Sustainable Use of Biodiversity — What We Can Learn from Ecotourism in Developing Countries

Petra Stephan
Content Type
Working Paper
Institute for Development and Peace
The General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the year 2002 as "The International Year of Ecotourism". Multilateral development institutions such as the World Bank, the Global Environmental Facility, governments in developing countries, the tourism industry as well as local non-governmental organizations all over the world count on ecotourism as a supposed panacea for development and biodiversity protection. With assumed annual growth rates from ten up to thirty percent, ecotourism is often praised as the most dynamic sector in the tourism industry. But some of the stakeholders in the tourism industry seem to use a very extended definition of ecotourism. It includes wildlife watching as well as adventure tourism. Tourism products that are advertised under the label "eco" often only have in common, that they take place in nature. A lot of these offers can be called "ecotourism-light". They only add visits to protected areas to regular package tours, for instance. The concept of "ecotourism" seems to share this fate with the concept of "sustainable development": everybody talks about it and everybody defines it in accordance with one's own interests.
Emerging Markets, Environment, Globalization, International Political Economy