Misrepresentation of ecotourism

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2 Soft tourism is confined to a very limited area within a relatively small number of public and private protected areas, while hard ecotourism is more dispersed both within and among protected areas. A primary challenge for managers is to ensure that ecotourism, whether concentrated or dispersed, does not compromise the ecological or socio-cultural integrity of the protected areas and other ecotourism destinations.

3 Misrepresentation of ecotourism Misrepresentation of ecotourism is often a matter of not understanding the true nature of ecotourism and/or confusion with related terms such as nature-based, sustainable and adventure tourism. Deliberate misrepresentation occurs when the term ecotourism is applied inappropriately as a way of greenwhasing or eco-selling a product. ( green sells )

4 Potential environmental benefits and costs of ecotourism DIRECT BENEFITS Incentive to protect natural environment Incentive to rehabilitate modified environmen Provide funds to manage and expand protected areas Ecotourists assist with habitat maintenance and enhancement Ecotourists serve as environmental watchdogs DIRECT COSTS Impacts of permanent environmental restructuring and generation of waste residuals Impact of tourist activities (wildlife observation, hiking, introduction of exotic species) INDIRECT BENEFITS Exposure to ecotourism fosters environmentalism Areas protected for ecotourism provide environmental benefits INDIRECT COSTS Effects of induced environmental restructuring Exposure to less benign forms of tourism Problems associated with the economic valuation of nature

5 Direct benefits o Incentive to protect natural environment Depending on destination, either soft or hard ecotourism can potentially provide the critical mass of activity and revenue generation that justifies the retention of an area in its natural or semi natural state. o Incentive to rehabilitate modified environments Since ecotourism gives value to existing natural habitat it also provides an incentive to rehabilitate modified land so that these areas will be similarly attractive to ecotourists.

6 Direct benefits o Provide funds to manage and expand protected areas Ecotourism is also an important source of the funds that are required to manage and expand protected areas. o Ecotourists assist with habitat maintenance and enhancement Direct environmental benefits are relied from the willingness of many ecotourists to assist with habitat maintenance and enhancement through their own actions and donations.

7 Direct benefits o Ecotourists serve as environmental watchdogs There is tendency of some ecotourists to serve as environmental watchdogs or guardians who personally intervene in situations where the environment is being threatened.

8 Indirect benefits o Exposure to ecotourism fosters environmentalism Most of the tourists claim that their participation in ecotourism made them more environmentally conscientious. Such changes in attitude and behaviour can also occur with local communities and among other beneficiaries of ecotourism revenue. o Areas protected for ecotourism provide environmental benefits When an area is protected, wholly or partially, for ecotourism, environmental benefits such as water quality maintenance, maintenance of biodiversity, etc. are provided.

9 Direct costs o Impacts of permanent environmental restructuring and generation of waste residuals Direct and deliberate on-site environmental stress (removal of vegetation, site levelling) are unavoidably incurred in the construction of ecotourism related facilities (ecolodges, viewing platforms, trails and parking facilities. Sewage and other liquid wastes are particularly problematic if the area is not serviced by waste treatment infrastructure.

10 Direct costs o Impact of tourist activities Each human wildlife encounter is an essentially unique and unpredictable experience that has a potential for negative impacts Paradox ecotourists are often especially attracted to flora and fauna that are rare (pandas, mountain gorillas, orangutans)

11 Indirect costs o Effects of induced environmental restructuring Induced environmental restructuring refers to physical developments that occur as an indirect result of tourism. (housing that is constructed for workers in a resort)

12 Indirect costs o Exposure to less benign forms of tourism When ecotourism is introduced to a remote location, the site becomes vulnerable to the eventual intrusion of less benign forms of tourism. Hard ecotourits are pioneers who visit the area during the exploration stage and unwittingly induce the involvement stage of increased tourism development. This can led to intensive tourism development, soft ecotourism-related or otherwise, during development stage. If unregulated, soft ecoutourism can mutate into unsustainable mass tourism.

13 Indirect costs o Problems associated with the economic valuation of nature The monetary value assigned to the natural environment and nature-based attractions through ecotourism is growing incentive against introduction or continuation of unsustainable competing land uses.

14 Ethical question Should any kind of monetary value be placed on something that is might be regarded as inherently invaluable such as the natural environment?

15 Literature: Weaver, D.: Ecotourism, John Wiley & Sons Australia, Milton, 2001.

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