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Tourism, Of Any Kind, Is Not Perfect

Sep 4, 2008
While the idea of ecotourism has been around for more than two decades and some studies have been done to assess the effectiveness of policies and projects, there are still some questions about the results of taking a vacation trip during which the traveler is helping to preserve natural resources. For some, this seems to be a perfect combination of leisure and activism. However, some observers are withholding judgement until further proof is provided.

Some indication of the impact of both ecotourism and mass/recreational tourism is given by the wide range of negative effects that tourism has had on natural resources and local cultures in the past. Ecotourism proponents point to the lack of negative impact from this newer form of tourism and to the environmental awareness among the general public generated by ecotourism.

Among the more positive results, according to ecotourism supporters, is the consciousness of natural resources awakened in local populations. These native residents of ecotourism destinations often display a certain amount of renewed pride in their culture as a result of ecotourism activities. Some of this comes from the preservation and maintenance of threatened historic sites. In addition, ecotourism has proven to renew interest in local art and craft activities that were being lost due to lack of interest. Of course, some mass/recreational tourism programs encourage the restoration of historic sites as well, since these monuments are critical in attracting tourists.

One critical result of both ecotourism and mass tourism (both of which can have positive impact on local populations) is the method of wealth distribution. Sometimes the positive impact of all tourism is negated by the uneven distribution of revenue generated by tourism activities. This may be especially true of mass tourism, though there are examples of poorly-managed ecotourism with the same result.

For instance, with most new tourism projects, the amount of foreign capital increases. But the local populations do not always benefit from this increase in revenue. Too often, the bulk of income goes into the pockets of company owners, government officials and a few select local residents with just the right connections. If the largest amount of money stays with foreign investors (hotel owners, transportation financiers etc.) the general population of the tourism destination is left out. Ecotourism does pay particular attention to the preservation of natural resources, a benefit that may not be valued in money terms for several years. But even this socially conscious movement occasionally finds itself criticized for negatively impacting the host country.

Some also point to the benefit differences among local populations, especially along racial and gender lines. This can often be the result of little investment in infrastructure (roads, utilities) that truly benefit all of the local people.

In essence, the impact that both ecotourism and mass tourism have on natural resources, local economies and cultural stability can be minimized by proper management. Well-planned projects should include a vision for the improvement of the local population economically and socially. If this is not a part of the tourism plan, the result could be destruction of rare habitats and irreversible damage to unique cultural institutions.
About the Author
Ken Morris writes articles at large for http://www.alicante-spain.com , an online site about temperature in benidorm spain . On his site one can have a look at his contributions on weather in benidorm today and weather forecast for benidorm spain.
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