Is ecotourism sustainable?


Ecotourism seeks to reduce the impact that sightseers have on natural environments. But, has it actually worked?

Ecotourism is an industry that promotes responsible travel to natural areas. It can provide income and promote conservation–rather than exploitation–of natural resources. Sometimes, ecotourism is looked at as a solution to a lack of political will or general apathy toward preservation issues.

The idea of ecotourism is to enhance the conservation of wild spaces and species in their natural environment through the promotion of native resources as a travel attraction. Sadly, being an industry, it also has the potential to lead to some unintended consequences associated with bringing too much civilization to virginal places.

Ecotourism has many benefits. It boosts local economic growth, provides jobs, and improves conservation awareness while it stimulates the desire to protect landscapes. Additionally, it provides more than 200,000 jobs leaving a positive mark on the economy thanks to visitor spending.

Going outside is also good for people’s physical and mental health. It helps with everything from reducing stress to improving memory loss. Companies are recognizing these benefits for employees, and students’ performance can improve after spending time outside. Due to all of these benefits, many people support sustainable tourism.

However, the drawbacks must be considered as well. To make an area accessible to visitors, infrastructure must be built and transportation has to be arranged modifying the area. Sometimes increased human interaction with wildlife can be degrading or disruptive to the balance of a natural area’s systems.

There is also the issue of keeping wildlife “wild.” Wildlife can become used to interacting with people making them change their behavior. There is also the potential of impacting wildlife directly on roads or in remote areas.

Ecotourism provides benefits to visitors, local economies, and our national identity. But it also has drawbacks, impacting wildlife, ecosystems, and the historic heritage landscapes are designed to protect. What do you think? Is ecotourism helping or hurting our protected landscapes?

LatinAmerican Post | Manuela Pulido
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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