The objective of this Research Report was to investigate ecotourism. The methodology was to undertake a literature review on ecotourism and a small pilot study, using structured interviews, on the understanding and expectations of ecotourism by tourism industry practitioners and stakeholders.
The literature review first examines traditional tourism. It then examines the philosophy and definition of ecotourism. A model of ecotourism development is presented and evaluated along with ecotourism goals.
Findings and conclusions from the pilot study are that there is confusion over the definition of ecotourism. This may cause difficulty in the management of resources. Ecotourism is associated with nature based tourism, sideline tourism and educational tourism. There is a disagreement among stakeholders and practitioners over what goals will be achieved by ecotourism. In general there is a belief that ecotourism will both promote conservation and, finance and promote economic development. Respondents expressed a mixed opinion on whether or not ecotourism would finance conservation or if it protects the environment. Strong support for ecotourism by government suggest that ecotourism development will occur. There seems to be a significant difference in the level of understanding and expectations of ecotourism among tourism industry members and stakeholders. While government has positive expectations of Ecotourism, others expect that in practice ecotourism may fall short of its theoretical promises.