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Pros and Cons of Ecotourism

advantages and disadvantages of ecotourism

Ecotourism has become increasingly popular over the past years. The term ecotourism refers to vacations that are spent in natural environments without disturbing or damaging natural habitats. Hence, ecotourism can be regarded as an eco-friendly way to spend your vacation.

Yet, apart from the many advantages of ecotourism, there are also some downsides to this concept. In this article, the pros and cons of ecotourism are examined in detail.

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Advantages of Ecotourism

  1. Ecotourism can protect the local flora and fauna
  2. Ecosystems can be sustained in a natural state
  3. Can help to increase the awareness of our environmental problems
  4. People will learn how to improve their ecological footprint
  5. Good to educate your kids
  6. Ecotourism can give you a good feeling
  7. You can explore untouched nature
  8. Can also be quite exciting for locals
  9. Ecotourism can preserve ancient knowledge
  10. Sustainable resource use
  11. You can explore new cultures
  12. Ecotourism can help to improve the overall infrastructure in a region
  13. Important income source for locals
  14. Additional income can be used for the preservation of nature
  15. Ecotourism can help against unemployment in a region

Ecotourism can protect the local flora and fauna

One benefit of ecotourism is that it aims to protect the local animals and plants. While other forms of tourism, especially mass tourism, do not care about our environment too much, ecotourism has the goal to protect our natural habitats and to sustain the natural living conditions of numerous animals and plants while giving tourists the opportunity to visit those spectacular natural places at the same time.

Hence, compared to other kinds of vacations, ecotourism has the focus to protect our local flora and fauna, which can be quite important in order to avoid the endangerment or extinction of many animal and plant species all over the world.

Ecosystems can be sustained in a natural state

Ecotourism not only aims to protect our flora and fauna, it also has the goal to sustain our natural ecosystems as best as possible. For instance, this often also includes that some parts of nature reserves are not accessible to humans at all so that animals and plants have sufficient space to reproductive and to live in peace. In turn, our ecosystems can continue to develop in an almost entirely natural manner.

Can help to increase the awareness of our environmental problems

In order to solve our environmental problems, it is also crucial that we raise the awareness of the general public on those important topics. Many people are still not yet aware of how important it really is that we solve our global problems in the near future in order to ensure the livelihood of many future generations.

Many people are just too busy in their daily life and don’t want to worry about our environmental issues during their leisure time. Thus, it is crucial that we raise the awareness of people on those important issues somehow and one way to do this is to show them our ecological problems through ecotourism.

By doing so, people will become more aware of our global problems and may also be more willing to make efforts to behave more environmentally-friendly also when they come back home.

People will learn how to improve their ecological footprint

Another upside of ecotourism is that people will not only learn about our environmental problems and how to solve them, they will also learn how they can improve their ecological footprint in various parts of their daily life.

Many people simply don’t know how to behave eco-friendly and guides who work in ecotourism will often also have great knowledge in this regard.

Good to educate your kids

In order to solve our environmental problems, it is not only crucial to improve the awareness of adults, it is also quite important that we educate our children about those problems and how we can solve them. Many children, especially if they grow up in big cities, will have no connection at all to nature. In fact, if you ask these children where our food comes from, they will often respond: “From the grocery store” 😉.

Hence, you see that it is crucial to also raise the awareness of our kids and to teach them how to live eco-friendly. By doing so, chances are that your kids will also adopt these eco-friendly characteristics into adulthood, which is crucial in order to ensure the livelihood of millions or even billions of people in the future.

Ecotourism can give you a good feeling

If you engage in ecotourism, chances are that you will also have a much cleaner conscience compared to spending your vacation in a way that is detrimental to our planet. Many of us subconsciously know that our conventional way of traveling is quite harmful to our environment and that we have to make a change in order to protect our planet.

Thus, through ecotourism, you will also have the feeling that you contributed your part to a better future and therefore, chances are that you will also be able to enjoy your vacation much more.

You can explore untouched nature

Another advantage of ecotourism is that you can spend your vacation in rather untouched natural territories. Quite often, ecotourism is done in remote parts of our planet which not many tourists have ever seen before.

Hence, if you look for something special and you want to explore areas that are almost untouched by humans, ecotourism may be the way to go for you.

Can also be quite exciting for locals

On my travels, I also had been to quite remote places of our planet. In fact, many people in those areas have not seen too many tourists before and were quite excited and interested to talk to me and to find out why I was actually traveling to those places.

Thus, ecotourism can not only benefit tourists, it may also be quite exciting for locals to meet new people from all over the world and to stay connected to them over social media.

Ecotourism can preserve ancient knowledge

Ecotourism is also quite important to preserve ancient knowledge regarding certain traditions or also medical knowledge that would get lost otherwise. For instance, if people are paid to engage in traditional shamanic rituals or to show tourists ancient cultural techniques, chances are that more of this knowledge will survive and will not get lost in the near future.

Therefore, ecotourism can also help to preserve ancient knowledge that had been handed on for many thousands of years.

Sustainable resource use

Ecotourism also aims to use our natural resources as efficiently as possible. For instance, on many trips related to ecotourism, organizers of those trips take great care that tourists don’t consume too many natural resources. This is especially true for fossil resources which may become depleted in the near future.

This will not only make your travels more resource-efficient, it can also raise your awareness of how important it is to save natural resources and chances are that you will also save more natural resources when you come back home.

You can explore new cultures

Since ecotourism often takes place at rather remote locations of our planet, it is also a great way to experience new cultures that you will likely have never heard of before. In fact, it can be quite fascinating to experience those cultures since many indigenous people still live pretty original lifestyles which are quite different from how we live in our rich Western world.

Thus, ecotourism can also give you the opportunity to expand your horizon and to learn a lot about alternative cultural views on the world and also about alternative lifestyles.

Ecotourism can help to improve the overall infrastructure in a region

The money that can be generated through ecotourism can also be used to improve the overall infrastructure of a region. This can be especially important for poor regions of our planet where governments and local municipalities often don’t have sufficient funds to finance those important infrastructure projects.

In turn, this can greatly benefit the local population since higher investments in infrastructure can also lead to higher overall education levels, which is crucial to overcome poverty in the long run.

Important income source for locals

Many people on our planet also rely on tourism as a major income source. Hence, ecotourism can also be a great way to expand this important income source to more areas of our world so that more people can make a living out of tourism while raising awareness of our environmental problems at the same time.

Additional income can be used for the preservation of nature

The preservation of our ecosystems is also not for free and the additional money that can be earned through ecotourism can also be used to preserve natural habitats or for reforestation projects so that the overall quality of our natural habitats can be improved.

Ecotourism can help against unemployment in a region

Tourism also provides employment opportunities for millions of people all over the world and can help to protect them against unemployment.

Thus, many people will also be able to ensure their livelihood through jobs in the ecotourism industry and we should encourage the expansion of this industry branch in order to give even more people the opportunity to make enough money in order to be able to survive.

Disadvantages of Ecotourism

  1. May still disturb local wildlife to a certain extent
  2. Ecotourism may lead to littering
  3. Wild animals may get used to humans
  4. Ecotourism is subject to a significant level of discretion
  5. Natural tribes may be forced to leave their home
  6. Additional money from ecotourism will often not benefit the general public
  7. Some ecotourism activities may become too popular
  8. Ecotourism can be quite time-consuming
  9. Many people will forget what they learned
  10. People may be turned into attractions
  11. Animal souvenirs may be sold
  12. Ecological imbalance
  13. Pollution related to reaching your remote travel destination
  14. Tourists may get exploited
  15. Ecotourism may change the traditional values of people over time

May still disturb local wildlife to a certain extent

Although ecotourism tries its best to keep the adverse impact on our environment to a minimum, chances are that the local wildlife will still be disturbed to a certain extent. Imagine you visit areas that had been almost entirely untouched by humans before.

Chances are that local animals will not know how to deal with tourists in an adequate manner and may feel disturbed, which may also affect their reproduction rate.

Ecotourism may lead to littering

It is quite sad but even though many people claim to be ecotourists and to take care of our environment, their actions tell something different. Some people still dispose of their trash in nature, which can lead to excessive littering in the long run. In turn, natural environments may turn into garbage dumps and the natural character of ecotourism will be completely lost.

Wild animals may get used to humans

Another problem of ecotourism is that wild animals may get used to humans over time. Even though this might be great for tourists, especially for children since they will be able to get in touch with those animals and can also feed them, it will be rather bad for our environment.

The domestication of animals is an unnatural process and we should try to keep animals wild instead of turning them into pets since this is their original nature.

Ecotourism is subject to a significant level of discretion

The term “ecotourism” is also subject to a significant level of discretion. In many countries, this term is not protected and many travel agencies use this term as bait in order to lure tourists into their activities, even though those activities may have nothing to do with eco-tourism at all.

Consequently, before you book a trip, make sure that the activities that you will take part in will actually be eco-friendly and not only an advertising promise that will not be kept at all.

Natural tribes may be forced to leave their home

There had even been cases where natural tribes had to leave their home since the space had been needed to build lodges for tourists in order to accommodate them. Hence, in such a case, ecotourism is doing much more harm than good and this should never be in line with the principles of true eco-friendly tourism.

Additional money from ecotourism will often not benefit the general public

In many cases, even though plenty of additional money can be generated through ecotourism, chances are that this money will often not benefit the general public, but only a small financial elite who owns national parks or hotels.

Hence, although locals will be able to make some money from the ecotourism industry, they will often only work as employees instead of really owning an ecotourism business and getting the profits.

Therefore, the general public may not benefit too much from the income from ecotourism activities since a small elite may get almost all of the profits.

Some ecotourism activities may become too popular

Once the nicest places for ecotourism become public, chances are that those places and activities are flooded with tourists from all over the world. At our current age, it is quite easy to share information over social media and places that had been secret for a long time will now become subject to the awareness of the general public.

Hence, especially in those locations, ecotourism may do more harm than good since too many people in one area will completely destroy the natural experience and chances are that also the local wildlife will be adversely influenced, which also goes against the principles of ecotourism.

Ecotourism can be quite time-consuming

Since ecotourism is often done at quite remote locations of our planet in the middle of rather untouched nature, chances are that you will also have to spend plenty of time to get to those locations. Therefore, if you really want to engage in ecotourism, make sure that you have sufficient time to get to those remote locations and back in order to get the full natural experience.

Many people will forget what they learned

Another issue of ecotourism is that many people will also forget quite fast about what they learned during their ecotourism trip. While they might have gotten aware of our environmental problems, they may still not be willing to adjust their behavior in their daily life back home and many people will continue to live a life which is pretty eco-unfriendly.

Thus, if you go on an ecotourism trip, make sure that you implement what you learned back at your home so that you can improve your overall ecological footprint in the long run.

People may be turned into attractions

Ecotourism can also be damaging to the local culture. In some cases, indigenous people are even turned into attractions and sometimes, tourists are even encouraged to make fun of those people.

Therefore, if this is the case, ecotourism does much more harm than good and ecotourism should always aim to also treat indigenous people with high levels of respect.

Animal souvenirs may be sold

An additional disadvantage of ecotourism is that animal souvenirs of some sort may be sold. Quite often, the teeth or other parts of animals are sold to tourists. However, in order to make those souvenirs, many animals have to lose their lives. Thus, make sure that you refrain from buying those souvenirs in order to protect the local fauna.

Ecological imbalance

Although humans may take great care to respect nature and to minimize their adverse impact on local ecosystems through ecotourism, chances are that this kind of tourism may still lead to some ecological imbalance in the long run. Especially if people litter in natural environments, chances are that those ecosystems may get out of balance sooner or later.

Pollution related to reaching your remote travel destination

There is also some level of pollution that cannot be avoided. For instance, if you want to travel to quite remote parts of our planet, you will often have to use a plane to get there. All other travel methods would simply be too time-consuming and also too expensive. Therefore, also ecotourism implies some pollution, even though it aims to keep pollution levels to a minimum.

Tourists may get exploited

In some cases, locals may also try to exploit tourists in order to increase their profits. Many people around the world still struggle to ensure their livelihood and tourists are often regarded as significant income sources. Locals often think that tourists are quite wealthy and can afford to pay large sums of money for tourist activities.

Hence, those locals will often charge quite high prices for certain activities, which may also damage the image of ecotourism in the long run.

Ecotourism may change the traditional values of people over time

There is the problem that ecotourism will likely change the cultural values of indigenous people in the long run. Just a few decades ago, those people lived fully in line with natural processes and got all they needed out of nature.

They had been completely independent of other income sources and would take great care of our environment since they knew they needed to work in line with natural processes in order to survive.

However, this is going to change since the influence of tour agencies greatly increases in those regions and indigenous people will soon also live a much more Western lifestyle, which can be quite harmful to our environment in the long run.

Top 10 Ecotourism Pros & Cons – Summary List

Ecotourism ProsEcotourism Cons
Ecotourism can help to protect our planetWild animals may get used to humans
Can raise our awareness on ecological problemsEcotourism is not entirely green
Can protect animals and plantsYou still have to fly long distances
Ecotourism can help to educate our kids“Ecotourism” is subject to significant discretion
Exploration of untouched natureMoney from ecotourism may not benefit locals
Sustainable use of natural resourcesMany people may not learn too much
Exploration of new culturesPurchase of animal souvenirs
Can help to preserve ancient knowledgeImbalance in our ecosystems
Can help to improve the overall infrastructureExploitation of tourists through ecotourism
Ecotourism can help people to escape povertyMay erode traditional values

Does Ecotourism Make Sense?

As we have seen before, there are many advantages and disadvantages of ecotourism. While ecotourism can definitely make sense to increase the awareness of people on our environmental problems in order to solve them in time, ecotourism can also do more harm than good if it is organized with the intention of profit maximization.

Therefore, governments all over the world should set regulations to make ecotourism really environmentally-friendly in order to ensure positive environmental effects of it in the long run.

Sources

https://ecotourism.org/what-is-ecotourism/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecotourism

https://youmatter.world/en/definition/ecotourism/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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