Ecotourism: Tourism and South Africa

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Ecotourism in the world has been quite big over the years, but has grown in population in the more recent years. There are many different definitions to what ecotourism really is and even if it should be hyphenated because of the history behind it. With or without the use of the hyphen in the word ecotourism, has often resulted in use of the term being little more than a marketing tactic to give businesses and apparent green edge on the competition (Ross, 1999). Ecotourism has been defined in several ways. First, ecotourism, according to The Ecotourism Society, is a purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the culture and the natural history of the environment; taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem; producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of the natural resources beneficial to the local people (Ross, 1999). A second definition by The World Conservation Union's Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas, defines ecotourism as an environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations (Ross, 1999).

Many of the definitions of the word have the same basic meaning. When compared to mass tourism, ecotourism not only stresses the appropriate use of all resources, but also emphasizes community development to meet the economic, social, and cultural needs of the community (Khan, pg.988). Mass tourism on the other hand creates initiatives in Third World countries that are directed towards satisfying the needs of the tourists (Khan, pg.988). Ecotourism development is most likely to be at a smaller scale, locally owned, with low import leakage and a higher proportion of profits remaining in the local economy. Mass tourism has the potential to degrade the environment, ecotourism promotes the conservation and preservation of the ecosystem, so as not to disrupt the flora and fauna, wildlife, and habitat (Khan, pg.989-990). Ecotourism is a big problem in several countries throughout the world. With trying to preserve the natural environment of areas, and the growing industry of mass tourism and ecotourism, countries, such as South Africa, have grown to try to adapt to ecotourim travel and mass tourism travel.

South Africa has become one of today's most popular destinations for ecotourism travel and travel in general. It has many things to offer to visitors who are looking to tour and travel nature based areas that are protected by the government. Ecotourists travel all over South Africa for all different reasons. Some go to South Africa to hunt big game, some travel they're just for the experience.

Geographic Location
South Africa is on the southern most tip of the continent, with the Indian Ocean on its eastern and southern coasts and the South Atlantic Ocean on its western coast (World Book, pg. 608). It is made up of four provinces, which include Natal, Orange Free State, Cape Province, and Transvaal. South Africa is relatively undeveloped, but growing (Loon, 2001). It is also the richest and most highly developed country in Africa (World Book, 608).

The population in South Africa includes blacks, whites, colored, and Asians. These four categories are what each individual living in South Africa has to fit into. The estimated population in South Africa was 34,944,000 in the year 1988 (World Book, 608). In a more recent survey, the population for South Africa has now bumped up to 43,647,658 in the year 2002 (www.Encarta.msn). You can plainly see the population growth in just twelve years. That is thirty-six persons per square kilometer (www.Encarta.msn). The blacks, or Africans, make up about seventy three percent of the population in South Africa and are further divided into subgroups...
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