Tourism and the Environment

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Assignment 4: Tourism and the Environment

Analysis of Ecotourism in Rathdowney, Queensland, Australia

By: Angie Haves

December 14, 2009

The effect of global warming is becoming ever more evident, well-known and of increasing concern as research is conducted on an ongoing basis and the results of this research are communicated widely through the media and print publications. Scientists believe that climate change is largely caused by humans producing pollution (i.e. burning of fossil fuels; accumulating vast amounts of garbage in dumps) and removing large areas of forests, which has caused an excess of heat-trapping gasses in the atmosphere. This is believed to be causing significant changes in weather patterns resulting in more frequent occurrences of drought, flooding, hurricanes and heat waves. Consequently, these weather pattern changes are believed to have had, and will continue to have, negative physical effects for all living beings (e.g. increased rates of death from famine; increases in life-threatening diseases) which will only intensify over time if changes are not enacted throughout the world (United Nations, 2009). The United Nations has taken the lead on a ‘call to arms’ for nations to become engaged in formulating a global response to the problem. This began with the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) developed in 1992 to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted by 184 world partners who committed to reducing their emissions by an average of 5 percent by 2012 1.

from 1990 levels. Currently, the United Nations is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to further the work completed by the Kyoto Protocol. The goal of this conference is to strengthen the multi-nation commitments made in 1997 to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases which cause global warming and the resultant negative health effects (United Nations, 2009). Because of the heightened awareness of the problems of global warming, responses to mitigate the negative effects are not only being seen as the responsibility of political leaders, but of all citizens. This has been reinforced through education about the importance of all citizens engaging in sustainable practices (e.g., reduce, reuse, recycle) in our everyday lives. The Brundtland Commission of the United Nations developed the following definition of sustainability and sustainable development, which is ‘…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs which can sustain all life-forms without destroying or depleting natural resources’ (United Nations, 1987). Governmental and non-governmental organizations have utilized numerous resources (e.g. financial incentives, educational publications, public forums) to educate individual citizens and corporations about ways in which they can adopt sustainable practices. The tourism industry has taken this message to heart by advocating the concept of ‘ecotourism’ as they

realize ‘Profitability in tourism depends on maintaining the attractiveness of the destination people want to see and experience’ (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2009, pgs. 470). There is also a growing awareness that making ecotourism opportunities available for tourists is good for business in that tourists are increasingly demanding products and experiences which are educationally stimulating and environmentally conscious. It is anticipated demand in this area will be maintained for the foreseeable future (Government of Ontario, 2009).

This paper will outline the potential benefits and dangers of ecotourism by first deriving a better understanding of the issue by examining the industry as a whole, and then...
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