Argument: Ecotourism can damage habitats

Issue Report: Ecotourism


  • Jack Coburn Isaacs. “The limited potential of ecotourism to contribute to wildlife conservation”. 2000 – “Habitat deterioration also is a concern as land is converted to tourist facilities. Deforestation has compromised habitat for butterflies in Mexico and squirrel monkeys (Saimiri spp.) in Costa Rica. Sewage, runoff, and other tourist-related pollution also is a problem (Padgett and Begley 1996). Campsite development has resulted in the loss of woody species in Uganda (Obua 1997). Increased tourist traffic can result in conflicts between indigenous cultures and other local social and economic groups (Nevin 1997, Roberts 1998).”
Eco-tourism may sound benign, but one of its most serious impacts is the expropriation of`virgin’ territories – national parks, wildlife parks and other wilderness areas – which are packaged for eco-tourists as the green option. Eco-tourism is highly consumer-centered, catering mostly to urbanised societies and the new middle-class `alternative lifestyles’. Searching for `untouched’ places `off the beaten track’ of mass tourism, travellers have already opened up many new destinations.
Mega-resorts, including luxury hotels, condominiums, shopping centres and golf course, are increasingly established in nature reserves in the name of eco-tourism – in many cases protested as `eco-terrorism’. Such projects build completely artificial landscapes, tending to irretrievably wipe out plant and wildlife species – even entire eco-systems.”