One of the most important sectors of the tourist industry is ecotourism. It is estimated that nearly one-quarter of all tourism revenues that are created annually come from ecotourism. Although there are several different definitions for this term, in general, it refers to tourism that helps to take care of the environment and is sustainable in some way. There are some pros to ecotourism and some cons to consider with this practice because positive and negative impacts can be made to the environment.
What Are the Pros of Ecotourism?
1. It provides supplemental income to sometimes remote populations.
Tourists who are going into remote parts of the world generally need to have a guide be able to point them along safe routes to take. This provides a unique business opportunity for local populations to be able to supplement their income in meaningful ways.
2. It keeps local dollars local.
Without local level involvement of ecotourism, more than 50% of the revenues that are created by remote locations would leave the community. When sustainable practices are put into place as well, the world can benefit from the enhanced care, tourists benefit with a great adventure, and local communities benefit because they get to keep more of the incoming money.
3. It exposes cultures to one another in a meaningful way.
Many of the stories from the media today involve war or the threats of war. Ecotourism, on the other hand, is based on the common ground of adventure and respect. People build relationships through ecotourism and this exposes people to different cultures in a meaningful, non-threatening way.
What Are the Cons of Ecotourism?
1. It can make a local population less self-reliant.
For someone to be truly independent, they must be able to provide an ongoing method of sustainable income that can raise themselves and their households out of poverty. Ecotourism, when placed at a higher priority than self-provision, could actually do more harm than good.
2. Big business can take advantage of the movement.
It doesn’t take much for a large corporation today to consider itself part of the ecotourism movement. Even something as small as converting to environmentally friendly cleaners and enhancing an internal recycling program can allow a business to call itself eco-friendly and advertise for tourism dollars.
3. It may have a negative impact on local cultures.
The beautiful thing about humanity is that there are pockets of people in this world today that have never been exposed to modern culture. With ecotourism looking for new adventures in every corner of the world, the uniqueness of these cultures will slowly erode until all human ethnicities are practically the same.
Ecotourism certainly has a role to play in the world today. When it is managed carefully, it can provide local populations with an economic boom that they’d normally not receive. If we weigh the pros and cons of this practice, we can then all work together to limit the negatives as much as possible.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.