If you still believe the once-commonly held misconception that tourism is only an indulgence for the wealthy, you are out of step with the times! The tourism market is accessible to, and indeed marketed toward, many different sections of the community. Adventurers, fitness freaks, nature-lovers, and business people all contribute to a rapidly expanding sector of the global economy.
This billion-dollar industry, whilst affected slightly by the unforeseen events of 11 September 2001, has experienced significant growth since the late 1980s. The subsequent economic benefits for governments are well-documented as tourism boosts foreign investment and foreign exchange. Large-scale resorts and civil infrastructure were often the only response to successful marketing and increased tourist demand. It is not surprising then that the direct impact on the environment and regional or indigenous populations became a contentious issue. Governments and big business became the target of environmentalists and activists who argued that mass tourism was not (and is not) sustainable. As hordes of tourists descended on often overcrowded beaches and overused parklands, this became apparent. Eco-tourism was born.
The broad concept of eco-tourism as a nature-based, culturally sensitive form of tourism was taken up enthusiastically because there appeared to be few losers. Governments were given a convenient escape route as eco-tourism appeased the environmentalists and local communities but still provided income. Environmentalists saw eco-tourism as an alternative to mass tourism and its resource-exploiting ways. Local communities envisaged receiving at least a percentage of the tourist dollars, creating job opportunities and giving them control over the impact on their own communities. It seemed that the benefits of mass tourism were going to be expanded in the new world of eco-tourism to include cultural, social and environmental elements.
As evidence of the benefits of eco-tourism unfolded, the practice has spread. So much so that the United Nations nominated 2002 as the International Year of Eco-tourism. Perhaps inevitably, the meaning of ecotourism became less clear as it enveloped the globe. It could be argued that the form of eco-tourism adopted in some cases was found wanting in certain aspects and the need for agreement on a tighter definition resulted. The eco-tourist is one who does not wish to contribute to the negative impact of large-scale tourism. He/she generally travel in small groups to low-key developments and attempts to “tread lightly” on the earth. These smaller-scale developments are environmentally responsible with a view to sustainability in all of the resources used. Their landscaping often relies on the use of native flora and they incorporate recycling methods and energy-efficient practices. Within the eco-tourists, holiday experience will be an element of education about the local environment. The emphasis is on conservation and the part that humans play in keeping ecosystems functioning. If the area is of cultural or social importance, this too is highlighted. The eco-tourist doesn’t condone the exploitation of the indigenous or local community. Far from it, they insist that the host culture is acknowledged and respected. The repatriation of funds to external sources is frowned upon. Wherever possible, the benefits of an eco-tourists holiday should be shared with the regional community — the hosts.
All of these elements promote minimal impact on human resources as well as on physical, cultural and environmental ones. They support conservation through education and experience. Despite the best of intentions, as the popularity of eco-tourism spreads, there is concern that the eco-tourist will have a more adverse effect on the environment. Critics argue that unethical tour operators wanting to take advantage of the trendy eco-tourism market print brochures that espouse the ethics of eco-tourism and show familiar emblems of green frogs and crocodiles to promote themselves but do little else. If such operators are not held accountable, the industry will not survive. Open and honest eco-tourism marketing, as well as world-recognized accreditation, must be endorsed and implemented. The sheer volume of tourists wanting to visit unique, unspoiled environments is also a cause for concern. Evidence of the need to restrict the number of visitors to sensitive areas exists in many eco-tourist attractions already. Hikers and bushwalkers in Mount Kenya National Park have caused damage by straying from set trails and leaving food scraps behind. The number of Orca whales visiting Canada has declined in recent migratory seasons, as the restrictions placed on whale-watching boats and organizers are thought to be inadequate.
Eco-tourism does not guarantee sustainable tourism and it should not be viewed as a complete cure for the problems that have beset tourism. Until all stakeholders agree to a definition of eco-tourism, insist that ecotourism operators abide by a strict code of ethics and carefully monitor the impact of eco-tourism (and all tourism), fragile ecosystems will continue to be besieged by tourists. There must be an educational program to promote ecologically-sustainable tourism across the board so that the underlying principle in ALL forms of tourism is the management of resources. Eco-tourism can bring wealth to areas where there is nothing else but natural attractions. The reasons for visiting The Galapagos Islands in Ecuador can only be explained by an interest in nature itself. The subsequent tourist dollars, if re-injected into the community, can mean the survival of such habitats. Licenses and entry fees to some sites have, in many cases, replaced government funding as their source of income. Countries as diverse as Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Kenya are developing strategies to identify and cope with the constraints that inevitably come with a long-term vision of sustainable tourism. Eco-tourism has played an important role in developing an awareness for sustainable tourism practices but governments, tourist agencies, and operators must be willing to join forces with eco-tourists to ensure that natural attractions are protected from their own popularity.
Questions 1 – 4:
Look at the list of headings (I — VI) below. Choose the most suitable heading for Sections B to E. Write your answers in boxes 1 – 4 on your Answer Sheet.
LIST OF HEADINGS
I Eco-tourism Explained
II The Appeal of Eco-tourism
Ill Tourism Gives Birth to Eco-tourism
IV The Future of Eco-tourism
V Questioning Sustainability
VI The Eco-tourist’s Itinerary
Example: Section A Answer III
1. Section B _________
2. Section C _________
3. Section D _________
4. Section E _________
Questions 5 – 9:
Complete the sentences below with words taken from Reading Passage. Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.
5. Polluted, high density tourist destinations are proof that ___________cannot be allowed to continue.
6. Eco-tourism spread because of __________ was obvious to environmental and government representatives as well as cultural and social groups.
7. Eco-tourists choose to stay in ___________ that do relatively less harm to the environment.
8. ___________ can damage the eco-tourism industry and governments need to supervise them carefully.
9. The success of the Galapagos Islands shows that __________ can be a magnet for tourists
Questions 10— 13:
Choose the correct letter from A to D and write it in boxes 10 – 13 on your Answer Sheet.
10. The main aim of the writer is to
A. point out the economic benefits of tourism.
B. outline the impact of tourism on the environment.
C. introduce the concept of eco-tourism.
D. explain the origins of eco-tourism.
11. The tourism industry cannot survive unless it
A. promotes ecologically-sustainable activities.
B. ensures that eco-tourism operators are genuine.
C. considers the long-term effects of tourism on physical resources.
D. All of the above.
12. The eco-tourist
A. is often a victim of false advertising by unethical tour operators.
B. accepts the restrictions that are placed on natural habitats.
C. can unintentionally contribute to the negative effects of tourism.
D. never goes to larger-scale tourist resorts.
13. The eco-tourism market
A. is more likely to impact on natural habitats.
B. is likely to restrict marketing of unethical tour operators.
C. is more likely to repatriate profits from local communities.
D. is likely to be more sustainable than mass tourism.
Answers for the passage ECOTOURISM
1 . II
2 . I
3 . V
4 . IV
5 . MASS TOURISM
6 . THE BENEFITS / ADVANTAGES
7 . LOW KEY / SMALLER SCALE
8 . UNETHICAL TOUR OPERATORS /ECOTOURISM OPERATORS
9 . NATURE ITSELF / NATURE ALONE /NATURAL ATTRACTIONS
10 . B
11 . D
12 . C
13 . D