Although there have been economic benefits, the rise of tourism has also put great pressure on popular tourist destinations. This had led to make this global industry more sustainable- to minimise its negative impacts.
Ecotourism lies at the opposite end of the tourist spectrum to mass tourism. The main features of ecotourism are:
- It is based on locations that are thought to be in someway `special` or `precious`, because of their scenery, wildlife,remoteness or culture.
- It aims to educate people and increase their understanding and appreciation of nature and local cultures.
- It tries to minimise the consumption of non-renewable resources and environmental damage.
- It is locally-oriented – controlled by local people, employing local people and using local produce.
- Its profits stays in the local community
- It is sustainable and it contributes to the conversation of biodiversity and culture.
It is defiantly a much `greener` form of tourism than mass tourism, but both have problems namely the burning of fossil fuels to fly and drive the often huge distances between the tourists’ homes and the growing global network of tourist destinations. The issue is particularly sensitive with the concern of climate change and the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Case Study: Bhuntan, Ecotourism And National Scale
There is a growing number of ecotourism ventures around the world pioneering this mode of tourism and demonstrating its benefits. Almost all of these projects are the outcome of private enterprise, one example is the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.
Bhutan’s tourist attractions are spectacular mountain scenery and a rich Buddhist cultural heritage of ancient temples and shrines. To trekkers, birdwatchers and those with an interest in cultural history, Bhutan has a sort of utopian appeal.
Tourism began in Bhutan in 1974 which generated foreign exchange and provided the means for the country to economically develop. Bhutan had only just opened its doors after 300 years of isolation. Initially, the number of foreigners was limited to 2500 per year. Now that limit has more than doubled. All tourists be part of an escorted group to specified locations. Tourists are required to pay a surcharge that is $240 a day per person. All developments, such as hotels, must be organised by architectural designs. The emphasis is on conservation of the natural environment and culture.
The country’s attitude to tourism is ambivalent. On the one hand it is keen to reap the economic benefits, while on the other hand it views tourism as `a serpent in paradise`. Hence a tourist strategy that tightly controls the volume and potential impacts of tourist has been developed.