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Online evaluation tools
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Three online evaluation tools have been developed by the ECOLNET team to be used by certification agencies, ecotourism businesses and evaluators. According to past experience, including the results of the ECO-DESTINET project, ecotourism certification agencies considered the cost of evaluation in situ as one of the biggest obstacles in attracting businesses to apply for a quality label. The evaluation cost, paid either separately or being integrated in the membership fee imposed by the labelling agency, represents a significant burden for ecotourism providers many of which are small, family owned enterprises. To make ecotourism labelling more attractive to the small businesses, the ECOLNET team has developed online evaluation tools that will significantly cut down the evaluation cost and will allow more frequent evaluation repeats to take place.

Three tools have been developed:

 

  • An evaluation tool targeted to certification agencies. This tool assesses the degree of compliance of the agency’s own criteria with EETLS criteria and points out the gaps that need to be acted upon by the assessed agency. The tool has the form of an online questionnaire which assesses compliance with each sub-criterion of EETLS by means of a rating scale. This tool is supported by the online Helpdesk.
  • A self-evaluation tool targeted to ecotourism businesses or other organisations that manage ecotourism destinations. This tool is intended to serve as an initial check that will indicate the changes that are necessary to be made by the business or other body in order to comply with EETLS. To increase the learning value of this tool, it is linked with the library of best practice in order to illustrate in practical terms the implementation of the EETLS criteria and the benefits gained. The completion of the self-evaluation will lead to a report which can accompany the application of a business wishing to become a member of an EETLS-compatible ecotourism label.
  • An “integrated” assessment tool to be used by EETLS evaluators who would be invited to assess compliance of an ecotourism business with the EETLS criteria and indicators. The evaluators can be appointed by existing ecotourism certification agencies that have adopted EETLS minimum standards. This tool combines an “intelligent” scoring system with use of multimedia (photographs, videos, internet information, publicity materials) and will include several tools for direct communication of the evaluator with the business owner. The evaluation may be further enhanced by using mobile electronic platforms, such as smart-phones and tablets.

 

The EETLS Handbook is now ready and uploaded on EEN's website and online community. All of the businesses that wish to use the e-evaluation tools and/or the e-training packages, can download the Handbook by clicking on the attachment below.


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