Big business isn’t generally a phrase that comes to mind when thinking of the African continent, but since the prevalence of eco-tourism in the early 90s (the term was first used in 1983), Africa has become a go-to destination for people across the globe looking for the ultimate experience with nature.
Defined by the International Ecotourism Society as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of the local people”, eco-tourism is the second largest industry in the African continent, with mining in the lead.
But is ecotourism a sustainable alternative to conventional tourism or is it just a clever way for businesses to make money, while looking like they care? Is the trend towards ecotourism about preserving and teaching respect for the natural world, or is it causing more harm than good?
Can Ecotourism Harm Africa – People or profits?
For eco-tourism to meet its stated goals, it is important to engage local people. Using the Environment and Community Oriented (ECO) system, the community is an integral part of the industry. By enlisting locals, ecotourism not only keeps much-needed revenue within the community, but also gives locals an incentive to preserve the ecosystem.
Ecotourism in Africa involves the traveller in the community by introducing him/her to local people and customs and allowing them to see wildlife in the context of education and protection.
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