What is Eco-Tourism? • Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial (mass) tourism.
Some characteristics of eco-tourism: • Involves travel to natural destinations. • Builds environmental awareness. • Provides direct financial benefits for conservation. • Provides financial benefits and empowerment for local people. • Respects local culture. • Supports human rights and democratic movements such as conservation of biological diversity and cultural diversity through ecosystem protection.
Its negative impacts: • Socio-cultural impact: There is a very high probability of a cultureclash. Outside influences can wreck havoc with the ethnic way of living. Localculture and heritage should be showcased but often it is ‘packaged’ to conformto Western expectations. Bastardization of customs into pop culture is an everpresent danger. Also, eco-tourism often forms the single source of revenue fora community. Any cyclical changes in the economy affect it as a whole. Today, corruption andenvironmental degradation has left many regions in shambles.
Continued…. • Economic impact: very often eco-tourism is sold as a ‘package’ most often in the countryof the traveler. This means that very little currency gets into the hands ofthe local community. Another problem lies in the fact that in order to meet the luxurydemands of particular tourists, locals must import other goods from outside.For e.g. beverages and food. This essentially means that wealth leaves thecommunity to pay for outside imports. Furthermore, Eco-tourism can put pressure on local resources which have tosatisfy the needs of tourists.
Continued… • Environmental impact: Eco-tourism improperly managed means awalkthrough by droves of tourists through virgin lands. This invasion rapidlyspirals into an orgy of opportunism as everybody attempts to cash in.Environmental degradation follows. The popularity of an eco-tourism destinationcould be directly proportional to its rate of destruction. Local flora stand tobe harvested for economic gain thus eroding their natural value