Экологический туризм на английском
10th February, 2023
We’ve all heard of the term ecotourism, but how many of us know what is really means?
The term ecotourism gets thrown about way too much these days, with people claiming to be ‘ecotourists’, when they don’t really understand the principles of ecotourism. Well, I intend to change this!
Today, I will teach you what you need to know about ecotourism. I will cover what is ecotourism, definitions of ecotourism, why it is important, the history of ecotourism and the principles of ecotourism. I will also provide a brief history of how the concept came about. Towards the end of this article I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of ecotourism (this is the important stuff- don’t close the page before you reach this part!). Finally, we will look at some famous examples of ecotourism around the world.
Are you ready to learn more about ecotourism? Keep scrolling and by the end of this article you will know everything you need to about ecotourism…
- The difference between sustainable tourism and ecotourism
- What is ecotourism? A simple explanation
- Ecotourism definitions
- Why is ecotourism important?
- History of ecotourism
- The principles of ecotourism
- Provide long term benefits
- Promote responsibility
- Minimise negative impacts
- Demonstrate strong leadership and management
- Offer site-sensitive accommodation
- Provide first-hand experiences
- Demonstrate sustainable tourism practices
- Integrate tourism into planning
- Support the local economy
- Work with stakeholders
- Staff training
- Responsible marketing
- Undertake research
- Environmental advantages
- Economic advantages
- Social advantages
- Environmental disadvantages
- Economic disadvantages
- Social disadvantages
- Ecotourism in Costa Rica
- Ecotourism in Kenya
- Ecotourism in The Gambia
- Ecotourism in Norway
- Ecotourism in Belize
The difference between sustainable tourism and ecotourism
Before we begin to discuss the concept of ecotourism, I would clear up a common misnomer about the difference between sustainable tourism and ecotourism. Sustainable tourism and ecotourism are NOT THE SAME. They are two different concepts with different underlying principles.
An ecotourism project doesn’t, by definition, have to be sustainable. And sustainable tourism doesn’t have to involve the environment (remember- there are THREE pillars to sustainable tourism. Didn’t know this? Then you should definitely take a look at my article on sustainable tourism).
Here is the major difference:
- Ecotourism is focussed predominantly around the notion of environment.
- Sustainable tourism is focussed on the practical longevity of tourism.
In actual fact, ecotourism is often (although sadly not always-more about this later) an example of sustainable tourism. It comes under the umbrella of sustainable tourism. It is just one example of sustainable tourism.
OK, so is that clear now? Sustainable tourism and ecotourism are NOT THE SAME.
Right, I’m glad that we have that one cleared up. Now lets get on with the article…. so what exactly is ecotourism?
What is ecotourism? A simple explanation
You stumbled across this article because you want to know more about ecotourism, right? So lets start with a simple explanation…
To put it simply, ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.
There are generally three dimensions to any ecotourism project:
- It is based around nature
- An environmental education is provided
- It is sustainably managed
Of course, there are many discrepancies over exactly what ecotourism should look like and how it should be managed. Each project is unique and operates in its own way.
However, as a general rule of thumb, we can assume that if a project is designated as an ecotourism venture, it will involve nature, provide education about said nature and operate sustainably.
As with most types of tourism, there are many definitions that have been developed within both the academic community and by various stakeholders of tourism to identify the concept of ecotourism.
The first formal definition of ecotourism was developed by Ceballos-Lascuráin in 1987. He defined ecotourism as; ‘travelling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific objective of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestations (both past and present) found in these areas’.
Since this time, the concept has evolved somewhat, and in 1993 Wight suggested that ecotourism was a sub-sector of sustainable tourism, identifying it as an ‘ethical overlay’ of tradition nature-based tourism.
Tickell (1994) simply summarised ecotourism as ‘travel to enjoy the world’s amazing diversity of natural life and human culture without causing damage to either’.
And the International Ecotourism Society states that ‘around the world, ecotourism has been hailed as a panacea: a way to fund conservation and scientific research, protect fragile and pristine ecosystems, benefit rural communities, promote development in poor countries, enhance ecological and cultural sensitivity, instil environmental awareness and a social conscience in the travel industry, satisfy and educate the discriminating tourist, and, some claim, build world peace.’
What Is Ecotourism & Why Should.
Why is ecotourism important?
As I explain at length in my article on the environmental impacts of tourism, it is important that we protect the environment. Ecotourism is a great way to do this.
We are destroying our planet. It’s happening and it’s happening fast. The population is expanding globally at a rapid rate. And with this we have more waste, more energy consumption and more crowding.
Tourism is inherently one of the most environmentally destructive activities on the planet. Taking just one transatlantic flight omits more pollution into the air per passenger than the average daily commute to work (in the UK) for a year.
Did this surprise you? Head on over to the WWF website to calculate your carbon footprint.
And do you know what the most ironic thing is? Tourism RELIES on the very environment that it damages! Go figure, huh?!
Ecotourism is important because it promotes awareness. It educates people about biodiversity, nature and wildlife. It helps to conserve and protect species and wildlife.
History of ecotourism
Ecotourism plays an important role in the recent history of tourism. The exact origins of the concept of ecotourism are not entirely clear. But what we do know for sure is that its really started to gain some gravitas in the 60’s and 70s.
In 1965, Hetzer was one of the first to address the concept of ecotourism, by identifying four pillars of responsible tourism. The four pillars, also referred to as principles are:
- minimising environmental impacts
- respecting the host culture
- maximising the benefits to the local community
- Maximising tourist satisfaction
It was the first ‘pillar’ that gained the most attention, highlighting the notion of ecological (aka eco) tourism.
Some argue that the term itself was coined by a Mexican environmentalist named Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin. Lascurain used the word ecotourism to describe his travels to natural, unspoilt areas, where tourists could appreciate and enjoy the natural beauty and culture. This is an example of the ‘pure’ ecotourism noted in the diagram above.
Lascurain later became the founding president of the Mexican Association for the Conservation of Nature. In the 1980s he was the most influential Mexican in the environmental conservation sector. In 1984 he founded the first Mexican ecotourism travel agency, which he named Ecotours.
The word ‘ecotour’ was formally recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1973 and the term ecotourism followed in1982. Despite the term being absent from the dictionary until the 80s, academics continued to address the issue prior to this. Early references to ecotourism were found in Millar’s work in 1978. Millar examined national park planning for ecodevelopment in Latin America.
It was in the 1980s that the understanding of the term ecotourism began to become widespread. This was the result of an increased awareness of environmental impacts of tourism, alongside a growing dissatisfaction for mass tourism. By the mid 1980s, many countries had identified ecotourism as a way of achieving environmental conservation and economic production. At this time many ecotourism projects were in the planning and development stage.
In the early 90s Epler Wood founded The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to promoting ecotourism. They help organisations, communities and individuals promote and practice the principles of ecotourism. The organisation currently has members in more than 190 countries and territories, with a range of tourism stakeholders involved including: academics, consultants, conservation professionals and organisations, governments, architects, tour operators, lodge owners and managers, general development experts, and ecotourists.
In 2002, the World Ecotourism Summit further addressed the concept of ecotourism. The outcome of the summit was that 8 postulates were developed, these stipulated that ecotourism should:
- have a natural area focus that ensures visitors have the opportunity to personally and directly experience nature
- provide interpretation or educational services that give visitors the opportunity to experience nature in ways that lead to greater understanding, appreciation and enjoyment
- represent best practice in ecological sustainability practices
- contribute to conservation of natural areas and cultural heritage
- provide ongoing contributions to the local community
- respect and be sensitive to the culture/s existing in the area
- consistently meet consumer expectations
- be marketed and promoted honestly and accurately so that realistic expectations are formed
Since this time, awareness and popularity of ecotourism has continued to grow. It is estimated that ecotourism represents approximately 15% of all tourist expenditure. The sector continues to grow at around 5% each year. Despite the recent COVID-19 pandemic bringing travel and tourism almost to a complete halt, there continues to be a strong desire and interest for eco-based holidays.
The principles of ecotourism
Ecotourism is identifiable because of its underlying principles. These are the aspects that make up the concept, that define what ecotourism is, how is occurs and what it means. Below, I have briefly outlined what the principles of ecotourism are.
Provide long term benefits
Ecotourism should be designed to provide benefits to the local environment and the local community. This includes aspects such as regeneration, employment, improved social services, research, protection of flora and fauna, growth of species and the protection of wildlife.
These benefits should be long lasting, demonstrating that the ecotourism project is sustainable.
Education is a core principle of ecotourism.
Ecotourism should educate the tourists who visit about the local area and the wildlife that resides within it. It should also educate other tourism stakeholders including the host community, Government, NGOs and the industry as a whole.
Ecotourism provides opportunity for research and development and for both locals and tourists to really gain an understanding of the biological diversity on offer.
Ecotourism should promote ethical and moral responsibility amongst all of those involved.
Tourists, local and other stakeholders should be aware the impacts of their actions and act responsibility.
Minimise negative impacts
The negative impacts of tourism should be minimised at all times.
This includes environmental aspects such as littering, erosion, displacement of animals, trampling and pollution.
It also includes social impacts such as globalisation, cultural erosion, enhancing disparities etc.
Demonstrate strong leadership and management
Ecotourism should demonstrate a strong management approach. This includes management of the physical area as well as the people within it.
Strong management should prevent over-visitation and overtourism, and to promote responsible behaviour amongst tourists. This could include the implementation of various interventions, such as limiting visitors numbers as a given time, blocking off certain areas or providing educational materials.
Offer site-sensitive accommodation
There are many different types of accommodation offered in ecotourism destinations, not just eco lodges.
In order to adhere to the principles of ecotourism, any accommodation that is associated with the concept of ecotourism should be site-sensitive. This means that it is not wasteful of local resources or destructive to the environment. It should also provide ample opportunity for learning about the environment and for sensitive cultural exchange with local communities.
Provide first-hand experiences
Ecotourism typically facilitates first-hand experiences with nature. This comes in different shapes and forms, from staying in an ecolodge in the jungle, to birdwatching, to working in turtle conservation in Costa Rica.
First-hand experiences help people to learn easier. And education is another core principle of ecotourism. It also fosters a culture of appreciation.
Demonstrate sustainable tourism practices
As I outlined at the beginning of this post, ecotourism is a form of sustainable tourism (most of the time). Therefore, eco tourism should demonstrate a commitment to the three pillars of sustainable tourism: the environment, society and the economy.
In doing so, the ecotourism project should minimise any negative impacts and maximise any positive impacts to the environment, society and the economy.
Integrate tourism into planning
Tourism planning is important and ecotourism should demonstrate a strong planning process that involves all tourism stakeholders.
Tourism development should be integrated into national and local strategic planning frameworks. These frameworks should undertake environmental impact assessments, as wells other sustainability assessments as part of the planning process.
Support the local economy
Economic leakage in tourism should be avoided. Activities should take economic impacts to account, whilst continuing to ensure environmental conservation.
Economic benefits should be aimed towards the local economy and communities.
Work with stakeholders
In order for ecotourism to be sustainable it requires commitment by all stakeholders. This includes members of the local community, staff, tourists and different levels of Government.
Adequate staff training will help to teach employees about sustainable tourism practices. Staff can be taught how to integrate sustainable practices into their work lives.
Responsible ecotourism businesses and destinations should ensure that marketing material is informative and education. It should demonstrate a sincere respect for the natural, social and cultural environments of destination areas.
Research is a powerful tool. Ecotourism destinations should facilitate ongoing research. This will enable to best management strategies to be adopted in the destination and elsewhere.
There are many different types of ecotourism and different ecotourism activities.
A tourist can choose to go on an ecotourism holiday, whereby most aspects of their trip revolve around the concept of ecotourism. Or they can incorporate some elements of ecotourism into their holiday. For example, I stayed in an ecolodge in The Gambia as part of a larger trip visiting the country, the ecotourism element accounted for about 20% of my visit.
Below is a list of ecotourism activities. This list is not exhaustive.
- staying in an ecolodge
- bike riding
- jungle trekking
- mountain climbing
- wildlife spotting
- educational tours
- boat trips
- horse riding
Advantages of ecotourism
Ecotourism can be a fantastic way to bring money into the local economy whilst also satisfying societal needs and conserving the natural environment. Of course, for this to be successful there needs to be strong management, but it is entirely possible.
Of course, the major positive impact of ecotourism is the way that it can help to protect the environment. This can happen in many ways, from raising money that can be spent on environmental research, to encouraging tourists to volunteer to help with breeding programmes of animals that are near extinction.
Ecotourism helps to keep destinations and areas natural and unspoilt. It promotes regrowth of flora and fauna. It encourages diversification of wildlife.
Ecotourism also has many economic advantages.
It creates employment for local people. It brings in foreign currency (if international tourists are targeted). It raises money through taxation, which can then be reinvested in important areas such as education and healthcare.
Ecotourism can also have positive impacts on the local community. Facilities and infrastructure (such as new roads or shops) that are developed for tourism can often be utilised by the local people too. And the money raised through tourism can help to enhance their lives. For example, the money might be used to build a new doctors surgery or social club.
One of the core principles of ecotourism is education. Therefore ecotourism can help to raise awareness of important issues. Issues that may previously gone under the radar can now be exposed on the global stage. This can help their cause and further the preservation and conservation work that is already ongoing.
Disadvantages of ecotourism
Ecotourism is not perfect and there are also disadvantages that should be noted. Good planning and sustainable management should aim to reduce these negative impacts.
Ecotourism often occurs in areas that have fragile ecosystems. These areas sometimes struggle to accommodate the tourists and their associated ecotourism activities. Think Antarctica or the Maldives. Known as ‘last chance tourism’, tourists are often encouraged to visit these areas before it is ‘too late’.
Many tourists choose to visit a particular destination because it is mating, breeding or hunting season. This is because these are the best times to get a good look at the wildlife. The problem is, however, that the presence of tourists may impact the behaviour of the animals- they may choose to mate less frequently, thus reducing population sizes, for example.
Whilst ecotourism is by definition a small and intimate venture, is often exceeds capacity limits for a given location. In other words, it presents itself as overtourism, whereby there are more tourists than the destination can comfortable cope with. This then has adverse impacts on the local area- the environment and society.
Even if the tourist activities at the ecotourism destination have a small environmental impact, there may have been significant impact caused during the tourist’s journey to get there. For example, an ecotourist visiting the Ecuadorian Amazon from the UK will have to take a 15 hour flight to get there! The amount of carbon produced in this single flight would be more than the average person produces in an entire year.
Ecotourism isn’t usually cheap. And there is no denying that it has huge economic benefits. However, much of the money spent goes to foreign-owned tour operators, travel agents and airlines. This economic leakage reduces the positive impacts to the local area.
The market for ecotourism is specialised and in order to market their product, many ecotourism ventures partner with larger tour operators, most of whom are based in the Global North. This means that much of the money spent by tourists does not end up in the local area where the tourism takes place, but instead is directed back to major economies such as the USA and the UK. The most money is retained by individual travellers, who do not book via an intermediary.
As I explain ion my article about Butler’s Tourism Area Lifecycle, social impacts increase with the number of visitors. As ecotourism grows in an area, so do the social impacts.
As ecotourism often takes place in place is locations that are somewhat remote, the local population number is often small. This means that it is not uncommon for tourist numbers to be higher than the number of people who live in the area permanently.
This can cause many social impacts, such as resentment, theft, cultural erosion, globalisation, loss of language and more.
In some instances, the development and growth of ecotourism has resulted in the displacement of local people. Dedicated protected areas and conservation efforts will sometimes mean that local people can no longer continue their traditional line of work. This could include hunting wildlife or selling souvenirs made from local wildlife or plant species.
Whilst the ideals of ecotourism are pure, the local community will not be receptive to the idea if this means taking away their ability to make enough money to feed their families or send their children to school. In cases such as this, effective top-down management is required to ensure that people are provided with alternative employment and training, where necessary. However, the reality is that this often does not happen.
There are plenty of examples of ecotourism throughout the world. Here are my top five:
Ecotourism in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has a well developed ecotourism industry. In fact, is claims to be the world leader in ecotourism!
From zip lining and walking along the tree tops on the Arenal Hanging Bridges to mountain top walks in the Monteverde Cloud Forest to giant turtle breeding in Tortuguero, there is plenty to do in Costa Rica for the eco-conscious traveller.
Ecotourism in Kenya
With its wide open plains, abundant wildlife and bucket loads of culture, it is no wonder that Kenya is a popular ecotourism destination.
Kenya has a wide range of ecotourism activities. There are unique cultural activities for tourists to take part in here, such as visiting the Masaii Mara tribe.
There is also plenty to do in terms of wildlife. You can undertake a volunteer tourism programme, climb Mount Kilimanjaro or go on safari, amongst other things. Oh, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is highly rated too.
Ecotourism in The Gambia
As I mentioned earlier, I had my very first ecolodge experience in The Gambia.
We stayed far away from the main tourist resorts in Footsteps Ecolodge. Here we ate ethical sourced food, used a compost toilet and spent our days relaxing on a deserted, unspoilt sandy beach overlooking Senegal. It was pure bliss!
Ecotourism in Norway
Norway prides itself on its sustainable tourism principles.
Offering a variation of tours and holidays in the fjords and mountainous areas, Norway promotes many experiences that promote unspoilt nature and sustainability.
Ecotourism in Belize
Almost 1/3 of Belize is protected in national parks, nature reserves or sanctuaries.
Belize have done a lot to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability in recent years. They have banned single use plastic cutlery and banned offshore drilling. After years of conservation efforts, the barrier reef has now been removed from the danger list.
It is no wonder that the National Geographic has Belize at the top of their ecotourism list.
Now that I have taught you the basics of ecotourism, I suggest that you do a bit more reading. I have plenty of useful articles on this website and there are also some fantastic books that I recommend. I have listed these below for you.
- Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise?– the most comprehensive overview of worldwide ecotourism available today, showing how both the concept and the reality have evolved over more than twenty-five years
- Ecotourism: Transitioning to the 22nd Century– a critical introduction to the analysis of tourism from a sociological and geographical perspective, the title is essential reading for higher-level and graduate students and researchers in tourism, sociology and geography.
- How to be a highly Sustainable Tourist: A Guidebook for the Conscientious Traveller– a great guide with tips on how to travel sustainably
- The Intrepid Traveler: The ultimate guide to responsible, ecological, and personal-growth travel and tourism– Leading travel expert Adam Rogers draws upon 40 years of experience exploring more than 130 countries in every region on Earth to share the smartest ways to travel in this tip-filled guide
- Outdoor Recreation: Environmental Impacts and Management– an academic text discussing the sustainability of outdoor pursuits
- Sustainable and Responsible Tourism: Trends, Practices and Cases– Sustainable tourism case studies from around the world
- Responsible Tourism: Using tourism for sustainable development– a textbook addressing the concept of sustainability in terms in development
Useful articles on this website-
- Sustainable tourism explained: What, why and where
- Economic impacts of tourism
- Environmental impacts of tourism
- Social impacts of tourism
- Authenticity in tourism
- Economic leakage in tourism
Ecotourism is the opposite of mass tourism. People travel to remote areas and visit faraway places without destroying or ruining the environment. Ecotourism is intended for small groups of tourists who want to learn more about nature in a certain area and help people who live there. Eco tourists travel to places where plant and animal life is the main attraction. They want to know more about how people live side by side in a natural habitat.
Ecotourism makes people aware of how beautiful the land and countryside is. Local tour guides show visitors how important our environment is. They know how the region has developed over time. Tourists stay in small local houses, as opposed to gigantic hotel complexes in mass tourism regions.
Other aims of ecotourism are
- helping conserve nature in a faraway place
- educating tourists about the place they are travelling to
- respecting the culture of people who live there
- the conservation of animal and plant speciesthat are in danger of becoming extinct
- minimizing the impact of tourism in the area
- helping people who live there
- leaving a small carbon footprint
Among the most important destinations of ecotourism are
- the Galapagos Islands
- Costa Rica and other parts of Central America
- the Amazon rain forest
- East Africa
Ecotourism started out in the 1970s as an alternative to mass tourism. Today it is one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry because more and more people are becoming aware of it. As a result, some countries are using ecotourism to gain money and profits. In some areas, it is operated by foreign investors who are only interested in their own profits. Bringing too many people to a remote place could, however, damage local culture.
Eco tourists can help preserve the local environment by
- walking instead of using motor vehicles
- using less water
- turning off electricity if they don’t need it
- eating locally produced food
- not throwing things away
- keeping to footpaths
- wearing clothes that do not offend the locals
- not scaring animals
- respecting the local customs and traditions
Madagascar – Example of Ecotourism
Madagascar is a good example for an ecotourist destination. 80% of the plants and animals on the island have always been there and cannot be seen in anywhere else. While Madagascar has the potential to become a mass tourism country, much of it is not fully developed and lacks infrastructure. Most people live in poverty, especially in rural areas.
The island attracts tourists who are interested in nature and wildlife and not those who long for the noise and activities of overpopulated beaches. They can go on wildlife adventures, whale-watching trips or hiking with local guides.
- Mass Tourism Threatens Galapagos Islands
- Carbon Footprint
- Endangered Species
- aim = goal, something you hope to achieve
- attraction = feature
- aware = to realize that something exists, to be alert
- certain = special
- conserve = protect, stop something from being changed or damaged
- damage = destroy completely
- destination = place to go
- develop = grow
- electricity = power that is in wires and cables; it provides us with light and makes machines work
- environment = nature; the world around us
- especially = above all
- extinct = die out
- footpath = trail, walkway
- foreign investor = person or company that gives you money in order to develop or create something new
- fully = completely
- gain = get
- gigantic = very big
- guide = person who shows you around a place
- habitat = home, living area
- hiking = to take long walks in the mountains
- impact = influence, effect
- infrastructure = main systems that make a region work, like roads, schools hospitals etc..
- intend = aim at, target
- lack = not have enough of
- long for = to want something very much
- main = very important
- mass tourism = when thousands of people go to a place to enjoy themselves
- minimize = reduce as far as possible
- motor vehicles = cars, trucks, buses etc..
- offend =to make someone angry by doing something wrong
- opposite = as different as possible from something else
- overpopulated = with far too many people
- potential = here: to be able to develop in a very positive way
- poverty = the situation of being poor
- preserve = stop from being destroyed
- profit = the money you get from doing a job
- remote = faraway
- ruin = destroy completely
- rural = countryside
- sector = field, part
- species = group of animals and plants that similar and can produce ones
- start out = begin
Around the world, ecotourism has been hailed as a panacea: a way to fund conservation and scientific research, protect fragile and pristine ecosystems, benefit rural communities, promote development in poor countries, enhance ecological and cultural sensitivity, instill environmental awareness and social conscience in the travel industry, satisfy and educate the discriminating tourist, and, some claim, build world peace.
Ecotourism is a form of tourism that attempts to minimize its impact upon the environment, is ecologically sound, and avoids the negative impacts of many large-scale tourism developments undertaken in the areas which have not previously been developed.
History of Eco Tourism
The origins of the term ‘ecotourism‘ are not entirely clear, one of the first to use it appears to have been Hetzer(1965), who identified four ‘pillars‘ or principles of responsible tourism: minimizing environmental impacts, respecting host cultures, maximizing the benefits to local people, and maximizing tourist satisfaction. The first of these was held to be the most distinguishing characteristic of ecological tourism.
Other early references to ecotourism are found in Miller’s (1978) work on national park planning for ecodevelopment in Latin America, and documentation produced by Environment Canada in relation to a set of road-based ‘ecotours’ they developed from the mid-1979s through to the early 1980s.
Ecotourism developed ‘within the womb’ of the environmental movement in the 1970s and 1980s. Growing environmental concern coupled with an emerging dissatisfaction with mass tourism led to increased demand for nature-based experiences of an alternative nature.
At the same time, less developed countries began to realize that nature-based tourism offers a means of earning foreign exchange and providing a less destructive use of resources than alternatives such as logging and agriculture.
By the mid-1980s, a number of such countries had identified ecotourism as a means of achieving both conservation and development goals. The first formal definition of ecotourism is generally credited to Ceballos Lascurain in 1987.
Definitions of Eco Tourism
According to Ceballos-Lascurain, ecotourism is the, ” traveling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific objective of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestation (both past and present) found in these areas.”
Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as,” responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”
According to the Ecotourism Association of Australia, ” ecotourism is nature-based tourism that involves education and interpretation of the natural environment and is managed to be ecologically sustainable.”
This definition recognizes that ‘natural environment’ includes cultural components and that ‘ecologically sustainable’ involves an appropriate return to the local community and long-term conservation of the resource.
According to Tickell, ecotourism is “travel to enjoy the world’s amazing diversity of natural life and human culture without causing damage to either”.
Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.
Types of Ecotourism
- Mass Tourism
- Alternative Tourism
Mass tourism we saw as the more traditional form of tourism development where short-term, free-market principles dominate and the maximization of income is paramount. The development of the tourism industry was originally seen as a desirable and relatively ‘clean’ industry for nations and regions to pursue. This was particularly true in terms of benefits in foreign exchange earnings, employment and infrastructural development such as transport networks.
These days we are more prone to vilify or characterize conventional mass tourism as a beast; a monstrosity which has few redeeming qualities for the destination region, their people and their natural resource base.
This is not to deny that ‘mass tourism‘ has caused problems, because it has. There has, quite justifiably, been a need to identify an alternative approach to tourism development that lessens the negative consequences of the mass tourism approach.
Thus the ‘alternative tourism‘ perspective has become a popular paradigm. This alternative approach has been described as a ‘competing paradigm’ to mass tourism, but it can also be viewed as a complementary approach to tourism. That is, it is not possible to have ‘alternative tourism’ to.
So, the discussion returns to a semantic debate, perhaps it is best to accept that alternative tourism is a natural outcome of the maturing understanding of tourism development and its strengths and weakness. Fennell states that:
Alternative tourism is a generic term that encompasses a whole range of tourism strategies (e.g. appropriate, eco, soft, responsible, people to people, and green tourism) all of which purport to offer a more benign alternative to conventional mass tourism in certain types of destinations.
However, Weaver quite rightly points out that there are also many criticisms of alternative tourism. It is clear that just because alternative tourism has developed as a reaction to the negative consequences of mass tourism it is not necessarily less harmful or better than its alternatives.
Nature of Ecotourism
Tourism activity is expected to grow by 4.3% per annum in real terms between 2008 and 2017. Ecotourism or nature-based tourism has become the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry growing 3 times faster than the industry as a whole.
There can be no doubting of the increasing trends in environmental concern allied with the historically prevalent trend of travel as for, of escape to nature, driven by the pressures of urban living encourage people to seek solitude with nature, therefore, increasing the numbers of visitors to national parks and other protected areas.
- Those activities or experiences that are dependent on nature.
- Those activities or experiences that are enhanced by nature.
- Those activities or experiences for which the natural setting is incidental.
There are several classes of nature-based tourism, each utilizing a combination of these dimensions. Bird watching, for example, can provide a pleasant and relaxing holiday based around a general interest in nature and the environment. So that without the natural environment it would be difficult to carry out the activity.
Similarly, camping is an activity/experience which often enhanced by nature. Most people would prefer to camp in some type of natural setting rather than on the side of a busy road. Therefore, nature is an integral part of these experiences but not the fundamental motivation for them.
Principles and Guidelines of Ecotourism
- Prepare travelers to minimize their negative impact while visiting sensitive environments and cultures before departure.
- Prepare traveler for each encounter with local cultures and with native animals and plants.
- Minimize visitors impacts on the on the environment by offering literature, briefing, leading by example, and taking corrective actions.
- Minimize traveler impact on cultures by offering literature, briefings, leading by example, and taking corrective actions.
- Use adequate leadership, and maintain small enough groups to ensure minimum group impact on destination. Avoid areas that are under-managed and over-visited.
- Ensure managers, staff and contract employees know and participate in all aspects of company policy to prevent impacts on the environment and local cultures.
- Give managers, staff and contact employees access to programmes that will upgrade their ability to communicate with and manage clients in sensitive natural and cultural settings.
- Be a contributor to the conservation of the region being visited.
- Provide competitive, local employment in all aspect of business operation.
- Offer site-sensitive accommodations that are not wasteful of local resources or destructive to the environment, which provide ample opportunity for learning about the environment and sensitive interchange with local communities.
- Focuses on personally experiencing natural areas in ways that led to greater understanding and appreciation.
Characteristics of Eco-Tourism
Ecotourism is travel to fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas that strives to be low impact and (often) small scale. It helps educate the traveler, provides funds for conservation, directly benefits the economic development and political empowerment of local communities, and fosters respect for different cultures and for human rights.
Some important characteristics of ecotourism are following as:
1) Involves travel to the natural destination. These destinations are often remote areas, whether inhabited or uninhabited, and are usually under some kind of environmental protection at the national, international, communal, or private travel.
2) Minimize impact. Tourism causes damage. Ecotourism strives to minimize the adverse effects of hotels, trails, and other infrastructure by using either recycled or plentifully available local building material, renewable sources of energy, recycling and safe disposal of waste and garbage, and environmentally and culturally sensitive architectural design.
3) Builds environmental awareness. Ecotourism means education, for both tourist and residents of nearby communities. Well before the tour begins, tour operators should supply travelers with reading material about the country, environment, and local people, as well as a code of conduct for both the traveler and the industry itself. Ecotourism projects should also help educate members of surrounding communities, schoolchildren, and the broader public in the host country.
4) Provides direct financial benefits for conservation. Ecotourism helps raise funds for environmental protection, research, and education through a variety of mechanisms, including park entrance fees; tour company, hotel, airline, and airport taxes. And voluntary contributions.
5) Provides financial benefits and empowerment for local people. Ecotourism holds that national parks and other conservation areas will survive only if, there are happy people around the perimeters. The local community must be involved with and receive income and other tangible benefits (potable water, roads, health clinics, etc.) from the conservation area and its tourist facilities.
6) Respects local culture. Ecotourism is not only “greener” but also less culturally intrusive and exploitative than conventional tourism. Whereas prostitution, black markets, and drug often are byproducts of mass tourism, ecotourism strives to be culturally respectful and the human population of a host country.
7) Supports human rights and democratic movements. The United Nations-sponsored World Tourism Organization proclaims that tourism contributes to “international understanding, peace, prosperity, and universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
Such sentiments, however, are little reflected in conventional mass tourism. In this way, ecotourism supports humans rights and, to establish international peace.
Functions of Ecotourism
Eco-tourism is nature-based, environmentally educated and sustainably managed. Ross and Wall (1999) outline the five fundamental functions of ecotourism namely:
1. Protection of natural areas
3. Generation of money
4. Quality tourism
5. Local participation
Economic Effects of Ecotourism
The job generated by ecotourism provide an important reason for interest in and support for, the phenomenon. These jobs often occur in areas relatively untouched by traditional development efforts and represent tangible economic benefits from natural areas.
Several studies have assessed the local employment benefits of ecotourism; not surprisingly, the level of benefits varies widely as a result of differences in the quality of attraction, access and other factors.
Some important economic effects of ecotourism are following as:
Fiscal Impacts (taxes, fees, expenditures)
Ecotourism not only generates government revenue through business and other general taxes but also through industry-specific channels, such as payment of occupancy and departure taxes.
Reduced access to the resource
Tourism utilizes various resources as inputs into the products and services provided to visitors. In the case of ecotourism, one of these products is nature in a partially or totally preserved state.
Preservation of natural areas often involves reduced local access to resources, such as wood or medicinal plants. In so far as tourism is a partial or sole rationale for preserving an area, it also causes reduced access to resources.
Many destinations have experienced increased price for goods, services, and land due to tourism development, and this is a cost borne by residents of the area who purchase these items.
Effects of the income distribution
In some cases, tourism development exacerbates existing income inequalities within destination communities, while in others it generates new financial elites.
At some ecotourism destinations, residents benefit from revenue-sharing programmes that either provide cash payments or, more commonly, funding for community projects such as well or schools.
Environmental Effects of Ecotourism
The impacts of ecotourism depend on what ecotourism is. The critical issue is that ecotourism should involve deliberates steps to minimize impacts, through the choice of activities, equipment, location and timing, group size, education and training, and operational environmental management.
There is now quite an extensive literature on impacts such as trampling, which is easy to quantify experimentally. However, very little is known about impacts such as noise disturbance, soil and water-borne pathogens, and interference with plant and animal population dynamics and genetics, which are likely to have far greater ecological significance.
- Crushing or clearance of vegetation.
- Soil modification.
- Introduction of weeds and pathogens.
- Water pollution from human waste.
- Air pollution from generator exhausts, noise from machinery, vehicles, and voices.
- Visual impacts.
- Disturbance to wildlife through all of the above, and through food scraps and litter, etc.
A new group of tourism clients has emerged who are demanding different activities, experiences and approaches to tourism from the industry: ‘ these are the ecotourists – people who require environmentally compatible recreational opportunities, where nature rather than humanity predominates‘.
They are shrugging off the shackles of traditional tourism in search of knowledge and experience. Their interest is not in lounging by hotels pools or hectic sightseeing schedules. They are interested in visiting wilderness, national parks, and tropical forests, and in viewing birds, mammals, trees and wildflowers.
They want to experience new lifestyles and meet people with similar interests to themselves and they want to see their traveling dollars contributing toward conservation and benefiting the local economy.
Ecotourists can be generally characterized as having higher than average incomes, largely holding tertiary qualifications and there tend to be more female ecotourists than men.
According to the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourists are experienced travelers who are more likely to have a college/university degree and have a higher income bracket.
Ecotourists are expecting discovery and enlightenment from their ecotourism experience. Personal growth in emotional, spiritual, as well as intellectual terms, appear to be expected outcomes from ecotourism travel for the majority of these travelers.
- Membership non-government organizations (NGOs)
- Public sector or governmental agencies
- Non-membership organizations (NGOs)
Ecotourism organizations, found throughout the world, play important roles ranging from grass-roots advocacy to international policymaking.
In the international arena, many different organizations address ecotourism related issues. World Tourism Organization (WTO) plays an important role in the development of ecotourism. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is another international governmental organization that deals with ecotourism, through its international development assistance programme.
WTO and UNDP are just two examples of how international governmental ecotourism related organizations can play a role in making ecotourism a tool for sustainable development. At the international level NGOs also play a role.
Tourism Concern, a UK based NGO dedicated to ensuring tourism is just and sustainable form of business has worked for many years to make tourism more sustainable.
The US-based TES is dedicated solely to ensuring that ecotourism is a viable tool for biodiversity conservation and community development.
Government plays an important role in the national arena. Government related ecotourism organization active at this level generally come from areas: parks management agencies, universities, tourism ministries, and environment or natural resource ministries.
For example, in Kenya, much of the government related ecotourism activities at the national level is performed by the Kenya Wildlife Services (KYS), a quasi-governmental organization whose mandate is the management of wildlife in the country.
Every country has their national organizations for conservation and preservation of natural resources and ecotourism.
Below the national level is found regional, state and local areas for action. Ecotourism organizations play a role at each of these levels. Queensland Tourism and Tourism Saskatchewan are two examples of state-level public sector ecotourism organizations.
In Australia, Queensland Tourism’s environment division publishes a quarterly newsletter titled EcoTrends informing industry, NGOs, universities and the public sector about ecotourism- related events, accreditation recipients, department research and policy.
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