Tourism is the world’s largest industry with nature-based ecotourism seeing rapid growth since its initial arrival in the 1980s. It is estimated by the World Tourism Organisation that nature tourism generates 7% of all international travel expenditure (Lindberg, 1997) and this figure will have increased rapidly over recent years. It’s increase in popularity is due to a number of factors; tourists becoming increasingly bored of the typical sun, sea and sand holiday’s, the increase in global awareness or environmental issues such as global warming, deforestation and conservation efforts.
Ecotourism has the ability through its economic benefits to increase conservation, improve the economic well-being of local communities and national governments and educate people on the threats facing fragile environments around the world. However, ecotourism is not without its drawbacks and ill-managed and uncontrolled tourism can impact badly on wildlife and protected areas. In this assignment I will aim to look at the relationship between people and ecotourism and analyse the benefits and weaknesses that they both have on each other.
The most prominent thing which springs to mind with regard to nature tourism for most people would be safaris in Africa aiming at spotting the ‘Big 5’ (African Elephant, Black Rhinoceros, Cape Buffalo, Lion & Leopard). The term was originally coined by hunters but now it is applied widely in tourism. ‘Africans safaris are one of the fastest growing segments of the travel market’ (Wildlife Travel, 2006). Approximately 8% of Kenya is protected National Parks and reserves and these areas are responsible for generating millions of pounds annually for the treasury, and literally thousands of Kenyans are employed in the wildlife-based tourism
References: Lindberg, K., Furze., Staff, M., Black, R. (1997) Ecotourism in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues and Outlook. Burlington, VT. The International Ecotourism Society. Ian Proctor. (2006). "Is an African Safari Safe?". Available: http://www.wildlifetravel.net/african%20safari%20advice.htm. Last accessed 20/03/2012. n/a. (2011). Negative Impacts of Safari Tourism. Available: http://safariholidays.wikispaces.com/Disadvantages+of+Safari+tourism. Last accessed 20/03/2012. Ralf Buckley (2010). Conservation Tourism. Oxfordshire, England: CABI Pulishing. page 51. Sindiga, I. (1999) Tourism and African Development: change and challenge of tourism in Kenya. African Studies Centre, Lieden. Walpole, M.J., Karanja, G.G., Sitati, N.W.. (2003). Wildlife and People: Conflict & Conservation in Masai Mara, Kenya. Available: http://www.peopleandwildlife.org.uk/publications/CONFLICT%20w_and_p_masaimara.pdf. Last accessed 22.03.2012.