The impacts of 'eco-tourism'

Kitasoo Dawn

Kitasoo Dawn

Eco-tourism calls on vacationers to redefine what it means to take a vacation — not only where you go and how you get there, but also what you do while you're there.

The eco-tourism movement has continued to impact where people choose to spend their vacations.

Eco-tourism serves to promote increased environmental awareness, sustainable communities, cultural experiences and environmental preservation and conservation.

Yet the inherent nature of tourism demands that there be developments, which haven't always benefited the environment. Nevertheless, for those planning a sustainable vacation, it's important to keep eco-tourist considerations in mind.

Eco-tourism benefits

With eco-tourism comes curiosity — about both environment and experience. Instead of going to popular tourist destinations like China, Italy, Spain and Germany, vacationers are expanding their searches and destinations.

More destinations mean more opportunities for employment within indigenous populations of lower-income communities and countries. Locals act as guides, experts, demonstrators, merchants and hosts to visiting tourists. Increased traffic means more money funneling directly back into the community along with a higher standard of living.

Community outreach and tourism allow people from all over the world to come into an impoverished community and restore it by providing services and patronage . In one instance, a vacation could mean volunteering, building or serving in an impoverished community. Another impact would come from immersive experiences in the lives of indigenous peoples that sustain their culture and environment.

Eco-tourism also provides cultural literacy. By incorporating local cultural lodging, food, history and activities, communities can improve their welfare as well as educate a wider population.

Plus, taking some press away from the typical tourist destinations means that some pressure is taken off the surrounding environment and ecosystems. The money that results and is saved from releasing the environmental pressures is put back into conservation and preservation efforts.

​Negative developments

With increased tourism comes increased pressure to develop areas and make them more inclusive and resort-like. Building more accommodation, businesses and amenities within these communities and destinations damages and destroys habitats. By damaging the local environment, you increase the pressure on native species.

Increased competition for resources between invading tourist activity and indigenous populations — both locals and wildlife — means wildlife and certain ways of life disappear. In their place, these cultures and environments take on the same features and characteristics of previous popular sites.

Indigenous cultures are distorted to consumer culture to keep tourists coming, which leads to the exploitation of resources and wildlife that's currently destroying destinations like the Bahamas and the Philippines.

Not all eco-tourist destinations are what they appear to be. Some eco-tourists book vacations thinking they're going to have an authentic, sustainable experience when that's not the case.

Even cycling and hiking close to home can have devastating effects on the environment and wildlife. While vacation should be an enjoyable and memorable experience, the environment is not to be exploited for a stellar photo album.

Thankfully, instances of irresponsible excursions such as reckless mountain biking and enclosing wildlife for display and hunting have diminished.

​​​Vacation impact

This strategy affects how people choose where to stay. With home-sharing sites like Airbnb growing more popular with five million listings worldwide, many people are opting for a more cost-effective, authentic experience for their vacations. (Airbnb has itself been criticised because of its impact on local communities and economies).

There's also been an increase in the demand for energy-efficient hotels and resorts that benefit the local cultures as well as the environment. Food is something that everyone should consider as well. Trying the local dishes and delicacies is part of every vacation, and you're supporting the local farmers when you buy from local vendors.

With immersion in the homes and lifestyles of the cultures surrounding you, you can grow to appreciate them and the environment more. It also makes you more curious about what else is out there. With local guides, you'll realise how many activities are available that wouldn't be found in a resort.

Eco-tourism is often close to home too. A study of 160 countries found that tourism accounts for eight percent of the world's carbon emissions and is increasing each year. If you're worried about the effects of your traveling, consider a low-carbon vacation, which means forgoing the standard airfare travel and road trip in favor of one closer to your own backyard. Instead of staying at a hotel, it can mean camping, climbing, hiking, backpacking or biking.


If you already know what you're looking for, go somewhere that's likely to give you the right experience. Here are some common goals for traveling as well as corresponding destinations:

  • For the community and culture: Cambodia, India, Kenya and Ethiopia
  • For the conservationist efforts: South Africa, Belize, Malawi and Thailand
  • For the outdoors: Peru, Argentina and the United States
  • For the history: Japan, Jordan, Ethiopia and Vietnam
  • For the wildlife: Finland, Canada, the Azores, India, Borneo and Uganda

Eco-Tourism Tips

For the best experience with eco-tourism, consider the following tips:

  • Do your research: When it comes to taking a sustainable vacation, make sure all the details are spelled out. Do some research into the company you're staying with, the excursions you'd like to go on and the places you're visiting.
  • Avoid taking more than you need: Whether you're going abroad or just camping on a local mountain, a light suitcase or backpack will complement a high sense of adventure. When you're packing for a hike or a flight, remember to keep it quick, easy and light, including the clothes you wear, the tools you use and the food you eat .
  • Always keep the environment in mind: As long as you're keeping the health of the environment in mind when you plan your vacation, you'll be doing your part as a responsible traveler.

Eco-tourism has had an impact on the way people think about leisure and how they feel about vacation. Fun doesn't have to be sacrificed for sustainability and a greener planet. In fact, these lifestyles open up more opportunities to see the world and make every vacation an adventure.

This Author

Emily Folk is a conservation and sustainability writer and the editor of  Conservation Folks .

Donate to The Ecologist and support high impact environmental journalism and analysis.

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Essay on Ecotourism

Students are often asked to write an essay on Ecotourism in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Ecotourism

Understanding ecotourism.

Ecotourism is a type of tourism that focuses on nature and aims to conserve the environment. It promotes sustainable travel and respects local cultures.

Importance of Ecotourism

Ecotourism is important because it helps protect our environment. It encourages activities that do not harm nature, and it supports local communities.

Benefits of Ecotourism

Ecotourism benefits both the environment and the local people. It helps conserve biodiversity, reduces pollution, and contributes to the local economy.

Challenges of Ecotourism

Despite its benefits, ecotourism faces challenges. These include ensuring sustainability and managing the impact of tourism on local communities and wildlife.

250 Words Essay on Ecotourism

Introduction to ecotourism.

Ecotourism is a sustainable, non-invasive form of tourism that seeks to conserve the environment and uphold the well-being of local people. It is a responsible approach to travelling to natural areas, ensuring minimal damage to these habitats, and promoting conservation efforts.

The Essence of Ecotourism

Ecotourism is not merely about enjoying scenic landscapes, but about understanding the complexities of ecosystems. It encourages travelers to learn about the cultural and biological diversity of their destinations, fostering an appreciation that can translate into conservation efforts.

Ecotourism and Sustainability

Ecotourism is closely linked with the concept of sustainable development. It promotes the use of renewable resources while minimizing the impact on the environment and local culture. It also contributes to the local economy, providing employment opportunities for the community.

Challenges in Ecotourism

However, ecotourism comes with its own set of challenges. Without proper regulation, it can lead to environmental degradation and cultural disruption. Therefore, it is crucial to establish guidelines to ensure that ecotourism practices are sustainable and beneficial for all parties involved.

Ecotourism can serve as a powerful tool for environmental conservation and socio-economic development if managed correctly. It is a sustainable alternative to conventional tourism, offering a unique opportunity to connect with nature and local cultures while contributing to their preservation. As responsible global citizens, we must promote and participate in ecotourism to ensure the survival of our planet’s precious biodiversity and cultural heritage.

500 Words Essay on Ecotourism


Ecotourism is more than just a buzzword; it’s a commitment to environmental stewardship and socio-economic development. It emphasizes low-impact travel, respect for local cultures, and support for conservation efforts. It’s about experiencing nature in its pristine form without imposing adverse effects on the environment or its inhabitants.

The Importance of Ecotourism

Ecotourism plays a crucial role in conserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable use of resources. It can generate funds for ecological conservation directly from tourists who are willing to pay for the opportunity to experience nature in a responsible manner. Furthermore, it can also provide job opportunities and income for local communities, thereby promoting economic development in areas that might otherwise lack opportunities.

Ecotourism: A Sustainable Approach

The key to successful ecotourism lies in its sustainable approach. It should be planned and managed in a manner that preserves the natural and cultural integrity of the destination. This involves setting limits on visitor numbers, implementing sustainable practices like waste management, and ensuring that the benefits of tourism are equitably distributed among local communities.

Ecotourism represents a shift from traditional, often exploitative tourism practices towards a more sustainable and responsible form of travel. It holds great promise for environmental conservation, socio-economic development, and cultural preservation. However, its success hinges on careful planning, effective management, and a genuine commitment to sustainability. As we move towards a more environmentally conscious world, ecotourism offers a path that respects the earth while still allowing us to explore its diverse beauty.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

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ecotourism effects essay

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  • Published: 31 May 2023

Eco-tourism, climate change, and environmental policies: empirical evidence from developing economies

  • Yunfeng Shang 1 ,
  • Chunyu Bi 2 ,
  • Xinyu Wei 2 ,
  • Dayang Jiang 2 ,
  • Farhad Taghizadeh-Hesary   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5446-7093 3 , 4 &
  • Ehsan Rasoulinezhad   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-7726-1757 5  

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume  10 , Article number:  275 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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  • Environmental studies

Developing ecotourism services is a suitable solution to help developing countries improve the status of sustainable development indicators and protect their environment. The primary purpose of this paper is to find out the effects of green governance variables and carbon dioxide emissions on ecotourism for 40 developing economies from 2010 to 2021. The results confirmed a uni-directional causal relationship between the green governance indicator and the inflation rate of the ecotourism indicator. In addition, with a 1% improvement in the green governance index of developing countries, the ecotourism of these countries will increase by 0.43%. In comparison, with a 1% increase in the globalization index of these countries, ecotourism will increase by 0.32%. Moreover, ecotourism in developing countries is more sensitive to macroeconomic variables changes than in developed economies. Geopolitical risk is an influential factor in the developing process of ecotourism. The practical policies recommended by this research are developing the green financing market, establishing virtual tourism, granting green loans to small and medium enterprises, and government incentives to motivate active businesses.

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The challenge of climate change has become a primary threat to living on the Earth in the last centuries (Rasoulinzhad and Taghizadeh-Hesary, 2022 ). Many meetings of the countries at the regional and international level are held on the topics of environment and climate change. Regardless of environmental issues, population growth, and the lack of control of greenhouse gas emissions, industrialization has been the most crucial cause of the climate change crisis. Chao and Feng ( 2018 ) address human activity as the leading cause of climate change and express that this challenge is a potential threat to living on Earth. Woodward ( 2019 ) argued that climate change threats include the rise in global temperature, the melting of polar ice caps, and unprecedented disease outbreaks. Therefore, urgent policies and solutions are essential to control and lower the risk of global change. One of the signs of climate change is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s surface. Figure 1 shows the temperature data from 1910 to 2021 for the four continents of Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America.

figure 1

Source: Authors from NOAA ( https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/climate-at-a-glance/global/time-series ).

The data in Fig. 1 shows that the air temperature has increased significantly over the past century, which has been more prominent in Asia and Europe. In 2021, we saw a decrease in temperature changes due to the spread of the Corona disease and a decrease in the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. However, the role of the Asian continent in increasing the global temperature has been more than other continents due to its large population and excessive consumption of fossil fuels.

During the past decades, the world’s countries have tried to formulate and implement various environmental policies collectively in the form of agreements or separately to fight environmental threats. Regarding international agreements, such things as the Paris Agreement of 2015, the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, the Montreal Protocol of 1987, and the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985 can be addressed whose primary purpose is to integrate the goals and motivation of the international community to the world’s environmental threats. However, a group of earlier studies, such as Zheng et al. ( 2017 ), Takashima ( 2018 ), and Roelfsema et al. ( 2022 ), emphasized the inefficiency of these global agreements, especially after the left the USA from the Paris Agreement on 1 June 2017. The most important cause of this inefficiency has been the need for more motivation of countries to fulfill their international obligations towards environmental issues. However, many governments consider the threat of climate change only within their geographical boundaries and have tried to formulate and implement green policies to advance their environmental protection goals. These policies include green financial policies (green taxes, green subsidies), monetary policies (such as green loans and green financing), and cultural and social policies in line with sustainable development. The ultimate goal of these green policies is a green economy, an environmentally friendly economy, a zero carbon economy, or a sustainable economy. Lee et al. ( 2022 ) define the green economy as a broad concept comprising green industry, agriculture, and services. Centobelli et al. ( 2022 ) express that environmental sustainability should be more attention in the service sector owing to its penetration into social life and interactions.

Tourism and travel-related services are among countries’ main parts of the service sector. By creating the flow of tourists, tourism services can lead to capital transfer, job creation, cultural exchange (globalization), and increasing welfare in the country hosting the tours. According to the Yearbook of Tourism Statistics published by the World Tourism Organization, international tourism has increased from 522.2 billion US dollars in 1995 to nearly 1.86 trillion US dollars in 2019. This increase shows the importance of tourism services in generating income for countries, especially in the era of Corona and post-corona. Casado-Aranda et al. ( 2021 ) express that tourism services can be a central driver of economic growth recovery in post COVID era. Jeyacheya and Hampton ( 2022 ) argue that tourism can make high incomes for host countries leading to job creation and economic flourishing in destination cities for tourists.

An important issue mentioned in the corona era and relies on the post-corona era is the revitalizing of green economic growth. An important issue mentioned in the corona era and relying on the post-corona era is the revitalizing green economic growth (Bai et al., 2022 ; Werikhe, 2022 ), an opportunity that countries should pay more attention to in order to rebuild their economic activities. In other words, countries should plan their return to economic prosperity with environmental issues in mind. To this end, the issue of tourism finds a branch called Ecotourism or sustainable tourism which has environmental concerns and tries to help countries to improve environmental protection policies. Ecotourism is an approach based on environmental criteria, which is opposed to over-tourism (a type of tourism that disrupts the protection of the environment and destroys natural resources). The International Ecotourism Society defines Ecotourism as an efficient way to conserve the environment and improve local people’s well-being. It can be said that Ecotourism, along with various economic advantages (income generation, job creation, globalization, poverty alleviation), will bring environmental protection to the world’s countries, achieving the goals of green economic growth recovery and sustainable development. Xu et al. ( 2022 ) consider Ecotourism as one of the essential components of achieving sustainable development in the post-corona era.

Ecotourism in developing countries has more priorities compared to developed economies. Firstly, developing countries are often countries with financial problems of the government, and the governments in these countries need more capital to advance sustainable development goals. Therefore, developing ecotourism services can be a suitable solution to help these countries improve the status of sustainable development indicators and protect their environment. Second, due to the spread of the Corona disease, developing countries have experienced numerous bankruptcy in the tourism services sector. Therefore, promoting ecotourism in these countries is of great importance in the post-corona era. Third, developing countries have a high share in the emission of greenhouse gases in the world due to their high dependence on fossil fuels and the lack of advanced green technologies. Fourth, due to bureaucratic processes, high cost, and lack of market transparency, greenwashing may happen in developing economies’ ecotourism industry, meaning that a company serving ecotourism services makes its activities seem more sustainable and ethical than they are. The term “greenwashing” can harshly impact the future development path of the ecotourism industry in developing economies. According to the reasons mentioned above, developing ecotourism in developing countries can be an essential factor in controlling and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in these countries.

This paper tries to contribute to the existing literature from the following aspects:

Calculating the ecotourism index for selected countries based on the criteria for measuring sustainable tourism stated by the World Tourism Organization in the United Nations. Considering that there is no specific index for ecotourism, the calculation of ecotourism in this article will be innovative.

Measuring the green governance index as a proxy for environmental policies for selected countries based on the Environment Social and Governance (ESG) data.

Selecting a sample of 40 developing countries from different geographical regions to calculate the interconnections between ecotourism, green governance, and climate change

Making a further discussion to address the role of uncertainty and the developing level of countries in the relationship between ecotourism and explanatory variables.

The main results confirm the existence of a uni-directional causal relationship running from the green governance indicator and inflation rate to the ecotourism indicator. In addition, with a 1% improvement in the green governance index of developing countries, the ecotourism of these countries will increase by 0.43%. A 1% increase in the globalization index of these countries accelerates ecotourism by 0.32%.

Moreover, ecotourism in developing countries is more sensitive to macroeconomic variables changes than in developed economies. Geopolitical risk is an influential factor in the developing process of ecotourism. The practical policies recommended by this research are developing the green financing market, establishing virtual tourism, granting green loans to small and medium enterprises, and government incentives to motivate active businesses.

The paper in continue is organized as follows: section “Literature review” provides a short literature review to determine the gaps this research seeks to fill. Section “Data and model specification” argues data and model specification. The following section represents empirical results. Section “Discussion” expresses discussion, whereas the last section provides conclusions, policy implications, research limitations, and recommendations to research further.

Literature review

This part of the article analyzes and classifies the previous literature on ecotourism and sustainable development in a rational and structured way. The importance of tourism in economic growth and development has been discussed in previous studies. However, the study of the effect of tourism on climate change has received little attention. Especially the relationship between sustainable tourism, climate change, and environmental policies is a problem that has yet to receive the attention of academic experts.

A group of previous studies has focused on the place of tourism in economic development and growth. Holzner ( 2011 ) focused on the consequences of tourism development on the economic performance of 134 countries from 1970 to 2007. They found out that excessive dependence on tourism income leads to Dutch disease in the economy, and other economic sectors need to develop to the extent of the tourism sector. In another study, Sokhanvar et al. ( 2018 ) investigated the causal link between tourism and economic growth in emerging economies from 1995 to 2014. The main results confirmed that the linkage is country-dependent. Brida et al. ( 2020 ) studied 80 economies from 1995 to 2016 to determine how tourism and economic development are related. The paper’s conclusions highlighted tourism’s-positive role in economic activities.

Another group of previous studies has linked tourism to sustainability targets. Sorensen and Grindsted ( 2021 ) expressed that nature tourism development has a positive and direct impact on achieving sustainable development goals of countries. In a new study, Li et al. ( 2022 ) studied the impacts of tourism development on life quality (as one of the sustainable development goals defined by the UN in 2015) in the case of Japan. They found that tourism development positively impacts the quality of life of age groups in the country. Ahmad et al. ( 2022 ) explored the role of tourism in the sustainability of G7 economies from 2000–2019. The primary findings revealed the positive impact of tourism arrivals on sustainable economic development. Zekan et al. ( 2022 ) investigated the impact of tourism on regional sustainability in Europe. They concluded that tourism development increases transport, leading to increased carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, tourism development causes environmental pollution.

Tourism that can pay attention to environmental issues is called “ecotourism.” Many new studies have studied different dimensions of ecotourism. Lu et al. ( 2021 ) expanded the concept of the ecotourism industry. The significant results expressed that smart tourist cities are essential for efficient ecotourism in countries. Thompson ( 2022 ) expressed the characteristics of ecotourism development through survey methodology. The results confirmed the importance of transparent regulations, government support, and social intention to promote ecotourism. In another study, Heshmati et al. ( 2022 ) employed the SWOT analysis method to explore the critical success factors of ecotourism development in Iran. They found that legal documentation and private participation are major influential factors in promoting ecotourism in Iran. In line with the previous research, Hosseini et al. ( 2021 ) tried to explore the influential factors in promoting ecotourism in Iran by employing a SWOT analysis. They depicted that attracting investors is essential to enhance ecotourism projects in Iran. Hasana et al. ( 2022 ) reviewed research to analyze the earlier studies about ecotourism. The conclusions expressed that ecotourism is necessary for environmental protection. However, it is a challenging plan for the government, and they should carry out various policies toward ecotourism development. Kunjuraman et al. ( 2022 ) studied the role of ecotourism on rural community development in Malaysia. The significant results confirmed that ecotourism could transfer-positive impacts.

Several earlier studies have concentrated on the characteristics of ecotourism in different developed and developing economies. For example, Ruhanen ( 2019 ) investigated the ecotourism status in Australia. The paper concluded that the country could potentially make a larger share of ecotourism to the entire local tourism industry. Jin et al. ( 2022 ) studied the role of local community power on green tourism in Japan. They concluded that the concept of agricultural village activity and regional support positively influences the development of green tourism in Japan as a developed economy. Choi et al. ( 2022 ) sought to find aspects of ecotourism development in South Korea. The preliminary results confirmed the importance of green governance and efficient regulation to promote a sustainable tourism industry. Baloch et al. ( 2022 ) explored the ecotourism specifications in the developing economy of Pakistan. They found that Pakistan’s ecotourism needs government support and the social well-being of the visited cities. Sun et al. ( 2022 ) studied ecotourism in China. They concluded that there is imbalanced development of ecotourism among Chinese provinces due to the need for more capital to invest in all ecotourism projects throughout the Chinese cities. Tajer and Demir ( 2022 ) analyzed the ecotourism strategy in Iran. They concluded that despite various potentials in the country, insufficient capital, lack of social awareness, and political tension are the major obstacles to promoting a sustainable tourism industry in Iran.

Another group of earlier studies has drawn attention to promoting eco-tourism in the post COVID era. They believe that the corona disease has created an excellent opportunity to pay more attention to environmental issues and that countries should move towards sustainable development concepts such as sustainable (eco) tourism in the post-corona era. Soliku et al. ( 2021 ) studied eco-tourism in Ghana during the pandemic. The findings depicted the vague impacts of a pandemic on eco-tourism. Despite the short-term negative consequence of the pandemic on eco-tourism, it provides various opportunities for developing this sector in Ghana. Hosseini et al. ( 2021 ) employed the Fuzzy Dematel technique to find solutions for promoting eco-tourism during COVID-19. They found out that planning to increase the capacity of eco-tourism and incentive policies by governments can help promote the eco-tourism aspect under the pandemic’s consequences. Abedin et al. ( 2022 ) studied the consequence of COVID-19 on coastal eco-tourism development. The primary findings confirmed the negative impacts of a pandemic on the development of eco-tourism.

A review of previous studies shows that tourism can positively impact green growth and sustainable development. Sustainable tourism can be used as a policy to deal with the threat of climate change. This issue needs more attention in the corona and post-corona eras. Because in the post-corona era, many countries have sought to revive green economic growth, and ecotourism can be one of the tools to achieve it. As observed, a detailed study of the relationship between climate change, ecotourism, and environmental policies has yet to be done. Therefore, this research will address and fill this literature gap.

Data and model specification

Data description.

The paper seeks to find the relationship between climate change, ecotourism, and environmental policy for the panel of 40 developing economies from different regions from 2010 to 2021 (480 observations). The sample size could have been more extensive due to the lack of information on some variables. However, there are 480 observations in the data analysis of the data panel; therefore, the number of samples selected is acceptable.

To determine the proxies for main variables, CO2 emissions per capita are selected as the proxy for climate change. Many earlier studies (e.g., Espoir et al., 2022 ) have employed this variable as an appropriate variable representing the status of climate change. Regarding ecotourism, the World Tourism Organization proposed some measurements of sustainable tourism, and also following Yusef et al. ( 2014 ), the entropy weight method is employed to calculate a multi-dimensional ecotourism indicator comprising per capita green park area (square meters), gross domestic tourism revenue (US dollars), the ratio of good air quality (%), green transport, renewable water resources (km3) and deforestation rate (%). It is a novel ecotourism indicator that can show the ecotourism status in countries.

In addition, the green governance index is calculated as a proxy for environmental policy. Principally, the Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) data from World Bank are gathered to calculate this variable. With the improvement of the Green Governance Index, the quality of environmental policies will also increase, and vice versa. With the adverseness of the Green Governance Index, the efficiency of environmental policies will decrease.

Regarding control variables, the inflation rate as an influential factor in tourism flows is selected. The importance of this variable to promoting/declining tourism flows has been drawn to attention by some earlier studies, such as Liu et al. ( 2022 ). The inflation rate can raise the total cost of travel, causing a reduction in tourism flows, while any reduction in the inflation rate can increase the intention of tourists to travel. In addition, the KOF globalization index provided by the KOF Swiss Economic Institute is another control variable. A country with a higher degree of globalization means more readiness to accept tourists from countries with different cultures and religions.

Model specification

According to the variables mentioned above, 40 examined developing countries from 2010 to 2021, the panel co-integration model can be written as Eq. 1 :

ETOR indicates the ecotourism index, while CO2, GGI, INF, and GLOB denote Carbon dioxide emissions per capita, green governance index, inflation rate, and globalization index, respectively. i is 1,2,…,40 and shows examined developing economies, while t is time and contains 2010, 2011,..,2021.

Prior to the estimation of coefficients of Eq. 1 , the panel unit root tests are employed to find out whether the series is stationary. To this end, three tests of LLC (Levin et al., 2002 ), Breitung’s test ( 2000 ), and the PP-Fisher test (Philips and Perron, 1988 ). If all the variables are stationary at the first level of difference (I(1)), a panel co-integration test can be conducted to explore whether the model is spurious. To this end, Kao’s co-integration test ( 1999 ) and Pedroni’s residual co-integration test ( 2004 ) are conducted. If the co-integration relationship exists among variables, the panel causality test can be run to determine the causal linkages among variables. In this paper, the two steps of Engle and Granger (1987)‘s test, which is based on the error correction model (ECM) is used as Eqs. 2 – 6 :

In the above Equations, Δ is the first differences of variables, while θ and ECT represent the fixed country effect and error correction term.

The next step is the long-run panel co-integration estimations. To this end, Fully Modified OLS (FMOLS) and Dynamic OLS (DOLS) as robustness checks are conducted, which are two famous panel co-integration estimators (Rasoulinezhad, 2018 ). The FMOLS estimator has various advantages. It allows serial correlation, endogeneity, and cross-sectional heterogeneity (Erdal and Erdal, 2020 ).

Empirical results

In this section, we will implement the experimental research model. The purpose of implementing an econometric model based on panel data is to find the effects of green governance variables and carbon dioxide emissions on ecotourism. As the first step, the panel unit root tests are conducted. The results are reported in Table 1 as follows:

According to Table 1 , all three-panel unit root tests depict that all series are non-stationary at the level and become stationary after a first difference. Next, the panel co-integration tests are conducted, and their results are represented in Tables 2 and 3 :

The two-panel co-integration tests’ findings confirm the presence of co-integration linkages among variables.

The panel causality test studies the short-term and long-term causal relationship among variables. Table 4 reports the results of the panel causality check as follows:

According to Table 4 , there is a uni-directional causal relationship between the green governance indicator and the inflation rate of the ecotourism indicator. At the same time, there is a bi-directional causal relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and ecotourism indicators, confirming the existence of the feedback effect. In addition, there is only short-term causality from the green governance indicator to carbon dioxide emissions. In contrast, ecotourism and the globalization index have a uni-directional causal linkage. In the short term, improving ecotourism can cause globalization and reduce carbon emissions in developing economies. Regarding the long-term causality, it can be concluded that the ECT of ecotourism, green governance index, and globalization index are statistically significant. These three variables are major adjustment variables when the system departs from equilibrium.

In the last stage, the long-run estimations are done through FMOLS and DOLS estimators. Table 5 lists the results of the estimations by these two-panel co-integration estimators:

Based on FMOLS estimation, it can be concluded that the Green Governance index has a positive and significant coefficient in such a way that with a 1% improvement in the green governance index of developing countries, the ecotourism of these countries will increase by 0.43%. By improving the state of green governance, the quality of formulated and implemented green policies in these countries will increase, improving the conditions of ecotourism development. This finding aligns with Agrawal et al. ( 2022 ) and Debbarma and Choi ( 2022 ), who believe that green governance is essential to sustainable development. In the case of carbon dioxide emissions, the coefficient of this variable is not statistically significant. In other words, the variable of carbon dioxide emissions per capita has no significant effect on ecotourism in developing countries. The inflation rate has a significant negative effect on ecotourism. With a 1% increase in the general prices of goods and services in developing countries, ecotourism will decrease by 0.34%. This finding aligns with Rahman ( 2022 ), who showed a negative relationship between inflation and sustainable development in their research. An increase in inflation means an increase in the total cost of a tourist’s trip to the destination country, inhibiting the growth of tourist services.

Regarding the globalization variable, this variable has a significant positive effect on the ecotourism of developing countries. With a 1% increase in the globalization index of these countries, ecotourism will increase by 0.32%. Globalization means more interaction with the world’s countries, acceptance of different cultures and customs, more language learning in society, more acceptance of tourism, and development of tourist services in the country. This finding is consistent with the results of Akadiri et al. ( 2019 ), who confirmed that globalization is one of the crucial components in tourism development.

The DOLS estimator was also used to ensure the obtained findings’ validity. The results of this method are shown in Table 5 . The signs of the coefficients are consistent with the results obtained by the FMOLS method. Therefore, the validity and reliability of the obtained coefficients are confirmed.

In this section, we will briefly discuss the relationship between ecotourism and climate change and the environmental policy considering the uncertainty and the relationship between variables in developed and developing countries.

Consideration of uncertainty

Uncertainty as a primary reason for risk has become a research issue in recent decades. Uncertainty can make the future unpredictable and uncontrollable, affecting economic decision-making. Regarding tourism, the impacts of uncertainty have been drawn to attention by several earlier studies (e.g., Dutta et al., 2020 ; Das et al., 2020 ; and Balli et al., 2019 ; Balli et al., 2018 ). In general, uncertainty in the tourism industry reflects tourists’ concerns and consumption habits in the way that by increasing uncertainty, it is expected that tourists make sense of risks and postpone their tourism activities, and vice versa; in the sphere of certainties, the various risks are clear, and tourists can make rational decisions for their tourism plans and activities. In order to explore the impacts of uncertainties on eco-tourism of the examined developing economies, the geopolitical risk index (GPR) as a proxy for economic policy uncertainty index is gathered and added as a control variable to Eq. 1 . The estimations results by FMOLS are reported in Table 6 as follows.

According to Table 6 , the uncertainty (geopolitical risk) has a negative coefficient meaning that with a 1% increase in geopolitical risk, the eco-tourism industry in the examined developing countries decreases by approximately 0.69%. The signs of coefficients of other variables align with the earlier findings, represented in Table 5 . In addition, the magnitude of the impact of geopolitical risk is larger than the impacts of other variables highlighting the importance of lower geopolitical risk in these economies to reach sustainable tourism targets.

Difference in developed and developing economies

Considering the different structures and financial power of these two groups of countries, the relationship between the variables mentioned in these two groups is expected to be different. In the previous section, the results for the group of developing countries showed that the Green Governance index has a positive and significant coefficient. In the case of carbon dioxide emissions, the coefficient of this variable is not statistically significant. The inflation rate has a significant negative effect on ecotourism. Regarding the globalization variable, it can be mentioned that this variable has a significant positive effect on the ecotourism of developing countries. In order to analyze the relationship between variables in the developed countries, the top 10 countries with the highest HDI in 2021 are selected (Switzerland (0.962), Norway (0.961), Iceland (0.959), Hong Kong (0.952), Australia (0.951), Denmark (0.948), Sweden (0.947) and Ireland (0.945)). The selected variables, explained in section “Data and model specification”, are collected from 2010 to 2021. The panel unit root tests confirmed that all series are non-stationary at the level and become stationary after a first difference. In addition, the presence of co-integration linkages among variables is revealed by the panel co-integration test. The panel co-integration estimator of FMOLS is employed to study the long-term relationship among variables. The findings are reported in Table 7 as follows:

According to the estimated coefficients, the green governance indicator positively and statistically significantly impacts ecotourism in the examined developed economies. However, the magnitude of the impact of this variable is more considerable for developing countries because these countries have more imbalances in markets and regulations. Therefore, the presence of good green tourism can have a more positive effect on advancing the goal of ecotourism. Contrary to the findings of developing countries, carbon dioxide emission in developed countries has a negative and significant effect, meaning that with an increase of 1% in carbon dioxide in developed countries, the level of ecotourism becomes more unfavorable by 0.034%. Moreover, inflation and globalization variables have significant negative and positive coefficients, respectively. However, the magnitudes of these two variables’ coefficients are also higher in developing countries. Ecotourism in developing countries is more sensitive to changes in macroeconomic variables such as green governance, globalization, and inflation.

Another difference between eco-tourism in developed and developing economies may be interpreted through the term “greenwashing,” introduced by Westerveld in 1986 (Maichum et al., 2016 ). In developing countries, due to the economic structure, limited knowledge, bureaucratic process, lack of legal eco-certification, and imperfect competition, a company involved in the eco-tourism industry makes an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into accepting the company’s services are in line with environmental protection policies. Hence, green governance in developing countries should have another role in regulating the eco-tourism market to lower the threat of greenwashing in eco-tourism services.

Conclusions and policy recommendations

Concluding remarks.

The findings of econometric modeling revealed the relationship between environmental policies, climate change, and ecotourism. Based on the findings of the econometric model, the following conclusions can be presented:

A uni-directional causal relationship runs from the green governance indicator and inflation rate to the ecotourism indicator, which means that any changes in green governance and inflation rate cause changes in ecotourism, which is vital for developing economies where governance and inflation rate are two crucial issues.

There is a bi-directional causal relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and ecotourism indicators, confirming the existence of the feedback hypothesis, expressing that in developing economies, any policies related to ecotourism cause changes in CO2 emissions and vice versa.

There is only short-term causality from the green governance indicator to carbon dioxide emissions, whereas there is a uni-directional causal linkage from ecotourism to the globalization index. In other words, in the short term, improving ecotourism can cause globalization and reduce carbon emissions in developing economies.

By improving green governance in developing economies, the quality of formulated and implemented green policies in these countries will increase, improving the conditions of ecotourism development.

An increase in the inflation rate raises the total cost of a tourist’s trip to developing economies, inhibiting the growth of eco-tourist services.

Globalization means more interaction with the world’s countries, acceptance of different cultures and customs, more language learning in society, more acceptance of tourism, and development of tourist services in developing countries.

Policy implications

In order to achieve the promotion of ecotourism in developing countries, the implementation of integrated and effective strategic and practical policies is of great importance. According to the concluding remarks mentioned, practical policies are presented as follows for enhancing ecotourism in developed countries. The development of ecotourism requires the improvement of various infrastructures and mechanisms, which depends on the implementation of projects related to ecotourism in developing countries. Because most countries do not have enough financial power to invest in such projects, developing the green financing market can be one of the critical practical solutions. The green financing tool can increase the investment risk and return on investment in such projects, and as a result, the participation of the private sector in these projects will increase. With information and communication technology development, virtual tourism can solve many environmental issues related to human physical presence. Virtual tourism is one of the branches of tourism services that provide people with destinations, places of interest, and tourist attractions with full quality but in virtual form. Another practical policy is granting green loans to small and medium enterprises active in ecotourism. Despite the organizational agility, these companies do not have the significant financial power to develop different sectors of ecotourism; therefore, the cooperation of the banking industry of developing countries by providing green loans (with low-interest rates) can motivate small and medium-sized companies in the field of activities related to ecotourism. Government incentives to motivate businesses active in ecotourism and government deterrent policies (green tax) from businesses active in the field of tourism to lead them to increase the share of ecotourism in their activities can be a proper operational strategy. In developing countries, the role of government and green governance is vital in advancing the goals of ecotourism. By improving the level of its green governance, the government can create efficient policies, regulations, and social tools to create motivation and desire to accept ecotourism, an essential and undeniable issue in developing societies. Creating a guarantee fund for ecotourism companies in developing countries is another practical policy to support these companies financially. Guarantee funds can be established with the participation of the people of ecotourism destinations in order to strengthen the financial strength of ecotourism companies in these destinations.

Limitations and recommendations to further research

This research had a practical and innovative contribution to the literature on ecotourism in developing countries. The findings obtained from the econometric model analysis provided appropriate practical and strategic policies to the policymakers of countries interested in the development of ecotourism. However, access to data related to the ecotourism index and sustainable development of developing countries due to the lack of community in a specific database is considered one of the critical limitations of this research. This limitation caused many developing countries to be excluded from the research sample, which may have created a deviation in the research. Adding more countries to the test sample in future research is suggested to obtain complete and accurate results. Also, due to the outbreak of the Corona pandemic at the end of 2019 and the Russia-Ukraine war since the beginning of 2022, it is suggested that these two variables be included in the econometric model as an illusion in order to analyze their effects on the ecotourism of the countries of the world. Using other econometric methods, such as artificial neural networks, is suggested to model ecotourism in different countries. Complex modeling by taking into account trends and trends to predict the relationship between variables in the future will be an essential step in formulating effective programs in ecotourism.

Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Shang, Y., Bi, C., Wei, X. et al. Eco-tourism, climate change, and environmental policies: empirical evidence from developing economies. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 10 , 275 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-023-01777-w

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What Is Ecotourism? Definition, Examples, and Pros and Cons

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Ecotourism Definition and Principles

Pros and cons.

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Ecotourism is about more than simply visiting natural attractions or natural places; it’s about doing so in a responsible and sustainable manner. The term itself refers to traveling to natural areas with a focus on environmental conservation. The goal is to educate tourists about conservation efforts while offering them the chance to explore nature.

Ecotourism has benefited destinations like Madagascar, Ecuador, Kenya, and Costa Rica, and has helped provide economic growth in some of the world’s most impoverished communities. The global ecotourism market produced $92.2 billion in 2019 and is forecasted to generate $103.8 billion by 2027.

A conservationist by the name of Hector Ceballos-Lascurain is often credited with the first definition of ecotourism in 1987, that is, “tourism that consists in travelling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific object 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.”

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of ecotourism since 1990, defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education [both in its staff and its guests].”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) looks at ecotourism as a significant tool for conservation, though it shouldn’t be seen as a fix-all when it comes to conservation challenges:

“There may be some areas that are just not appropriate for ecotourism development and some businesses that just won’t work in the larger tourism market. That is why it is so important to understand the basics of developing and running a successful business, to ensure that your business idea is viable and will be profitable, allowing it to most effectively benefit the surrounding environment and communities.”

Marketing an ecosystem, species, or landscape towards ecotourists helps create value, and that value can help raise funds to protect and conserve those natural resources.

Sustainable ecotourism should be guided by three core principles: conservation, communities, and education.


Conservation is arguably the most important component of ecotourism because it should offer long-term, sustainable solutions to enhancing and protecting biodiversity and nature. This is typically achieved through economic incentives paid by tourists seeking a nature-based experience, but can also come from the tourism organizations themselves, research, or direct environmental conservation efforts.


Ecotourism should increase employment opportunities and empower local communities, helping in the fight against global social issues like poverty and achieving sustainable development.


One of the most overlooked aspects of ecotourism is the education component. Yes, we all want to see these beautiful, natural places, but it also pays to learn about them. Increasing awareness about environmental issues and promoting a greater understanding and appreciation for nature is arguably just as important as conservation.

As one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry, there are bound to be some downsides to ecotourism. Whenever humans interact with animals or even with the environment, it risks the chance of human-wildlife conflict or other negative effects; if done so with respect and responsibility in mind, however, ecotourism can reap enormous benefits to protected areas.

As an industry that relies heavily on the presentation of eco-friendly components to attract customers, ecotourism has the inevitable potential as a vessel for greenwashing. Part of planning a trip rooted in ecotourism is doing research to ensure that an organization is truly providing substantial benefits to the environment rather than exploiting it.

Ecotourism Can Provide Sustainable Income for Local Communities

Sustainably managed ecotourism can support poverty alleviation by providing employment for local communities, which can offer them alternative means of livelihood outside of unsustainable ones (such as poaching).

Research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that communities in regions surrounding conservation areas in Costa Rica had poverty rates that were 16% lower than in areas that weren’t near protected parks. These protected areas didn’t just benefit from conservation funds due to ecotourism, but also helped to reduce poverty as well.

It Protects Natural Ecosystems

Ecotourism offers unique travel experiences focusing on nature and education, with an emphasis on sustainability and highlighting threatened or endangered species. It combines conservation with local communities and sustainable travel , highlighting principles (and operations) that minimize negative impacts and expose visitors to unique ecosystems and natural areas. When managed correctly, ecotourism can benefit both the traveler and the environment, since the money that goes into ecotourism often goes directly towards protecting the natural areas they visit.

Each year, researchers release findings on how tourist presence affects wildlife, sometimes with varying results. A study measuring levels of the stress hormone cortisol in wild habituated Malaysian orangutans found that the animals were not chronically stressed by the presence of ecotourists. The orangutans lived in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, where a local community-managed organization operates while maintaining strict guidelines to protect them.

Ecotourism May Also Hurt Those Same Natural Ecosystems

Somewhat ironically, sometimes ecotourism can hurt ecosystems just as much as it can help. Another study in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution found that ecotourism can alter animal behaviors in ways that put them at risk. If the presence of humans changes the way animals behave, those changes may make them more vulnerable by influencing their reaction to predators or poachers.

It's not just the animals who are at risk. As ecotourism activities become too popular, it can lead to the construction of new infrastructure to accommodate more visitors. Similarly, more crowds mean more pressure on local resources, increased pollution, and a higher chance of damaging the soil and plant quality through erosion. On the social side, these activities may displace Indigenous groups or local communities from their native lands, preventing them from benefiting from the economic opportunities of tourism.

Ecotourism Offers the Opportunity to Experience Nature

Renown conservationist Jane Goodall has a famous quote: “Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall all be saved.” It can be difficult to understand something that we haven’t seen with our own eyes, and ecotourism gives travelers the opportunity to gain new experiences in natural areas while learning about the issues they face. 

Ecotourism also educates children about nature, potentially creating new generations of nature lovers that could someday become conservationists themselves. Even adult visitors may learn new ways to improve their ecological footprints .


The East African country has some competitive advantages over its neighbors thanks to its rich natural resources, paired with the fact that it has allocated over 25% of its total area to wildlife national parks and protected areas. Because of this, an estimated 90% of tourists visit to Tanzania seeking out ecotourism activities. Ecotourism, in turn, supports 400,000 jobs and accounts for 17.2% of the national GDP, earning about $1 billion each year as its leading economic sector.

Some of Tanzania’s biggest highlights include the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro , and Zanzibar, though the country still often goes overlooked by American tourists. Visitors can take a walking safari tour in the famous Ngorongoro Conservation area, for example, with fees going to support the local Maasai community.

The country is also known for its chimpanzees , and there are several ecotourism opportunities in Gombe National Park that go directly towards protecting chimpanzee habitats.

Galapagos Islands

It comes as no surprise that the place first made famous by legendary naturalist Charles Darwin would go on to become one of the most sought-after ecotourism destinations on Earth, the Galapagos Islands .

The Directorate of the Galapagos National Park and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism require tour providers to conserve water and energy, recycle waste, source locally produced goods, hire local employees with a fair wage, and offer employees additional training. A total of 97% of the land area on the Galapagos is part of the official national park, and all of its 330 islands have been divided into zones that are either completely free of human impact, protected restoration areas, or reduced impact zones adjacent to tourist-friendly areas.

Local authorities still have to be on their toes, however, since UNESCO lists increased tourism as one of the main threats facing the Galapagos today. The bulk of funding for the conservation and management of the archipelago comes from a combination of governmental institutions and entry fees paid by tourists.

Costa Rica is well-known throughout the world for its emphasis on nature-based tourism, from its numerous animal sanctuaries to its plethora of national parks and reserves. Programs like its “Ecological Blue Flag” program help inform tourists of beaches that have maintained a strict set of eco-friendly criteria.

The country’s forest cover went from 26% in 1983 to over 52% in 2021 thanks to the government’s decision to create more protected areas and promote ecotourism in the country . Now, over a quarter of its total land area is zoned as protected territory.

Costa Rica welcomes 1.7 million travelers per year, and most of them come to experience the country’s vibrant wildlife and diverse ecosystems. Its numerous biological reserves and protected parks hold some of the most extraordinary biodiversity on Earth, so the country takes special care to keep environmental conservation high on its list of priorities. 

New Zealand

In 2019, tourism generated $16.2 billion, or 5.8% of the GDP, in New Zealand. That same year, 8.4% of its citizens were employed in the tourism industry, and tourists generated $3.8 billion in tax revenue.

The country offers a vast number of ecotourism experiences, from animal sanctuaries to natural wildlife on land, sea, and even natural caves. New Zealand’s South Pacific environment, full of sights like glaciers and volcanic landscapes, is actually quite fragile, so the government puts a lot of effort into keeping it safe.

Tongariro National Park, for example, is the oldest national park in the country, and has been named by UNESCO as one of only 28 mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites. Its diverse volcanic landscapes and the cultural heritage of the indigenous Maori tribes within the create the perfect combination of community, education, and conservation.

How to Be a Responsible Ecotourist

  • Ensure that the organizations you hire provide financial contributions to benefit conservation and find out where your money is going.
  • Ask about specific steps the organization takes to protect the environment where they operate, such as recycling or promoting sustainable policies.
  • Find out if they include the local community in their activities, such as hiring local guides, giving back, or through initiatives to empower the community.
  • Make sure there are educational elements to the program. Does the organization take steps to respect the destination’s culture as well as its biodiversity?
  • See if your organization is connected to a non-profit or charity like the International Ecotourism Society .
  • Understand that wildlife interactions should be non-invasive and avoid negative impacts on the animals.

Ecotourism activities typically involve visiting and enjoying a natural place without disturbing the landscape or its inhabitants. This might involve going for a hike on a forest trail, mountain biking, surfing, bird watching, camping, or forest bathing . 

Traveling in a way that minimizes carbon emissions, like taking a train or bike instead of flying, may also be part of an ecotourism trip. Because these modes of travel tend to be slower, they may be appreciated as enjoyable and relaxing ecotourism activities.

The Wolf Conservation Center ’s programing in New York State is an example of ecotourism. This non-profit organization is dedicated to the preservation of endangered wolf species. It hosts educational sessions that allow visitors to observe wolves from a safe distance. These programs help to fund the nonprofit organization’s conservation and wildlife rehabilitation efforts.

Stonehouse, Bernard. " Ecotourism ." Environmental Geology: Encyclopedia of Earth Science , 1999, doi:10.1007/1-4020-4494-1_101

" What is Ecotourism? " The International Ecotourism Society .

" Tourism ." International Union for Conservation of Nature .





" Galapagos Islands ." UNESCO .

" About Costa Rica ." Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington DC .


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Impact of tourism development upon environmental sustainability: a suggested framework for sustainable ecotourism

  • Research Article
  • Published: 19 August 2022
  • Volume 30 , pages 5917–5930, ( 2023 )

Cite this article

ecotourism effects essay

  • Qadar Bakhsh Baloch 1 ,
  • Syed Naseeb Shah 1 ,
  • Nadeem Iqbal 2 ,
  • Muhammad Sheeraz 3 ,
  • Muhammad Asadullah 4 ,
  • Sourath Mahar 5 &
  • Asia Umar Khan 6  

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The empirical research investigated the relationship between tourism development and environmental suitability to propose a framework for sustainable ecotourism. The framework suggested a balance between business and environmental interests in maintaining an ecological system with the moderating help of government support and policy interventions. The study population encompasses tourism stakeholders, including tourists, representatives from local communities, members of civil administration, hoteliers, and tour operators serving the areas. A total of 650 questionnaires were distributed to respondents, along with a brief description of key study variables to develop a better understanding. After verifying the instrument’s reliability and validity, data analysis was conducted via hierarchical regression. The study findings revealed that a substantial number of people perceive socio-economic benefits, including employment and business openings, infrastructure development from tourism development, and growth. However, the state of the natural and environmental capital was found to be gradually degrading. Alongside the social environment, social vulnerability is reported due to the overutilization of land, intrusion from external cultures, and pollution in air and water due to traffic congestion, accumulation of solid waste, sewage, and carbon emissions. The study suggested a model framework for the development of sustained ecotourism, including supportive government policy interventions to ensure effective conservation of environmental and natural resources without compromising the economic viability and social well-beings of the locals. Furthermore, the variables and the constructs researched can be replicated to other destinations to seek valuable inputs for sustainable destination management elsewhere.

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Tourism is a vibrant force that stimulates travel to explore nature, adventures, wonders, and societies, discover cultures, meet people, interact with values, and experience new traditions and events. Tourism development attracts tourists to a particular destination to develop and sustain a tourism industry. Moreover, environmental sustainability is the future-based conscious effort aimed at conserving socio-cultural heritage and preserving natural resources to protect environmental ecosystems through supporting people’s health and economic well-being. Environment sustainability can be reflected in clean and green natural landscaping, thriving biodiversity, virgin sea beaches, long stretches of desert steppes, socio-cultural values, and archeological heritage that epitomize tourists’ degree of motivation and willingness of the local community to welcome the visitors. In this context, tourism growth and environmental sustainability are considered interdependent constructs; therefore, the increase in tourism development and tourists’ arrivals directly affects the quality of sustained and green tourism (Azam et al. 2018 ; Hassan et al.  2020 ; Sun et al. 2021 ).

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries, contributing more than 10% to the global GDP (UNWTO 2017; Mikayilov et al. 2019 ). Twenty-five million international tourists in 1950 grew to 166 million in 1970, reaching 1.442 billion in 2018 and projected to be 1.8 billion by 2030. Mobilizing such a substantial human tourist’s mass is most likely to trickle environmental pollution along with its positive effects on employment, wealth creation, and the economy. The local pollution at tourist destinations may include air emissions, noise, solid waste, littering, sewage, oil and chemicals, architectural/visual pollution, heating, car use, and many more. In addition, an uncontrolled, overcrowded, and ill-planned tourist population has substantial adverse effects on the quality of the environment. It results in the over-consumption of natural resources, degradation of service quality, and an exponential increase in wastage and pollution. Furthermore, tourism arrivals beyond capacity bring problems rather than a blessing, such as leaving behind soil erosion, attrition of natural resources, accumulation of waste and air pollution, and endangering biodiversity, decomposition of socio-cultural habitats, and virginity of land and sea (Kostić et al. 2016 ; Shaheen et al. 2019 ; Andlib and Salcedo-Castro  2021 ).

Tourism growth and environmental pollution have been witnessed around the globe in different regions. The ASEAN countries referred to as heaven for air pollution, climate change, and global warming are experiencing economic tourism and pollution (Azam et al. 2018 ; Guzel and Okumus 2020 ). In China, more than fifty-eight major Chinese tourism destinations are inviting immediate policy measures to mitigate air pollution and improve environmental sustainability (Zhang et al. 2020 ). Similarly, Singapore, being a top-visited country, is facing negative ecological footprints and calling for a trade-off between tourism development and environmental sustainability (Khoi et al. 2021 ). The prior studies established that international tourism and the tourism-led growth surge tourists’ arrival, energy consumption, carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions, and air pollution resultantly cause climate change (Aslan et al. 2021 ). South Asian countries, more specifically Sri Lanka and Pakistan, are on the verge of tourism growth and environmental pollution compared to other countries (Chishti et al. 2020 ; Tiwari et al. 2021 ).

Pakistan is acknowledged in the tourism world because of its magnificent mountains with the densest concentration of high peaks in the world, scenic beauty of Neelum Valley, Murree, Chitral, and swat Valleys’, Kaghan, Naran, Hunza, Gilgit Baltistan (Baloch 2007 ), sacred shrines of Sikhism, archeological sites of the Gandhara and Indus Valley civilizations such as Mohenjo-Daro, Taxila including pre-Islamic Kalasha community (Baloch and Rehman 2015 ). In addition, Pakistan’s hospitable and multicultural society offers rich traditions, customs, and festivals for the tourists to explore, commemorate, cherish, and enjoy. Pakistan’s geographical and socio-cultural environment represents its resource and an opportunity (Baloch and Rehman 2015 ); therefore, Pakistan is looking to capitalize on it as a promising source of the foreign reserve to compensate for its mounting trade deficit (Baloch et al. 2020 ).

Tourism expansion has been established as a very deleterious ecological cost vis-à-vis the socio-economic benefits it passes to the host communities (Pulido-Fernández et al. 2019 ; Simo-Kengne 2022 ). In this context, the research is motivated to investigate the relationships between Pakistan’s tourism development activities and environmental sustainability. Drawing from the arguments of Pulido-Fernández et al. ( 2019 ) and Simo-Kengne ( 2022 ), it is feared that Pakistan’s ongoing determination to tourism development is likely to cause environmental degradation in two ways. Firstly, the tourism infrastructure developmental process would consume natural resources in the form of air and water pollution, loss of nature, and biodiversity. Secondly, the proliferation of tourism-related energy-consuming activities harms the environment by adding CO 2  emissions (Andlib and Saceldo-Castro 2021 ; Chien et al. 2021a ). Therefore, to tape this tourism-rich potential without compromising the sustainability of the natural and socio-cultural environment in the area, there is a dire need to develop Pakistan’s tourism areas into environment-friendly destinations.

Against the backdrop of a widening level of trade deficit, Pakistan’s rich tourism potential is being perceived as an immediate alternative for earning revenue to compensate for the current account gap. However, the developing large-scale tourism industry is considered a threat to deforestation, and air and water pollution, endangering biodiversity trading on resilient ecological credentials. The research study attempts to find an all-inclusive and comprehensive answer to the socio-ecological environmental concerns of tourism development and growth. Therefore, the research investigates the relationship between tourism development and its environmental sustainability to suggest a model framework for the development and growth of Sustainable Ecotourism in Pakistan along with its most visited destinations.

Literature review

  • Tourism development and growth

Tourism is considered a force of sound as it benefits travelers and communities in urban and suburban areas. Tourism development is the process of forming and sustaining a business for a particular or mix of segments of tourists’ as per their motivation in a particular area or at a specific destination. Primarily, tourism development refers to the all-encompassing process of planning, pursuing, and executing strategies to establish, develop, promote, and encourage tourism in a particular area or destination (Mandić et al. 2018 ; Ratnasari et al. 2020 ). A tourism destination may serve as a single motivation for a group of tourists or a mix of purposes, i.e., natural tourism, socio-cultural or religious tourism, adventure or business tourism, or a combination of two or more. Andlib and Salcedo-Castro ( 2021 ), drawing from an analysis approach, contended that tourism destinations in Pakistan offer a mix of promising and negative consequences concerning their socio-economic and environmental impressions on the host community. The promising socio-economic impacts for the local community are perceived in the form of employment and business opportunities, improved standard of living, and infrastructural development in the area. The adverse environmental outcomes include overcrowding, traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, environmental degradation, and encroachment of landscaping for the local community and the tourists. An extensive review of the literature exercise suggests the following benefits that the local community and the tourists accrue from the tour are as follows:

Generate revenue and monetary support for people and the community through local arts and culture commercialization.

Improve local resource infrastructure and quality of life, including employment generation and access to improved civic facilities.

Help to create awareness and understanding of different ethnic cultures, social values, and traditions, connecting them and preserving cultures.

Rehabilitate and conserve socio-cultural and historical heritage, including archeological and natural sites.

Establishment of natural parks, protracted areas, and scenic beauty spots.

Conservation of nature, biodiversity, and endangered species with control over animal poaching.

Improved water and air quality through afforestation, littering control, land and soil conservation, and recycling of used water and waste.

Tourism and hospitality business incorporates various business activities such as travel and transportation through the air or other modes of travel, lodging, messing, restaurants, and tourism destinations (Szpilko 2017 ; Bakhriddinovna and Qizi 2020 ). A tourist’s tourism experience is aimed at leisure, experiencing adventure, learning the culture or history of a particular area or ethnic entity, traveling for business or health, education, or religious purposes. The chain of activities adds value to the Tourism experience. Every activity contributes toward economic stimulation, job creation, revenue generation, and tourism development encompassing infrastructure for all activities involved in the tourism process. Tourism growth expresses the number of arrivals and the time of their stay/trips over a period of time. Tourism growth is measured through the interplay between tourists’ arrivals, tourism receipts, and travel time duration (Song et al. 2010 ; Arifin et al. 2019 ). The following factors drive the degree and level of tourism development and growth:

Environmental factors include scenic beauty, green spaces, snowy mountains, towering peaks, good climate and weather, the interconnectivity of destination, quality of infrastructure, etc.

Socio-economic factors: the distinctiveness of community, uniqueness of culture and social values, hospitality and adaptability, accessibility, accommodation, facilities and amenities, cost-effectiveness, price index, and enabling business environment.

Historical, cultural, and religious factors include historical and cultural heritage, religious sites, and cultural values and experiences.

The tourism development process and its different dynamics revolve around the nature of tourism planned for a particular destination or area, which can be specified as ecotourism, sustainable tourism, green tourism or regenerative tourism, etc. Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (Cheia, 2013 ; TIES, 2015). According to the World Conservation Union (IUCN), ecotourism involves “ Environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past, and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples ”. Moreover, Blangy and Wood ( 1993 ) defined it as “ responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people ” (p. 32). The concept of ecotourism is grounded upon a well-defined set of principles including “environmental conservation and education, cultural preservation and experience, and economic benefits” (Cobbinah 2015 ; De Grosbois and Fennell 2021 ).

Ecotourism minimizes tourism’s impact on the tourism resources of a specific destination, including lessening physical, social, interactive, and psychosomatic impacts. Ecotourism is also about demonstrating a positive and responsible attitude from the tourists and hosts toward protecting and preserving all components of the environmental ecosystem. Ecotourism reflects a purpose-oriented mindset, responsible for creating and delivering value for the destination with a high degree of kindliness for local environmental, political, or social issues. Ecotourism generally differs from mass tourism because of its following features (Liang et al. 2018 ; Ding and Cao 2019 ; Confente and Scarpi 2021 ):

Conscientious behavior focuses on the low impact on the environment.

Sensitivity and warmth for local cultures, values, and biodiversity.

Supporting the sustenance of efforts for the conservation of local resources.

Sharing and delivering tourism benefits to the local communities.

Local participation as a tourism stakeholder in the decision-making process.

Educating the tourist and locals about the sensitivity and care of the environment because tourism without proper arrangement can endanger the ecosystems and indigenous cultures and lead to significant ecological degradation.

Sustainability aims to recognize all impacts of tourism, minimize the adverse impacts, and maximize the encouraging ones. Sustainable tourism involves sustainable practices to maintain viable support for the ecology of the tourism environment in and around the destination. Sustainable tourism is natural resource-based tourism that resembles ecotourism and focuses on creating travel openings with marginal impact and encouraging learning about nature having a low impact, conservation, and valuable consideration for the local community’s well-being (Fennell 2001 & 2020 ; Butowski 2021 ). On the other hand, ecotourism inspires tourists to learn and care about the environment and effectively participate in the conservation of nature and cultural activities. Therefore, ecotourism is inclusive of sustainable tourism, whereas the focus of sustainable tourism includes the following responsibilities:

Caring, protecting, and conserving the environment, natural capital, biodiversity, and wildlife.

Delivering socio-economic welfare for the people living in and around tourists' destinations.

Identifying, rehabilitating, conserving, and promoting cultural and historical heritage for visitors learning experiences.

Bringing tourists and local groups together for shared benefits.

Creating wide-ranging and reachable opportunities for tourists.

Environment and sustainability of ecosystem

The term “environment” is all-inclusive of all the natural, organic living, inorganic, and non-natural things. The environment also denotes the interface among all breathing species with the natural resources and other constituents of the environment. Humans’ activities are mainly responsible for environmental damage as people and nations have contemplated modifying the environment to suit their expediencies. Deforestation, overpopulation, exhaustion of natural capital, and accumulation of solid waste and sewage are the major human activities that result in polluted air and water, acid rain, amplified carbon dioxide levels, depletion of the ozone, climate change, global warming, extermination of species, etc. A clean, green, and hygienic fit environment has clean air, clean water, clean energy, and moderate temperature for the healthy living of humans, animals, and biodiversity as nature is destined for them by their creatures. Maintaining and sustaining a clean environment is indispensable for human and biodiversity existence, fostering growth and development for conducting business and creating wealth. The environment can be sustained through conservation, preservation, and appropriate management to provide clean air, water, and food safe from toxic contamination, waste, and sewage disposal, saving endangered species and land conservation.

The globalization process, known for building socio-economic partnerships across countries, is also charged with encouraging environmental degradation through the over-consumption of natural resources and energy consumption, deforestation, land erosion, and weakening (Adebayo and Kirikkaleli 2021 ; Sun et al. 2021 ). Chien et al. ( 2021b ), while studying the causality of environmental degradation in Pakistan, empirically confirmed the existence of a significant connection between CO 2  emissions and GDP growth, renewable energy, technological innovation, and globalization. However, Chien et al. ( 2021a ) suggested using solar energy as a source of economic intervention to control CO 2  emissions and improve environmental quality in China. The danger of air pollution is hard to escape as microscopic air pollutants pierce through the human respiratory and cardiovascular system, injuring the lungs, heart, and brain. Ill-planned and uncontrolled human activities negatively affect ecosystems, causing climate change, ocean acidification, melting glaciers, habitation loss, eutrophication, air pollution, contaminants, and extinction of endangered species ( Albrich et al. 2020 ) .

Humans have a more significant effect on their physical environment in numerous ways, such as pollution, contamination, overpopulation, deforestation, burning fossil fuels and driving to soil erosion, polluting air and water quality, climate change, etc. UNO Agenda for 2030 “Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) mirrors the common premise that a healthy environment and human health are interlaced as integral to the satisfaction of fundamental human rights, i.e., right to life, well-being, food, water and sanitation, quality of life and biodiversity to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (SDG3)—which includes air quality that is dependent upon terrestrial ecosystems (SDG15), oceans (SDG14), cities (SDG11), water, cleanliness, and hygiene (SDG6) (Swain 2018 ; Opoku 2019 ; Scharlemann et al. 2020 ). The UNEP stated that 58% of diarrhea cases in developing economies is due to the non-provision of clean water and inadequate sanitation facilities resulting in 3.5 million deaths globally (Desai 2016 ; Ekins and Gupta 2019 ).

Climate change overwhelmingly alters ecosystems’ ability to moderate life-threatening happenings, such as maintaining water quality, regulating water flows, unbalancing the temporal weather and maintaining glaciers, displacing or extinction biodiversity, wildfire, and drought (Zhu et al. 2019 ; Marengo et al. 2021 ). Research studies advocate that exposure to natural environments is correlated with mental health, and proximity to green space is associated with lowering stress and minimizing depression and anxiety (Noordzij et al. 2020 ; Slater et al. 2020 ; Callaghan et al. 2021 ). Furthermore, the Ecosystem is affected by pollution, over-exploitation of natural resources, climate change, invasive and displacing species, etc. Hence, providing clean air and water, hygienic places, and green spaces enriches the quality of life: condensed mortality, healthier value-added productivity, and is vital to maintaining mental health. On the other hand, climate change aggravates environment-related health hazards through adverse deviations to terrestrial ecology, oceans, biodiversity, and access to fresh and clean water.

Tourism development denotes all activities linked with creating and processing facilities providing services for the tourists on and around a destination. Infrastructure development is vital for developing a tourism destination to advance tourists’ living conditions and preserve natural and cultural heritage by constructing new tourist facilities, the destinations administrative and supporting echelons, including community living, etc. Development for tourism infrastructure and land use often burdens natural capital through over-consumption, leading to soil erosion, augmented pollution, loss of natural habitats, and endangered species. Development of tourism infrastructure and construction work has profound implications on environmental degradation, reduction in green spaces, deforestation, solid waste and sewage, overutilization of air and water, emission of CO 2 and other gases contributing to air and water pollution, climate change, loss and displacement of biodiversity, and the degradation of ecosystems. These negative consequences of tourism development result in many problems for the tourists and the indigenous people in the foreseeable future (Azam et al. 2018 ; Hoang et al. 2020 ).

A report published by UNEP titled “Infrastructure for climate action” has suggested governments introduce sustainable infrastructure as the prevailing one is responsible for causing 79% of all greenhouse gas emissions in struggling climate change, alleviation, and adaptation efforts. Sustainable infrastructure signifies that structures’ planning, construction, and functioning do not weaken the social, economic, and ecological systems (UNEP 2021 ; Krampe 2021 ). Sustainable infrastructure is the only solution that ensures societies, nature, and the environment flourish together. Therefore, Sustainable Ecotourism supports adapting pro-environment and nature-based climate change strategies that help resilient biodiversity and ecosystem to impact climate change. The proposed strategy is to focus on the conservation and restoration of ecosystems to combat climate hazards, fluctuating rainfalls, soil erosion, temperature variations, floods, and extreme wind storms (Niedziółka 2014 ; Setini 2021 )

Pakistan’s tourism infrastructure suffered a colossal amount of damage during the earthquake of October 8, 2005, which left widespread demolition and destruction to its human, economic assets, and infrastructure networks, especially in Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's tourism areas. The tourism-related infrastructure, including hotels, destination facilities of social service delivery and commerce, water channels, and communications networks, were either drained or virtually destroyed. The destruction in the aftermath of the earthquake was further added by the war against terror in tourism-hit areas, resulting in the redundancy of tourists and tourism facilities for a long time (Akbar et al. 2017 ; Zakaria and Ahmed 2019 ). The tourism revival activities during the post-earth quack, post-terrorism scenario, and COVID-19 period called for various entrepreneurial activities, including the construction of infrastructure, hotels, road networks, community living, etc. Development and reconstruction of the livelihood and hospitality infrastructure through entrepreneurship were undertaken intensively through a public-private partnership from national and international findings (Qamar and Baloch 2017 ; Sadiq 2021 ; Dogar et al. 2021 ).

The revival and reinvigoration of infrastructure in tourism areas were backed up by extensive deforestation, use of local green land, rebuilding of the road network, displacement of biodiversity, and overtaxing the consumption of water and other natural resources. The deforestation, extensive use of green land, and over-consumption of water and other natural resources have depleted the tourism value of the area on the one hand and degraded the environment on the other. However, it was the focused rehabilitation activities of earthquake and Pakistan’s Government’s socio-environment conservation strategy of the Billion Trees plantation program in the province, including dominating tourism areas. The afforestation and loss of green tops are being reclaimed through these efforts, and the tourism environment is soon expected to regenerate (Qamar and Baloch 2017 ; Rauf et al. 2019 ; Siddiqui and Siddiqui 2019 ).

Government support and policy interventions

Tourism generates wide-ranging benefits for the economy, community, and people. Tourism contributes to the economy through revenue generation and shares responsibility with the Government to alleviate poverty alleviation, create opportunities for job placements, protect environments, and conserve natural ecosystems and biodiversity. It is assumed that if the tourism industry is left to its own, it will most likely prefer its business interests over environments or biodiversity. Governments, custodians of the life and well-being of their subjects, are directly responsible for providing a clean environment, nature, and Ecosystem. Therefore, national and local governments are responsible for preparing and implementing tourism development plans and enforcing values and standards for tourism development in conformity with the prerequisites of environmental sustainability. Through institutional governance, governments help tourism development by providing financial and budgetary support, regulatory framework, land, physical resources, infrastructure, etc. Provision and facilitation for Sustainability of Ecotourism and conservation of environment and biodiversity are dependent upon Government-supported interventions as follows:

The regulatory framework for setting up tourism-related entrepreneurship and quality standards can support ecotourism and prevent environmental degradation on any account.

Provision of budgetary support for ecosystem conservation and regeneration of bio-diversity-related projects.

Plan, rehabilitate if needed, promote conservation and protection of socio-cultural, historic, antique, and natural endowments in coordination with other public and private agencies, and deal with the defaulters, if any.

Promoting and undertaking afforestation alongside land conservation and discouraging deforestation, soil erosion, accumulation of solid waste, littering, and any direct or indirect loss or threat to biodiversity.

Setting restrictions for over-tourism beyond capacity and quality standards for transportation, restaurants, hotels, food and drinking water, etc.

Placing enforcement mechanism necessary to ensure application of the regulatory framework and quality standards applicable along with all activities inclusive to the Ecotourism value chain.

Theoretical support and hypothesis development

According to the social disruption theory, rapidly expanding societies usually experience a period of widespread crisis and a loss of their conventional routines and attitudes. The crisis impacts people whose mental health, worldviews, behavioral patterns, and social networks may all be impacted (Çalişkan and Özer 2021 ). According to the social disruption theory, fast community change brought on by population growth will result in a variety of social issues that are signs of a generally disorganized community (Smith et al. 2001 ). Because some types of tourism communities experience rapid expansion accompanied by intensive development and rapid social change over a relatively short period of time, they seem to be great settings for studying various postulations of the social disruption theory.

Place change and social disruption theory are closely connected. According to this assumption, when a community undergoes fast expansion, it tends to experience a generalized crisis that might culminate in several social issues as changes spread throughout the community and among individuals (Rasoolimanesh et al. 2019 ). Place change can result from fundamental community restructuring due to economic development, new class divides, and migration of both long-term and temporary people (Nelson 2001 ). Social unrest, though, is not enduring. Instead, it is transitory; societies gradually adjust to these changes (Deery et al.  2012 ).

The standard of living may initially deteriorate, but due to the adaptability of people and communities, they will gradually reinvigorate and strengthen themselves accordingly. Furthermore, the social disruption proposition reinforces one of the challenges in analyzing the effects of tourism, particularly in emerging nations, since it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the effects of tourism and the overall ongoing development (Park and Stokowski 2009 ) (Fig. 1 ).

Tourism development and growth significantly affect natural environment resources.

Tourism development and growth significantly affect environmental pollution.

Tourism development and growth significantly affect the physical ecosystem of the environment.

Tourism development and growth significantly affect the socio-cultural environment.

Tourism development and growth significantly affect the economic environment of people and the community.

Government policy and support significantly moderate the relationship between tourism development and growth and the environmental factors.

figure 1

Conceptual framework


The study aimed to investigate the association of tourism development and its impact on environmental factors. Therefore, a survey method was employed to collect data by including all the relevant people in the locality. The study is based on stakeholders’ opinions from Pakistan’s most visited tourist areas, including Murree, Swat, Chitral, Naran, Kaghan, Neelum Valley, Malam Jabba, Ayubia, and Nathia Gali. A total of 650 stakeholders were contacted from the above-mentioned tourist destinations through survey. The distribution of the sample is mentioned in Table 1 .

Using quantitative techniques, hierarchical linear regression analysis was employed to investigate the possible relationships between tourism growth and various dimensions of environmental sustainability. The results below reveal that tourism development translates into environmental deterioration, and the relationship between tourism and environmental sustainability is bidirectional.

Tourism growth and development were measured through a five-item scale. The environment was measured through 16 items combined scale with sub-dimensions; depletion of Natural Resources=3 items, Polluting Environment=3 items, Physical Effects on Ecosystem=4 items, Socio-Cultural Degradation=3 items, and Economic Environment=3-items. Similarly, our moderating variable, Government Interventions and Support, was measured using a 5-item scale. Table 2 below presents the details of the instruments.

Analysis and results

Data were analyzed using SPSS Version 26. It includes correlation, linear regression, and stepwise hierarchal regression analysis.

Table 3 above shows that our Tourism Growth and Development has significant and positive relationship with Polluting Environment ( r = 0.20**), Physical Effects on Ecosystem ( r = 0.19**), Depletion of Natural Resource ( r = 0.24**), Socio-Cultural Degradation ( r = 0.18**). However, Tourism Growth and Development has positive relationship with Economic Environment ( r = 0.29**) and Government Interventions and Support ( r = 0.13**).

Results of linear regression analysis at Table 4 above depict that tourism growth and development predicts 4.1% variance in Depletion of Natural Resources ( β = 0.20, p <0.01), 3.9% variance in pollution ( β = 0.19, p <0.01), 6% variance in Physical Effects on Ecosystem ( β = 0.24, p <0.01), 3.6% variance in Socio-Cultural Degradation ( β = 0.18, p <0.01), and 8.8% variance in Economic Environment ( β = 0.29, p <0.01).

The study analyzes the applied two-step hierarchal regression. In the first step, Tourism Growth and Government Interventions were treated as independent variables, and their significant impact was measured. In the second step, the interaction term Tourism and Growth× Government Interventions was added, and its impact was measured. The results suggest that Government Interventions and Support moderate the relationship between Tourism Growth and the Environmental variables (Table 5 ).

The study has reported unique findings regarding tourism and its environmental impacts. We found that tourism growth and development generate economic activity on the one hand. However, it has specific adverse environmental and socio-cultural outcomes on the other hand as well. Our study revealed that tourism growth and development predict a 4.1% variance in Depletion of Natural Resources ( β = 0.202*, p <0.01). This suggests that due to the expansion of tourism in the country, natural resources are continuously depleted to meet the needs of tourists. Studies also supported our findings and suggested that revival and reinvigoration of infrastructure in tourism areas were backed up by extensive deforestation, use of local green land, rebuilding of the road network, displacement of biodiversity, and overtaxing the consumption of water and other natural resources (Qamar and Baloch 2017 ; Sadiq 2021 ; Dogar et al. 2021 ). The prior studies are consistent with our hypothesis that “tourism development and growth significantly affect natural environment resources.”

We further found that tourism growth and development predict a 3.9% variance in pollution ( β = 0.198*, p <0.01), suggesting that tourism expansion may pollute the natural environment. Furthermore, recent national statistics depict that major human activities at local tourism destinations such as Kalam, Sawat, Muree, and Northern Areas have accumulated solid waste and sewage, resulting in polluted air and water. Further, research also suggests that the overflow of tourists to tourist destinations may adversely affect the environment due to human activities (Noordzij et al. 2020 ; Slater et al. 2020 ; Andlib and Salcedo-Castro  2021 ; Callaghan et al. 2021 ). Thus, it is safe to argue that the growth of tourism has a particularly detrimental effect on the environment. These findings also support our hypothesis, “Tourism development and growth significantly contribute to environmental pollution.”

The results reported that tourism growth and development predict a 6% variance in Physical Effects on the Ecosystem ( β = 0.245*, p <0.01). Studies have reported that deforestation and alteration in species’ natural environment for tourism facilities construction may adversely affect environmental health (Kuvan, 2010 ; Azam et al. 2018 ; Hoang et al. 2020 ; Andlib and Salcedo-Castro  2021 ). During post-terrorism and post-Covid-19 times in Pakistan, millions of local tourists moved to popular tourist destinations that required new infrastructure to accommodate these tourists. Consequently, colossal deforestation and other detrimental human activities have negatively affected ecosystem. These findings also support our hypothesis that tourism development and growth significantly affect the physical ecosystem of the environment.

The study reported a total of 3.6% variance in socio-cultural degradation ( β = 0.189*, p <0.01) due to tourism growth and development. These findings suggest that tourism’s growth and development may lead the inhabitants to imitate the foreign tourists regarding their living standards, which may endanger their traditional culture. Thus, our hypothesis that “tourism development and growth significantly affect the socio-cultural environment” is confirmed.

Further, it was found that tourism growth and development predict an 8.8% variance in the economic environment ( β = 0.297*, p <0.01). It is established from the literature that tourism growth and development generate economic activity in the country. Development projects such as the construction of infrastructure, hotels, and road networks generate economic activity to facilitate international and indigenous tourists, positively affecting the community’s living standard (Baloch et al. 2020 ). Thus, our hypothesis, “tourism development and growth significantly affect economic environment of people and community,” is confirmed.

Due to tourism growth and development, our study reported a 1.8% variance in Government Support and Interventions ( β = .133*, p <0.01). However, more recently, the Government of Pakistan has devised specific interventions that may help curb the adverse impacts of detrimental environmental factors. For example, developmental schemes such as the Billion Trees Plantation drive and Road-Infrastructure Network Development under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative may prove moderators to curb the negative impacts of tourism growth on the environment (Qamar and Baloch 2017 ; Rauf et al. 2019 ; Siddiqui and Siddiqui 2019 ). Therefore, the hypothesis, Government policy and support, significantly moderates the relationship between tourism development and growth with the environment is confirmed based on these findings.

Suggested model for ecotourism framework

Through its detailed review of existing literature, prevailing tourism policies, and empirical inputs from the stakeholders’ perspectives, the study has identified a wide range of obstacles limiting the development and growth of ecotourism in Pakistan. The study suggests National Tourism Management authorities carefully invest in ecotourism destination’s planning and development in coordination with the environment development agency. The suggested model for ecotourism framework is initially meant for the tourism destinations specifically designated for ecotourism. However, selected points can also be extended to the quality management parameters set for the National Parks, Conservation and Protracted Areas, Museums, National or International event sites, etc. The national tourism authorities are to lay particular emphasis in their forthcoming National Tourism Policy on the development and promotion of Sustainable Ecotourism having, with focus on the following key areas:

Identify and classify four to five ecotourism destinations, including ecotourism-centered activities of value chains for priority development, which are administratively possible within budgetary constraints. However, the development plan shall consider the integral benefits of other developmental schemes such as the Billion Trees Plantation drive, Road-Infrastructure Network Development under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative, International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) programs in the area.

While staying within the alignment of UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) calling for ‘environmental sustainability’ and the development vision of each designated destination, the Tourists Management System shall take into cognizance of issues like managing capacity of the place, quality parameters for the conservation of the environment, and allowable activities thereof.

Identify degenerated destinations of religious, socio-cultural, or historical significance for their rehabilitation under the Regenerated tourism program.

Tourism Destinations that have been over-consumed and exhausted (e.g., Murree, Galiaat, Naran, Malam Jabba) because of over-tourism shall be planned for their reclamation through regenerated tourism. However, to facilitate the success of the regeneration of their tourism potential following is to be catered for:

To deflect the tourist pressure upon these destinations, the potential tourists from nearby cities and metropolitan areas be provided with nearby alternative destinations for leisure tourism as stay-tourism sites.

To prevent the environment from air pollution, the traffic load on the destination be curtailed through an effective traffic management strategy, provision of off-destination parking for combustion engine vehicles, and encouraging electric driven or hybrid vehicles for nearby parking.

Provision of clean drinking water through public infiltration plants, public toilets, solid waste carriers, and recycling of sewage and used water is recommended in the most visited areas of the destination.

Signposting at appropriate places, giving social messages encouraging to maintain cleanliness, avoid littering, ensure nature conservation, and humility toward biodiversity.

Develop all-inclusive, comprehensive execution plans to expedite the investments for the sustainable ecotourism, encouraging public–private cooperation, community involvement, and infrastructure mapping guaranteeing environmental conservation and safeguards.

Develop and place on the ground an all-inclusive program of capacity building for sustainable ecotourism, regenerative and green tourism services.

Develop and launch Pakistan tourism profile and Sustaining Ecotourism obligatory framework “to promote tourism on the one hand and nurture conscious ecological behavior among the potential tourists of the area”.

In order to fetch local ownership for the ecotourism center developments, all efforts shall be made to share the socio-economic benefits integral to the development scheme with the local population for community development.

As part of the destination management planning, identify complementary value chains and livelihood activities that could be developed as part of the overall ecotourism destination package.

Governments at all levels and the tourism Development and Promotion Agencies Network in Pakistan shall join hands to chalk out and, with a strict enforcement mechanism, a “Regulatory Framework for Ecotourism Friendly Destination” to sustain the efforts and policies undertaken in this regard on the one hand and generate responsible behavior from the tourism stakeholders on the other. Some of the suggestive points could be:

Setting new quality standards facilitating the promotion of ecotourism and environmental sustainability through acts of various bodies operating in the Ecotourism value chain, such as:

Revision of Private hotels Management Act (1976) and Tourists Operators Act (1976) alongside introduction and promulgation of a new “Tourism Destination Management Act” incorporating new quality standards as of today.

Promulgating laws to make all new construction/development projects responsible from any agency in the area, incorporating quality standards needed for environmental sustainability, and promoting ecotourism.

Set measures for the preservation of the local biodiversity and preservation of endangered species, including seeking support from internationally active environment conservation agencies, declaring local hunting illegal, introducing licensing programs for hunting of certain selected animals/ birds on the payment of a handsome amount to be used for the welfare of the local community.

Create awareness programs against deforestation, land conservation, and biodiversity, and maintain cleanliness, inculcating a culture of respecting and enjoying nature instead of spoiling it.

Conclusion, implications, and limitations of the study

The study premise was based on the contention that sustenance of ecotourism focuses on the economic viability of the business interests alongside the conservation and preservation of natural ecosystems, including ethical fairness to the socio-cultural environment of the host community. Ecotourism is a phenomenon that contributes to environmental sustainability through well-planned and careful destination management capable of balancing conflicting interests of business growth and environmental sustainability. Tourism-environment paradox suggests that the sustainability and survival of both are dependent upon the flourishing mode of each other. Quality of environment and sustainability of bio-ecosystem stimulates tourists’ arrivals and over-tourism beyond capacity with irresponsible behavior from tourists negatively influencing the environment and harming the ecosystem of nature. Ecotourism is not inevitably sustainable unless it is economically sustainable and environmentally maintainable besides being socio-culturally acceptable. Socio-culturally intolerable ecotourism means the activity which does not benefit locals and their socio-cultural values. Hence, the study concludes that ecotourism has to positively interplay between economy, environment, and culture without compromising one over others. The pursuit of sustainable ecotourism is not an end in meeting the little comforts of the business interests but rather a means to end the sustainability issues created due to ill-conceived tourism development and unmanageable growth.

Practical implications

Drawing from the findings and conclusions of the research, the study extends the following practical implications for effectively managing the process of tourism development and environmental sustainability in line with the dictates of the philosophy behind ecotourism:

Paradoxically tourism necessitates ecological capitals as primary ingredients for the creation of tourism experiences on the one hand. However, it is also contingent upon the conservation and preservation of ecological integrity on the other. The study suggests that unbalancing this “resource paradox” results in the harshness and tenacity of adversarial climate change, natural calamities, environmental pollution, and endangered biodiversity.

The research findings and the suggested framework for ecotourism imply that sustainable ecotourism principles-based planning is mandatory for destination management to assure effective trade-off between the business interests’ sustainability of the environmental ecosystem.

Tourism development and growth shall be steered through ecotourism principles as its sustainable model offers enduring social, environmental and economic, ecological integrity, and social and cultural benefits for the local community. Therefore, ecotourism is a recipe for preventing environmental degradation and guarantees sustainability of ecosystems nature and its biodiversity. Hence, ecotourism shall stand central priority focus for strategic management to nurture quality experiences from sustainable tourism.

To revive back the sustainability of the environment, in the areas where over-tourism has degraded the environment, schemes for regenerated tourism shall be immediately launched to mitigate the negative footprints on the sustainability of destinations, including reinforcing protracted conservation sites, biodiversity, and recouping endangered species, afforestation drives, recycling of water and solid waste, refurnishing of landscaping, preservation, and rehabilitation of cultural heritage and refurbishing of depleted infrastructure accordingly. Furthermore, to regenerate and sustain the tourism infrastructure of the destinations experiencing over-tourism, capacity building measures like capacity, recycling of water and solid waste, preventive measures to control air and water pollution, traffic control management, and spread of entertainment facilities shall be the focus of the regeneration plans.

The study implies that government authorities and policymakers have a special role in placing their moderating intervention in terms of policy guidelines, regulatory framework, and budgetary support, provision of inter-organizational synergy in planning and implementation of ecotourism strategies, protection of environmental resource base and conservation of natural and biological ecosystem, sustenance of socio-cultural value of local community over and above their economic and social well-being/quality life for the long run.

The study also implies that public and private policymakers lay down threshold criteria for responsible travel and tourism standards for destination management and its related supply chain. The laid criterion would facilitate management in nurturing “responsible behavior” to plan, protect, conserve, preserve, and sustain natural and cultural resources and responsible socio-economic development without compromising the sustainability of the environment and long-term well-being of the hoist community. The deep-seated adherence to social responsibility protocols by the tourism supply chain network can significantly increase the capacity of tourism destinations and improve the conscious awareness of green consumers along the tourism supply chain. Furthermore, the consciously responsible behavior among stakeholders and legislatures can strike a needed balance between the business interests and environments in favor of sustainability of socio-cultural, economic, and natural capital.

The study elucidates that responsible behavior necessitates purpose-built eco-friendly infrastructure and policy parameters to support the sustainability of environments across destinations. The strategic planning aligned with the sustainability-focused objectives dictates the need for artistic, innovative, and talented people and quality intuitions in harnessing quality tourism services and responsible tourism behavior. Furthermore, the study encourages community involvement in the developmental process, enactment of structural policies, preservation of socio-cultural heritage, and conservation of natural biodiversity as it would foster emotional bondage between the people of the host community and the tourism undertakings. Therefore, community and value chain managers shall collaborate to maximize the perceived benefits of responsible tourism while developing cultural exchanges and planning opportunities for leisure and tourism.

Regulatory measures help offset negative impacts; for instance, controls on the number of tourist activities and movement of visitors within protected areas can limit impacts on the ecosystem and help maintain the integrity and vitality of the site. Limits should be established after an in-depth analysis of the maximum sustainable visitor capacity. Furthermore, the variables and the constructs researched can be replicated to other destinations to seek valuable inputs for sustainable destination management elsewhere.

Study limitation

Besides the functional, practical applications, the study has some limitations. Besides having integral disadvantages of cross-sectional research, the respondents selected for the study were visitors on peak days with the highest tourist arrivals, thereby having experiences of a higher degree of environmental pollution and natural disorder. Furthermore, the research is limited to stakeholders’ perspectives instead of any scientifically generated data or mathematical or econometric model.

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Qadar Bakhsh Baloch & Syed Naseeb Shah

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IBA, Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan

Muhammad Asadullah

University of Sialkot, Sialkot, Pakistan

Sourath Mahar

Islamia College University Peshawar, Peshawar, Pakistan

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QBB: conceptualization, methodology, writing—original draft. SNS: data curation and supervision. NI: visualization, editing, proofreading. MS: review and editing. MA: review and editing. SM: editing, data curation. AUK: review and editing.

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Baloch, Q.B., Shah, S.N., Iqbal, N. et al. Impact of tourism development upon environmental sustainability: a suggested framework for sustainable ecotourism. Environ Sci Pollut Res 30 , 5917–5930 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-022-22496-w

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Ecotourism and Its Meaningful Effects

1. introduction to ecotourism.

Ecotourism has become an increasingly popular form of travel in recent years, as individuals seek to minimize their environmental impact while exploring natural areas. In this section, we will provide a comprehensive introduction to the concept of ecotourism, delving into its definition and core principles. By understanding the fundamental concepts of ecotourism, readers will gain insight into the motivations and objectives behind this sustainable form of travel. Additionally, this section will explore how ecotourism differs from traditional forms of tourism, emphasizing its focus on conservation, community involvement, and environmental education. As we delve into the key principles and definition of ecotourism, readers will gain a foundational understanding of the broader impacts and implications that will be examined throughout the remainder of the essay. This section lays the groundwork for a thorough analysis of the multifaceted nature of ecotourism and its effects on both the environment and local communities.

1.1. Definition and Concept

Ecotourism is a form of sustainable travel that aims to minimize the impact on the environment and support the well-being of local communities. It is characterized by responsible travel to natural areas, with the conservation of the environment as a primary focus. Ecotourism encourages education and appreciation for the natural world, often involving activities such as wildlife observation, hiking, and cultural immersion. The concept of ecotourism is rooted in the principles of conservation, community empowerment, and environmental stewardship. The main goal of ecotourism is to promote environmental awareness and conservation while providing economic benefits to local communities. By generating income through sustainable tourism practices, communities are incentivized to protect and preserve their natural resources. Additionally, ecotourism strives to minimize the negative impacts of traditional tourism, such as pollution and habitat destruction. Through responsible travel practices, ecotourism seeks to create a positive and lasting impact on both the environment and the local communities. In summary, the concept of ecotourism encompasses the principles of sustainability, conservation, and community development, and it plays a crucial role in promoting the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature.

2. Environmental Benefits of Ecotourism

Ecotourism has numerous environmental benefits, with one of the most significant being the conservation of biodiversity. By promoting responsible travel to natural areas, ecotourism helps to protect and preserve the diverse ecosystems and wildlife that are often threatened by human activity. This is achieved through measures such as the creation and maintenance of national parks and protected areas, as well as the implementation of sustainable tourism practices that minimize impact on the environment. Furthermore, ecotourism can also contribute to the restoration of degraded habitats and the reintroduction of endangered species. Through the support of ecotourism initiatives, local communities and conservation organizations are able to invest in the restoration and rehabilitation of natural environments, thus helping to safeguard the future of the planet's biodiversity. In this way, ecotourism not only provides economic incentives for conservation but also raises awareness and fosters a sense of stewardship for the environment among travelers. Ultimately, the environmental benefits of ecotourism extend beyond individual destinations, contributing to global efforts to preserve and protect the Earth's natural heritage.

2.1. Conservation of Biodiversity

Ecotourism plays a significant role in the conservation of biodiversity in various destinations around the world. This form of sustainable tourism aims to protect and preserve the natural environment, including the diverse range of plant and animal species that inhabit it. By promoting responsible travel practices, ecotourism helps minimize the negative impacts of tourism on fragile ecosystems and wildlife habitats. This is achieved through the establishment of protected areas, such as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, where biodiversity can thrive undisturbed. Furthermore, ecotourism initiatives often contribute to the financial support and management of conservation projects. Revenues generated from ecotourism activities, such as guided nature tours and wildlife watching, are frequently reinvested into environmental protection efforts. This can include funding for anti-poaching patrols, habitat restoration programs, and species conservation projects. Additionally, ecotourism provides local communities with economic incentives to actively participate in biodiversity conservation, ultimately creating a sustainable cycle of environmental stewardship. Overall, the conservation of biodiversity through ecotourism not only safeguards precious ecosystems and species but also promotes awareness and appreciation for the natural world.

3. Socio-Cultural Impacts of Ecotourism

The socio-cultural impacts of ecotourism are multi-faceted and complex, with one of the key aspects being the empowerment of local communities. Ecotourism has the potential to provide economic opportunities and empowerment for local communities, as it often involves the development of community-based tourism initiatives. This can include the creation of cooperatives, small businesses, and the opportunity for local people to showcase their traditional crafts, culture, and knowledge to visitors. By involving local communities in the decision-making processes and the economic benefits of ecotourism, it can help to foster a sense of ownership and pride in their cultural heritage. However, it is important to ensure that the empowerment of local communities is done in a sustainable and ethical manner, taking into consideration the long-term effects on their culture and way of life. It is also crucial to address issues of power dynamics and ensure that the benefits are equitably distributed among the community members. In addition, the empowerment of local communities through ecotourism can also lead to the revitalization and preservation of traditional cultural practices and knowledge. As communities become more engaged in ecotourism activities, there is often a renewed interest in preserving and showcasing their cultural heritage, which can help to safeguard traditional knowledge and practices for future generations. This can also lead to a sense of cultural pride and identity for the local community, as they are able to share their unique traditions and customs with visitors from around the world. However, it is essential to approach this in a respectful manner, ensuring that cultural authenticity is maintained and that the local community's wishes and boundaries are respected. In conclusion, the empowerment of local communities through ecotourism can have far-reaching socio-cultural impacts, providing economic opportunities, preserving cultural heritage, and fostering a sense of pride and identity within the community.

3.1. Empowerment of Local Communities

The empowerment of local communities is a fundamental aspect of the socio-cultural impacts of ecotourism. Through ecotourism initiatives, local communities are given opportunities to participate in and benefit from the tourism industry. This empowerment can take various forms, including economic empowerment through the creation of small businesses such as homestays, tour guiding, and handicraft production. Additionally, ecotourism can also lead to the development of community-based organizations, fostering a sense of ownership and agency among local residents. Furthermore, ecotourism has the potential to empower local communities by preserving and promoting their cultural heritage and traditions. By showcasing indigenous knowledge, cultural practices, and artwork, ecotourism can help to revitalize and sustain local traditions, providing a platform for communities to share their unique cultural identity with visitors. This not only generates pride and appreciation for their heritage but also provides economic opportunities for local artisans and cultural practitioners. Ultimately, the empowerment of local communities through ecotourism is essential for fostering sustainable development and preserving cultural diversity while ensuring the equitable distribution of benefits within the community.

4. Economic Contributions of Ecotourism

The economic contributions of ecotourism are significant in driving sustainable development in various regions. By promoting conservation efforts and focusing on responsible travel practices, ecotourism can generate revenue that supports local economies while also preserving natural resources. In many cases, ecotourism has created jobs, stimulated small business growth, and provided opportunities for communities to invest in infrastructure and social services. Additionally, the revenue generated from ecotourism can be reinvested into conservation projects, helping to maintain and protect delicate ecosystems for future generations to enjoy. As a result, the economic impact of ecotourism can be a crucial factor in fostering sustainable development, ensuring that both local communities and natural environments benefit from the industry. Furthermore, the economic contributions of ecotourism extend beyond direct financial gains. The industry has the potential to encourage responsible stewardship of natural resources, as well as to raise awareness about the importance of conservation. By supporting ecotourism, travelers can contribute to the preservation of wildlife, protection of natural habitats, and overall environmental sustainability. The economic incentives provided by ecotourism can also motivate governments and local authorities to prioritize environmental protection, leading to long-term economic benefits and enhanced quality of life for residents. Therefore, by understanding and promoting the economic contributions of ecotourism, stakeholders can work towards sustainable development that balances economic prosperity with environmental integrity.

4.1. Sustainable Development

The concept of sustainable development in ecotourism refers to the responsible and balanced management of natural resources, ensuring that the needs of present and future generations are met while maintaining the integrity of the environment. Sustainable development in the context of ecotourism involves considerations such as minimizing the negative impacts on the natural habitat, conserving biodiversity, and empowering local communities. It also encompasses efforts to promote environmental awareness and ethical business practices within the tourism industry. By adopting sustainable development practices, ecotourism can contribute to long-term economic growth while preserving the ecological and cultural integrity of the destinations. One of the key aspects of sustainable development in ecotourism is the principle of "leave no trace" or minimizing the environmental footprint of tourism activities. This involves strategies such as limiting the number of visitors, promoting low-impact activities, and implementing waste management and conservation programs. Furthermore, ecotourism initiatives often focus on empowering local communities by providing economic opportunities, preserving traditional knowledge and customs, and involving community members in decision-making processes. By integrating these sustainable development practices, ecotourism can foster economic growth while preserving the natural and cultural heritage of destinations, ultimately contributing to the overall well-being of both the environment and local communities.

5. Challenges and Criticisms

Section 5: Challenges and Criticisms One of the most significant challenges faced by ecotourism is the issue of over-tourism. This occurs when an influx of tourists puts excessive pressure on natural resources, infrastructure, and local communities in popular ecotourism destinations. Over-tourism can lead to environmental degradation, overcrowding, increased waste, and disturbances to local wildlife. Additionally, it can create a strain on the local infrastructure and services, leading to a decline in the quality of the visitor experience and a negative impact on the well-being of local residents. Addressing the challenge of over-tourism requires a strategic and sustainable approach to destination management. Implementing visitor management techniques, such as visitor quotas, timed entry systems, and designated trails, can help regulate tourist flow and minimize the impact on fragile ecosystems. Furthermore, promoting off-peak travel periods and diversifying tourism offerings beyond the main attractions can help distribute tourist traffic more evenly throughout the year and across different areas. Engaging with local communities and stakeholders to develop sustainable tourism practices and fostering environmental and cultural education among visitors are also crucial in mitigating the negative effects of over-tourism. By addressing the challenges of over-tourism, ecotourism can continue to thrive as a responsible and sustainable form of travel that benefits both the environment and local communities.

5.1. Over-tourism

Over-tourism is a concerning issue within the ecotourism industry, as it involves an excessive number of tourists visiting a specific destination, which can lead to negative environmental, social, and cultural impacts. The phenomenon of over-tourism occurs when the number of visitors exceeds the carrying capacity of a destination, leading to overcrowding, degradation of natural resources, and disruption of local communities. This can result in increased pollution, waste generation, and damage to sensitive ecosystems, threatening the very attractions that draw visitors to the area in the first place. In addition to environmental concerns, over-tourism can also have detrimental effects on the quality of life for local residents. The influx of tourists can lead to increased noise levels, traffic congestion, and rising living costs, which can displace local communities and erode traditional ways of life. Furthermore, the commodification of culture and heritage in response to mass tourism can result in the loss of authenticity and integrity of local traditions and customs. It is crucial for ecotourism destinations to carefully manage visitor numbers and mitigate the impacts of over-tourism through sustainable tourism practices, community engagement, and the development of responsible visitor guidelines. By addressing the challenges posed by over-tourism, ecotourism can continue to promote environmental conservation, preserve cultural heritage, and support local economies in a sustainable manner.

6. Conclusion and Future Directions

In conclusion, this comprehensive analysis has revealed the significant impacts of ecotourism on the environment, local communities, and economies. The positive effects of ecotourism include biodiversity conservation, cultural preservation, and economic development for communities. However, it is important to recognize the potential negative impacts such as habitat disturbance, cultural commodification, and unequal distribution of economic benefits. Moving forward, it is crucial to implement sustainable ecotourism practices that prioritize environmental protection, community involvement, and fair distribution of economic benefits. The future of ecotourism lies in responsible and well-managed initiatives that prioritize long-term sustainability over short-term gains. By incorporating principles of sustainable development and actively involving local communities in decision-making processes, ecotourism can continue to contribute to conservation efforts while providing meaningful and authentic experiences for travelers. Future research in this field should focus on evaluating the effectiveness of sustainable ecotourism practices, developing guidelines for responsible ecotourism management, and exploring innovative strategies to maximize the positive impacts of ecotourism while minimizing the negative effects. Overall, the future of ecotourism depends on our ability to strike a balance between conservation, community empowerment, and economic development.

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How ecotourism benefits the environment and local communities

Ecotourism is all about respecting the local culture and environment. Learn how to reduce your carbon footprint and, why not, how to volunteer and give back to the community.

ecotourism effects essay

Raquel www.solanomundo.com.br

May 31, 2023


Ecotourism is becoming more and more popular, and one of the reasons is that the new generations are no longer just looking for to the next destination, but to travel with purpose. 

If you are looking for new life experiences , to learn about other ways of living and meet like-minded people, stay tuned for great ideas. From supporting local communities to protecting nature and fighting climate change, this different form of travel is a whole new way of looking at packing and setting off on a new adventure .

What is ecotourism?

Travel to natural areas is a great opportunity to discover amazing landscapes , but it can also help preserve delicate ecosystems, provide economic benefits to local communities and promote conservation efforts. 

To fully realize the potential of ecotourism, minimal environmental impact and stable and equitable economic growth must be paramount. Ecotourism is also an exciting option for your next volunteer experience with Worldpackers. Where you can visit ecological projects with the added bonus of supporting local communities .

You can practice ecotourism now, by supporting local businesses and having an eco-friendly mindset . But you can also be part of a larger community with different projects and causes. These practices help protect nature for future generations while making a positive impact. 

ecotourism effects essay

This form of tourism focuses on environmental sustainability and responsible travel practices . It involves visiting national parks to observe wildlife, learn about local cultures, and appreciate the beauty of nature . And if you are an outdoor enthusiast, ecotourism can include activities like hiking, camping, bird watching, and kayaking.

When traveling with an eco-friendly mindset it’s important to remember that your actions have consequences. This means being mindful of how you interact with the environment around you, from avoiding littering to respecting cultural customs , these actions benefit everyone involved -including yourself.

Keep reading :  Discover India's top 3 best ecotourism 

The benefits of ecotourism

ecotourism effects essay

Travelers want to explore nature while minimizing their impact on the environment. One of the main benefits of ecotourism is that it reduces pollution and waste by promoting responsible use of natural resources . By limiting energy consumption, using renewable sources such as solar power, and avoiding single-use plastic, ecotourists help protect ecosystems from further damage.

But ecotourism can bring many benefits to both travelers and local communities . It can help support local economies by creating jobs and income opportunities for people living near touristic destinations. And in the other hand, ecotourists have the opportunity to learn more about a culture’s customs, beliefs, language, and food habits . This helps travellers to gain an understanding of different perspectives from around the globe.

Another benefit of ecotourism is that it educates travelers about the importance of preserving nature and protecting wildlife habitats. Through guided tours or volunteer programs, visitors can learn more about the environment they are visiting while helping with conservation efforts such as beach cleanups or tree planting initiatives . This type of education can be invaluable in raising awareness about global issues related to climate change or endangered species conservation .

How ecotourism benefits local communities

ecotourism effects essay

Ecotourism has the potential to benefit local communities in many ways, from creating jobs and boosting the economy to conserving natural resources . With responsible ecotourism practices, travelers can ensure that their impact is positive and meaningful.

Whether you’re backpacking through South America or trekking through Asia , choosing ecotourism can provide economic opportunities for local communities by creating jobs in hospitality, conservation, and other related fields. These jobs can help reduce poverty levels and improve the quality of life for locals. Instead of opting for large hotel or restaurant chains where sustainability may not be a top priority, opt for smaller establishments . That way, you'll help ensure that your money goes to those who are actively working to protect the environment , rather than just exploiting it for profit.

Ecotourism also promotes sustainable development by providing funds for conservation projects that benefit both people and wildlife. For example, ecotourism can provide funds for the protection of endangered species or develop educational programs about the importance of protecting natural resources . In addition, ecotourism companies often use locally sourced materials when building facilities such as lodges or hiking trails, which boosts the local economy.

How ecotourism benefits the environment

A good example of this is visiting national parks or other protected areas: Be careful not to disturb plants or animals by sticking only to designated trails and paths. Also, do not leave behind litter such as plastic bottles or packaging, as these can damage the local ecosystem if not removed.

Responsible ecotourism has proven to be beneficial in reducing negative impacts on local ecosystems such as deforestation or pollution from tourist activities like fishing or camping without proper waste disposal. Educating tourists on how to behave responsibly during their visit will ensure that these areas remain protected.

The main principles of ecotourism

ecotourism effects essay

1. Respect the local culture

Respect the customs, beliefs, and traditions of locals wherever you go. This includes dressing appropriately at religious sites, not taking photos without people's permission, and being mindful of cultural sensitivities when it comes to food or language.

2. Support local businesses

Whenever possible, try to support local businesses by buying locally made products or eating at restaurants run by locals rather than large chains or resorts. Not only does this help keep money in the community, but it’s also a great way to have an authentic experience that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

3. Do not take souvenirs from protected areas

When visiting natural areas like national parks always remember to take your trash with you when leaving – never leave anything behind. Also, do not take souvenirs from protected areas as this can have negative impacts on wildlife habitats and ecosystems over time.

4. Use sustainable transportation

When possible, opt for more sustainable modes of transportation such as cycling or walking instead of driving, which produce harmful emissions into the atmosphere – plus, they’re usually cheaper too.

These small changes can make a big difference when it comes to preserving our planet's resources. By following these tips for responsible ecotourism, you can ensure that your travels have a positive impact on the environment and local communities.

Why should you choose ecotourism?

ecotourism effects essay

Ecotourism is an opportunity to explore beautiful places while learning about local cultures , customs, and traditions. But besides that, choosing this type of tourism can also help protect natural resources. It is possible to reduce your carbon footprint by minimizing energy consumption during your travels , as well as helping preserve wildlife habitats and ecosystems for future generations to enjoy.

Ecotourists often have the opportunity to participate in meaningful activities, such as volunteering with conservation efforts or participating in educational workshops on sustainability practices. Ecotourism also helps create jobs for locals by providing them with employment opportunities related to tourism services like guiding or transportation .

Before embarking on your next trip, research the destination thoroughly so that you know what kind of environmental regulations are in place. This way, you can ensure that your visit will not negatively affect the environment or disrupt animal habitats unnecessarily.

It is also important to be mindful when interacting with wildlife - never feed wild animals (even if they seem friendly). This could out them in dangerous situations where they rely on humans instead of finding their own food sources . It is also important to always respect local customs and laws; be aware that some activities may be prohibited depending on the destination, so make sure you understand all relevant rules before engaging in any activity.

Read more on how to be a conscious traveler  and how to find ecotourism jobs .

Disadvantages of ecotourism

While ecotourism has many benefits, it can also have negative impacts if not well managed. Travellers who want to travel responsibly can choose from a variety of  ecotourism destinations . But these beautiful natural parks and desert beaches are seen as profit opportunities by some companiers and may face overtourism . Other drawback is the greenwashing. Many companies, resorts and restaurants advertise being sustainable, but in reality do nothing for the environment or local communities.

This is why it is so important to -not only choose ecotourism, but also to be a responsible traveller and ask questions. Among the potential disadvantages of ecotourism are the exploitation and displacement of local communities . They may benefit little from tourism and be exposed to negative impacts, such as increased traffic and noise. As operators prioritise profit over conservation, communities may also be forced to relocate to make way for tourism-related infrastructure.

Ecotourism volunteering with Worldpackers

ecotourism effects essay

Participating in volunteer programs during your travels often involves helping out in conservation areas, such as wildlife sanctuaries or reforestation efforts that directly benefit communities and the environment. Volunteering with Worldpackers allows you to gain valuable experience and develop new skills while making a positive impact on your community.

Ecotourism is a form of responsible travel that focuses on preserving the environment and creating sustainable livelihoods for local communities. Through ecotourism, travelers can enjoy unique experiences while helping to protect nature and support local economies. Volunteers are also encouraged to visit natural areas such as national parks or wildlife reserves to learn more about and respect nature. By visiting these places, ecotourists can help protect them from destruction while providing much-needed economic support for conservation efforts

The process of finding a volunteering opportunity with Worldpackers is simple. First, you can create a profile on the platform and indicate your areas of interest and skills . Then, you can browse the available opportunities, and once you find one that matches your interests, you can become a verified member and reach out to the host to discuss details and make arrangements.

Volunteering with ecotourism in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the most important destinations for ecotourism , and ideal for animal lovers. It’s a tropical destination with rainforests, countless beaches, volcanoes, and mountains. The ‘pura vida’ lifestyle, means pure life—and is the true philosophy of Costa Rica.

With Worldpackers volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica, you can work on projects to protect sea turtles   and  rescued and endangered species , such as feeding and caring for animals, cleaning enclosures, and assisting with rehabilitation and release programs.

This eco-village in Drake Bay  is looking for help to build its agro-ecological farm and produce organic food through regenerative agriculture and hydroponics. They are looking for volunteers with green fingers who want to learn how to produce bio-inputs, such as soil, fertilizers, repellents and microorganisms, and how to process and prepare food. Volunteers are staying in a purpose-built station and can use any of the facilities at the property.

ecotourism effects essay

Volunteering with ecotourism in Kenya

Ecotourism in Kenya is a great opportunity to help with community development projects, such as building schools and promoting eco-friendly tourism. With Worldpackers volunteer programs, you can develop new skills while participating in  teaching programs in Nairobi .

Since Kenya is home to more than 50 national parks, you can immerse yourself in nature or wildlife while volunteering. Travelers often go to Kenya in hopes of meeting ‘The Big 5’, and this has encouraged the government to stop illegal poaching, ban single-use plastic and plastic bags , while promoting sustainable tourism.

Volunteering with ecotourism in Norway

The opportunity to volunteer with ecotourism in Norway is for nature enthusiasts. It offers the chance to work in national parks, promoting sustainable tourism and conservation efforts. Volunteer tasks may include trail maintenance, wildlife monitoring, and visitor education.

You can also experience the Fjords while helping to grow vegetables on a small farm and in a greenhouse.

ecotourism effects essay

Volunteering with Ecotourism in the Amazon rainforest

The traditional peoples and the Amazon rainforest are daily resisting. For years they have resisted burning and deforestation, land grabbing and lack of public policies. As a volunteer in Amazonas , you can develop new skills in a cultural space  in Presidente Figueiredo. Close to waterfalls and the people who live near the Amazon River . 

If you choose to volunteer with ecotourism options, you can have unique experiences not available anywhere else in the world - from trekking through remote jungle areas to snorkeling among coral reefs teeming with life. Such activities give visitors the opportunity to reconnect with nature while creating lasting memories in some truly spectacular locations around the globe with Worldpackers. Did you like these ideas? Subscribe to the Worldpackers Community for free and start saving your favorite volunteer positions until you are ready to get verified. 

Join the community!

Create a free Worldpackers account to discover volunteer experiences perfect for you and get access to exclusive travel discounts!

Raquel Pryzant


Travel journalist, author of the @solanomundo project and collaborator in different media such as Viajes National Geographic, Folha de S. Paulo and Qual Viagem Magazine. Read more: www.solanomundo.com.br

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ecotourism effects essay

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The Journal for Student Geographers

ecotourism effects essay

A literature review of ecotourism in India: policy implications and research gaps

By Beatrice Spicer, University of Birmingham

Spicer, B. (2020) A literature review of ecotourism in India: policy implications and research gaps.  Routes  1(1): 41–50.

This essay is an overview of recent research on ecotourism in India, evaluating the social, environmental, political and economic implications of several case studies and highlights the need for re-evaluation of the national policy. It also outlines the evident research gaps, suggesting what needs to be further investigated in order to have a more comprehensive view of the reality of current ecotourism practices with the view of ameliorating them. Concisely, there is an inherent need for ecotourism policy reform in India to prevent ‘pseudo ecotourism’ growth and destruction of environmentally vulnerable areas. 

Table of abbreviations

Bhitarkanika Ecotourism and Eco-development Society
EDCsEco-development committees
ICZMPthe Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project 
SHGsSelf-help groups 
TIES The International Ecotourism Society

1. Introduction

As a subset of ‘sustainable development’, ecotourism has been defined by the International Ecotourism Society as ‘responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of local people and involves interpretation and education’ (TIES, 2015). Further, the significant aims of ecotourism practice include environmental conservation, cultural preservation, community participation, economic benefits, and empowerment of vulnerable groups (Cobbinah, 2015). Ecotourism is hard to plausibly criticise given that it is often championed as the panacea to the downfalls of mass consumption tourism (Duffy, 2015, cited in Voumard, 2019). However, the ambiguous national policy, (Poyyamoli, 2018) lack of evidence of social empowerment (Das and Chatterjee, 2015) and minimal effort into environmental conservation (Banerji and Datta, 2015) are amid a few of the criticisms which have been exemplified by recent research of case studies of ecotourism in India. 

To explore the reality of ecotourism practice in India, several case studies have been cited. The case study of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, in Odisha helps emphasise some social implications of poor ecotourism practice; while both Silerigaon, in Darjeeling and Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve exemplify the adverse environmental impacts of pseudo-ecotourism. The Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve also highlights some political implications of recent ecotourism practice. In contrast, the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, offers some optimism, ecotourism initiatives are more successful than the former case studies due to clear indications of increased incomes, standard of living and awareness of the importance of various issues as a result of ecotourism.

2. Policy implications

Undoubtedly, the policy surrounding ecotourism is akin to its implications. Poyyamoli (2018) evaluates the shortcomings of the National Ecotourism Policy for India, 1998, distinguishing between the reality and rhetoric it presents and enforces. A significant gap in the policy is the very definition of ecotourism itself which fails to include: the equitable sharing of income via active community participation and the conservation of heritage and culture, both of which are fundamental to effective ecotourism practice (​Cobbinah, 2015​). Thus, the definition is ‘erroneous and misleading’ (ibid., p.51). Further, the ambiguity of the policy is reiterated through its ‘operational guidelines’ (ibid., p.53) which do not provide any quantifiable indicators to assess the impacts of ecotourism approaches across India. Finally, the official policy document itself is inaccessible online to researchers and critics, thus limiting the advice that can be given to ameliorate the policy. 

Consequently, these multiple shortcomings of the policy have allowed ‘pseudo ecotourism’ to thrive in India; which involves ‘greenwashing’ of practices as well as carrying mass tourism techniques ‘under the guise of ecotourism’ (ibid., p.50). The effects of this have the potential to be harsher than those of traditional mass tourism due to the environmentally sensitive ‘ecotourism’ destinations (Weaver, 2001, cited in Poyyamoli, 2018). Poyyamoli (2018) is not alone in his critique, as Cabral and Lochan Dhar (2019) have also labelled the policy as ‘lackadaisical’ (ibid. p.12). Given the inaccuracy, ambiguity and ‘pseudo ecotourism’ it encourages the National Ecotourism Policy for India, as Poyyamoli (2018) suggests, needs to be revised in order to prevent ‘pseudo ecotourism’, its effects and encourage the proper practice of sustainable ecotourism nationwide. 

2.1 Social implications

A central part of ecotourism practice is the social benefits for the hosts and the creation of community ownership of the schemes (Jalani, 2012, cited in Das and Chatterjee, 2015). These social implications often manifest themselves in terms of social empowerment which refers to: ‘a community’s sense of cohesion and integrity has been confirmed or strengthened by an activity such as ecotourism’ (Shecyvens, 2000, p. 241). Exploring this concept, through the case analysis of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, in Odisha, as seen in Figure 1, Das and Chatterjee (2015) concluded that ecotourism in this area of India is in a ‘nascent stage’ (ibid., p.144).

ecotourism effects essay

Figure 1 . Location map of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha. (Shrestha et al ., 2019.)

The research suggested that although 30 eco-development committees (EDCs), which sought to reduce locals’ dependence on the natural resources, had been set up, they were ineffective in encouraging social empowerment. Only 21% of ecotourism participants and 9% of non-ecotourism participants were members of an EDC, alluding to minimal progress in social empowerment. 

Furthermore, Das and Chatterjee (2015) highlighted that local members of the Bhitarkanika Ecotourism and Eco-development Society (BEES) were not informed of the ‘division or utilisation’ (ibid., p.142) of the money generated via tourists. Locals were unaware of the monetary benefits of ecotourism, depicting little equitability. Additionally, gender inequality existed between self-help groups (SHGs) which were established by locals to support and encourage social empowerment and increase their bargaining power (Rath, 2007, cited in Das and Chatterjee, 2015). The forest department failed to promote the SHGs led by women; however, the male-led SHGs were promoted by the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP). 

This research illustrates in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, as seen in Figure 1, ecotourism has failed to encourage social empowerment and has created social inequality, two serious issues which do not correspond with ecosystem practice. Following Poyyamoli’s (2018) work, this example could be classified as ‘pseudo ecotourism’ as it failed to meet the standards of authentic ecotourism and led to the detriment of societies instead of empowering them. The social implications of this Indian case study further highlight the need for ‘better and more rigorous policies’ (Das and Chatterjee, 2015, p.145) for effective ecotourism practice in India. 

2.2 Environmental implications

Arguably, environmental sustainability and conservation are paramount in the activities of ecotourism (Honey, 2008, cited in, Cobbinah, 2015), thus although ecotourism promotes socio-economic benefits, environmental ones are of utmost importance. While researching small scale ‘ecotourism’ initiatives in Silerigaon, an eastern Himalayan village within Darjeeling, as seen in Figure 2, Banerji and Datta (2015) described an ‘umbilical cord’ between the focus of environmental conservation and the expansion of ecotourism. 

ecotourism effects essay

Figure 2 . Location map of Silerigaon, Darjeeling, India. (Banerji and Datta, 2015)

Although the research found that both locals and tourists perceived an increase in forest cover over recent years, it was also notable that 59% of respondents noticed a decline in non-polluted water over the last decade. Further, 71.43% of local stakeholders noticed that the number of wildlife in Silerigaon had decreased and attributed this to increased human intervention. Banerji and Datta (2015) suggested that environmental conservation as a result of tourism capital currently lacks ‘adequate vigour’ (ibid., p.47) in the area, questioning whether or not these initiatives can be deemed as ‘ecotourism’ at all. 

Concerningly, pollution as a result of ‘ecotourism’ in India is not rare. Chowdhury and Maiti’s (2016) research into the ecological health of the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve, as shown in Figure 3, found the highest concentrations of lead metal pollution surrounding the ecotourism ferry routes. This was a result of a boom in the use of fossil-fuel operated ferries to accommodate the influx of tourists. Although Chowdhury and Maiti (ibid.) sympathise with the vitality of ecotourism as an industry to the economically marginalised in the Indian Sundarbans, they advocate for a symbiotic relationship between conservation and ecotourism (Salam et al. 2000, cited in Chowdhury and Maiti, 2016) especially given the sensitivity of the Sundarbans’ ecosystem. 

ecotourism effects essay

Figure 3. Location map of the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve, India. (Ghosh and Ghosh, 2019).

Both Chowdhury and Maiti (2016) and Banerji and Datta (2015) reinforce the shortcomings of ecotourism policy in India and its failure to regulate ecotourism initiatives. As a result of these failures, environmental conservation as a product of ecotourism capital is limited and environmentally sensitive areas are being exploited, which are implications inconsistent with genuine ecotourism practice. In order to rectify these issues, there is a pressing need for the revisiting of national ecotourism policy in India.

2.3 Political implications

Ecotourism in the Sundarbans of India (Fig.3)  has also recently been the focus of research by Ghosh and Ghosh (2019). The research set out to discover the equitability of implications of ecotourism, from a political ecology perspective. 

This involves looking at the intersection between environmental events or issues and political spheres. Several power struggles were found in the ecotourism practices between the conservation agencies, authorities, locals as well as tourists themselves. One significant finding postulated conflicts between the federal government and their conservation priorities and the local authorities and tourism priorities. Consequently, this prevents the effective application of ecotourism to the area, as the local government cannot promote ecotourism on a big enough scale to provide sufficient and significant profit in terms of capital. 

Furthermore, the conflict between the tourists and locals over environmental values has led to an ‘insider’, ‘outsider’ mentality whereby locals have become ‘disenchanted’ (ibid., p.356) to the potential benefits of ecotourism. Lastly, in Pakhiralaya, one of the villages surrounding the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, a site of ecotourism, 50 households sold up their land for tourism development, resulting in outmigration. Ghosh and Ghosh (ibid.) emphasise that contrary to assumptions, ecotourism cannot be considered a ‘magic bullet’ (ibid., p.363) which will inevitably result in local development and environmental conservation. Instead, power balances in ecotourism initiatives are complicated and in the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve (Fig.3), the benefits of ecotourism were inequitable, outlining further need for re-examination of national policy. 

3. The outlier – Kaziranga National Park

ecotourism effects essay

Figure 4 . Location Map of Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India. (Das and Hussain, 2016) 

Not all recent research of Indian ecotourism is as sombre, as shown by Das and Hussain (2016) whilst researching the impact of ecotourism on economic welfare using evidence from Kaziranga National Park, India (Fig.4). The findings of the research suggest that the total expenditure of ecotourism households is 1.7 times that of agrarian households. In the park, ecotourism has become a more attractive industry than agriculture due to the human-wildlife conflict that arises when park animals destroy crops, as well as the everlasting threat of flooding. As a consequence of ecotourism, respondents believe that they gained a greater awareness of various issues, which has increased their political empowerment within their local area. Moreover, the standard of living of the locals has been significantly enhanced due to the capital generated from ecotourism, increasing access to education, medical insurance and loans to invest in their businesses. This case study unveils that ecotourism in the Kaziranga National Park (Fig.4) has fulfilled the core values of the practice as outlined by Cobbinah (2015), illustrating a multiplier effect of tourist expenditure which correspondingly strengthens the local economy. As shown, the results of this are multi-faceted with positive socio-economic impacts while conserving the environment. 

Unlike the previously cited research, the findings of Das and Hussain (2016) depict a successful ecotourism initiative. Although there is little mention of policy, it can be argued that the ambiguity of the policy does not necessitate unsuccessful ecotourism practice. This example gives hope that with policy clarifications and reforms, other initiatives can have the same positive implications on local populations and set a precedent for environmental conservation. 

4. Research gaps

Despite the recent research into the issues surrounding the practice of ecotourism in India, there are inevitably existing research gaps which hinder solutions to the negative socio-economic, political and environmental implications of ecotourism, as previously implied. As a more comprehensive evaluation of recent research on the topic of ecotourism in India, Puri et al . (2019) outline several gaps in research. The paper posits that a foundation of ecotourism is biodiversity conservation. Thus, further research needs to investigate the effectiveness of conservation goals via environment impact assessment studies. Equally, it is imperative to monitor changing land-use and resource consumption patterns as a result of ecotourism initiatives to ensure that ecotourism doesn’t become an ‘extractive industry’ (ibid., p.136). Additionally, Puri et al. (ibid.) contend that research into the social and ecological ‘carrying capacity’ (ibid., p.137) of the proposed ecotourism site, in order to prevent tourism hindering the balance between conservation and development, which is of pressing urgency. Consequently, these research gaps offer guidance into future action that needs to take place in terms of improving ecotourism practices in India.

5. Conclusion

Bhitarkanika Wildlife SanctuarySocial empowerment of locals lacked vigour with low participation rates in eco-development committees.Those who were members of the eco-development committees had little knowledge of the expenditure of profits from the ecotourism initiatives.Gender inequality in the promotion of self-help groups which sought to increase the bargaining power of locals. 
Silerigaon, within DarjeelingLocals noted a decline in water quality in the last decade A large majority of local stakeholders noted a decrease in wildlife in the area.  
Sundarbans Biosphere ReserveHigh concentrations of lead pollution around the ecotourism ferry routes Conflicts between locals and visitors over environmental values were commonplace Conflicts between local authorities and federal government over priorities with regards to tourism and conservation
Kaziranga National Park Ecotourism has had positive impacts on economic welfare, standard of living and increased political empowerment amongst locals. 

Looking forward, the practice of ecotourism is likely to become more of a pressing issue. The aims of the Sustainable Development Goals make it more critical than ever that ecotourism initiatives promote rather than hinder environmental conservation and prevent further degradation of environmentally sensitive areas. Unfortunately, as a majority of the cited research shows and Poyyamoli (2018) asserts, ecotourism initiatives in India have previously been examples of ‘pseudo ecotourism’ which can cause further ecological damage as well as having inequitable socio-economic implications. Recent research into ecotourism in India has emphasised that the National Ecotourism Policy is ​‘lackadaisical’ (Cabral and Lochan Dhar, 2019, p.12) and demands for ‘better and more rigorous policies’ (Das and Chatterjee, 2015, p.145), thus current practices mean that ecotourism cannot be the ‘magic bullet’ (Ghosh and Ghosh, 2019, p.363) between conservation and development without policy reform. 

Although this essay is limited in length, clear patterns and examples of poor ecotourism practice across India have been unveiled and these ‘pseudo ecotourism’ techniques will continue to prevail unless national policy transformation occurs.

6. References

Cabral, C., and Dhar, R. L. (2019). Ecotourism research in India: from an integrative literature review to a future research framework. ​ Journal of Ecotourism ,​ pp.1-27. 

Chowdhury, A. and Maiti, S.K., (2016). Assessing the ecological health risk in a conserved mangrove ecosystem due to heavy metal pollution: A case study from Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve, India. ​ Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal ​, ​ 22 ​(7), pp.1519-1541. 

Cobbinah, P.B.,( 2015). Contextualising the meaning of ecotourism. ​ Tourism Management Perspectives ​, (16), pp.179-189. 

Das, D. and Hussain, I., (2016). Does ecotourism affect economic welfare? Evidence from Kaziranga National Park, India. ​ Journal of Ecotourism ​, ​ 15 ​(3), pp.241-260. 

Das, M. and Chatterjee, B., (2015). Ecotourism and empowerment: A case analysis of Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary, Odisha, India. ​ IIM Kozhikode Society & Management Review ​, ​ 4 ​(2), pp.136-145. 

Datta, D. and Banerji, S., (2015). Local tourism initiative in an eastern Himalayan village: sustainable ecotourism or small-scale nature exploitation?. ​ Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series ​, ​ 27 ​(27), pp.33-49. 

Ghosh, P. and Ghosh, A., (2019). Is ecotourism a panacea? Political ecology perspectives from the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, India. ​ GeoJournal ,​ ​ 84 (​ 2), pp.345-366. 

Poyyamoli, G. (2018). Ecotourism Policy in India: Rhetoric and Reality.​ Grassroots Journal of Natural Resources, ​ 1(1), pp.46-61. 

Puri, M., Karanth, K.K. and Thapa, B., (2019). Trends and pathways for ecotourism research in India. ​ Journal of Ecotourism ,​ ​ 18 (​ 2), pp.122-141. 

Scheyvens, R., (2000). Promoting women’s empowerment through involvement in ecotourism: Experiences from the Third World. Journal of sustainable tourism, 8(3), pp.232-249. 

Shrestha, S., Miranda, I., Kumar, A., Pardo, M.L.E., Dahal, S., Rashid, T., Remillard, C. and Mishra, D.R., (2019). Identifying and forecasting potential biophysical risk areas within a tropical mangrove ecosystem using multi-sensor data.  International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation ,  74 , pp.281-294.

The International Ecotourism Society. (2015). ​ TIES Announces Ecotourism Principles Revision – The International Ecotourism Society ​. [online] Available at: https://ecotourism.org/news/ties-announces-ecotourism-principles-revision/ [Accessed 11 Dec. 2019]. 

Voumard, M. (2019). Promises and pitfalls of ecotourism: patterns from a literature review.​ Investigaciones Turísticas ​ (17), pp.1-23.

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This essay shows that there are initiatives which aim at promoting sustainability in tourism destinations. However, these initiatives do not work due to the diverse nature of the tourism industry. The essay demonstrates this through various approaches to tourism sustainability and methods that stakeholders have applied in their attempts to enhance sustainability of tourism destinations.

We can define sustainability as a growth that does not experience any threats from feedback. Here, feedback refers to social unrest, pollution, or depletion of resources. We can relate this to the development of tourism destination. In tourism, sustainability would be “that level of development which does not exceed the carrying capacity of the destination and thus cause serious or irreversible changes to the destination” (Tribe, 2005). This is what we call a growth that can sustain itself over time.

It is hard for a nation or a sector to use effective plans for sustainable tourism development with clear agenda. The UNWTO provides policy guidelines for such purposes. The UNWTO refers sustainable tourism with regard to sustainability assumption as “the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions its long-term sustainability” (UNWTO, 1995).

Sustainability in tourism destination must ensure optimal use of resources that are sources of tourism development, their maintenance, and conservation of biodiversity and natural heritage (Liu, 2003). The project must also “adhere to socio-cultural existences of host communities, conserve their cultural heritage and enhance cultural understanding and tolerance” (Swarbrooke, 1999).

Sustainable tourism project must also provide socio-economic benefits, long-term economic availability, stable employment, poverty reduction, social services, and generation of income to the host community and all stakeholders.

First, regulations are forms of ensuring sustainability of tourism destinations. Stakeholders can introduce permissions and permits as forms of preventative control. Permits and permissions aim at preventing damages by requiring stakeholders to get permissions so as to engage in possible harmful activities. For instance, we can have planning permits to stop developments that do not meet planning guidelines and larger environmental matters and effects.

Second, regulation also involves environmental impact assessment. Some projects which may have severe impacts on the environment; thus the authorities must review an environmental consequences of such projects. It may use a cost-benefit approach that covers the all costs and advantages to stakeholders. For a development to be socially acceptable, its benefits to society must exceed its cost to society.

Third, controls and laws are also effective means of providing and controlling environmental pollutant targets. Occasionally, policymakers may introduce these laws and controls after an event that cause harm to the environment has started. Such laws may cover restrictions to aircraft and other forms of pollution and the quality standards of water for consumption. Litter laws and their subsequent fines are also part of this regulation.

Fourth, there are also special designation areas. Most countries have sites that have special status as a way of promoting conservation and controlling development. These designations have varying degrees of statutory backing. For example, the UK has designated Sites of Special Scientific Interests (SSSIs) and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauties (AONBs). The UK considers SSSIs sites as “areas of special interest because of flora, fauna, geological or physiographical features” (National Park Service, 1990).

The Countryside Commission designates AONBs areas for the purpose protecting places with natural beauty. The IUCN (the World Conservation Union) has also classified protected places, with an idea of enhancing international conservation efforts and providing the benchmark for protection. Special designation areas may include nature reserve, national parks, natural monuments, and protected landscape or seascape among others.

Fifth, most countries now have laws to ensure that large organisations devote sections of their resources to corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR now extends to include the environment apart from other issues of organisations. Private organisations are focusing on the environment by creating their environmental management teams, creating environmental guidelines and carrying out environmental evaluations and required actions for purposes of conserving the environment.

The WTTC and WTO are responsible for the provision of leadership and guidelines in environmental conservation. Most guidelines in this area focus on noise, emissions, waste, congestion, tourism and conservation (Deloitte and Oxford Economics, 2010).

Some forms of these regulations are difficult to implement. Still, the industry may find them difficult to follow. There are cases where private developers and environmental authorities engage in lawsuits. Such issues hinder regulations as attempts to enhance sustainability in tourism destinations.

Market methods highlight “manipulation of prices as a method of achieving environmental goals through adjustment of market prices in an attempt to reflect the environmental costs, and benefits of activities” (Tribe, 2005). The sole purpose is for the manufactures and their customers change their behaviours with regard to new prices. This ensures that individuals’ efforts in environmental conservation are worthwhile (Middleton and Hawkins, 1998).

The first concept is ownership. People tend to overuse free resources and areas of free access. Thus, policymakers advocate privatisation of such natural resources. For instance, ownership of a lake is an incentive to enforce property rights. Thus, people may pay for the use of resources such as lakes and oceans as dumping sinks.

Firms will strive to maximise their gains and satisfy their shareholders expectations. Thus, policymakers advocate for public ownership to enhance environmental management. In principle, a public organisation has an “incentive to consider social costs and benefits to the country” (Cohen, 2002).

Policymakers can use taxes and increasing prices to reduce the use of products with negative environmental consequences, and subsidies that can reduce prices and promote the use of products that have positive effects on the environmental. Taxation has worked since it adoption by OECD in 1972 as a way of passing the cost to polluters (OECD, 2001).

On carbon dioxide emissions, Curtis argues that we can make moderate emissions reductions by “way of increased energy efficiency but that excess emissions by luxury hotels and resorts need further action” (Curtis, 2002).

Transport has been a main source of concern in this area. National Parks authorities of the UK have emphasised necessities of transport systems to countryside tourism and recreation. They note that about 90 percent of visitors used cars to parks. Consequently, most environmentalists have called for raised taxations on car and air travels so as to reflect their environmental costs (National Park Service, 1990).

Finland has taxes on none-returnable beverage containers to promote the consumption of returnable parks in attempts to eliminate the level of such parks left as litters. Landfill taxes apply charges on waste management firms that utilise landfill areas for burying solid waste.

Some governments may give grants for people who wish to buy electric cars to reduce carbon pollution. There are projects underway to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. These include the planned “planting of forests to capture carbon naturally as well as the artificial capture of carbon and its storage in underground reservoirs” (Mules, 2001).

Deposit-refund schemes work by encouraging consumers to return containers from the vendors or dispose them in a manner favourable to the environment. Customers who return their containers get their deposits. This scheme is effective in the local outlets and can work well on a national scale if well implemented (Gee, 1997).

In order to reduce pollution, some countries have introduced charges on products and services they offer the public. These include car parking charges to encourage usage of “public vehicles, road pricing for motorway usages in some EU countries such as France and Spain” (Priestley, Edwards and Coccossis, 1996).

Market approaches to sustainability in developing tourism destinations have been effective in EU zones. Still, the idea to provide subsidies for environmental friendly products such as vehicles is gaining recognition among tourism stakeholders. However, most consumers do not favour the idea of price increases.

Tribe notes that soft tools are “voluntary by nature and attempt to change behaviours sometimes through improved information, advice, persuasion and sometimes by forming specific networks” (Tribe, 2005).

Tourism eco-labelling approach to sustainability focuses on tourists. Leisure and tourism consumers themselves have the ability to transform the consequences of products they consume on the environmental and switch to products with minimal environmental effects. This approach aims at giving the users the “additional environmental information to enable them make informed decisions in their buying patterns” (Cater and Lowman, 1994).

There are also certification and award schemes to enhance sustainability in tourism destination. They authenticate and provide endorsement to environmental attributions made by firms and offer marks such as the Blue Flag that a consumer can recognise (Becken and Hay, 2007).

The Blue Flag goes to beaches that have acquired recognisable levels for water quality and facilities, safety, environmental education and management. This is also an environmental marketing device for tourists who are environmental conscious. The scheme attempts to offer opportunities for beach local stakeholders to increase their environmental concerns (Coccossis and Nijkamp, 1995).

Many organisations such as the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the Federation of Nature and National Parks of Europe (FNNPE) have produced guidelines and treaties for environmental management and sustainability (FNNPE, 1993).

Citizenship, education and advertising can also enhance sustainability when individuals act in the role of consumers or workers or opinion makers (Cooper, Fletcher, Gilbert and Wanhill, 2008). Consumers need information to enable them purchase green products and contribute towards environmental sustainability.

Thus, the focus should be on an environmental education as a way of creating awareness among consumers and encourage others to adopt favourable products in environmental conservation and sustainability (Gratton and Kokolakakis, 2003).

Tribe notes “voluntary schemes exist to allow consumers mitigate the impacts of any environmental damages they may cause” (Tribe, 2005). The most common is carbon offset schemes in airline to passengers (McNeill, 1997).

Ecotourism as a form of tourism stresses the sound ecological principles (UNEPTIE, 2007). Thus, ecotourism attempts to minimise negative impacts on the environment, create environmental and cultural awareness, offer financial services to empower host communities, and raise sensitive issues of concern to host communities (Saarinen, 2006). Therefore, promoting ecotourism is a form of minimising negative external impacts of tourism and maximising the positive external impacts of tourism. However, industry observers note “ecotourism will always remain a minor form of tourism” (Mowforth and Munt, 2009). Consequently, it is not the main approach for achieving sustainable tourism.

Soft tools rarely achieve their desired effects as such approaches depend on the willingness of participants for effectiveness. However, soft tools are the best approaches for enhancing sustainability of tourism destinations.

Getz, Crouch, and Ritchie share the idea that tourism planners have recognised the need for creating common goals in tourism planning (Getz, 1995; Crouch and Ritchie, 1999). However, the problem is that there are no empirical studies to support common goals, or what factors are essential in creating shared goals in developing sustainable tourism destinations to cater for various needs of stakeholders.

To this end, most tourism organisations have no concrete industry standards as these depend on a given country’s tourism policies. Thus, creating common goals for sustainability in the tourism sector will remain a challenge.

Therefore, organisations should strive to create a solid tourism industry shared goals common among all stakeholders (Burns and Holden, 1995). These goals must come from common publications, stakeholders’ opinions, and academic journals among others. We have to recognise that the industry can create sustainable tourism destinations based on competitive interests and shared resources affected by same factors (Butler, 2006). This will ensure that stakeholders have motivation to achieve a common and collective goal.

However, these shared goals cannot remain constant as the industry experiences growth (Hall and Lew, 1998). Thus, continuous research, studies and development are necessary to reflect the changing trends in the industry such environmental concerns, infrastructures, and marketing principles.

This approach will ensure that the industry has a sense of direction supported by strategies and practical and achievable goals. Medeiros and Bramwell noted that countries such as Brazil have attempted to implement shared vision but with minimal outcomes due to uncertainty in the industry (Medeiros and Bramwell, 2002).

The challenge has been to get information where stakeholders need it for developing sustainable tourism policies. Thus, the industry must enhance information flow among its small stakeholders. This must also apply to feedback. However, generating useful information for the industry means continuous learning due to the dynamic nature of tourism. Application of information systems can assist in reflecting, evaluating, delivering, processing, and improving information flow in the tourism industry for sustainability destinations.

Most stakeholders blame poor research cultures in the tourism industry as a basis for lack of sustainability in developing tourism destinations. This is responsible for the rift in utilisation of the available research findings. De Lacy and Boyd note that there are considerable efforts in Australia to reduce such barriers through “the use of the Australian Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) model for cross-sectoral research collaboration to enhance the sustainability of tourism” (De Lacy and Boyd, 2000).

The approach aims at highlighting the importance of the industry collaboration to enhance the effectiveness and benefits of research findings through technology transfers, usages and commercialisation.

Organisations have relationships that exist among them. These can be in forms of partnerships, co-operation, co-ordination, and collaboration. Researchers have concentrated on these areas so as to eliminate problems that have affected tourism development for decades.

Jamal and Getz concur that enhancing the industry identity and common goals can enhance co-operation among the main players as these stakeholders recognise the need to work as a team (Jamal and Getz, 1995). However, the challenge is that no major studies exist to prove the importance of co-operation to tourism destination development. Still, a closer look at the relationship that exists in the industry reveals that real sustainability in the tourism industry can only become reality if there is co-operation.

Occasionally, some problems result due to lack of information. Therefore, co-operation will minimise incidences of miscommunication and difficulties due to lack of collaboration among the industry stakeholders (Inskeep, 1997). This approach to sustainability is not effective due to challenges related to accessing information in a timely fashion.

One of the aims of ecotourism is the need for cultural exchange among the stakeholders. There is a need for mutual acceptance and accommodation of different cultural belief, and world views to enhance development of sustainability in tourism destinations (Davidson and Maitland, 1997). It is necessary that stakeholders of diverse views and beliefs promote dialogue and exchanges in tourism destinations, acceptance of the locals, conservation of the cultural diversity, and eradicate negative impacts of tourism.

We can use Senge’s system thinking to promote a common language that helps stakeholders who have differences in belief systems (Senge, 1990). The industry covers almost all cultures of the global. Thus, cultural exchange has limitations in relations to accommodation, acceptance, diversity, and eradication of negative stereotypes.

Sustainability of tourism destinations needs consultative approach on decision-making processes. The processes must involve all stakeholders including host communities. Sharman noted some issues that influenced participation of stakeholders in planning as poor representation, low participation and poor outcomes of the process among the participants (Sharman, 1999).

Power issues influenced the outcomes of all consultative processes. The industry can develop models which aim at creating power balance for accommodation of different point of views (Douglas and Butler, 2001). This approach helps in facilitating understanding, strategic planning and increasing stakeholders’ participation.

The uncertainty surrounding the future of tourism industry impacts decision-making process. Stakeholders are not willing to engage in long-term decisions without knowing their consequences. Participants should base their decisions on sound policies and welcome open discussions so that they can identity issues of common concerns and provide alternatives or solutions (Jamieson, 2001).

It is difficult for the tourism industry to have a single body to coordinate all decision-making processes that fit all the tourism destinations of the world. Tourism decisions depend on national policies regulating the industry.

The concept of adaptive management can help in improving sustainability of tourism destinations. Adaptive approaches can help the industry tackle emerging challenges that hamper growth (Knowles and Egan, 2000). Adaptive management enables the industry reacts to changes in a timely fashion.

The idea of adaptive management finds support in studies and ideas of Reeds (Reed, 2000). Adaptive management requires continuous studies, testing and developing adaptive models (Eaton, 1996). Adaptive management has been effective in enhance management of the tourism industry.

Given the reviewed literature, this research supports the view that despite the existence of many initiatives, sustainable tourism practices have not spread across the industry because the stakeholders of tourism are still divided on how to improve the sustainability of tourist destinations . These initiatives exist, but tourism has diverse components that vary from country to country. Thus, putting these together to enhance sustainability of the environment has remained a challenge across the industry.

Approaches to tourism destination sustainability such as regulations, market approaches, and soft tools may not work in every tourism situation. Still, attempts at developing sustainability of tourism destinations may not achieve the desired outcome due to minimal participation in processes such as sharing information, goals, co-operation and co-ordination, cultural exchanges, consultative decision-making and planning, and adaptive management.

Reference List

Becken, S and Hay, J 2007, Tourism and climate change: Risks and opportunities, Multilingual Matters Ltd, Bristol.

Burns, P and Holden, A 1995, Tourism: A new perspective, Prentice-Hall, Hemel Hempstead.

Butler, R 2006, The Tourism Area Life Cycle: Volume 2: Conceptual and theoretical issues, Channel View Publications, Clevedon.

Cater, E and Lowman, G 1994, Ecotourism: A sustainable option. Wiley, Chichester.

Coccossis, H and Nijkamp, P 1995, Sustainable tourism development, Ashgate, London.

Cohen, E 2002, ‘Authenticity, equity and sustainability in tourism’, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 267-276.

Cooper, C, Fletcher, J, Gilbert, D and Wanhill, S 2008, Tourism: principles & practice, 4th ed, Longman, Harlow.

Crouch, G and Ritchie, J 1999, ‘Tourism, competitiveness, and societal prosperity’, Journal of Business Research, vol. 44, pp. 137–152.

Curtis, I 2002, ‘Environmentally sustainable tourism: A case for carbon trading at Northern Queensland hotels and resorts’, Australian Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 9, no.1, pp. 27–36.

Davidson, R and Maitland, R 1997, Tourism destinations, Hodder and Stoughton, London.

De Lacy, T and Boyd, M 2000, An Australian research partnership between industry, universities and government: The Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism, Channel View Publications, Clevedon, UK.

Deloitte and Oxford Economics 2010, The economic contribution of the visitor economy: UK and the nations, Visit Britain, London.

Douglas, P and Richard B 2001, Contemporary Issues in Tourism Development, Routledge, London.

Eaton, B 1996, European leisure business: Strategies for the future, Elm Publications, Cambridge.

FNNPE 1993, Loving them to death? FNNPE, Grafenau, Germany.

Gee, C 1997, International tourism: A global perspective, World Tourism Organisation, Madrid.

Getz, D 1995, ‘Collaboration Theory and community tourism planning’, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 186–204.

Gratton, C and Kokolakakis, T 2003, ‘A bright future’, Leisure Management, vol. 14, no. 9, pp. 38–40.

Hall, C and Lew, A 1998, Sustainable Tourism: A geographical perspective, Addison Wesley Longman, Harlow.

Inskeep, E 1997, Tourism planning, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York.

Jamal, T and Getz, D 1995, ‘Collaboration Theory and community tourism planning’, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 22, no.1, pp. 186–204.

Jamieson, W 2001, Promotion of investment in tourism infrastructure, UN ESCAP, New York.

Knowles, T and Egan, D 2000, ‘Recession and its implications for the international hotel industry’, Travel and Tourism Analyst, vol. 6, pp. 59–76.

Liu, Z 2003, ‘Sustainable tourism development: a critique’, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 11, no. 6, pp. 459-475.

McNeill, L 1997, Travel in the digital age, Bowerdean Publishing, Chichester.

Medeiros de Araujo, L and Bramwell, B 2002, ‘Partnership and regional tourism in Brazil’, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 1138–1164.

Middleton, V and Hawkins, R 1998, Sustainable tourism: A marketing perspective, Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

Mowforth, M and Munt, I 2009, Tourism and Sustainability Development, globalisation and new tourism in the Third World, Routledge, London.

Mules, T 2001, Globalization and the economic impacts of tourism, Continuum, London.

National Park Service 1990, Economic impacts of protecting rivers, trails, and greenway corridors: A resource book, US Department of the Interior National Park Service, Washington.

OECD. 2001, Cities and regions in the new learning economy, Paris.

Priestley, G, Edwards, J and Coccossis, H 1996, Sustainable tourism? European experiences, CAB International, Wallingford.

Reed, M 2000, Collaborative tourism planning as adaptive experiments in emergent tourism settings, Channel View Publications, Clevedon, UK.

Saarinen, J 2006, ‘Traditions of Sustainability in Tourism Studies’, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 1121-1140.

Senge, P 1990, The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization, Currency Doubleday, New York.

Sharman, A 1999, ‘Collaboration in local tourism policy making’, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 392–415.

Swarbrooke, J 1999, Sustainable Tourism Management, CABI Publishing, Oxford.

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Essay on ecotourism | environment.

ecotourism effects essay

Here is an essay on ‘Ecotourism’ for class 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Ecotourism’ especially written for school and college students.

Essay on Ecotourism

Essay # 1. introduction to ecotourism:.


According to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) world tourism barometer, International tourist arrivals grew by 4.4 per cent in 2011 to a total 980 million, up from 939 million in 2010 and it is expected to cross 1 billion mark in 2012. The argument for the integration of tourism with conservation was first made widespread by Budowski (1976) in an article.

However, the term “Ecotourism” has become prevalent concept since the mid 1980s and it has experienced the fastest growth of all sub-sectors in the tourism industry. The popularity shows a proof of change in tourist perceptions, increased environmental awareness and a desire to explore natural environments.

The tourism activities stretch from conventional tourism to ecotourism and there has been a lot of contention to the limit at which biodiversity preservation, local social-economic benefits and environmental impact should be considered in ecotourism For this reason, environmentalists, special interest groups and governments define ecotourism differently.

Environmental organizations have generally insisted that ecotourism is nature-based, sustainably managed, conservation supporting and environmentally educated. The tourist industry and governments, however, focus more on the product aspect, treating ecotourism as equivalent to any sort of tourism based in nature. As a further complication, many terms are used under the rubric of ecotourism.

Nature tourism, nature travel, low impact tourism green tourism, soft tourism, bio-tourism, ecologically responsible tourism and others have been used in literature and marketing, although they are not necessary synonymous with ecotourism. Presently the Ecotourism as industry is one of the fastest growing economic sector in the globe.

The concept of ecotourism is probably equally due to the widespread and growing interest in the natural environment and a corresponding recognition of the importance of conserving natural environmental quality. The idea of visiting and experiencing high-quality natural environments and also protecting them from harmful impacts is now an acceptable and marketable one.

Ecotourism involves nature conservation by tourists who visit several attraction sites. This is aimed at securing threatened species of plants and animals that depend of nature to survive. This is done mainly by tourists with an aim of sustaining the beauty and attraction of the sites. It is the exercise that is worthy investing in since the outcome benefits the generations to come and creates a sustainable source of government revenue.

When the visiting tourists explore a certain site and encouraged to conserve the environment, it becomes a source of inspiration and fun to them. On the other hand, the tourists gain an experience of what makes the site attractive and they become eager to visit the same site in future in order to see the outcome of what their work. It is a partnership that enables all the parties to participate in sustaining the attractive sites.

Ecotourism has numerous merits to the environment and nature in general. It has a long run benefits to the climate which in turn improves the favourable weather in the area. By adopting ecotourism as a sustainable model, the forest cover is increased, the canopy is created and in the long run, the climate improves.

This reduces the effects of global warming and improves the water reservoir. It is a common knowledge that nature conservation is easier and cheaper compared to the painful outcome of the nature destruction. For this reason, the environment authorities across the world have adopted ecotourism as a sustainable model.

ADVERTISEMENTS: (adsbygoogle=window.adsbygoogle||[]).push({}); Essay # 2. Definition of Ecotourism:

Defining ecotourism has proven to be a difficult task and there are many different definitions to what ecotourism really is. It is more feasible to treat ecotourism as a spectrum with a variety of products rather than attempting to define ecotourism from a specific stance or product.

Ecotourism was first defined as travelling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific objective of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestations found in these areas. The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people”.

Honey (2008) defined ecotourism as travel to fragile, pristine and usually protected areas that strives to be low impact and often small scale and helps educate traveler; provides funds of conservation; directly benefits the economic development and political empowerment of local communities.

It is also defined as nature-based tourism that involves education and interpretation of the natural environment and is managed to be ecologically sustainable. Ecotourism is responsible travel in areas containing natural resources that possess endemic characteristics and cultural or historical resources that are integrated into the area’s ecological system.

Its purpose is to create awareness among all concerned parties of the need for and the measures used to conserve ecosystems and as such are oriented towards community participation as well as the provision of a joint learning experience in sustainable tourism and environmental management.

Another definition by The World Conservation Union’s Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas, defines ecotourism as an environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations.

It is a purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the culture and the natural history of the environment; taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem; producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of the natural resources beneficial to the local people. When compared to mass tourism, ecotourism not only stresses the appropriate use of all resources, but also emphasizes community development to meet the economic, social and cultural needs of the community.

Mass tourism on the other hand creates initiatives in Third World countries that are directed towards satisfying the needs of the tourists. Ecotourism development is most likely to be at a smaller scale, locally owned, with low import leakage and a higher proportion of profits remaining in the local economy.

Ecotourism is travel to fragile, pristine and usually protected areas that strives to be low impact and small scale. It helps to educate the traveler; provides funds for conservation; directly benefits the economic development and political empowerment of local communities; and fosters respect for different cultures and for human rights.

Ecotourism appeals to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. Generally speaking, it focuses on volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on the planet. It typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna and cultural heritage are the primary attractions.

Ecotourism is a conceptual experience, enriching those who delve into researching and understanding the environment around them. It gives us insight into our impacts as human beings and also a greater appreciation of our own natural habitats.

World Tourism Organization:

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) was founded on 27 September 1970 and from 1980 onwards, this day is celebrated as “World Tourism Day”. WTO is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

The International Ecotourism Society:

Concept of TIES was launched by a team organized by Megan Epler Wood at a conference in Florida in 1989 as the world’s first international non-profit dedicated to ecotourism as a tool for conservation and sustainable development.

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) was founded in 1990 and has been in the forefront of the development of ecotourism providing guidelines and standards, training, technical assistance, research and publications. TIES global network of ecotourism professionals and travelers is leading the efforts to make tourism a viable tool for conservation, protection of bio-cultural diversity and sustainable community development.

Through membership services, industry outreach and educational programs, TIES is committed to helping organizations, communities and individuals promote and practice the principles of ecotourism. TIES currently has members in more than 120 countries, representing various professional fields and industry segments including: academics, consultants, conservation professionals and organizations, governments, architects, tour operators, lodge owners and managers, general development experts and eco-tourists.

TIES advocated for sound ecotourism practices at World Parks and Protected Areas Congress in Caracas, Venezuela (1992) and First World Congress on Tourism and the Environment in 1992 at Belize.

Global Significance of Ecotourism:

The global importance of ecotourism is highlighted by several international agreements including: The UN Commission on Sustainable Development, 7 th Session 1999; UN World Tourism Organization Code of Ethics (1999); The Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development issued by the CBD (2003); The Quebec Declaration on Ecotourism (2002); and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002).

Guidelines and standards relating to sustainable/responsible tourism (including specific reference to biodiversity) are developed by the Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Development which has created environmental guidelines for hotels, resorts and tourist attractions.

Concrete UNEP projects include the Tour Operators Initiative for Sustainable Tourism development, with WTO and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), promotion of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Guidelines for Sustainable Tourism in Vulnerable Ecosystems and the UNEP Principles for Sustainable Tourism; the further development and implementation of the tourism components of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) and the Mountain Commons project.

World Ecotourism Summit/Quebec Declaration:

In the framework of the UN International Year of Ecotourism, 2002, under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Tourism Organization (WTO), over three thousand representatives from 132 countries met at the World Ecotourism Summit, hosted in Quebec City, Canada by Tourism Quebec and Canadian Tourism Commission during 19-22 May 2002.

The salient features of the event are:

i. The first-ever Ecotourism Summit which has signaled that ecotourism, in practice, can contribute to poverty alleviation and environmental protection

ii. Ecotourism must be considered a privileged tool, leading the way and paving the road towards a tourism that is truly sustainable

iii. Sustainable tourism can contribute to the more global effort of protecting the sustainability of our planet’s resources

iv. Major issues facing ecotourism have been debated: Concept of Ecotourism; Ecotourism Policy and Planning; Regulation of Ecotourism; Product Development, Marketing and Promotion of Ecotourism; Monitoring Costs and Benefits of Ecotourism

v. Ecotourism embraces the principles of sustainable tourism, concerning the economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism.

vi. Ecotourism also embraces the specific principles: ecotourism contributes actively to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage; includes local and indigenous committees in planning, development and operation and contributing to their well-being; interprets the natural and cultural heritage.

Essay # 3. Objectives of Ecotourism:

The question of “why ecotourism” is one of the emerging questions in the present day context. There are two groups and hence two opinions regarding the subject. One group strongly suggests it as an effective tool for conservation while the other group denies it by terming it as the prominent threat to the existence of nature and natural resources.

In this situation the objectives of ecotourism can be listed as follows:

i. To cultivate environmental consciousness among the local population by educating them about the dangers of overexploiting resources and unrestricted number of tourists.

ii. To help preserve ecosystems and natural areas with a high tourism potential.

iii. To promote new economic incentives, alternate employment opportunities, etc.

iv. To ensure communal ownership and control, and that part of the profits flow into community development programs rather than into personal enrichment.

v. To foster a feeling of pride and community through a revival or preservation of traditional practices and cultural techniques.

Essay # 4. Characteristics of Ecotourism:

Ecotourism aims to promote excellence in tourism by development and protection of natural areas, benefiting the local communities and encouraging commercially successful and environmentally sound tourism operations.

Its focus is sustainability, brought about by building up the following characteristics:

i. Tourism activity is carried out in a relatively undisturbed natural setting.

ii. All natural based forms of tourism in which the main motivation of the tourists is the observation and appreciation of nature as well as the traditional cultures prevailing in natural areas.

iii. Educational, appreciation and interpretation features.

iv. Generally, but not exclusively, organized by small groups by specialized and small, locally owned business.

v. Minimum negative impacts upon the natural and socio-cultural environment.

vi. Conserves natural and cultural heritage.

vii. Contributes to sustainable development and is a profitable business.

viii. Actively involves local people in the process, providing benefits to them.

ix. Supports the protection of natural areas by generating economic benefits for host communities, organizations and authorities managing natural areas with conservation purposes.

x. Provides alternative employment and income opportunities for local communities and increases awareness towards the conservation of natural and cultural assets, both among locals and tourists.

Essay # 5. Principles of Ecotourism:

Ecotourism is a tool to unite conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

Hence, those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should follow the following ecotourism principles:

i. Minimize impact on environment.

ii. Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.

iii. Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.

iv. Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.

v. Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.

vi. Provide healthy political, environmental and social climate for the host country.

Essay # 6. Positive Impacts of Ecotourism:

There are two important promises ecotourism put forward. One promise of ecotourism is that it increases the monetary value of standing biological systems and thereby hopefully encourages the preservation of biological diversity. Another promise is that it is supposed to bring people closer to nature and thus instill a greater desire to protect it.

Ecotourism activities planned and established on the sound ecotourism principles will have the following advantages:

i. It will provide maximum visitor satisfaction with minimal impact on the environment.

ii. It will build awareness and respect for the local culture and environment.

iii. Benefits the local people through employment which is a positive step for the socio-economic development of the local people.

iv. Educates visitors by an on-site visit about the local political, social and environmental issues.

v. Money from the tourism activities go back into the conservation of the area.

vi. Visitors carry new ideas back to influence their own environment.

i. Ecotourism and Conservation:

Is ecotourism a tool for conservation of nature and natural resources? This is debating question today. Both pros and cons are there, but it is, if planned and conducted properly. Ecotourism provides both direct and indirect benefit for conservation. Direct benefit is in terms of financial outturns. The revenue obtained through ecotourism programmes can be directly used for the conservation efforts.

The indirect benefits are raised in terms of the awareness to the people regarding nature and natural resources, employment to the local people, etc. Lack of awareness regarding the importance of nature and natural resources is one of the important challenges faced by conservation efforts.

Hence the chances of visiting natural and cultural heritage areas will enhance the ability of people to appreciate it and will make aware them regarding the importance of conservation. Hence ecotourism can be a simple way of communicating the idea of conservation to the local people. If planned properly, the extent of awareness they are explored can be made more.

ii. Ecotourism and Local Communities:

By increasing local capacity building and employment opportunities, ecotourism is an effective vehicle for empowering local communities around the world to fight against poverty and to achieve sustainable development. In many areas, nowadays ecotourism has been selected as a powerful tool to compensate for the injustice done to the tribal people in the past.

There is always a conflict between the existing rules and regulations and the traditional jobs of the forest dependent community. In this context, it is very important to have some tools for providing sufficient employment opportunities to meet their daily needs and also for improving their living standards. Another important advantage is that, a feeling among the people will arise, that the nature and natural resources are the means of their livelihood and hence they will put their maximum effort to conserve it.

In many of the protected areas, the need of ecotourism is caused by the necessity of the local people for sufficient livelihood opportunities. The new ecotourism activities also provide an opportunity of getting new skills to them and the same can be imparted through proper training also. In short, the healthy relation between the nature and the local community can be achieved through properly planned ecotourism activities.

iii. Ecotourism and Interpretation:

Ecotourism can also be termed as a way of effecting nature interpretation to the visitors. If the packages are designed in such a way that they are getting chances of interpreting the nature, natural resources, natural phenomena etc., it will be an effective interpretation tool.

The lack of awareness among the people is one of the emerging threats to the conservation of nature today. Hence effectively planned ecotourism activities will be an efficient method for making aware the people regarding the conservation of nature and natural resources.

Essay # 7. Threats to Ecotourism:

One definition of ecotourism is the practice of low-impact, educational, ecologically and culturally sensitive travel that benefits local communities and host countries. Many of the ecotourism projects are not meeting these standards. Even if some of the guidelines are being executed, the local communities are still facing other negative impacts.

Some of the negative impacts are forcing people to leave their homes, gross violations of fundamental rights and environmental hazards-far outweigh the medium-term economic benefits etc. A tremendous amount of money is being spent and human resources continue to be used for ecotourism despite unsuccessful outcomes and even more money is put into public relation campaigns to dilute the effects of criticism.

Ecotourism channels resources away from other projects that could contribute more sustainable and realistic solutions to pressing social and environmental problems. The money tourism can generate often ties parks and managements to ecotourism. But there is a tension in this relationship because ecotourism often causes conflict and changes in land-use rights, fails to deliver promises of community-level benefits, damages environments and has plenty of other social impacts.

Indeed many argue repeatedly that ecotourism is neither ecologically nor socially beneficial, yet it persists as a strategy for conservation and development. While several studies are being done on ways to improve the ecotourism structure, some argue that these examples provide rationale for stopping it altogether.

Improper Planning:

Launching of ecotourism activities may cause harmful effects if not planned properly. All the possible demerits will cause direct environmental impacts and hence environmental degradation.

Some of the demerits of the bad planned ecotourism activities are as follows:

i. Overcrowding constructions

ii. Pollution of the habitat

iii. Unlimited numbers of tourists

iv. Traffic congestion

v. Footpath erosion and soil loss

vi. Tourists don’t understand or care what ecotourism really is

vii. Criticism as green washing where the environment is used as a bait to attract tourists

Direct Environmental Impacts:

Ecotourism operations occasionally fail to live up to conservation ideas. It is sometimes overlooked that ecotourism is a highly consumer-centered activity, and that environmental conservation is a means to further economic growth. Although ecotourism is intended for small groups, even a modest increase in population, however, temporary, puts extra pressure on the local environment and necessitates the development of additional infrastructure and amenities.

Threats to Indigenous Cultures is another Negative Impact:

Ecotourism often claims that it preserves and enhances local cultures. However in many areas, evidence shows that with the establishment of protected areas, local people have illegally lost their homes, and most often with no compensation.

Pushing people onto marginal lands with harsh climates, poor soils, lack of water, and infested with livestock and disease does little to enhance livelihoods even when a proportion of ecotourism profits are directed back into the community. The establishment of parks can create harsh survival realities and deprive the people of their traditional use of land and natural resources.


While governments are typically entrusted with the administration and enforcement of environmental protection, they often lack the commitment or capability to manage ecotourism sites effectively. The regulations for environmental protection may be vaguely defined, costly to implement, hard to enforce and uncertain in effectiveness.

Management of Ecotourism Sites by Private Ecotourism Companies:

Private management of tourism sites offers an alternative to the cost of regulation and deficiency of government agencies. It is believed that these companies have a self interest in revenue generation and less concerned about environmental conservation. Tourists will pay more for pristine environments, which translates to higher profit. However, theory indicates that this practice is not economically feasible and will fail to manage the environment.

Essay # 8. Ecotourism in Protected Areas:

Many of the protected areas in the world are also excellent ecotourism centres. Ecotourism activities have become prominent among the routine activities of the protected areas today. These activities have been planned and launched in a participatory manner which has benefitted the conservation efforts a lot.

The need of ecotourism activities in protected areas should mainly aim conservation effort through public awareness, assistance for other activities, monetary benefit for assisting conservation activities and assisting local people through employment opportunities.

Many environmentalists are against the practice of ecotourism in protected areas. They argue that the ecotourism activities will not bring anything other than the depletion of the natural resources, especially in wildlife areas. As the protected areas are very much sensitive to human disturbances, the activities in these areas have to be planned with more care.

Some of the facts we have to give special attention while designing an ecotourism package in protected areas are:

i. Carrying capacity of the area has to be studied and the planning has to be done accordingly.

ii. Care has to be given for packages in which the resources are used sustainably.

iii. Protection oriented packages have to be planned.

iv. Wildlife monitoring oriented packages has to be planned.

v. Local participation has to be ensured while planning the packages.

vi. Maximum employment opportunities to the local people have to be ensured.

Kerala popularly known as God’s Own country is gifted with greatest biodiversity wealth in the entire stretch of Western Ghats. Ecotourism is very popular in Kerala with the successful implementation of ecotourism programmes in Parambikulam Tiger Reserve and Periyar Tiger Reserve.

Ecotourism Experiences from Parambikulam Tiger Reserve:

Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is the most protected ecological piece of Anamalai sub unit of Western Ghats, surrounded on all sides by protected areas and sanctuaries of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the sanctuary is endowed with a peninsular flora and fauna which are excellently conserved due to total protection and minimal human interferences. It has a total area of 285 Square Km. Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is the 38 th Tiger Reserve of India and second of Kerala. It is also well known for the sustainable ecotourism programmes.

Many innovative ecotourism programmes have been designed here with a view to give maximum visitor satisfaction and also to give maximum employment opportunities, but without affecting the ecological sustainability of the area. The emerging threat to this protected area was a huge number of unemployed tribal people and the pressure on forests for their livelihood activities.

Tourism was there but was not in a controlled and sustainable manner. Efforts have been taken to design effective sustainable ecotourism packages without affecting the healthiness of the wildlife habitat existing here.

Main objectives of the ecotourism project planned here are:

i. To give maximum employment opportunities to the local people.

ii. To give effective nature interpretation programmes to the visitors.

iii. To provide effective ecotourism facilities which will help the visitors to appreciate the nature and natural resources.

iv. To use ecotourism as a tool of eco-development and hence to attain local support for protection activities.

v. To make ecotourism as a tool of protection, wildlife monitoring, nature education, etc.

The packages designed here under the ecotourism projects are mainly protection and monitoring oriented. At the same time, attention has been given to have maximum income generating potential also.

Some of the important characteristics of the ecotourism projects launched in Parambikulam area as follows:

i. Strict Control on the Movement of Vehicles inside the Park:

Vehicle safari programme have been launched to attain this goal. Day visitors have been allowed to enter the park only through safari vehicles. Private vehicles are directed to park at the entrance itself. This effort has helped a lot to have effective control on the vehicles moving inside the park.

ii. Engaging Local Tribal as Guides/Naturalists:

Each visitor group has been provided with a guide or naturalist during their visit inside the park. This guide has been given direction to give proper guidelines to the visitors. At the same time, guide has the power to control on the visitors in violation of the rules and regulations of the park. Attention has also been given to give proper training to the guides, to provide reasonable wages, etc.

iii. Providing Sufficient Infrastructure to the Visitors:

Proper infrastruc­ture and its maintenance have been given special care. Interpretation Centre, Information Centre, Accommodation facilities, Canteen, Toilet blocks, etc. have been made available to the visitors through proper timely actions. New constructions have been done without affecting the natural beauty of the area and also without affecting the wildlife habitats. Special attention has been given to maintain the facilities by engaging local tribal for up keeping and maintenance.

iv. Effective Ecotourism Packages:

The ecotourism packages have been designed with a view to have minimum disturbance to the environment, but maximum revenue and also maximum employment to the local people. At the same time, visitor satisfaction has also been taken care. For e.g., in “Tented Niche” programme, seven tents have been provided to the visitors in an undisturbed area.

They have also been provided food, safari, boating etc. under the same package and they will also be assisted by trained guides throughout the programme. For all these provisions under the package, they have to pay a fixed amount. The package shows an excellent example for conducting a variety of activities under a single programme, in a controlled manner, by gaining a reasonable fee and also by giving maximum employment to the local people.

v. Protection Oriented Ecotourism Packages:

Some packages are designed to make people presence in offense sensitive areas such as sandal regeneration areas, illicit felling areas, poaching sensitive areas, etc. This helped a lot to have a check on the entry of offenders to these areas. Similarly trekking in these areas have a check on the illegal activities in park.

vi. Monitoring Oriented Ecotourism Packages:

Some packages have given the chances to the visitors to put their effort in filling the wildlife monitoring datasheets during their visit. For e.g., “Full Moon Census” is an ecotourism package in which the visitors are allowed to stay in Machan near a vayal during full moon day. They are also directed to observe the animals in the vayal and to record the same in the data sheet provided. This data will be very valuable in wildlife monitoring.

vii. Nature Camps:

Systematically arranged and properly conducting nature camps are another feature of the ecotourism here. Nature education is the main objective behind this activity. The classes are taken by experts according to the target groups.

viii. Assistance through Proper Eco-Development Activities:

There are many eco-development units such as paper bag unit, plastic reduction unit, honey unit, Parambikulam dhara unit, etc. to aid the proper functioning of the ecotourism packages. For e.g., in Parambikulam dhara unit, a water filtering unit is functioning to produce pure bottled water for giving the visitors with the condition that they will not be allowed to use their plastic water bottles inside the park. This effort will help to check the menace of plastic bottles inside the park and help ecotourism. Similarly, paper bag unit will check the uncontrolled use of plastic bags inside the park.

ix. Ensuring People’s Participation:

All the activities are planned and controlled by a democratically constituted agency called Forest Development Agency (FDA). The Agency is the apex head of eco-development committees, which are the local committees formed in the area. All the decisions regarding ecotourism have been taken by FDA. People’s participation has thus been ensured throughout the running of a package.

x. Visitor Friendly Efforts:

Updating the facilities through new steps such as online booking, computerized billing, website services, etc. are also important characteristic of Parambikulam ecotourism.

Ecotourism Experiences from Periyar Tiger Reserve:

Periyar tiger Reserve, Thekkady, is an example of nature’s bounty, with great scenic charm, rich biodiversity and providing veritable visitor satisfaction. Sprawled over an area of 925 Square km, Periyar is one of the 27 tiger reserves in India. Zealously guarded and efficiently managed reserve is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna and forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and Pamba. People oriented and park centered community based ecotourism is the hallmark of Periyar Tiger Reserve. These programmes are conducted by local people responsible for the surveillance of the vulnerable parts of the reserve.

a. Periyar Tiger Trail-Adventure Trekking and Camping:

There used to be a great threat to the Reserve from the illegal collection of Cinnamom bark from Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) from a group of smugglers. Lots of trees were getting killed because of these collections. In order to overcome this issue, PTR management had started an innovative ecotourism programme in order to rehabilitate these smugglers.

They were asked to leave their illegal style of livelihood and PTR offered them employment in a programme called “Periyar Tiger Trail’. PTR management has initiated this programme which is a trekking and camping programme inside the forest. One armed staff also accompanies a group of 5 tourists for this camping programme.

The guiding will be done by these ex-smugglers since they have an intimate knowledge of the forest terrain in the reserve. Now because of this ecotourism programmme, a unique experience is being given to the visitors; the livelihood of the local people is improved who once used to be the smugglers and extra protection to the park.

b. Bullock Cart Discoveries:

There were some poaching pressures from the people across the bordering areas of Tamil Nadu to Periyar Tiger Reserve. In order to bring them into the mainstream, an initiative was started in the form of an ecotourism programme called, “Bullock Cart Discoveries”.

These poachers were asked to stop the illegal activities in the PTR and management offered them a couple of bullock carts. Now the tourists coming to Periyar Tiger reserve are given the option of availing this interesting ecotourism programme by which one can have the feel of the grapevine farmyard, bird watching experiences on a bullock cart.

Now because of this ecotourism programme, all the poaching pressures have been reduced drastically as the livelihood of poachers has been ensured through this programme. Moreover, the tourists are now getting one of the very interesting ecotourism experiences.

c. Bamboo Rafting:

This is a dawn to dusk range hiking and rafting programme through some of the richest forest tracts of Periyar Tiger Reserve. A mosaic of habitats will be traversed before the party gets into rafts made of bamboos. The forests are rich in bird life and arboreal animals like giant squirrel and Nilgiri langur.

The rafting is for about three hours and one gets a panoramic view of forest-clad hills reflected on the lake. Animals like elephant, gaur and sambar are sighted keeping close to the edges of the lake. An armed guard and guides will accompany the tourists.

d. Nature Walk – The Guided Day Trek:

Different nature trails traversing diverse habitats form the trekking routes, generally 4 to 5 km in length. This is an interpretive programme offering excellent opportunity to watch birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The trails often pass through evergreen and moist deciduous forests interspersed with marshy grasslands.

e. Border Hiking:

This is a conservation oriented hard trek taking up a full day. The route passes through undulating terrains with altitudinal ranges of 900 – 1,300 meters and the trekkers could glimpse the lofty escarpments bordering the park watershed and the vast plains down below. Gaur, sloth bear, elephant, etc. are often sighted along this route apart from birds and butterflies. The trekkers will go with two guides and an armed forest guard.

f. Green Mansions/Jungle Inn:

A picturesque land is one of the off-the-track destinations ideal for a wilderness retreat replete with trekking, birding, canoeing and facilities for boarding. Hosted and accompanied by trained local people, the visitors can go for trekking and bird watching in the many trails around, paddle in still waters to cool off or perhaps settle down for watching sunset in this oasis of peace and tranquility. The tourists have the pleasure of staying in jungle during night in green mansions.

g. Bamboo Grove/Eco-Lodge:

A hotel that is truly an “eco-lodge” is one that makes efforts to conserve resources and limit waste. The islet of elevated ground studded with bamboo thickets is the eco-lodge for experiential learning. Here a miniature habitat is being recreated for man and nature to co-exist in the already available milieu of grassy downs, sedges and bamboos and stream fringed with screw pine.

Dwelling units made exclusively of natural materials like bamboo and grass and tents are slotted in the available spaces together with treetop huts to give the place an eco-friendly ambience. Experiential learning and nature sensitization camps are conducted for discerning aspirants. Lectures, discussions, audiovisual presentations, field visits etc. go with the programme.

h. Jungle Patrol:

This programme is part of the regular night patrolling in the fringe eco-development zones of the tiger reserve. By participating in this, one is actually helping in the protection of the forests of Periyar.

The trekking could be at any time between 7 pm and 4 am and could be taken by persons having proper physical and mental fitness to trek through the wilderness in the night. The maximum duration for a slot is 3 hours and protection watchers and armed forest guard accompany the tourists.

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IELTS Writing Task 2 Ecotourism is now defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment. What are the advantages of ecotourism? How can we make ecotourism more popular?

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Fully explain your ideas

To get an excellent score in the IELTS Task 2 writing section, one of the easiest and most effective tips is structuring your writing in the most solid format. A great argument essay structure may be divided to four paragraphs, in which comprises of four sentences (excluding the conclusion paragraph, which comprises of three sentences).

For we to consider an essay structure a great one, it should be looking like this:

  • Paragraph 1 - Introduction
  • Sentence 1 - Background statement
  • Sentence 2 - Detailed background statement
  • Sentence 3 - Thesis
  • Sentence 4 - Outline sentence
  • Paragraph 2 - First supporting paragraph
  • Sentence 1 - Topic sentence
  • Sentence 2 - Example
  • Sentence 3 - Discussion
  • Sentence 4 - Conclusion
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Multinational companies are becoming increasingly common in developing countries. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

Some people think foreign visitors should be charged more than local people when they visit the cultural and historical attractions in a country to what extent do you agree or disagree, do you agree or disagree with the following statementit is important to know about events happening around the world, even if it is unlikely that they will affect your daily life.use specific reasons and examples to support your answer., in some countries people rent accommodation while other buy their own houses. does renting accommodation have more advantages or disadvantages than buying place, celebrities and famous people require constant attention from the media (newspapers, internet). do you agree or disagree.


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