The world is a very large place, which means there are places that still remain relatively unexplored. Ecotourism takes people to these places so they can see what nature is like when it is left virtually untouched by human hands. In return, tourists leave the habitats they observe intact, not interfering with local cultures, so that others can experience the same joy they have.
In terms of ecotourism pros and cons, there are several key points which should be considered before embracing this form of economic growth.
The Pros of Ecotourism
1. It is a sustainable way for local economies to make money.
Because ecotourism is concerned about the condition of the environment, it encourages development options that are sustainable to nature itself. This means that there will always be a renewable source of potential revenues because the natural resources that people are coming to see will be preserved.
2. It is a way to create good paying jobs for local workers.
People will pay top dollar for memorable ecotourism experiences. Whether that is being on a boat to observe orcas or dolphins in the wild or taking a trip through a rain forest, tourists need to have guides and a system of supports in place where they choose to create a base of operations. This gives local workers the chance to earn a good living while showing others why they love the area so much.
3. It allows people to see the world and get in touch with local cultures.
How many times would someone living in the urban jungle of New York City get to see a wild stream full of fish and hunting bears as they walk to work? Local cultures get to be experienced through ecotourism and that helps to further the learning opportunities we all have every day. How one culture defines a perfect moment can be very different than other cultures, so comparing the two can be an amazing experience.
4. It is very affordable.
Many ecotourism experiences can be enjoyed for a fraction of the cost of a traditional vacation at a traditional resort location. There are fewer services and resources needed and many of the supplies, like tents or sleeping bags, can be used for future adventures as well.
The Cons of Ecotourism
1. Damage to nature can occur despite our best intentions.
Humans always have the desire to explore more, go further, and push the rules. That means there will always be someone who does something that they’re advised not to do while enjoying an ecotourism adventure and that activity may very well disrupt the entire environment in a negative way. Humans can often cause lots of damage despite their overall best intentions.
2. Cultural change occurs, whether it is intended or not.
People are also a lot like sponges. Everyone tends to absorb a little bit of everyone that is around them. Over time, this means local cultures change simply because they have welcomed others into the community. As these changes happen, it means that a little piece of their culture gets lost because it is being shipped away with every tourist that pays them with a visit.
3. It can turn people into tourist attractions.
The native tribes of Africa or the Amazon are classic examples of this. People may go on an ecotourism adventure, but the goal is to see and possibly interact with other humans that they’ve never encountered before. This type of attitude is more than just patronizing. It’s disrespectful. If you work in an office in the city, would you like to have groups of strangers coming by to observe everything you do? A documentary could be made about how often you get up to go refill your coffee mug. It would interfere with your working style, just as ecotoursim interferes with traditional lifestyles.
4. There is no system of support.
Ecotourism goes to remote corners of the planet, which means tourists don’t have a support system in place should something go wrong. If they have a medical emergency, for example, the response to provide the needed care for life may be delayed by hours or even days.
These ecotourism pros and cons show that it is possible to see the world in a unique way. We just have a responsibility to leave the world in the same condition that we found it when we’re exploring. As long as we can do that effectively and be respectful of local cultures, ecotourism can be a very good thing.