On the 4th of May, 2011, The Hummingfish Foundation celebrated it’s first anniversary as a Hong Kong registered charitable organization (#1452323). We have had a very busy year and have been developing projects in Timor-Leste, Haiti, Cambodia and China.
We have also branched out from supporting only community-based ecotourism, to including what we call “green entrepreneurs,” or people who have businesses that are nature friendly. For example, we are working with a group of women in Timor-Leste who are making some very lovely hand made soaps, which use all natural ingredients (Soap making Co-op in Timor-Leste).
Things that will be critical to The Hummingfish Foundation next year will be getting help from all of you. We will be needing lots of expertise in many areas, as we implement our projects. We also need help with our operational costs. We will be needing a new office, as well as some full time staff, not to mention travel and other logistical expenses.
The Hummingfish Foundation believes that people who damage nature through unsustainable exploitation don’t do so because they dislike nature, but rather as a means to provide as much for their families as possible.
Community-based nature tourism can relieve some of the pressure on natural resources, by generating jobs and income for local people by making unspoiled nature itself a thing of value.
If a community of fishermen are getting 20 times more income from dive tourism then they do from fishing, then they will have a strong financial incentive to protect that marine environment. The same thing can apply to habitat for birds, big game or any form of wildlife for that matter. Heritage sites when well preserved and maintained are labor intensive income generators for local communities, which can draw huge quantities of heritage-loving tourists.
The Hummingfish Foundation has seen how compelling photographic imagery well presented, can have a powerful effect on potential nature-loving tourists. In fact, despite the fact that strong visuals is the single best way to brand and promote community-based heritage and nature tourism, most developing nations have little or no photographic archive in which to promote themselves.
The Hummingfish Foundation is committed to help compile a databases of high-end photographic imagery of a CBET destination’s heritage and nature tourism assets, archive those images into a readily accessible photographic database, and then help them to use that resource to educate potential heritage and nature loving tourists about the beauty of that destination. The images in that archive will be essential for future efforts to brand and promote their community-based heritage and nature tourism assets.
The Hummingfish Foundation has direct experience in doing this. Daniel J. Groshong, the founder of The Hummingfish Foundation, worked on a project starting in 2003 to help promote Timor-Leste, Asia’s newest nation. With a USAID grant of nearly US$90,000 and a lot of personal commitment and perseverance, Groshong conceived and completed a project to undertake extensive photography of the country’s landscape, nature and culture and create a photographic archive now housed in Timor-Leste (and online using Photoshelter).
The photographic archive created during the project houses some 700 rolls of film and 10,000 digital images, is now used for the ongoing promotion of the Timor-Leste and led to the publication of the first ever “coffee table” book on Timor, “Timor-Leste Land of Discovery”, depicting Timor’s landscape, cultural and underwater wonders. The book (supported by President Bill Clinton, former UN Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan, President Xanana Gusmão and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta) became one of the Government’s official state gifts, and its images have been used in a number of publications as well as TV shows around the world to promote Timor-Leste’s natural assets.
Over the years, the imagery from Timor-Leste Land of Discovery has had a positive effect in portraying a positive image of Timor-Leste around the world and has given the people of Timor a valuable resource through which to promote their tourism industry in future.
Although it is impossible to directly correlate cause and effect, Timor-Leste had its best ever year for tourism in 2009: EcoDiscovery Tours, a locally owned and operated company, reported a 200% increase in business compared to the previous year; Dive Timor Lorosae, Timor’s largest dive operator, has also reported a significant and ongoing increase in business.
Groshong’s branding and promotional efforts have been of such value to Timor-Leste, that he was contracted by the Government of Timor-Leste to produce all of their promotional materials for the Shanghai World Expo 2010. The first ever participation in a Word Expo for an independent Timor-Leste.
The most critical thing that The Hummingfish Foundation can do with a project, is assist a local community in branding and promoting a sustainable nature based tourism asset, therefor adding value to unspoiled nature itself. This gives local people the economic incentives to protect that natural environment. Or,as we like to call it, “adding value to nature.”
To learn more about Community-based ecotoursim, please visit our “What is CBET” page.