Ecotourism is a form of  tourism that  involves visiting fragile, pristine and relatively untouched natural areas as a low-impact and often small-scale alternative to   standard commercial mass tourism . This means responsible travel in natural areas, preserving the environment and improving the well-being of the local population. [1]  Its purpose may be to educate the traveler, provide funds for  ecological conservation  , directly benefit the  economic development  and political empowerment of local communities, or foster respect for different cultures and  human rights. the man. Since the 1980s, ecotourism has been considered a critical effort by environmentalists, so that future generations can experience destinations relatively untouched by human intervention. [2]  : 33Several university programs use this description as a working definition of ecotourism. [3]

Generally, ecotourism deals with the interaction with  the biotic components  of natural environments. [4]  Ecotourism focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth and environmental sustainability. Ecotourism generally involves traveling to destinations where  flora  ,  fauna  and  cultural heritage  are the main attractions. Ecotourism aims to provide tourists with an overview of the impact of humans on the environment and to promote a better appreciation of our natural habitats.

Responsible ecotourism programs include those that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local populations. Therefore, in addition to assessing environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of  recycling  ,  energy efficiency  ,  water conservation  and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities. [5]  For these reasons, ecotourism often calls on advocates of environmental and social responsibility.

The term “ecotourism”, like “sustainable tourism”, is considered by many to be an oxymoron. [6]  [  unreliable source? Like most forms of tourism, ecotourism generally depends on air transport, which contributes to  global climate change  . In addition, “the overall effect of sustainable tourism is negative when philanthropic aspirations like ecotourism mask an immediate and rigorous personal interest”. [7] An ecotourist is different from a tourist in the sense that he or she is aware of his environment, contributing in most cases to the sustainability of this environment.


Seal  watching near the Malusi Islands in  Estonia  .

Ecotourism is responsible tourism that preserves the environment and supports the well-being of local people. [8]  This is …

  • Built an environmental conscience
  • Provides direct financial benefits for conservation
  • Provides financial benefits and empowerment for local people
  • Respect local culture
  • Supports human rights and democratic movements  [2]  : 29-31  [9]  [10]  such as:
    • conservation of  biological diversity  and  cultural diversity  through  the  protection of  ecosystems
    • Promoting  the sustainable use  of biodiversity by providing jobs for local people
    • sharing of all socio-economic benefits with local communities and  indigenous peoples  with  informed consent  and involvement in the management of ecotourism businesses
    • tourism with intact natural resources, with minimal impact on the environment being a major concern.
    • minimizing the environmental impact of tourism
    • affordability and lack of waste in the form of luxury
    • local culture, flora and fauna are the main attractions
    • local people, who benefit economically from this form of tourism, and often more than mass tourism

The International Ecotourism Society  defines ecotourism as “responsible travel in natural areas that preserves the environment, supports the well-being of local people and involves interpretation and education”.

For many countries, ecotourism is not just a marginal activity for financing  environmental protection  , but a major industry in the   national economy . For example, in  Costa Rica  ,  Ecuador  ,  Nepal  , Kenya,  Madagascar  and territories such as  Antarctica  , ecotourism accounts for a significant share of  gross domestic product  and  economic activity  . [9]  [11]

Ecotourism is often misinterpreted as any form of tourism involving nature (see  Jungle Tourism  ). Self-proclaimed practitioners and hosts of ecotourism experiences assume that it is achieved simply by creating destinations in natural areas. According to critics of this banal and presumptive practice, true ecotourism must first and foremost make people aware of the beauty and fragility of nature. These criticisms condemn some operators as  greenwashing  their operations: using the labels “green” and “eco-friendly” while behaving irresponsibly in the environment. [12]

Although academics disagree with ecotourists and there is little statistical data, some estimate that more than five million ecotourists – the majority of the ecotourist population – come  from the United States  and many others from Western Europe, Canada and Australia. . [9]

Currently, there are various initiatives to create national and international ecotourism accreditation programs, although the process is also controversial. [13]  National Ecotourism Certification Programs have been set up in countries such as Costa Rica,  Australia , Kenya, Estonia and  Sweden  . [  citation needed  ]

Terminology and history 


A suspension bridge in the Thenmala ecotourism zone   ,  Kerala  ,  India  – the first ecotourism destination in  India

Ecotourism is a late twentieth century  neologism  consisting of  eco and  tourism  . According to the  Oxford English Dictionary  , ecotour was recorded for the first time in 1973 and ecotourism, “probably after the ecotour,” in 1982.  [14]

  • ecotour, n. … A visit or a visit to an area of ​​ecological interest, usually with an educational element; (in a subsequent use as well) a similar visit or visit designed to have the least possible adverse effect on the ecology or undertaken for the specific purpose of assisting conservation efforts.
  • ecotourism, n. … Tourism in areas of ecological interest (typically exotic and often threatened natural environments), in particular. support conservation efforts and observe wildlife; spec. access to a controlled environment in order to have the least possible negative effects.

A source says the terms were used earlier. Claus-Dieter (Nick) Hetzer, an academic and adventurer at Forum International in Berkeley, CA, reportedly invented ecotourism in 1965 and led the first ecotourism of Yucatán in the early 1970s.  [15]

Improve sustainability 

Regulation and accreditation 

Because the regulation of ecotourism can be poorly enforced, ecologically destructive activities such as underwater hotels, helicopter tours and theme parks can be considered ecotourism, boating, camping, photography and wildlife viewing. Failure to recognize responsible and low-impact ecotourism places legitimate ecotourism businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

Many environmentalists have advocated for a global accreditation standard, differentiating ecotourism companies according to their level of environmental commitment, creating a standard to follow. A national or international regulator would apply the accreditation procedures, with representatives from various groups: governments, hotels, tour operators, travel agents, guides, airlines, local authorities, conservation organizations and non-governmental organizations. [16] Board decisions would be sanctioned by governments, so that non-compliant companies would be legally required to disassociate themselves from the use of the ecotourism mark.

Crinion suggests a Green Stars system, based on criteria including a management plan, benefits for the local community, small group interaction, educational value and staff training. [13]  Ecotourists who consider their choices would be confident of a true ecotourism experience when they see the higher score.

Environmental impact studies  could also be used as a form of accreditation. Feasibility is assessed on a scientific basis and recommendations could be made for optimal planning of infrastructure, defining tourism capacity and managing ecology. This form of accreditation is more sensitive to the specific conditions of the site.

Some countries have their own certification schemes for ecotourism. Costa Rica, for example, runs the Sustainable Tourism Certification (TSA) program, which aims to balance the effect that companies have on the local environment. The CST program focuses on a company’s interaction with natural and cultural resources, improving the quality of life in local communities and the economic contribution to other national development programs. CST uses a rating system that categorizes a company based on the sustainability of its operations. CST assesses the interaction between the company and the surrounding habitat; management policies and operating systems within the enterprise; how the company encourages its customers to become an active contributor to sustainable policies; and the interaction between the company and the local communities / the general population. Based on these criteria, the company is evaluated for the strength of its sustainability. The measurement index ranges from 0 to 5, with 0 being the worst and 5 being the best.[17]  [18]

Guidelines and Education

Ecotour guide stands on a  kayak,  spotting  dolphins  and  manatees  , around  Lido Key

An environmental protection strategy must address the issue of ecotourists removed from the cause and the effect of their actions on the environment. More initiatives should be taken to raise awareness, raise awareness of environmental issues and take care of the places they visit. [9]

Tour guides are an obvious and direct way to communicate awareness. With the confidence of ecotourists and an intimate knowledge of the environment, tour guides can actively discuss conservation issues. Inform ecotourists how their actions on the journey may have a negative impact on their environment and local people. A training program for tourist guides  at Tortuguero National Park  in Costa Rica has mitigated negative environmental impacts by providing information and regulating tourists on the beaches of the parks used by marine turtles threatened with nesting. [19]  [20]

Small scale, slow growth and local control

The theory of   tourism underdevelopment describes a new form of imperialism by multinational corporations that control the resources of ecotourism. These companies finance and benefit from the development of large-scale ecotourism that causes excessive environmental degradation, loss of traditional culture and way of life, and exploitation of local labor. In  Zimbabwe  and the Annapurna region of Nepal, where underdevelopment is occurring, more than 90% of ecotourism revenues are expatriated in countries of origin and less than 5% in local communities. [21]

The lack of sustainability highlights the need for small scale and slow growth and local ecotourism. Local people have a direct interest in the well-being of their community and are therefore more responsible for protecting the environment than multinational corporations, even though they receive very little benefit. Lack of control, westernization, negative environmental impacts, loss of culture and traditions outweigh the benefits of establishing ecotourism on a large scale.

Increased community contributions to locally managed ecotourism create viable economic opportunities, including high-level management positions, and reduce the environmental problems associated with poverty and unemployment. Because ecotourism is marketed in a way that is different from that of large-scale ecotourism, the development of facilities and infrastructure does not need to comply with Western tourism standards and can be much simpler and cheaper. [22] The multiplier effect  is more  important  for the economy because local products, materials and labor are used. Profits accumulate locally and  the  of leaks  import are reduced. [23]The Great Barrier Reef Park in Australia reported more than half a billion dollars in indirect revenues in the region and added thousands of indirect jobs between 2004 and 2005.  [20]However, even this form of tourism may require foreign investment for promotion or start-up. When such investments are necessary, it is essential that communities find a business or non-governmental organization that reflects the philosophy of ecotourism; sensitive to their concerns and willing to cooperate at the expense of profit. The basic assumption of the multiplier effect is that the economy starts with unused resources, for example, that many workers are cyclically unemployed and that much of the industrial capacity is unused or unused. By increasing demand in the economy, it is then possible to stimulate production. If the economy were already at full employment, with only structural types of unemployment,

For example, consider that the government is increasing road expenditures by $ 1 million, without a corresponding increase in taxation. This money would go to the road builders, who would hire more workers and distribute the money as wages and profits. Households receiving these revenues will save some of the money and spend the rest on consumer goods. These expenses, in turn, will generate more jobs, wages and profits, and so on, the incomes and expenses circulating in the economy.

The multiplier effect results from induced increases in consumer spending resulting from increased incomes – and feedback on increased business, employment and income. This process does not result in an economic explosion not only because of supply barriers to potential output (full employment), but because at each cycle the increase in consumer spending is less than the increase in incomes. consumers. That is, the  marginal propensity to consume  (MBM) is less than one, so that each additional income round goes into savings, letting out the cumulative process. Each increase in expenses is therefore lower than that of the previous round, preventing an explosion.

Efforts to preserve endangered ecosystems 

Part of the world’s most unique biodiversity is in the Galapagos Islands. These islands were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, and added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger in 2007. IGTOA is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving this unique living laboratory against invasive species, human impact and tourism. [24]  For travelers who want to be aware of the environment and the impact of tourism, it is recommended to use an operator who is approved by a reputable ecotourism organization. In the case of the Galapagos, the IGTOA has listed  [25] major Galapagos Islands tourism agencies around the world dedicated to sustainable protection and preservation of the destination.

Natural Resource Management 

The management of natural resources can be used as a specialized tool for the development of ecotourism. There are several places in the world where a number of natural resources are abundant. But with human encroachment and habitats, these resources are running out. Without the sustainable use of certain resources, they are destroyed and the floral and faunal species disappear. Ecotourism programs can be introduced for the conservation of these resources. Several appropriate management plans and programs can be introduced to keep these resources intact. Several organizations, NGOs and scientists are working in this area.

The natural resources of mountainous areas such as Kurseong in West Bengal are numerous, with a variety of flora and fauna, but commercial tourism has stabilized the situation. Researchers from the University of Jadavpur are currently working in this area for the development of ecotourism to be used as a tool for the management of natural resources.

In South-East Asia, governments and non-governmental organizations are working with academics and industry operators to spread the economic benefits of tourism in the kampungs and villages of the region. A recently created alliance, the Southeast Asian Tourism Organization (SEATO), brings together these diverse stakeholders to discuss resource management issues.

A summit held in Quebec in 2002 led to the 2008 Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, a collaborative effort between the United Nations Foundation and other advocacy groups. The criteria, which are voluntary, involve the following standards: “effective planning for sustainability, maximum social and economic benefits for local communities, minimal negative impacts on cultural heritage, and minimal negative impacts on the environment”. [26]  [  full citation needed  ] There are no enforcement agencies or punishment systems. For the summit.



In the continuum of tourism activities that range from conventional tourism to ecotourism, there has been much controversy about the extent to which biodiversity conservation, local economic-social benefits and environmental impact can be considered as ecotourism “. For this reason, ecologists, special interest groups and governments define ecotourism differently. Environmental organizations have generally emphasized that ecotourism is nature-based, sustainably managed, sustaining conservation and educated with respect for the environment. [9]  [27] The tourism industry and governments, however, are more focused on the product aspect, treating ecotourism as equivalent to any kind of tourism based in nature. [9] As an additional complication, many terms are used under the heading of ecotourism. [9]  Nature tourism, low-impact tourism, green tourism, bio-tourism, ecologically responsible tourism and others have been used in literature and marketing, although they are not necessarily synonymous ecotourism. [9]

Problems related to the definition of ecotourism have often led to confusion among tourists and academics. Many issues are also the subject of considerable controversy and public concern because of  ecological washing  , a trend toward the commercialization of tourism programs disguised as ecotourism that is sustainable, environmentally friendly and environmentally friendly. [9]  According to McLaren,  [9]  these systems are destructive to the environment, economically exploitative and culturally insensitive to their worst. They are also morally disconcerting because they deceive tourists and manipulate their concerns for the environment. [28] The development and success of such large-scale, energy-consuming and ecologically unsustainable projects is a testament to the enormous profits associated with ecotourism.

Negative impact 

Ecotourism has become one of the most dynamic sectors of the tourism industry, with annual growth of 10 to 15% worldwide. [29]  A definition of ecotourism is “the practice of low-impact, educational, ecological and cultural travel that benefits local communities and host countries”. [2]Many ecotourism projects do not meet these standards. Although some of the guidelines are being implemented, local communities still face many negative impacts. South Africa is one of the countries enjoying significant economic benefits from ecotourism, but the negative effects far outweigh the positive effects – including forcing people out of their homes, gross violations of human rights and environmental risks – far surpass the medium-term economic outlook. benefits (Miller, 2007). A considerable amount of money and human resources continues to be used for ecotourism despite unsuccessful results, and more importantly, the money is put into public relations campaigns to dilute the effects of criticism. Ecotourism channels resources to other projects that could provide more sustainable and realistic solutions to urgent social and environmental problems. “Tourism money can often generate links between parks and ecotourism management”.[30]  But there is tension in this relationship as ecotourism often causes conflicts and changes in land use rights, fails to promise benefits at the community level, damages environments and many others. social impacts. Indeed, many people have repeatedly argued that ecotourism is neither ecologically nor socially beneficial, but it persists as a conservation and development strategy  [31]. because of the large profits. While several studies are underway on ways to improve the structure of ecotourism, some argue that these examples provide a rationale for stopping it altogether. However, there are some positive examples, including the  Kavango – Zambezi Transboundary Conservation Area  (KAZA) and the  Virunga National Park  , judged by the WWF. [32]

The ecotourism system has a huge financial and political influence. The evidence above shows that there is a strong case for restricting such activities in some locations. The funding could be used for field studies aimed at finding alternative solutions to tourism and the various problems facing Africa as a result of urbanization, industrialization and  overexploitation  of agriculture. [33]At the local level, ecotourism has become a source of conflict over control over land, resources and tourism benefits. In this case, ecotourism has harmed the environment and local populations and has led to conflicts over the distribution of benefits. In a perfect world, more effort would be made to educate tourists about the environmental and social effects of their travels. Very few regulations or laws are in place as limits for ecotourism investors. These should be implemented to prohibit the promotion of unsustainable ecotourism projects and materials that project false images of destinations, degrading local and indigenous culture.

Although conservation efforts in East Africa undoubtedly serve the interests of tourism in the region, it is important to distinguish between conservation laws and the tourism industry. [34] East African communities are not the only ones in developing regions that suffer economic and social damage from conservation efforts. Conservation in China’s northwestern Yunnan region has also brought radical changes to traditional land use in the region. Before the operating restrictions imposed by the Chinese government, the industry accounted for 80% of the region’s revenue. As a result of a complete ban on commercial exploitation, indigenous peoples in the Yunnan region now see few opportunities for economic development. [35]Ecotourism can provide solutions to the economic difficulties caused by the loss of industry to conservation in Yunnan, just as it could be used to address the challenges faced by the Maasai. As noted, the ecotourism structure needs to be improved to spend more money in host communities by reducing leakage for the industry to succeed in reducing poverty in developing regions, but it offers a promising opportunity. . [36]

Direct environmental impacts

Ecotourism operations sometimes fail to live up to the ideals of conservation. It is sometimes overlooked that ecotourism is a highly consumer-centric activity and that environmental conservation is a means to foster economic growth. [37]

Although ecotourism is aimed at small groups, even a modest increase in population, even temporary, puts additional pressure on the local environment and requires the development of additional infrastructure and equipment. The construction of water treatment plants, sanitary facilities and lodges is accompanied by the exploitation of non-renewable energy sources and the use of already limited local resources. [38]  The conversion of natural land into tourism infrastructure is implicated in deforestation and deterioration of butterfly habitat in  Mexico  and squirrel monkeys in Costa Rica. [39]In other cases, the environment suffers because local communities are unable to meet the demands of ecotourism infrastructure. The lack of adequate sanitation facilities in many East African parks has resulted in the removal of sewage from the campsite into rivers, contaminating wildlife, livestock and people who draw drinking water. [9]

Apart from  the degradation  of the  environment  with tourism infrastructure, ecotourism population pressures also leaves behind waste and pollution associated with the Western lifestyle. [40] Although ecotourists claim to be educated and environmentally conscious, they rarely understand the ecological consequences of their visits and how their daily activities add physical impacts to the environment. As a scientist points out, they “rarely recognize how the meals they eat, the toilets they draw, the water they drink, and so on. are all part of the broader regional economic and ecological systems that they help to reconfigure with their own activities. ” [9]Ecotourists do not recognize the high consumption of non-renewable energy required to reach their destination, which is generally further away than conventional tourist destinations. For example, an exotic trip at a distance of 10,000 kilometers consumes about 700 liters of fuel per person. [41]

Ecotourism activities are, in themselves, environmental impact problems because they can disrupt the fauna and flora. Ecotourists believe that because they only take pictures and leave footprints, they keep immaculate ecotourism sites, but even harmless activities like nature walks can be environmentally destructive. On the Annapurnacircuit   in Nepal, ecotourists have used the marked trails and created alternative routes, contributing to soil impaction, erosion and plant damage. [9]  When ecotourism activity involves the observation of wildlife, it can scare animals, disrupt their feeding and nesting sites  [9] or acclimate to the presence of people. [9] In Kenya, disturbance by wildlife observers drives cheetahs out of their reserves, increasing the risk of inbreeding and putting species at greater risk. [9]

Hazards to the environment 

Industrialization, urbanization and unsustainable agricultural practices in human society are considered to have a serious impact on the environment. Ecotourism is also considered to play a role in the depletion of the environment. While the term ecotourism may seem relatively benign, one of its most serious impacts is its consumption of virgin lands. [33]These invasions often include deforestation, disruption of ecological living systems and various forms of pollution, all of which contribute to environmental degradation. For example, the number of motor vehicles traveling through a park is increasing as tour operators look for rare species. The number of roads disrupts the herbaceous cover, with serious consequences for plant and animal species. These areas also have a higher rate of disturbance and invasive species due to increased traffic off the beaten track to new undiscovered areas. [33] Ecotourism also has an effect on species through the value attributed to them. “Some species have disappeared from being little known or appreciated by the local population to be valuable products. The  commodification of plantscan erase their social value and lead to overproduction in protected areas. The local population and its images can also be turned into commodities. ”  [31]  Camaro shows a relatively obvious contradiction: any business in a virgin and virgin territory, with or without the prefix” eco “as a contradiction in terms. must have a high number of traffic, tourists, which inevitably means a higher pressure on the environment.

Local people

Most forms of ecotourism are owned by foreign investors and businesses that provide little benefit to local people. An overwhelming majority of the profits are put in the pockets of the investors instead of reinvesting in the local economy or protecting the environment, which leads to a further degradation of the environment. The limited number of people employed in the economy reaches its lowest level and is unable to live in tourist areas because of meager wages and a two-market system. [9]

In some cases, the resentment of the local population leads to a deterioration of the environment. As a highly publicized case, Maasainomads   in Kenya have killed wildlife in national parks, but are now helping the national park save wildlife to show its dislike of unfair compensation terms and the relocation of traditional lands. [23]  The lack of economic opportunities for local people also forces them to degrade the environment as a means of livelihood. [9] The presence of affluent ecotourists encourages the development of destructive markets in wildlife souvenirs, such as the sale of coral baubles on tropical islands and animal products in Asia, contributing to illegal harvesting and  poaching  of the environment. In  Suriname , sea turtle reserves use a very large part of their budget to guard against these destructive activities.

Moving people

One of the worst examples of displaced communities to create a park is the story of the Maasai. About 70% of East African national parks and game reserves are on Masai land. [33]The first negative impact of tourism was the land lost by the Maasai culture. Local and national governments took advantage of the Maasai’s ignorance of the situation and stole huge pieces of pastureland, putting their only socio-economic livelihoods at risk. In Kenya, the Maasai have also not benefited economically. Despite the loss of their land, employment favors the most educated workers. In addition, investors in this area are not local and have not reinvested profits in the local economy. In some cases, game reserves may be created without informing or consulting local people. The only knowledge when a notice of expulsion is issued. [33]Another source of resentment is the manipulation of local populations by their government. “Ecotourism aims to create simplistic images of the local population and their uses and understandings of their environment: through these simplified images, officials direct policies and projects to local populations and local populations are called into question. West, 2006). It is clear that tourism as a trade does not empower local people who make it rich and satisfying. Instead, ecotourism exploits and exhausts, especially in the African maasai tribes. It must be reoriented to be useful to local communities and become sustainable. [33]

Threats to native crops

Ecotourism often claims that it preserves and “enhances” local cultures. The facts show that with the establishment of protected areas, local people have illegally lost their homes and most of the time without compensation. [33]Pushing people to marginal lands with harsh climates, poor soils, lack of water, and infested with livestock and disease, does little to improve livelihoods, even when some of the benefits of ecotourism are paid off in the community. The creation of parks can create harsh realities of survival and deprive people of their traditional use of land and natural resources. Ethnic groups are increasingly seen as a “backdrop” for landscape and wildlife. Local people struggle for cultural survival and freedom of cultural expression while being “watched” by tourists. Local natives also resent change: “Tourism has been allowed to grow with virtually no control. too much firewood is used and no limit is placed on passenger cars. They hunt regularly and harass wildlife. Their tracks of vehicles crisscross the whole Masai Mara. Inevitably, the bush becomes eroded and degraded.[33]


While governments are generally responsible for the administration and enforcement of environmental protection, they often lack the commitment or ability to manage ecotourism sites. Environmental protection regulations can be loosely defined, costly to implement, difficult to enforce and uncertain in terms of efficiency. [42] Government regulators are likely to make decisions that fund projects that are politically beneficial but not environmentally productive. Because of its prestige and notoriety, building an attractive tourist center on an ecotourism site may take precedence over more pressing environmental concerns such as habitat acquisition, protection of endemic species, and elimination of invasive species. [9]  Finally, influential groups can pressure, and influence the interests of the government in their favor. The government and its regulators can be invested in the benefits of the ecotourism industry they are supposed to regulate, making restrictive environmental regulations and their enforcement more lax.

The management of ecotourism sites by private ecotourism companies offers an alternative to the cost of regulation and deficiency of government agencies. It is believed that these companies have a personal interest in limited environmental degradation because tourists will pay more for pristine environments, which translates into higher profits. However, the theory indicates that this practice is not economically feasible and will fail to manage the environment.

The model of  monopoly competition stipulates that distinctiveness will result in profits, but that profits will favor imitation. A company that protects its ecotourism sites is able to charge a premium for the innovative experience and pristine environment. But when other companies see the success of this approach, they also enter the market with similar practices, increasing competition and reducing demand. Finally, the demand will be reduced until the economic profit is zero. A cost-benefit analysis shows that the company bears the cost of protecting the environment without receiving the gains. Without economic incentive, the whole premise of self-interest through the protection of the environment is canceled; in place, [9]

The  tragedy of the commons  offers another model for the economic unsustainability of environmental protection, in the ecotourism sites used by many companies. [43] Although there is a community incentive to protect the environment, maximizing long-term benefits, a company will find that it is in its best interest to use the ecotourism site beyond its sustainable level. By increasing the number of ecotourists, for example, a business benefits from all the economic benefits while paying only a fraction of the environmental cost. In the same way, a company recognizes that there is no incentive to actively protect the environment; they bear all the costs, while the profits are shared by all the other companies. The result, again, is mismanagement.

Taken together, the mobility of foreign investment and the lack of economic incentive to protect the environment mean that ecotourism companies are willing to establish themselves in new sites once their existing site is sufficiently degraded.

Case studies

The goal of ecotourism is to involve tourists in low-impact, non-consumer, and locally-oriented environments to maintain species and habitats – especially in underdeveloped areas. While some ecotourism projects, including some in the United States, may support such claims, many projects have failed to address some of the fundamental problems that nations face in the first place. As a result, ecotourism may not generate the same benefits it is supposed to bring to these regions and their populations, and in some cases, leave the economies in worse shape than before. [44]

The following case studies illustrate the growing complexity of ecotourism and its impacts, both positive and negative, on the environment and economies of various regions of the world.