The Inter-American Development Bank today announced the approval of a $9 million loan to support an ecotourism project for the Mata Atlántica Region in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The resources will enable the Secretariat for the Environment of the State of Sao Paulo to promote the conservation of the Atlantic forest and to foster socioeconomic development through the sustainable growth of the ecotourism potential of the area.
“Ecotourism allows the reconciliation of economic growth with environmental protection,” said IDB Team Leader Helena Piaggesi Landázuri.
“Nature tourism accounts for around 20 per cent of all international travel, with an increasing demand worldwide. The conservation units protecting the Atlantic Forest remnants are tourist attractions with good potential as a magnet for regional tourism, particularly from the nearby city of Sao Paulo,” commented Carmen Altés, an IDB tourism expert who helped develop the project.
The project will establish and strengthen six state parks as tourism products with the ability to attract, retain and satisfy a diverse visitor market while protecting their long-term natural endowments. The initiative will improve tourist facilities and visitor management and will build up the ecotourism management capacity of the secretariat.
Five parks are located in the Ribeira Valley and one, the Ilhabela State Park, is located on the Sao Paulo North Shore, with a total area of 320,000 hectares. These parks were selected because of rich natural resources, potential to help improve region-wide socioeconomic conditions and because they could serve as case studies for ecotourism planning, management and monitoring mechanisms. Residents in the vicinity of these areas will be trained to improve the quality of tourism services and service management, improving benefits from an increased flow of visitors.
With this project the IDB will promote environmental sustainability, small and medium-sized enterprises, productivity and infrastructure; poverty reduction, women participation and equity, as well as modernization of the public institutions.
The loan is for a 25-year term, with a 4-year grace period at an adjustable interest rate based on LIBOR. Local counterpart funds total $6 million.