This summer, treat yourself to the destruction of a delicate ecosystem!

ecosystemSo recently I read this post courtesy of Hube about how Costa Rica was quickly becoming a hotspot for so-called “eco-tourism”. Eco-tourism, for those of you who may not immediately understand my ire at said suggestion is, in short, “purposeful travel that creates an understanding of cultural and natural history, while safeguarding the integrity of the ecosystem and producing economic benefits that encourage conservation.” (This, according to the Costa Rican govt., which has allowed deregulated deforestization to lead to the obliteration of countless acres of precious natural resources).

Costa Rica embarked on implementing ecotourism programs for two primary reasons: first, because tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of many economies in Latin America and because of its ability to generate needed foreign exchange which is critical for developing countries. Second, ecotourism has been argued to be a win-win situation for local inhabitants, the environment, as well as the economy in general as the country moves toward achieving sustainable development.

Sounds lovely as a tart breeze from the mountaintops and the stars that shimmer over the canopy at night, doesn’t it? So lovely, yet... There are some things the gleeful proponents of ecotourism neglect to mention in their mindless promotion of tourism in areas such as South America. Eco-tourism is the tourism industry’s fastest growing subsector, with an estimated world-wide annual growth of 10-15%. Governments as well as the tourism industry promote eco-tourism, with its claims of economic and social sensitivity. But there are well-founded concerns that it lacks adequate scientific foundations, and is not viable as a solution to the world’s social and environmental problems. In this light, it becomes easy to see what “eco-tourism” really is: a tactic concealing the mainstream tourism industry’s consumptive and exploitative practices by `greening’ it.

Many eco-tourism claims concerning its benefits are exaggerated, or owe more to labelling and marketing than genuine sustainability. There is no REAL EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE to support the claims of eco-tourism’s proponents that it is at all sustainable. Not only are such projects repeatedly planned and carried out without local consent and support, but they often threaten local cultures, economies, and natural resource bases.

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