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Has Ecotourism made a Significant Improvement to the Tourist Industry?

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Introduction

Has Ecotourism made a Significant Improvement to the Tourist Industry? Ecotourism is typically defined as travel to destinations where flora, fauna and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Although other terms such as 'responsible tourism', 'sustainable tourism' and 'low impact tourism' are also used, ecotourism is commonly used, referring to a niche market for environmentally aware tourists. Ecotourism is an industry that attempts to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate income and employment. The term ecotourism was initially used to describe nature-based travel to relatively undisturbed areas with an emphasis on education. This term has developed to encompass ideas of planning, management and development of sustainable tourism products and activities together. There are six themes that have been identified in ecotourism policies: * Distribution and character of tourist developments should be planned and controlled * Surveys of resources and impacts should be carried out before development takes place * Tourism should be integrated into other aspects of regional planning * Local communities should be involved and given control * The type of tourism appropriate to resources and environment should be identified * A carrying capacity that balances conservation and development values should be established. It is the fastest growing market in the tourist industry representing 6% of the worlds GNP and with an annual growth rate of 5% worldwide. According to a 2001 WTO and UN Environmental Programme study, ecotourism may represent between 2-4%m of global tourism. Although this is a relatively small percentage share it is not the volume that is significant but the fact that it ...read more.

Middle

Water comes from collected rainwater in roof tanks. The village now has a shop selling soft drinks, tins of sardines, dry biscuits and oatmeal. There is also a primary school with electric lights, and a daily boat service to Borbon. This is a true ecotourist site, therefore no tourist entertainment facilities. Visitors can sit and read, sunbathe, admire the surroundings, or swim in the river. Away from the village, visitors are able to visit the Cotacachi-Cayapas ecological reserve. It costs one person for a day �6.50 to stay full board in San Miguel. This is distributed to SUBIR in Borbon and the president of San Miguel. This means that there is not a problem with tourist revenue. Some of the money is spent of diesel, food and gas, but the majority is left for the visitors. Villagers are employed to cook, wait, wash and clean. There are minor effects brought by this project such as a small amount of air and noise pollution from the generator, sewage disposal and new buildings. These are small-scale problems that benefit the villagers. As long as the ecotourism at San Miguel stays at this level there hopefully will be no problems of outside intrusion. Fraser Island in Queensland, Australia is situated 250km north of Brisbane and 15km offshore from the town of Hervey Bay. The island is 250km long and 25km wide and composed entirely of sands. There are three landscape and ecosystem types: * Coastal environments - beaches, dunes, rocky headlands and estuaries * Inland environments - eucalyptus forests and heath land * Water bodies - 40 inland lakes and freshwater swamps Tourists have been visiting Fraser Island since the 1930's for fishing, wildlife viewing and camping. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mega-resorts are often established in the middle of nature reserves in the name of ecotourism. The major limitations of this kind of tourism are carrying capacity and the number of visitors. The type of tourist who seeks an authentic allocentric experience tends to be crowd-sensitive and expect small numbers. Furthermore the attractive resources themselves are often fragile and sensitive to impacts (e.g. coral reefs), and have a low carrying capacity. Similar characteristics apply to many of the traditional cultures and their environments. The most obvious way to control visitor numbers and impacts and so sustain the quality of both the resource and the experience is through remoteness and inaccessibility. Although this leads to criticism of the industry, implying that it is only for the rich or the privileged and it also means that the industry is very small and doesn't produce a huge income unlike mass tourism. Another problem with eco-tourism is that international companies use the 'eco' label as a marketing ploy rather than as an indication of a genuine policy of 'responsible tourism' and sustainability. Ecotourism is also very difficult to set up, as it requires a great deal of planning to ensure that it will maintain its sustainability throughout its lifespan. It is very difficult and costly to maintain on ecotourism facility as it is so very fragile and so requires a great deal more effort than mass tourism. It is also very important that the locals are involved in the ecotourism as without them it is very hard to maintain the facility and the locals also help to improve conservation in the area. Fabina Nazmin Hussain - 1 - ...read more.

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