Ecotourism can be seen as a solution or contribution to the problems related to environmental conservation, and also as a threat. This is because by promoting the integration of locals and tourists to areas of high ecological value, such as natural reserves and forests, fauna and flora of these sites may be affected negatively. In addition, ecotourism promotes the development of infrastructure and facilities that protect the activity, such as gazebos, trails, eco-lodges, among others. Similarly, it is critical that only promotes local economic development. On the other side, ecotourism activity helps keep wildlife healthy. Some places, like the Galapagos Islands, ranches in Namibia, wetlands in Brazil, among others, thanks to tourism and what derives from it, residents of such places are motivated to work for conservation, in the way to keep a tourist activity.
Ecotourism is more than people visiting a new place, it has to do with the environment and the activities in which a person involved that may harm the environment.
There are some objectives that were implanted with ecotourism:
First of all, the most important aim that emerged from the implementation of ecotourism is that travellers need to be more aware of the environment and damage, their actions as travellers and members of the society on earth.
The main objectives are to minimize the potential environmental impact on natural and cultural environments of sites visited. Generate awareness about the nature and care. Tourism experiences that are favourable for visitors and locals.
Funds arising from these tourist activities to the preservation of the place are one of the ends sought to ecotourism, thus establishing the basis for the maintenance of ecological tourism and growth. Funds like these can improve economic development that can lead of having more activities and ways that tourists could use and admire the nature of the land without destroying it.
Another factor that usually does not consider is that ecotourism is a source of income for civilizations not too close to the cities. Usually, they have the same attraction for a city because in reality, there is much to do in a forest or something. But nature has much to offer as well. So if the countries with the special nature can find activities that the public would like to participate, visit the site and those who live there are going to collect the benefits of nature.
UN acknowledges in its report “World Resources 2002”, “for the most part, nature tourism fails to meet the ideals of social responsibility implicit in this definition”.
It also ensures that “you may travel destinations and are marketed as ecotourism opportunities to focus on providing accommodation to the environment more favourable to community development, conservation and tourism education.” Therefore, the reality of these trips is that they can sustain ecosystems and degrade at the same time. Given that the majority of ecotourists come from North America and Europe and most destinations are in the developing world would be doing a damage to these countries if they do not get that nature tourism is compatible with conservation.
But the UN also recognizes that “even some of the ecosystems that are carefully managed under the principles of ecotourism are showing signs of degradation.” To illustrate the dangers that ecotourism can lead to natural ecosystems, the UN report takes the example of the Galapagos Islands, a natural paradise and the nerve center of biodiversity. Not surprisingly, half of birds, 32% of plants and 90% of the reptiles that live there do not exist anywhere else in the world. At first glance, the report says, the Galapagos Islands exemplify the promise of ecotourism. Each year the archipelago attracts over 62,000 visitors who pay to dive and walk among the 120 volcanic islands and ecosystems, among other exotic species, contain the turtles are named for the islands.
According to UN figures, tourism in Galapagos produces up to 60 million dollars a year and is the source of income of 80% of its residents. Since 1970, the number of visitors has increased tenfold, helping to expand the resources of the park service to Ecuador and create a model of ecotourism high quality and low impact. However, when things look closer displayed the consideration involved.
Thus, the permanent population of the islands has tripled in the last 15 years due to the arrival of immigrants seeking work in the tourism economy of the islands, which also leads to increased pollution and exploitation of fisheries resources. And, contrary to the purport ecotourism, it is estimated that only 15% of the capital that is entered from tourism goes directly to the Galapagos economy. In some cases not even a single pound reinvested in conservation and tourist park management, but that money goes to government treasury or at the hands of corrupt officials of the park.
The impact of ecotourism is not only economic, but socio-economic, since it involves the communities. The achievements in the economic order can even benefit communities and areas of the country that usually are depressed from the position of economics and finance, but have very specific natural resources and with hospitable people, traditions and very special charms.
Ecotourism is also a channel to link the activities of local governments or municipalities with other state and society as a whole, but also engages the municipality with the outside world, thus breaking the isolation internal and external know yet many of our communities. In the United States of America, for example, has realized that without direct intervention by local governments is impossible to develop ecotourism. Recall that in this vast country emerged from the beginning of the twentieth century, the first spaces and protected natural areas that would become national parks, without which they would have lost significant wealth who today are usufruct by the communities living in the vicinity .
In short, ecotourism is an important ingredient to strengthening cultural identity.
The close links we forge between everything that defines us as people, that is our way of life and production, our culture, our identity, and nature is what will make us turn this activity called eco-concrete manifestation of that symbiosis, as a social practice that opens new horizons in today’s changing world, where the features that differentiate us from other countries are put in evidence and become thus a unique appeal to attract new tourists and stimulate us.
In short, ecotourism combines natural resource management, environmental protection and land to productive action of society, generating jobs, income and new procedures, forms and techniques of living and working in areas rural and urban areas.
As such, ecotourism is an economic activity, environmental and cultural battle against the scourge of poverty, social exclusion and the exodus that started the inhabitant of a town of traditions, and why not, to overcome their limitations along with its people. Ecotourism development contributes to motorized, national and local, comprehensive and sustainable.
Devastating effects from ecotourism
Several studies reported any adverse effect on Environment ecotourism course offerings.
The “ecotourism’s” offers may be generated in many cases more harm than good for environmental conservation, according to recent scientific studies on various tourist destinations in the expanding mode that is presented by defining as environment-friendly and lovers whose main customers are reported in Nature.
For example, orcas living in the United States coast are struggling to communicate with the noise generated by boats full of tourists looking to find out, as reflected in a study by the University of Durham (United Kingdom) and the Whale Museum in Washington and published in the journal Nature.
As the number of killer whale watching boats has been increasing over the past decade – currently 72 commercial ships and 22 small private boats surrounding the whales every day – the length of calls of these animals has also extended in an effort to overpower the engine noise. The calls have duration of approximately 15% higher when the number of vessels is higher.
Also, the British magazine New Scientist ‘reported that the presence of tourists in natural environments of species such as polar bears, penguins, dolphins and many types of birds in animals generated nervousness situations that begin to result in difficulties chronic for playback.
The impact of human presence in the natural environment of animals may seem a priori mild or nonexistent. However, small changes in animals – such as rapid heartbeat, changes in hormone levels and alteration of eating habits – are raising fears of long-term survival of certain species.
A team from the University of Auckland (New Zealand) has observed the dolphins along the coast of New Zealand since 1996 and has found these marine mammals reach a state of frenzy by the presence of the boatloads of tourists, reducing or virtually eliminating its quiet time.
Also, Canadian researchers at the University of Manitoba have reported the saturation of photographic tourism with the polar bears as protagonists. The presence of tourists in the bears’ habitat during the months of October and November produces irreversible condition for the animal, because in those months is bound to an almost total rest to preserve a surplus of body fat.
Other examples of the undesirable consequences of ecotourism are the lower the weight of the baby penguin, and therefore less chance of survival in areas with presence of travelers – because the parents neglect their offspring feed to be entertained by tourists -, reproductive problems experienced by some types of pheasants in the Amazon, where it was found that only 15% of nests containing a baby in the areas visited by tourists, compared to 50% in regions fully protected.