This one-day symposium brings together conservation practitioners, researchers, graduate students, professors, and community members to explore the intricate social, economic, and environmental dynamics of ecotourism that may be unknown to the average, even “responsible” traveler.
Ecotourism, as defined by its proponents, aims to promote both environmental conservation and the stability and resilience of the surrounding communities. Despite these good intentions, closer examination reveals that ecotourism, in many cases, has contributed to social and environmental degradation. Rapid economic growth inspired by ecotourism brings forth power dynamics, often resulting in local communities alienated in the conservation of their own lands, as well as increased visits to fragile environments. Often ignored are capacity building, policies, education, and appropriate infrastructure for such growth, which are critically needed to enable local participation and stability.
We can learn from successful ecotourism enterprises that have been able to merge community development and sustainable growth with conservation. We will present an array of examples from around the world through a combination of speakers, posters, and a panel discussion.