Ecotourism is presently the fastest growing segment of the world’s largest service industry, tourism. While environmentalists are considering the pros and cons of ecotourism, many developing nations are seeking to cash in on the growing demand for this new drift in travel. The poor nations of Central America, with its cloud forests, active volcanoes, and wide assortment of flora and fauna, appear perfectly situated to take advantage of the growing demand for ecotourism with Costa Rica leading the pack. This paper argues that in spite of best efforts Costa Rica has been experiencing problems with ecotourism.
Although Costa Rica has been praised for its development of a lucrative, yet environmentally friendly, ecotourism industry, economists and environmentalists similarly debate whether or not an economy centered on tourism can be persistent. The idea behind ecotourism is to protect a nation’s natural resources while profiting from them. However, in this pursuit for profits, some nations, including Costa Rica, have allowed their ecotourism industry to become ecologically detrimental. By allowing unlimited numbers of tourists into protected areas and encouraging the construction of high-rise hotels and resorts over small-scale tourism development, ecotourism industries, such as Costa Rica’s, may perhaps be on the path to self-destruction.
For many years, travelers have needed to experience the exoticism of foreign cultures and environments without doing damage to either one of them. Conservation is not a new idea, yet it has lately resurfaced with a greater force and a stronger message; clean up or die! A few decades ago, conservationists alleged in a type of travel that would not only generate profits but also promote conservation and management of natural landscapes and their inhabitants.
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