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The below text is quoted from the preface of the book ‘Ecotourism and Conservation in the Americas’ (2008), edited by Amanda Stronza, Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences (Texas A&M University, USA) and Willam H. Durham, Department of Anthropology (Stanford University, USA).

Among today’s contending conservation and development strategies, ecotourism is one of the most popular. It seeks to curb the often deleterious effects of large-scale, conventional tourism on local communities and ecosystems. But more than that, it holds the promise of overcoming a number of today’s biggest environmental and social challenges. Ideally, ecotourism can help conserve biological and cultural diversity, alleviate rural poverty, strengthen ties between parks and neighbouring peoples, increase public awareness of environmental concerns, and manifest a new ‘triple bottom line’ for business that includes profit, social benefits and environmental conservation. For these reasons, interest in ecotourism has never been greater.

According to the World Tourism Organization, ecotourism is now the fastest growing segment of an already mammoth tourism industry. By some estimates, ecotourism generates as much as US$300 billion in revenues annually. International development and lending agencies channel millions of dollars into projects that include ecotourism. Major conservation organizations sponsor ecotourism projects in biodiversity ‘hotspots’ around the world. Most countries with parks and protected areas now have some kind of marketing strategy to attract ecotourists.
Increasing numbers of universities in the USA and abroad now offer courses and degree programmes in ecotourism. The United Nations declared 2002 the ‘International Year of Ecotourism’ and marked it as a time to take collective stock of the lessons learned. At the Ecotourism World Summit in Quebec, Canada, thousands of delegates from over a hundred nations gathered to assess the pros and cons of ecotourism for peoples and ecosystems around the world.

But does ecotourism actually measure up to the environmental, social and economic ideals it has promised? Has ecotourism sensitized tourists to tread more lightly on the destinations they visit? Has it created economic incentives to conserve wildlife species and natural habitats?
Has it augmented benefits to locals from established protected areas?
What are the tangible impacts for people in surrounding human communities?
Are there lessons for how to ensure net positive impacts in the future?

In preparing this volume, we gathered experts in the fields of conservation, ecotourism and community development to try to answer some of these questions.

Download a copy of thisbook

This knowledge source was send to Views On Tourism by Natasha Haider, Research Office, Dhaka Ahsania Mission. The article is written by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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Posted in Best practice, Development, Education and qualification, North America, Performance and management.

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