Can tourism coexist harmoniously with environmental protection? · Global Voices in French

Puerto Villamil, Isla Isabela (Albemarle), Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – Courtesy of Flickr user Elias Rovielo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Do you want to travel in an eco-friendly way in the Amazon, Alaska or the West Kimberley region of Australia? Reputable organizations such as National Geographic and WWF (World Wildlife Fund) offer many attractive travel options such as Antarctica.

National Geographic promotes a “sustainable” travel option in its ad:

…contact with wildlife, combined with hands-on conservation experiences, will provide travelers with the knowledge and inspiration to continue protecting the world and its creatures long after they return home.

Many people see ecotourism as beneficial, associating it with environmental conservation, environmental protection, and conservation of endangered wildlife. When you search the Internet for ecotourism, enviable images abound: sunbathing on a wild and secluded beach, snorkeling in majestic coral reefs, hiking in wild and remote mountains… tourists immerse themselves in local cultures.

Many attempts have been made to define the term. For example, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science in Australia (Queensland Department of Environment and Science) who is a guard of national parks and state forests gave a detailed explanation:

Ecotourism involves nature-related activities that allow visitors to appreciate and understand natural and cultural values. These are practices managed to ensure environmental, economic and social sustainability. These activities contribute to the well-being and protection of natural areas and local communities.

Similarly, Wikipedia states:

Ecotourism is a type of tourism that involves traveling responsibly to natural areas (using sustainable and/or clean transportation), protecting the environment, and improving the well-being of local people.

Responsible ecotourism programs incorporate travel that limits the negative environmental impact of traditional tourism and enhances the cultural integrity of local populations.

Ecotourism often involves expensive travel in a small group and includes accommodations with high-quality food. Visiting remote parts of the planet is high on the list of things to do before you die.

The idea of ​​sustainable travel that respects the natural environment is appealing. We protect what we love, especially economically. PBR (Population Reference Bureau) confirm:

At its best, ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas. It maintains ecosystem integrity and provides economic benefits for local communities, which can encourage conservation. At the intersection of people and the environment, ecotourism is a creative way to combine the goals of environmental protection and economic development.

However, such trips often have a potential downside: they can cause pollution and other environmental damage. They often result in a higher carbon footprint than air, sea and other transport. They can create social and cultural disruption in local communities.

There are test sites for ecotourism here.

Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Discovery Project (The Discovered Galapagos Project) brought educational materials to the islands for students. It examines the impact of tourism on:

A few advantages are that tourists bring money to the islands, a significant source of income for many Galapagaños. However, there is a downside. As a large number of tourists visit the island, this requires large reception areas, which means that large hotel complexes can be built, and the surrounding fauna and flora are at risk.

A study titled “Rethinking and Resetting” (Rethink and reset) reports a recent publication of stakeholder views on the sustainability of tourism development based on tourism in the Galapagos Islands. Annals of Tourism Research Empirical Insights. It raised a number of troubling questions:

One of the key findings of the study is that stakeholders share the view that unrestricted tourism growth is counterproductive in terms of social and environmental impacts. Addressing the effects of overcrowding in the Galapagos (as in other tropical islands) may involve mitigation strategies or a transition to slow tourism. This will provide a mechanism for increased tourism revenue and increased employment benefits, while reducing the per capita impact on the island’s resources.

For a tourist destination to be suitable for sustainable tourism, social and environmental concerns must be taken into account. If tourism is to be considered a catalyst for sustainable development, the standard of living and well-being of local residents must be taken into account, even if conservation priorities are taken into account.

Machu Picchu

The Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru attracts huge crowds every year. Many people cross the mythical Inca Trail to get there. The CATALYST online community is “a source of travel and social action content for conscientious activists and travelers globally.” In May 2022, he warned:

The lack of infrastructure to support these numbers has an even greater impact. There is only one bathroom at the entrance and human waste is a big problem. The nearest village wastes like Aguas Calientes left itself to hit the Urubamba River. The increase in litter on the Inca Trail, especially plastic water bottles, also contributes to the proliferation of fly-tipping.

Now the term ecotourism is misused. It has been diverted from its original purpose to encompass all nature-related travel and is synonymous with sustainability for many.

Mount Kilimanjaro

Overtourism at Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has also drawn criticism:

The Tanzanian government has sparked protests in recent years after announcing plans to build a cable car system on Kilimanjaro’s southern slopes, boosting tourist numbers and allowing those who can’t climb it. Expedition teams, porters helping the climbers and climate experts said the project would endanger the mountain’s delicate ecosystem and harm the local economy.

Advantages and disadvantages

There are many websites promoting the positive aspects of ecotourism and sustainable travel. Billing itself as a “minimalist approach to the outdoors,” Softback Travel believes the benefits are:

  • development of rural areas based on environmental protection and job creation;
  • education, awareness of endangered species and climate change;
  • improving the quality of life of the local population;
  • understanding and sensitivity to other cultures.

Environmental certificates

World Council on Sustainable Tourism (Global Sustainable Tourism Council Where GSTC) is one of the organizations providing advice on the potential environmental benefits of ecotourism. Its goal is to “develop global standards for sustainable tourism and create tools to verify legitimate claims made by sustainable businesses while combating what are sometimes known as false claims. green wash ». His work is explained in this video:

However, many commentators reject the idea of ​​ecotourism, considering it to be self-contradictory. Architect and engineer Smith Mordak arguedArchitectural review that:

Ecotourism is an oxymoron (seemingly self-contradictory). Trying to fix environmental degradation through tourism is like trying to fix a black eye with a fork. This is a common confusion, but also a useful example. Ecotourism is an example of a larger phenomenon that opposes climate action: the interests of economic development are often diametrically opposed to environmental interests.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *