Effects of Ecotoursim on Citizens and the Environment
In 2020 global
tourism is forecasted to reach 1.56 billion international arrivals.
Therefore ecotourism businesses and other “green vacation” institutions such as
Earthwatch should be seriously evaluated as soon as possible because of the
exponential growth of the tourist industry in the near future. Earthwatch and ecotourism businesses are
better than regular, consumer driven, wasteful, and environmentally
inconsiderate forms of tourism that are currently most popular. Making this a slightly more economical
argument, Earthwatch and ecotourism businesses are important to investigate because
tourism will be the largest business sector in the world economy. It supports over 230 million jobs over 10 percent
of the gross domestic product worldwide. According to Anthropology professor Sonia
Patten at Macalester
College who teaches Anthropology
and Tourism, “Tourism is the second largest industry in the world, second only
to war.” For the world’s 40 poorest
countries, tourism is the second most important source of foreign exchange,
only after oil. If tourism becomes the enormous global
industry as forecasted, then it is better to have environmentally conscience
forms of tourism than to have no environmental conscience form. With this in mind, ecotourism could be
beneficial if global tourism is inevitable.
There are many institutions that
flirt with the idea of ecotourism and eco-scientific volunteer vacations and
others that offer more substantial ways to get involved in environmental
conservation and preservation efforts.
Earthwatch, which specifically states that it is, “not tours, not ecotourism, not adventure travel”
on their website, is after a substantial amount of research not entirely
different from ecotourism despite their desire to distance themselves entirely
from this industry. However it must be
noted that Earthwatch does differ from ecotourism in one very important aspect:
Earthwatch directly involves citizens in the collection of scientific data
rather than mere observational experiences given to travelers on ecotourism
trips. Evaluating the benefits and
detrimental effects that ecotourism and Earthwatch may have upon tourists going
on these trips and the environment determines whether or not a specific
ecotourist’s vacation’s benefits outweighs it’s negative effect on the environment.
World Tourism Organization
Figure 1: View through an ice cave in Alaska. © Charles Winters,
SUNY-Oneanta on Earthwatch expeditions
“Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that
conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people”.
The following are the five key reasons that ecotourism initiatives are
they provide a
source of financing for parks and conservation;
justification for park protection;
for local people to reduce exploitation of conservation areas and resources;
building which promotes conservation; and
a movement for
private conservation efforts;
Figure 2: Turtle traps set in salt marshes off Barnegat Bay in New Jersey on Earthwatch expedition. Photo © Hal Avery.