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The Perception of Stakeholder's from Protected Areas on Ecotourism Development

Academic journal article Manager

The Perception of Stakeholder's from Protected Areas on Ecotourism Development

Article excerpt


What is Ecotourism?

"The concept of ecotourism became popular, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, as a result of the negative social and environmental impacts associated with mass tourism, which places greater emphasis on income and growth, rather than environmental conservation and the socio-cultural goals of host communities (Ziffer, 1989)".

"The term ecotourism emerged in the late 1980s as a direct result of the world's acknowledgment of sustainable and global ecological practices(Diamantis, 1999)". Ceballos-Lascurain (1996) articulated one of the most influential definitions of ecotourism: "traveling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific objectives of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestations (both past and present) found in these areas." As ecotourism has grown in popularity, its definitions have been expanded to incorporate ideas about ecotourism responsibility, environmentally friendly destination management, and sustainable development of local human populations ( Goodwin, 1996 and Torquebiau and Taylor, 2009). Indeed, the last few decades have witnessed a continuous expansion of ecotourism. Ecotourism has been growing at rates of 10%-12% per year, 3 times faster than the tourism industry as a whole ( IES, 2008). And more importantly, "ecotourism has been embraced by many developing countries - that are home to many of the world's rare and threatened species - hoping to improve their economies in a way that is environmentally sustainable( Brooks et al., 2006)".

"Literature describing the history of ecotourism shows that the concept has been in existence since the 18th century, but by a different name (e.g., Beaumont, 1998 and Hetzer, 1965)". Beaumont (1998) classifies the first geographers who toured the world during the period as ecotourism, and indicates that the born of national parks, Yellowstone in the United States of America in 1872 and Banff in Canada in 1885, was evidence of first interest in ecotourism.

There is not according on the exact definition of ecotourism in literature (Weaver & Lawton, 2007), and there is an absence of information on tourist preferences for ecotourism and how it can be operationalized in local communities. "Lack of capacity for business development in the local communities and limited information on possible ecotourism businesses have been identified as problems limiting the potential of ecotourism (Munthali, 2007 and Spenceley et al., 2008) around protected areas in Southern Africa. A study conducted by Mabunda (2004), also indicated that although rural communities adjacent to the Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa were interested in sharing their cultural heritage with the tourists, the park management framework did not enable them to do so. Mabunda (2004) also highlights the need for research that investigates tourists' experiences and expectations in and around the KNF'.

Honey (1999) defines the concept of ecotourism, , pristine and protected areas with the fundamental objective of educating travelers, as small scale travelling to fragile, providing funds for conservation, yielding direct benefits for the economic development and political empowerment of the local communities, as well as fostering respects for different cultures and human rights.

Fennell (2001), after analyzing available ecotourism definitions, identified five common variables used to describe ecotourism : the natural environment, education, protection or conservation of resources, preservation of culture and community benefits.

According to Hillel (2002), ecotourism should integrate the three objectives of sustainable development, and involve a positive contribution to the conservation of sensitive ecosystems and protected areas ,through financial and political support, as well as ensuring active participation from and economic benefits to local communities and indigenous people, coupled with environmental education of the host communities, professionals and guests. …

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