Any kind of tourism has both positive and negative effects (economic, socio-cultural and environmental). Ecotourism strives to have as small effect on local population as well as on local ecosystem. But, the simple fact that visitors are there, can influence local culture and environment…
The question then becomes whether the influence is positive or negative. Based on the motivation of the involvement of tourists and their increased environmental awareness, ecotourism should be expected to have at least adverse effects compared to other types of tourism. It refers to the environmental and socio-cultural effects.
In this case, we would expect the positive effects of ecotourism and here are many different benefits that can be derived from ecotourism:
– Ecotourism encourages an understanding of the impacts of tourism on the natural, cultural and human environments.
– Ecotourism ensures a fair distribution of benefits and costs.
– Ecotourism generates local employment, both directly in the tourism sector and in various support and resource management sectors (ecotourism creates directly jobs for guides, managers, researchers,.. and indirectly jobs through tourist demands for food, accommodation, transportation, souvenirs,..).
– Ecotourism stimulates profitable domestic industry-hotels and other lodging facilities, restaurants and other food services, transportation systems, handicrafts and guide services.
– Ecotourism generates foreign exchange for the country and injects capital and new money into the local economy.
– Ecotourism diversifies the local economy, particularly in rural areas where agricultural employment may be sporadic or insufficient.
– Ecotourism seeks decision-making among all segments of the society, including local populations, so that tourism and other resource users can coexist. It incorporates planning and zoning which ensure tourism development appropriate to the carrying capacity of the ecosystem.
– Ecotourism stimulates improvements to local transportation, communication and other basic community infrastructures.
– Ecotourism creates recreational facilities which can be used by local communities as well as domestic and international visitors. It also encourages and helps pay for preservation of archeological as well as domestic and international visitors. It also encourages and helps pay for preservation of archeological sites, and historic buildings and districts.
– Ecotourism monitors, assesses and manages the impacts of tourism, develops reliable methods of environmental accountability, and counters any negative effect.
– Ecotourism improves comfort and living conditions (Facilities which have primarily been built for tourism i.e. roads, trails, lookouts can be used by locals as well. Ecotourism improved transportation connections in and out of areas where it occurs).
– Ecotourism improved education for (young) locals ( ecotourism depends on local guides which have to be trained; interaction with tourists lead to an improved general education and language skills; ecotourism operators offer environmental education for local communities and/or basic education for local children; locals spend considerable amounts of the money, they earned through ecotourism for their children’s education).
– Ecotourism revalues elements of traditional culture.
– Ecotourism improved knowledge/data about animal distribution and behavior (scientific research on wildlife is more intensive in ecotourism areas due to increased public awareness; financial gains of ecotourism are partly used for scientific research).
– Ecotourism improved knowledge/data about plant distributions and conditions (scientific research on plants is more intensive in areas with ecotourism due to increased public awareness and financial sources).
– Ecotourism improved healthcare (several ecotourism operators support local health facilities or fund regular visits by nurses and doctors).
– Ecotourism promotes the protection of wildlife (locals, working in ecotourism gain a better understanding on wildlife and change their views concerning the value of fauna because they recognized their dependence on wildlife and feel personally connected with wild animals and/or admire them).
– Ecotourism promotes the protection of (native) flora (locals, working in ecotourism gain a better understanding on plants and change their views concerning the value of plants because they recognized their dependence on native flora and feel personally connected with vegetation and/or admire plants).
Tourism & Hospitality Management 2010, Conference Proceedings T. Dimoska, J. Kocevski: CREATING ECO-TOURISM PRODUCT, pp. 877-889