As travelers, we've come to recognize that everything we do can negatively impact our environment, especially in large numbers, when we visit new places. "Ecotourism" is the practice of respecting and helping preserve the cultural and environmental elements of the places we visit. However, as a side effect, our attempts to build sustainable practices puts added pressure on the wildlife, natural habitat and local people living in the community.
The worldwide travel industry has recorded more than 1 billion tourists around the world annually. This increasing amount of traffic creates concern of the negative impact that tourists leave on the people, culture and wildlife of a foreign destination.
While ecotourism seeks to improve the impact of global travelers on the environment, its objective to build new sustainable hotels, resorts and other establishments often causes the destruction of local resources in order to make room for them.
Similarly, the construction of clean energy facilities, water-treatment plants, sanitation facilities and other operations that enhance conservation practices will put pressure on local habitats, negatively affecting the wildlife. For example, this type of land conversion has led to deforestation and habitat deterioration for butterflies in Mexico and squirrel monkeys in Costa Rica.
Ecotourism is quickly spreading to numerous developing countries, which presents significant change to wild habitats and indigenous people who have spent years being separated from consumerist nations. On one side, tourism offers financial benefits for the local community, but at the same time, it can exploit local tribes for cheap labor.
Other Influential Factors
For the most part, ecotourism is managed by foreign investors and corporations, which means that the local economy and the people do not benefit the most from the exchange. In one case in Kenya, a nomadic tribe killed wildlife in protected parks in response to the unfair ecotourism system by which they earned wages.
Article Written By Angie Walls
Angie Walls graduated with a B.S. in English from MSU in 2000 and has been professionally writing since. She's published many articles on careers, health, travel, food and more. Online publications featuring her work include TooShytoStop.com, Karlonia.com, MeeVee.com, Eater.com, Travels.com, TravelSense.org and Helium.com.