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Relationship Between Ecotourism and other Forms of Tourism (Essay Sample)

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Ecotourism
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ECOTOURISM
Introduction
Ecotourism is a kind of tourism involving visiting pristine, fragile and to some extent undisturbed natural areas (Fennell 2009). According to Fennell (2009), ecotourism is often taken as a low-impact and small-scale form of tourism. There are various objectives for engaging in ecotourism. Some of them include raising funds for ecological conservation, political empowerment of the communities, educating the travelers, to promote different cultures and to benefit the local community through economic development among others. Environmentalists do consider ecotourism an important endeavor for the purpose of safeguarding the environment for future generations (Fennell 2009). Thus, ecotourism is a form of tourism that deals with living elements of the natural environment (Litvin & Chiam 2014). The focus of ecotourism is to environmental sustainability, personal growth, and socially responsible travel. Ecotourism primarily involves travelling to destinations where the primary attractions are the fauna, flora, and the cultural heritage. Thus, the aim of ecotourism is to promote appreciation of natural habitats and to provide tourists with the insights on the effects of human activities on the environment. Nonexistent or poor implementation of regulations has led to some activities described as ecologically destructive classified as ecotourism. Some of these activities include wildlife themed parks, helicopter tours, and underwater hotels. Other activities that have been classified to include ecotourism include wildlife observation camping, canoeing, and photography. Ecotourism is one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors in the world today with an annual growth of 10-15% (Litvin & Chiam 2014). This paper provides an analysis of ecotourism and how it differs from other forms of tourism.
Discussion
The term tourism ordinarily refers to moving or travelling from one destination to another (Beaver 2005, p. 314). According to the world, Tourism Organization tourism is a form of economic, cultural and social phenomenon involving the movement of people to destinations outside they usual environment. In the modern world, there are a variety of tourism activities often resulting in different types of tourism. The types of tourism depend significantly on the existing transport means, social and cultural facilities and most importantly the needs of its objectives.
Ecotourism is an essential part of sustainable tourism. The objective of ecotourism is to ensure sustainable development results (Diamantis 2004, p. 6-8). Over the years, there has been a discussion on the components of ecotourism. However, a universal consensus has been achieved. These components include a contribution to the conservation of biodiversity, involve interpretation and learning experience, the sustainable well-being of the local community, promote responsible tourism, lowest consumption of non-renewable resources, provided by small scale business to small groups and insist on local ownership, participation and business opportunities especially for the local community. As a market segment ecotourism is rapidly growing and its primary motivation being appreciation and observation of cultural assets and natural environment (Diamantis 2004, p. 12-18).
Blamey (2001) argues that in designing ecotourism programs the stakeholders are expected to put into consideration the ecotourism principles. These principles include;
* Educating the tourists on the benefits of conservation
* Minimizing the negative effects on culture and nature that could damage a destination
* Stressing the essentials of responsible business that ensures local community participation and delivery of conservation benefits
* Emphasizes on the importance of visitor management plans and regional tourism zoning
* Need to maximize economic benefits for the host community
* Reliance on developed infrastructure
* Ensuring tourism development is within acceptable changes of environmental and social limit
Woodside & Martin (2008 p. 41-58) point out that to some extent ecotourism is mixed with other forms of tourism. To clearly understand ecotourism it would be important to distinguish it from the other types of tourism as follows;
* Sustainable tourism- it only focuses more on ensuring a sustainable environment and thus does not deplete resources. It concentrates on a small number of tourists for the purpose of protecting the environment by ensuring it is not disturbed. For example, a rafting trip on a river with a few friends. The main point of difference with ecotourism is its lack of focus on the economic benefit of the local community or in the preserving the natural habitat.
* Adventure tourism- it is a form of tourism that involves outdoor physical activities. Examples include surfing at the coastal area, snorkeling or diving. Its difference with ecotourism is in the manner in which it is conducted. In the case of adventure tourism, the stakeholders may only be interested in conserving the environment within which these activities are taking place. Thus, it may not necessarily be operated to provide educational opportunities or in a manner that would be considered sustainable.
* Cultural tourism- it is a form of tourism that concentrates on the discovery of the culture and heritage of the host community. For example, when a local artisan display or shows a tourist how to weave traditional attire. Thus, cultural tourism pays less attention to wildlife or nature as its main focus is the heritage and cultural practices of the local people. On the other hand, ecotourism focuses on wildlife and nature.
* Responsible tourism- it is a form of tourism that mainly focus on the minimizing environmental degradation. Example, wilderness camping using the "No-Trace ethics" policy which ensures there is minimal disruption of the environment as possible. The main point of difference with ecotourism is the possibility that there could be no economic benefit to the host community.
* Nature tourism- it’s a type of tourism that focus on observing the wildlife in their natural environment. For example, bird watching and use of cruise ships to watch penguins. Nature tourism includes different forms of tourism such as mass tourism and adventure tourism. The point of difference with ecotourism is to the possibility that these trips may not have an educational aspect to them. There is also a possibility that the trips may not provide economic benefits to the host community and may not be eco-friendly or environmentally sustainable.
* Green tourism- it is a form of tourism that applies to any activity that operates in a manner that is considered as environmentally friendly. An example of such activities includes a lodge in the jungle using solar powered lighting and composite toilets. The main differences with ecotourism are that the lodges may not benefit the local community as they may be owned by large corporations and centrally controlled. There could also be a possibility that the lodges do not focus on preservation of the wildlife or conservation education.
* Wildlife tourism- it is a type of tourism that involves an encounter with non-domesticated animals. This form of tourism could include captive wildlife tourism and wildlife watching among others. The main difference with ecotourism is that it may not provide any economic benefit to the local community, or it may lack educational aspects.
* Winter tourism- it is a form of tourism that is usually undertaken during winter to see the snow landscape. This form of tourism differs with ecotourism in that it may not provide educational value and it’s a commercial event, especially for the Swiss Ski Resorts. Thus, less emphasis is placed on the community benefits.
* Mass tourism- this form of tourism has developed with technological improvements which have contributed to the mass transportation of people. This form of tourism allows people organize themselves into travelling groups with a single destination. This form of tourism differs with ecotourism in the aspect that it promotes consumption of natural resources thus contributing to environmental degradation. It also gives less concern for the welfare of the community.
* Pro-poor tourism- it’s a form of tourist that targets the developing countries. Its objective is to assist the poorest people in the community. This form of tourism is gaining attention especially from people in developed countries. This form of tourism differs with ecotourism in that it only concentrates on the welfare of the poorest in the community as opposed to the entire community. Another aspect of difference is that it only does not concentrate on the wildlife.
* Recession tourism- it is a form of tourism that is informed by the world economy. This form of tourism involves high-value and low-cost experiences. However, the concept is not widely accepted, and only a small number of tourists are involved. It differs with ecotourism in that it does not take into account the environment but rather the economic conditions of the country.
Thus, it would be important to appreciate that ecotourism involves actions that provide a meaningful impacts to the host community. However, other forms of tourism are motivated by very different objectives. With both ecotourism and other forms of tourism being significantly different it would be important to understand the various factors that could motivate the form of tourism a tourist may prefer.
According to Woodside & Martin (2008 p. 63-65), generally tourism is influenced by cultural, social as well as psychological factors. Cultural factors are the elements of culture that would influence a person decision to particip...
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