Ecotourism is the combination of conservation, communities, and sustainable travel into one, whereby people travel responsibly to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of the local people TIES, (2015) . With ecotourism being one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry, many tourists would visit indigenous ecotourism destinations to experience the native’s people unique cultures. Ecotourism generates $77billion in revenue and make up 5-7% of the overall tourism and travel market (Ebscosustainability.files.wordpress.com, 2018).
Ecotourism is also part of environmental conservation and understanding what the needs of the people are who are local to the area, so we can help to improve their quality of life (Conserve Energy Future, 2018). It also involves learning more about the history of other cities and preserving the historical landmarks. This will help to raise awareness around the world to help conserve the natural and cultural assets, by supporting the maintenance of natural areas which are used as ecotourism attractions (Discovery and Discovery, 2018).
Reduce the Impacts
Build Environmental Awareness among people
Provide financial benefits and empowerment of local people
Respects local culture and people
Ecotourism provides sustainable source of revenue for some undeveloped countries such as Madagascar and Nepal K.C., Anup. (2016). which rely on tourists to build their economies by creating jobs for the communities and revenues for parks especially in remote regions that historically benefit less from economic development programs than popular regions. The money that is earned through tourism can be used to develop better roads, water supplies and improve the infrastructure of the less develop areas of the country and attract tourists to visit. The most important factor is the creation of jobs in the tourism industry. C. L. (2013, May 22). These opportunities for the locals can help reduce their concerns about the impact of the tourism in their area, this create another form of revenue for the population. Example in Costa Rican A study published in the journal of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that ecotourism has improved the quality of life of Costa Ricans living in areas close to parks and protected areas by 16% (STAFF, 2018).
By exposing tourists to condition to the realities of social and economic climates areas, this will help increase the awareness tourists have about the social conditions surrounding a travel destination. This will educate travellers on the interdependent relationship between conservation, sustainability and the real life of local communities. The main audience of Ecotourism are the millennials as they demand for memorable moments and activities over material goods (Fromm, 2018). By raise environmental awareness among the millennials, we will see a significant increase in growth of Ecotourism. As a survey released by Chase Marriott Rewards found that 84 percent of millennials were interested in taking a charitable trip, while only 18 percent of Gen Xers and 17 percent of baby boomers were interested in charitable traveling out of 1000 applicants ages 18 to 67 years old. (Talty, 2018).
As a destination becomes more popular among travellers, tourism inevitably leads to development even with the efforts of ecotourism. When remotes or natural areas become popular, building like hotels and other tourist industry activities would start to pop out. One example is in Costa Rican, even though the government has increased the economic growth and environmental preservation by marketing the country’s ecotourism destinations, but without the investment in infrastructure and resources management of natural assets it would not be able to attract tourist (Umich.edu, 2018) . As a result, fragile sites or cultural significance has been exposed to the threat unregulated tourism and over visitation by the tourists. The increase in the amount of tourist may help with the economic of the country, however it will also put a strain on the country’s environment such as higher demand of resources like food and water for to accommodate more people.
One of the major problems in Ecotourism is Greenwashing, this refers to a business that showcase itself as a sustainable and eco-friendly but does not comply with the acceptable standards and contradict them. Ecotourism organization turned into a marketing ploy to entice tourists instead of adhering to eco-friendly eco-tourist’ policies. They compete unethically with business who meet the criteria and damage the credibility of the industry. With Ecotourism be in high demand, more business will take advantage by promoting themselves as environmentally friendly or green, to earn more profits. One example of explaining green washing is that the company may claim to be recycling paper, but they do not take in account for the negative effect of paper production life air and water pollution (Garden and Ethics, 2018).
When tourists and the locals people interact with each other, there will be an inevitable exchange of ideas, values (Jpia.princeton.edu, 2018). This might create a social change in the lives of locals, such as an improvement in infrastructure, and their lifestyle changes etc. With the influx of tourist arriving in the area, this may disturb the local culture and create tension among the people. The local people might copy the behaviour of the tourists and result in the loss of their native customs and traditions. Some of the locals might even turn to criminal activities to grab some easy cash from tourist, which leads to increased crime and loss of morals and religious.
Overcrowding as one of the root causes of environmental impact caused by Ecotourism. By limiting the number of visitors, this can help to protect the fragile ecosystem and sustaining the environment, heritage, and most importantly local people’s enjoyment of their homes and ways of life. In Galapagos Islands, located approximately 600 miles away from Ecuador both the residents and tourist had placed a big burden on the ecosystem that the United Nation listed the destination as an endangered heritage site due to overcrowding in 2007 (MacNevin, 2018). However due to this, they developed systematic program that regulates the number of tourists that can visit the island each day, which estimate to about 245,000 visitors per year (www.dw.com), 2018).
As ecotourism is getting more popular, there might be many businesses posing as an eco-friendly to earn profit in the industry. To determine which business are legitimately practicing ecotourism and sustainable tourism is by certification (Eco Tourism Africa, 2018). They will need to get ECO-Tourism Certification(GSTC) to prove that they are an eco-business, this mean that the Tour Operator with this certification needs to follow all the pre-set of global sustainable tourism council criteria for ecotourism. The GSTC Criteria have been created based on decades of work and experiences around the world and take in account the guidelines and standards for sustainable tourism from each continent (Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), 2018).
Ecotourism being one of the fastest growing segments in the tourism industry and is going to here to stay around for a very long time. Even though the main idea of ecotourism is to help raise awareness among travellers to travel responsibly to natural areas to help conserve the environment and sustain the well-being of the local people, there are still flaws within the system such as environment impact, greenwashing and social cultural impact of the locals. So, both the travellers and locals have to work together to ensure that the environment and culture will be preserve for future generation to experience.