Benefits Of Ecotourism
There are many different benefits that can be derived from Ecotourism if it is used as a tool by local communities rather than large outside interests. However, the results are a direct reflection of the motivation behind the project. Since these motivations are often mixed it follows that the results are often mixed too. The following article was originally published by USAID, an organization that helps fund various ecotourism projects in many developing nations.
Win Win Approaches to Development and the Environment, Ecotourism and Biodiversity Conservation.Center for Development Information and EvaluationWhether called nature tourism or ecotourism, recreational and educational travel based on natural attractions is a promising means of advancing social, economic, and environmental objectives in developing countries. It offers countries new opportunities for small-enterprise investment and employment and increases the national stake in protecting their biological resources. However, making ecotourism a positive economic and environmental tool requires policies that foster responsible nature tourism development, broad-based and active local participation in its benefits, and conservation of developing countries' biological heritage.The ProblemForest and marine habitats are being destroyed and some of the wildlife they contain is being driven to extinction under the pressures of hunting, logging, agriculture, and fishing. Where areas have been officially reserved for nature conservation, many developing country governments lack sufficient funds to manage and protect them. These areas are being destroyed because they are not fully valued for their role as nature's genetic reservoirs of the world's biological resources.The Win Win SolutionA recent USAID evaluation has identified ecotourism as an enterprise with potential positive contributions to the conservation of endangered biological resources. (See Synthesis Report Stemming the Loss of Biological Diversity: An Assessment of USAID Support for Protected-Area Management, July 1995). Contributions of ecotourism include raising local awareness about the value of biological resources, increasing local participation in the benefits of biodiversity conservation (through new sources of jobs and incomes), and generating revenues toward conservation of biologically rich areas. Wildlife and its habitats in developing countries are becoming increasingly popular attractions for international tourism. Many of the richest areas, biologically, are in the developing world. Growing numbers of ecotourists are flocking to the mountains of Nepal and Madagascar, the tropical forests of Costa Rica and Thailand, and the beaches of Belize and Sri Lanka. Nature tourists bring with them money to spend, money that creates jobs and incomes for households and communities in and around national parks and other protected areas. Ecotourism enterprises tour agencies and guide services, lodges and private reserves as well as such satellite activities as crafts industries and transportation and food services, also generate revenues and foreign exchange. Governments can use this income in operating and protecting natural habitats.By recognizing the importance of protecting biological diversity, ecotourism is raising appreciation for biological resources and leading to better conservation practices by developing country populations. It must of course be properly regulated and managed to protect against adverse environmental and cultural effects that can come with overbuilding of tourist facilities and influx of populations around fragile ecosystems. Assuming such oversight, nature tourism can benefit both the environment and economic development.The Role of USAIDUSAID supports nature-based tourism activities as part of its biodiversity conservation programs in more than a dozen countries worldwide. The Agency's ecotourism activities include support for developing national...
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