The world is arguably as connected as it has ever been. Even during one of the most challenging global years in recent memory due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve become accustomed to travelling around the world. Today, though, there has become a rather concerning downside of our ability to travel where we wish, when we wish: the environment. Everything that we build, use, and/or make has some kind of natural impact. The products and tools used to make it, as well as the materials used in its actual construction, came from the earth. So, that is part of why ecotourism has become such a hotly debated topic.
If we need to stop harvesting the planet and abusing its abundant resources, then should we really be travelling for ecotourism reasons?
What is Ecotourism?
The term ecotourism is often associated with people heading to endangered locations and environments to offer some kind of support and assistance. And while that might be a noble goal, the actual act of both reaching and interacting with the affected area can have a detrimental impact on nature as a whole.
While the content and details that we can learn from ecotourism often help us to learn about parts of ecology that would have gone unnoticed, ecotourism is seen by many as lacking in moral taste. So, before you go and book that next big adventure that you have in mind, take into account the following pros and cons of ecotourism.
Pros and Advantages of Ecotourism
Let's explore some of the positive aspects of Ecotourism in these five points below:
Safer Natural Extraction
Part of what ecotourism tends to bring to the table is greater innovation on the extraction and usage of minerals. The way of thinking for many people is this: nefarious corporations and human greed will lead to extraction one way or another; why not try and make the process a little less damaging to the planet?
This has become a common talking point for many people; they know that the extraction will happen anyway. Why not try and step in and make the extraction a touch less destructive and damaging for the wider environment?
This means that resources are less likely to be torn out the ground and then hoarded/sold for a ridiculous profit. Ecotourism helps to come up with more planet-friendly ways to extract resources, and also finds better ways to ensure their sharing is safer.
Another nice touch that often goes unconsidered is the fact that ecotourism funds conservation efforts. By having people come to visit these amazing landscapes, we can often raise valuable funds for things like relaying forests and helping the local animal population in areas where they might have been put under pressure and even danger in the past.
Opening the Eyes of the Many
Another nice benefit that comes from ecotourism is the fact that it helps many people open their eyes to the planet-wide damage that humanity is carrying out. It can make people more aware of their own environmental footprint, all the while making it easier for them to raise the word and spread awareness about the damage that is being done. Only through the first-hand experience can we understand the ecological challenges.
Creating a Caring World
Ecotourism is also positive in that it helps many people to look beyond a ‘and what about me?’ mentality. Ecotourism helps to foster a way of thinking that reminds us that the world was here before we were and that we need to do more to care for it.
If seeing the immense damage that has been done to major ecological spots in the world does not inspire change, what will?
The Disadvantages of Ecotourism
Let's now explore some of the negatives and downsides of what Ecotourism can bring:
When we find beautiful land, the sad truth is that the first thing that comes to mind is turning nature into a money maker. This often can lead to greedy thinking, forcing people from their homes and their landscapes in the name of profit. People such as the Maasai have lost much of their land and their grounds through tourism-friendly laws and regulations essentially leaving them with nothing.
This cash-first thinking is a blight on culture and often leads to the displacement and disharmony of those who were simply living life on their terms before commercially-driven tourism arrived.
However, a negative consequence of such tourism is that many native groups and cultures tend to become commercialised or even threatened entirely. Minimal resources are often funnelled back to the very people who were part of this area before tourism came along and put a price tag on nature.
This can lead to tourists adapting and commercialising the culture of those who were here first. It can even lead to an erosion of their culture, with the interaction and involvement forced by tourism causing many major cultural landmarks to be lost and assimilated.
While ecotourism looks to find ethical means to slow down the damage to nature, it is not infallible. Another key problem that you might find at this stage, though, is the introduction of foreign wildlife, plant life, and cultures that might risk the livelihood and ecological safety of the entire region.
This can lead to changes in the ecosystem that threatens the previous harmony and is often driven by greed and commercial gain. It can even be simple things like extra human and vehicle traffic leading to soil erosion as well as excessive demands on the land for more food and/or water.
A Growing Industry
The problem that we have is that ecotourism faces the same plight as almost every other human industry in memory: money comes first. The ideas and the initial project might be faithful to the ideals of protecting the land and its people…but when the money becomes so large, morals soon become a thing of the past.
The rapid rate of growth of ecotourism means that, eventually, many currently ethical locations might be tested with the power of money. Ethics are often second thoughts when big money gets involved, and today there are few places to make more money than by creaming off the environment. Can you see the problem?
Ecotourism might introduce many people to a world they knew nothing about – the problem is the people who are introduced to nature purely for profit. This creates ethical and moral issues that, in the long run, usually go in the favour of economy as opposed to ecology.
Summary Pros & Cons of Ecotourism
There we have a balanced view of Ecotrousim pros and cons. Of course, if you have any of your own thoughts on Ecotrousim and whether it can be viewed in a positive or negative light - then please let us know in the comments section below - we would love to hear about your insight. Plus, it should give you a nice foundation to any potential Ecotrousim essay that you might have planned.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Bradley Morrison