Is Eco-tourism the way forward for countries such as Ecuador?

The Republic of Ecuador is located on the Western Hemisphere, on the northeastern corner of South America. The neighbouring countries are: Colombia in the North and Peru in the South. Ecuador is one of the smallest countries in Latin America (roughly same size as Britain). Despite its size, Ecuador offers great variety of places to visit, many different cultures, and many activities to enjoy such as nature tours, mountain climbing above 6000 meters, paragliding, white water rafting, or scuba diving.

Ecuador overall has a population of 11 million people, with an annual population growth rate of 3%. Ecuador formerly is a developing nation, evidence that can be used to establish this is for starters the GNP level is depleted being $3,000 (2001), when compared to a country such as USA $36,300 (2001) or UK $24,700 (2001) it shows that Ecuador is a developing country. The diagram on the next page shows the GNP level through the years passed for Ecuador.

Other aspects that show that Ecuador is a developing are the birth rate and the infant mortality rate. The infant mortality rate of Ecuador reaches up to 30.69% in comparison to United Kingdom’s infant mortality rate, which is 5.78%. This already shows that there are much more babies dieing per 1000 live births in Ecuador than UK, which then leads to showing that there are more diseases and unhygienic living conditions. The life expectance of Ecuador initially is 69.54 for males and 74.90 for females, saying that, the life expectance in UK a developed country is 74.73 for males and 80.15 for females. There are over 50 % of Ecuadorians living in poor conditions. All these factors prove that Ecuador is still a developing country.

Being a LEDC, Ecuador has many concerns for convalescing living conditions and improving the economy. Therefore Ecuador’s main concern is money. The most comfortable way is TOURISM, there are however other ways for getting money such as labour work, but since Ecuador has beautiful sceneries and plenty of attractions tourism will be the fastest and the easiest way of bringing in money into the country. Earning more money would help the country improve the economy which then can improve and create jobs for the unemployed, it will also help build more schools and hospitals which would help the country on the whole and generally improve amenities.

Commercial Tourism

Many LEDC’s promote tourism for money. Tourism is a huge industry that can support many different types of jobs. This would be beneficial for the people who are unemployed, they can take up jobs such as shopkeepers in fairs in order for tourists to buy souvenirs, and other jobs can include cleaners. Tourism generates “easy money” as tourists will be coming to see your culture and your traditions and also enjoy the many facilities such as sight seeing or enjoying themselves on beaches. It basically does not include much hard work for the indigenous people. Since tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, more and more people are spending more money on tourism each year, travelling abroad etc. Many countries such as Jamaica, Kenya or India are all starting to invest and become familiar with tourism. Most of the LEDC’s are becoming increasingly popular with tourists coming to see different cultures or to relax and enjoy the wildlife, which are only to be found in LEDC’s.

Ecuador is the perfect place for tourists interested in the outdoors and nature activities. Fine colonial architecture, rain forest trips, Inca treasures and the Andes are among Ecuador’s top attractions. The main reason people will go to Ecuador for a holiday is that it is “a land of contrasts you will never forget, Ecuador is divided by nature, yet solidly held together by a common cultural heritage. It is a four-in-one deal offering an awesome wealth of cultural and natural diversity; trek through the Andes, swim along a tropical coast, and explore the mysteries of the jungle and the Galapagos Islands, all in one trip!”

Tourism not only provides many different jobs, but it also helps areas that are particularly spoilt to start to improve and develop. Money is invested into the local areas; services are improved such as hospitals and schools. From tourism the local transport system improves tremendously, which would benefit the local indigenous people and also tourists. As you can see, this (commercial) type of tourism can help a country economically and also help the indigenous people. While “Commercial tourism” looks to be perfect in all ways, it also has many disadvantages, some of which discourage LEDC’s to take on commercial tourism.

These disadvantages include social problems, for instance when western tourists offend local people or various religious groups within the society because of their style of dress or even when their behaviour seems different it discourages these local people to stop working with tourism.

There can also be environmental problems, when natural environments and landscapes are damaged; from tourists for example coastal areas and seaside resorts are completely altered from rubbish from the tourists. Rivers and seas are increasingly polluted from the tourists throwing things such as wrappers and rubbish, which again effects the environment negatively.

Mainly the government would be in favour for this type of tourism but only to an extent. Other wise the indigenous and the more environmental friendly people would be against this type of tourism. The main risks commercial tourism and also any other type of tourism is that a country may not be as “popular” as time passes, it will become less interesting to holiday makers and with the same leisure activities each year, it would start to become boring to people.

From all the disadvantages LEDC’s are being discouraged constantly from the fear of their natural environment being destroyed by tourists. Therefore more and more LEDC’s have started to familiarise them selves with another type of tourism, ECO-TOURISM.

Eco-Tourism

Eco-tourism comes from a concern about the natural ecosystems of places and from a concern that the local ways of life and the environment or wildlife can be damaged or destroyed by commercial tourism. As commercial tourism has extensive negative effects on the beaches, local cultures and the environment, the idea of developing eco-tourism is to encourage smaller scale developments with visitor coming and staying with the indigenous people and learning about the environment. This type of tourism also supports the idea that holidaymakers will spend time learning about the wildlife and the environment. It can also include bird watching and sight seeing. The main scheme of eco-tourism is to make tourism less damaging and more in tune with the environment.

The main obvious advantage of eco-tourism is that it helps the environment enormously and also the wildlife. The other advantage of eco-tourism is that the money made would go straight to the actual indigenous population by small groups performing in front of tourists or acting like guides. The Quicha people are able to use their expert knowledge of the plants and animals of the forest as the basis of tours, which again will bring money straight to the people them selves. It is also an advantage as it would make the indigenous people more self-dependent and this would mean they would work for themselves. In contrast to commercial tourism where the local people have to take up jobs such as cleaners in order to get money and sometimes they are not being paid fairly. The profits that are earned from the eco-tourism are invested to improve the community and public issues such as schools and hospitals or health centres. This type o tourism also makes the people feel they are in the community and they are working together, “it makes the community stronger”

There would also be less crime because most of the crime came from children stealing things of the tourists in commercial tourism, but since the indigenous people are more intact with the eco-tourists there would be less crime.

While being many advantages, there are also a few disadvantages. But none of which include environmental or social issues but instead include economical issues.

These economical issues would include the lack of tourists interested actually in eco-tourism. Again most people would rather spend their money to go abroad to places where they can relax on beaches, enjoy parades and basically leave their troubles behind, there would not be that many people interested in learning about the environment and the wildlife, and because of the lack of tourists going to the eco-tourism countries there would be a lack of jobs and more people unemployed since most of the indigenous people will be depending on the tourists so they could give tours. The other main disadvantage apart from the lack of tourists is that the country will just be depending on the tourism and when that starts to decrease, the country as a whole will start to be more and more less developed.

Views of the local people

Different people in the village would be thinking different things. The main thing on there minds will be to be in favour of eco-tourism as they will not be up for commercial tourism as that can damage the rainforest, some people even believe that commercial tourism could not bring enough jobs and if it does it would be jobs such as cutting down tree’s which is against the culture and traditions.

The village leader wants the village to stay together and prosper. However he is completely against commercial tourism. This is because the last time that tourist had come into the village they had paid the villagers little money and also they did not respect the villagers in a proper manner. The village leader is also not sure about the eco-tourism scheme, as he is worried it would have the same effect as commercial tourism, which was poor.

Local development worker in contrast to the village leader believes that eco-tourism is the right way forward. The local development worker has helped villages around the area and has seen it work; therefore she believes that eco-tourism will work in this village.

As you can see we can understand why different people will differ in their views for or against eco-tourism, for instance the village only wants the village to grow and develop through, he does not understand the facts of what eco-tourism can do because of the fear of what he had suffered when the tourist exploited their village and did not respect any of the villagers. On the other hand the local development worker believe that the village can develop very easily if they allow eco-tourism, her main argument against the village leader could be that she has seen other villages develop through eco-tourism and it can happen to this village as well.

Evaluation

After analysing both commercial and eco-tourism, I have found many advantages and disadvantages of both. Commercial tourism will destroy the land and the wildlife will get hurt and the indigenous people are sometimes not respected. On the other hand commercial tourism does bring more money into the country not necessarily straight to the local people and also more people are interested in commercial tourism.

However the eco-tourism protects the wildlife and keeps the land clean and unpolluted. It also helps the indigenous people feel they are dependent and part of a strong community, but eco-tourism having the environmental and social advantages, it has a flaw, there is an economical disadvantage which is, it brings in less money and in most cases most tourists would go to a commercial tourism country as it would be more pleasurable.

The final question really is “Is eco-tourism the way forward for countries such as Ecuador?”

After going through all the advantages and disadvantages and what the indigenous people think, my answer would be, yes eco-tourism is the way forward for countries such as Ecuador. I have decided this because, it helps the environment without destroying it, it does not hurt the wildlife in anyway, and it also brings in a reasonable amount of money straight to the indigenous people. However these all are very important factors on why I have chosen eco-tourism, but there is one more imperative factor which I think is vital, it is that the Quichua tribe are happy with it, they believe eco-tourism is the way forward, it does not destroy their environment and the wildlife are safe and the Quichua people are satisfied in occupying jobs such as tour guides.

The main argument I would believe which is against eco-tourism is the economical problem; people believe that eco-tourism will bring in less money than commercial tourism. However the way I see it, I believe that every industry when it starts of in the beginning has less people, in spite of this there are small groups going to countries that follow the eco-tourism scheme and slowly that group will be expanding as people will be telling others about their holiday and slowly the eco-tourism industry will begin to rise.

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