybody talks about the conference in Australia what for me will be impossible to attend. As a second step it would be nice to expand the yahoo group or a homepage with short portraits of the members + projects that are running. I did not even know that there is a Facebook Page, a LinkedIn Group, a Wiki Page and My IUCN portal. I also have no login. Create a web page.

Are you attending the World Parks Congress and do you have recommendations on how to improve communication before, during and after this event?

I will not attend. No, unfortunately I cannot afford to attend, and as I am not from a developing nation, I imagine funding is not available. However, I would be very interested in hearing more about TAPAS involvement in the WPC. I applied for financial help for me & my friend Mr Jadav Payeng with IUCN. I shared a video regarding 'The Green Warrior - Jadav Payeng' - who created a protected area with his 40 years of tireless plantation (started at 16 & now he is 56 years) and distribution of seeds and now it turned into a forest hosting Elephants, Tigers, One horned rhinos, Deers, Vultures. I wish to present him as a case study to the world. He turned a sandbar into a sanctuary & created a protected area! An exemplary Indian whom the world should know at least in a Parks Conference. However no one from TAPAS has not even commented on the 12 minutes video!! Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS8PXF60PuA Hope for the best that I will get some opportunity :) Shared the video with Trevor S. Sandwith, Director Global Programme on Protected Areas - IUCN too. He too appreciated & asked Ms Helen Noble to look into this matter. However I can't remind him/her. Not attending Yes I am attending. But remember that tourism and visitor management was rejected as a theme for the conference, so this material comes in as an accessory to something else. Trip reports from delegates might be useful. I think it may be time for global park tourism conference, as was suggested as an outcome of the Durban World Parks Congress. Not attending but would love to see guidelines for remote participants. How do those not at the event interact with those on the ground? I will be attending the congress. For TAPAS members attending the congress, I think it would be useful to identify a number of outcomes from the congress, and let members prepare for, and world towards, those outcomes. I have no suggestions for the post-congress communications, as I am simply not familiar with social media platforms. Get event live streamed (but need to know what technically to do when we get there to do this) Tweeting/FBing events/activities before and during the WPC 1 page flyer / emailable on all the tourism 'stream' activities that will take place Information on who will be there who is interested in tourism (and invite them to a TAPAS meeting) Would like to go but just too darn expensive Currently seeking funds to do so. Yes. Perhaps a specific google group for those attending the WPC to again target the right people with pre- and post-WPC emails and information? During the event we could bring together the members of the TAPAS Group so we can talk personally about how we can work together to achieve the goals of this group. Before the event, we can list some topics to be discussed at this meeting. I'm currently awaiting the assessment of my application for financial support. Probably not attending. Not yet decided Yes I am! It would be great to have TAPAS side event at the Congress, and also provide an opportunity for those people who can't attend the WPC to see the main events and presentations online. I will attend World Parks Congress, but as i'm newby I don't have recommendations yet. - contributing to the WPC via current organisation working for, but not personally attending - would be nice to provide insights to happenings at the WPC to those who are not able to attend

If we create a TAPAS specific website, what the must-haves that would make this a useful resource?

A TAPAS website needs specific guidelines for a primary editor and a team of guest editors/contributors.

News, success/failed stories, guidelines/manuals (for dummies to professionals), reports/publications, teaching/learning resources, education/training/work opportunities, members list.

Before we create a TAPAS website, wouldn't it be useful to learn if people see any gaps in the communication now? What would (yet) another website do for me? What would it do that a Google search can't do?

"Project information Membership directory Links to resources Copies of publications/papers" Case studies, tool kits, directories (experts, institutions, websites.), tourism and PA news updates organised on a regional basis.

It should adress two target groups: 1. "the public" for transmitting the idea and benefits of sustainable tourism in PA, 2. "specialists" with links to literature, projects and possibilites for networking

Most current publications- links or abstracts templates of tools that can be adapted for data collection, monitoring, reporting tourism in protected areas best practice case studies mitigating common challenges" "Key documentation and info open to all.

A restricted access member's session that includes also templates (ppts, contracts...)

Attractive and easy to navigate Links to downloads/resource documents (best practices)

General information about protected areas, ecotourism, sustainable tourism; Various events related to tourism; Publications and other useful resources; Database of interested TAPAS members with short bios." I was once a fan of these websites, but with modern search engines I feel I can find what I need fairly easily. A TAPAS website would take a lot of work to develop and keep up to date. The new park tourism guidelines is designed to be a book. A much more useful product would be a website book, with all chapters and sections being parts of a website. This would enable continuous expansion and updating of all material. A book goes stale fairly quickly. I am increasingly interested in developing some portal that can be accessed by park managers and planners to help with their work. They usually have no access to refereed journal articles and often have trouble finding material that is relevant to their work. "Publication lists Member information/bios Conferences, publication and upcoming events information" Make it as a one point destination for a researcher like me on Protected Areas Tourism :)

Any other comments?

Thank you for designing this survey! Keep up the great work Ron! In my opinion we do not benefit by spending energy just in enlarging communication to more and more channels/webs/social platforms. That won´t make the work more effecient or effective. I think it is worth to concentrate on structuring the group first. On the homepage there are some objectives of the group mentioned (http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/gpap_home/gpap_capacity2/gpap_wcpacap/gpap_tourism/). Why not constituting sub-task forces in order to fill these objectives with "life". Defining strategic goals and targets and developing practicable measures to reach these goals. Every task force must be moderated by a chair and all TAPAS members who like to participate can join the task force which is proper to himself/herself. I would like to volunteer time in this project. But for this I need a better idea what we want to reach exactly and how we want to reach it. For instance I would love to chair a task force that collects and publishes best practices in successful sustainable tourism-projects in PA (including ecological, economical and social criterias). These are just ideas. Some of them might be redundant because processes are already running but I just do not know about it. I'm assuming in your (un-numbered) questions where we answer 1-5 that you want to know if we web over to the particular page. No. I do read all the e-mail from the list, however. Apologies for not being proactive lately. Keep up the good work. I was a Project Manager at COP-11, Hyderabad. Then I was not into research. Glad that we met there & somehow your interaction made me to think of my research in Protected Areas Tourism. I wish TAPAS to be resourceful for researchers like me than a simple discussion platform with clear & detailed concept papers at the end of each discussion. I mean close the loop with a decent summary :) Anil.G, INDIA +91-94900 69000 https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/tourismcloud www.iittm.org

Slideshare Presentations from TAPAS Members

1. What activities did you do on tourism and protected areas during 2015? (including with the TAPAS group, and independently) 2. What publications have you produced during 2015 that relate to tourism and protected areas? (please include the full reference and weblink if possible) 3. What presentations did you make during 2015 that relate to tourism and protected areas? (please include a slideshare/weblink if possible) 4. Can you estimate how much time you spent on TAPAS Group activities during 2015? Days per month (average): 5. Did you do any assignments on behalf of IUCN on tourism and protected areas? (If yes, please describe)

Misc 2017 Question

I asked for suggestions as we update the TAPAS IUCN page https://www.iucn.org/theme/protected-areas/wcpa/what-we-do/tourism-tapas

Here are the comments received (as of 27 March):

Juan Carlos Sandino It worries me no mention is made of local communities. Are they irrelevant to TAPAS? If we don't strengthen local communities then external agents to conserved areas are going to control and culturally and socially devastate them. Tourism in Protected Areas needs to empower community governance. NOW.

José Truda Palazzo Jr. Actually there´s mention to local communities everywhere in IUCN, perhaps much more than mention to biodiversity conservation. I have nothing against community empowerment but everything against being forced to be "politically correct" everywhere and generate an ideology of "local communities" that is superimposed on each and every conservation measure, when these issues must be treated clearly on a case-by-case basis. More conservation, which benefits ALL, and less lip service to local groups or interests, is perhaps the way to go instead.

Lloyd Gardner: You probably should check with WCPA about whether there is much leeway to modify the TAPAS page on the IUCN website. They made a big deal of "standardizing" the look and content of the pages 2 years ago. A response to that question should give us a clue about possible changes.
That said, I suggest adding more links to the page:

If I remember correctly, TAPAS had proposed assembling a collection of case studies / publications on tourism and protected areas. If the collection is online, a link from the TAPAS page to the collection would be useful.
My basic approach is that, if you wish the TAPAS page to be more useful to visitors to the page, it should also act as a mechanism to take readers to the world of tourism and protected areas outside IUCN and WCPA.


Also updating our communications doc https://docs.google.com/document/d/1X0tZTrnMoI96CC2fHkXJPr06BQeTwGJuSkj1FnEz2t0/edit#