Advantages and disadvantages of ecotourism
This write-up analyses some of the advantages and disadvantages of ecotourism. Ecotourism is a form of tourism that sustains the natural environment. It offers an opportunity for countries to promote themselves as environmentally friendly destinations that are committed to the preservation of their natural resources.
What is ecotourism?
According to the International Ecotourism Society (2015), ecotourism refers to responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education. Education in the definition is meant to be inclusive of both staff and guests.
Ecotourism means that tourists travel to natural, unspoiled environments to enjoy nature. For example, they might go to rainforest or wildlife preserves to see animals in their natural habitat.
The aim of ecotourism is to be sustainable by focusing on the natural environment and building awareness and often involves getting in touch with nature. Ecotourism focuses on having the least physical and social impact on the natural environment and aims to provide economic benefits for the local communities.
Ecotourism can also be a form of sustainable travel. It is often seen as a way of developing community-based tourism, which takes into account environmental guidelines or restrictions, social equity goals, and cultural impact goals.
Advantages of ecotourism
Many people are attracted to ecotourism because they want to see new places, wildlife, or get in shape. It is also beneficial for local economies because it creates jobs and boosts income for locals.
Ecotourism is one of the most popular forms of tourism. By supporting ecotourism, holidaymakers are supporting sustainable travel with a focus on sustainability and conservation. Many ecotourists are often more interested in visiting areas where there is minimal human impact on the environment. One of the biggest advantages of ecotourism is that it provides direct monetary support for conservation efforts.
Ecotourism offers diverse opportunities. One of the top 10 sustainable safaris is the Mfuwe Lodge in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. The lodge is run on solar energy, which powers lighting heating and water. Natural waste is composted to produce organic fertilizer, which in turn is used for tree planting programs (MacGregor, 2020).
Ecotourists are also aware of their carbon footprint and try to avoid anything that would harm future generations’ environment. Finally, they are typically limited to small groups, which creates an intimate experience for travelers and locals alike.
Disadvantages of ecotourism
Ecotourism can have a negative impact on the environment if it is not managed properly. Inexorably, tourism of any kind leads to development of some degree. The more popular destinations become, the more demand grows for appropriate accommodation. This can harm local communities and infrastructures, thereby damaging the positive effects of ecotourism (Swanston, 2018).
Ecotourism has been known to negatively impact on wildlife. For example, some animals are more likely to come into contact with humans because of the increased frequency of humans in their habitats. This can be devastating for these animals as they are not used to human interaction and might be injured or killed as a result.
Ecotourism can create overcrowding at popular destinations as more people go there for vacation. Overcrowding can lead to the destruction of resources important for wildlife preservation.
Similarly, tourist activities sometimes displace local people from their homelands, which not only damages the integrity of those local communities, but also deprives them from the economic benefits of a growing tourism industry. Sometimes, locals are mistreated by tourists who do not respect their customs and traditions.
Many destinations do not have developed infrastructure for tourism purposes such as roads and transport systems which can lead to environmental degradation and pollution – especially if tourists are in an area for an extended period of time with increased access to resources such as water and food sources.
Examples of ecotourism
One of the top ecotourism destinations in the world is the kingdom of Bhutan. With projects designed to help the local diminishing communities and the wildlife of the region, The World Wildlife Fund teamed up with the Bhutanese Government to distribute tourist-related funds amongst the rural population.
Kenya, Palau, Hawaii, Morocco, and Costa Rica are famous as international ecotourism destinations. California, Louisiana, and Alaska in the USA are also famous for fostering ecotourism.
Thus, it is clear that ecotourism has many advantages, but also has some disadvantages. Some of the advantages include that it helps preserve natural environments, provides a means for a country to develop a sustainable economy, and gives travelers a chance to experience a culture they may not have been exposed to otherwise. Disadvantages include the risk of negative environmental impacts from tourism, as well as the potential for exploitation of local communities and cultures.
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Last update: 17 January 2022
MacGregor, S. (2020) A Sustainable Safari: Discover Africa’s 10 Top Eco-Friendly Lodges, available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sandramacgregor/2020/02/20/a-sustainable-safari-discover-africas-10-top-eco-friendly-lodges/?sh=5ad1f1705cdd (accessed 16 January 2022)
The International Ecotourism Society (2015) What is ecotourism, available at: https://ecotourism.org/what-is-ecotourism/ (accessed 17 January 2022)
Swanston, B. (2018) Positive & Negative Effects of Ecotourism, available at: https://traveltips.usatoday.com/problems-ecotourism-108359.html (accessed 15 January 2022)
Author: S Young
S. Young is a freelance fruit carving artist and trainer. With extensive experience in the world of bespoke culinary art, S. Young now writes online regularly, sharing invaluable knowledge. She holds a Diploma in Business Psychology and a Certificate in Fine Arts.