Ecotourism: A sustainable option?

Ecotourism: A sustainable option?

PUBLICATIONS IN REVIEW 237 erring economy will lead to improvements in the country’s infrastructure and increase the number of foreign investments...

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erring economy will lead to improvements in the country’s infrastructure and increase the number of foreign investments. Challenges will remain, though. Many of the destinations being developed vie for the same markets with similar products. A large, entrenched bureaucracy is hesitant towards too much entrepreneurial vigor, and tourist safety remains a major concern. What is needed, according to the editors, is more supportive policies that are favorable to the industry, a focus on increasing the productivity of the tourism industry rather than on increasing the numbers of international arrivals, improved attention to the management and protection of the more accessible resources, an awareness of the growing role of ecotourism, and an emphasis on better quality guest service to improve the tourist’s experience and satisfaction. The book is a first with regard to its coverage of the subject matter and its depth of analysis, and, as such, a must for every library and for researchers interested in China’s tourism development. It is definitely a joy to read. 0 0 Hubert Van Hooj School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, Flagsta#AZ 86011, USA; email [email protected]

Assigned 7 November Submitted 15 January Accepted 14 February




1994 1995 1995

Ecotourism: A Sustainable Option? Edited by Erlet Cater and Gwen Lowmen, John Wiley (Baffins Lane, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 100, UK) 1994, x + 218 pp. (tables, figures, references, subject index) $60.00 (cloth). ISBN o-471-94896-9.

Louis J. D’Amore International


for Peace




The Bruntland Commission Report “Our Common Future” in 1986, served to highlight the interrelatedness of environmental and development issues and gave emphasis to the concept of sustainable development. Awareness to the issues related to environment and development were heightened further by the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992. As well, in the years since 1986, tourism has grown in importance, and has been seen by many developing and transitional economies as an important vehicle for economic development. The confluence of the growth in tourism and an increased environmental awareness has resulted in the rapid growth of ecotourism. Ecotourism: a Sustainable Option? Provides a comprehensive overview to this rapidly growing segment of the tourism industry, beginning with the societal changes that have set the stage for ecotourism, the issues and opportunities involved, and following with a series of illuminating case studies of destination areas. Several of the chapters provide useful guiding principles for ecotourism development. The book is based on a conference of the same title convened at the Royal Geographical Society in 1992. It draws on the experience and perspectives of academics, researchers, practitioners and activists in a balanced approach to presenting both the positive and negative aspects of




the phenomenon of ecotourism to date, with a glimpse of its potential for the future. The second half of the book provides case studies of destination areas which include a regional overview type approach (Eastern Europe, Caribbean Basin, Australia - New Zealand - South Pacific); ecotourism in environmentally sensitive areas (the Alps and Antarctica), and a pioneering example of ecotourism: the Annapurna conservation area project. While the regional overviews provide an interesting “survey” of the state of sustainable tourism/ecotourism in these areas; the more focused case studies of the Alps, Antarctica, and Annapurna provide valuable lessons and insights for the serious student and practitioner of ecotourism. The case study on tourism and the European Alps emphasizes that Alpine tourism can only survive in partnership with agriculture. “In the inhabited areas of the Alps, there is no better example of harmony than the balance, diversity and beauty of nature tended over for centuries by the traditional farmer” (p. 106). A project has been set up in the Bavarian Alps commune of Hindelang where an entire community, its tourism operations, shopkeepers, its public as a whole, has set up a fund to help the farmers manage the environment. The Farmers’ Fund will be allocated and invested by the farmers themselves who have agreed to abide by a set of strict rules drawn up by environmental specialists and approved by the community (p. 106). Antarctic tourism provides an excellent model of ethical practice based largely on the management concepts of Lars-Eric Lindblad which many of today’s cruise directors trained in and continue to follow. Passengers are well-briefed prior to going ashore and abide by strict guidelines once on huts, wind shore. Tourists react strongly to the “squalor of abandoned scattered rubbish tips and derelict navigation beacons that are a legacy of the past half century of political claims and the thoughtless conduct of scientists. At the end of each voyage, Antarctica - the continent with no human population of its own - has gained a further shipload of friends, program of supporters and advocates” (p. 201). A six year monitoring tourism in Antarctica by the Polar Ecology and Management Group of the South Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, will serve as an excellent scientific model for the monitoring of tourism in environmentally sensitive areas and a basis for practical management recommendations. The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) is a pioneering example of sustainable tourism. The project has seven guiding principles: catalyst (to facilitate bringing in sustainability, people’s participation, outside resources to meet needs of local residents), conservation for development, grassroots methods, multiple use, and implementation of program by stages (p. 181). Tourists are regarded as partners in fulfilling the goals of biodiversity, conservation, cultural revitalization, and sustainable economic development. The ACAP seeks not only to generate financial support for these goals but also to integrate the local residents and their economy into the mainstream of national tourism planning, giving them a meaningful role (p. 191). Ecotourism: A Sustainable Option? Will be a valuable resource to professors and students of tourism, government agencies, developers, consultants, planners, and decision makers who are concerned with the future direction of tourism. A second edition might be improved by the editors stating their operative definition of ecotourism and clarifying the distinction between ecotourism and sustainable tourism. A second edition might also answer the question posed by the title. Of significance is the answer given in the conclusion of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project chapter by authors C.P. Gurung and M. De Coursey: “The past seven years’ experience in the




ACAP has led the authors to believe that an area’s depleted natural and cultural environments can be restored from the revenue generated from tourism, if tourism is properly managed. Blaming tourism for deforestation, litter and inflation will serve no purpose” (p. 193). 0 0 Louis D’Amore: International Montreal. Canada H3G 2A8.

Institute for Peace Through

Tourism, 3680

de la Montagne,

Assigned 29 November 1994 Submitted 18 January 1995 Accepted 22 February 1995

Geography of Tourism and Resort Development By Charles A. Stansfield, Jr. National Council for Geographic Education/GPN (PO Box 80669, Lincoln NE 68501, USA) 1994, 14 pp + 40 35-mm color slides (bibliography) $50.

Stephen L. J. Smith University

of Waterloo,


Stansfield opens this work with the observation, “[tlourism and geography are extraordinarily closely connected. Tourism is a product of geography” (p. 1). Stansfield could have noted that tourism and photography are closely connected as well, at least in the second half of the 20th century. These two disciplines one a social science, the other a craft are married in Geography of Tourism and Resort Development. This publication is the latest in a series of nearly 100 slide collections produced by the (US) National Council for Geographic Education. The majority of these slide sets have regional themes, such as “East Africa: Economic and Cultural Geography” or “The Utah Floods of 1982-1983”. This particular publication introduces a systematic theme: tourism development. The slide images begin, perhaps predictably, at a hearth of modern tourism culture: Disney World. This is followed, less predictably, by an image of the old Roman baths at Bath and several slides from Brighton and Eastbourne (United Kingdom). The juxtaposition of American and British images, of modern and historical settings, is a pattern repeated throughout the 40 images of the slide set. A script providing commentary on each slide accompanies the set. These images and script introduce and describe five geographic themes: relative location or position on the earth’s surface, a sense of place, human-environment interactions, human movement over the surface of the earth, and the nature and evolution of regions. These themes not only represent the compass of contemporary geography, they are a rubric in which some of the geographic forces that shape pleasure travel and the tourism industry can be discussed. These include the potential of tourism as a source of revenues and jobs, personal motivations for travel, and the social and economic conditions that permitted pleasure travel to become a middle and working class phenomenon. The role of the natural environment and cultural resources as attractions are illustrated through images ranging from Florida beaches to Windsor Castle. Modes of transport, the resort life cycle, and the role of tourism in revitalizing decaying industrial towns are also presented through photographs. Problems associated with