Ecotourism from Both Hotels and Tourists' Perspective

By do Paço, Arminda; Alves, Helena et al. | Economics & Sociology, July 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Ecotourism from Both Hotels and Tourists' Perspective


do Paço, Arminda, Alves, Helena, Nunes, Carolina, Economics & Sociology


ABSTRACT. This empirical research about ecotourism was elaborated having in mind two perspectives: the lodging and the consumer. It was possible to conclude that the hotels involved in the research need to improve its performance in terms of market research and of the environmental accreditation, but it is convenient to empathise that the environmental and social concerns are present in its activities. Regarding ecotourists, the findings indicate that they are concerned with the environmental issues when they are lodgin. Their great motivation is the possibility of having a contact with the nature, the environmental conservation and the sustainability.

JEL Classification : Q56

Keywords: ecotourism, sustainability, environmental concern

Introduction

Tourism can contribute to economic diversification and profitability by increasing employment, improving basic services, and increasing economic equity between urban and rural populations (MacPherson, 1997; Narayanan, 2002; Byrd, Bosley and Dronberger, 2008). However, tourism can also generate several negative impacts such as air, water and noise pollution, litter and solid waste, water shortage, traffic congestion, disturbance, lost of authenticity, soil and beach erosion, damage to ecosystems and loss of flora and fauna (Wilkinson, 1989; Buckley and Pannel, 1990; Inskeep, 1991; Narayanan, 2002; Nepal, 2008; Pappas, 2008; Van Wincle and Mackay, 2008). Given this scenario, an alternative type of tourism - the ecotourism - is being gaining adepts around the world.

Despite the mentioned problems, tourism industry is extremely important for some countries and it is expected to grow by 4.3% per annum between 2008 and 2017 (WTO, 2007). Ecotourism/nature-based tourism became the fastest growing sector (IES, 2008), and this fact seems to be also connected to the increasing trends in environmental concern.

The adoption of environmental principles and responsible behaviour in developing sustainable ecotourism lodging is indicative of the increasing demand for these new travel alternatives (Wight, 1993).

Ecotourism has had a relevant role in some countries' developing strategies. It is attractive due its ability to generate employment, foreign exchange and regional growth (Weaver, 1998). Countries like Brazil are trying to take advantage of its natural conditions to develop not only tourism in general, but also ecotourism in some specific areas (ex. Amazonas).

This research aims to analyse the Brazilian ecotourism market having in mind the perspective of the eco-hotels operating in the subsector. More specifically, we intend to analyse some of their management practices related with the environmental aspects. This will allow us to discuss the projects' sustainability. Additionally, we will also perform a study aiming to know better the ecotourist's attitudes and behaviours.

On one hand, the knowledge of the target market nature allows ecotourism operators to change its marketing mix variables according to the needs and desires of the environmentally friendly tourist. On the other hand, that understanding of the ecotourist's profile has also significant implications for managers and protected areas agencies (Wearing and Neil, 2009).

As Brazil has a great ecotourism potential, because of its rich biodiversity, this industry is seen as a logical alternative to other more consumptive forms of land exploitation. Although the evidences showed that the nature-based tourism began in Brazil in 1960, its growth has been rising (kala and Maikhuri, 2011). Due its importance, it was developed a code of ethics for ecotourism in 1996 and the government has been investing millions of dollars to develop this industry (Fennell, 2008).

The paper is structured as follows. The concept of ecotourism, regarding both perspectives of the eco-lodges and the consumer market, is presented in the literature review section. After, a brief description of the methodological aspects, in terms of the case studies and the quantitative research is shown. …

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