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In an increasingly globalized world concerned with environmental destruction, there has been a recent rise in the practice of sustainable tourism, especially within the context of developing nations. Yet, because the context of sustainable tourism is such a new development within the larger industry, there are many controversies and questions revolving the practice of sustainable tourism. Still, sustainable tourism development can promote sustainable development through regional community involvement, as long as the people living in these areas continue to see benefits from their devotion to sustaining eco-friendly practices within their tourism models.
Sustainable tourism is a relatively new element within the larger tourism industry. Ecotourism is often defined as "travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people," (Kiss 2004 p 232). Sustainable tourism occurs in a situation where organizations make eco-friendly choices in order to maintain a higher degree of sustainability within the modern context. Here the research suggests that "tour them involves travel to enjoy and engage with attractive and interesting surrounding -- often identified as natural -- in a way that does not degrade those surroundings" (Carrier & McLeod 2005 p 316). Sustainable tourism development works on increasing the level of respect tourist facilities have for their environment and helping empower local communities to adopt sustainable practices that will allow their resources to live on for generations. Thus, "sustainable tourism development meets the needs of present tourists and post regions while protecting the enhancing opportunities for the future," (460).
The practice also focuses on reimagining tourism from the consumer perspective to adopt new conditions regarding sustainable practices and the ability for the consumer to help promote eco-friendly facilities and ideologies.
Sustainable tourism development is essentially a complex concept that incorporates a number of elements needed to work in synergy with one another.
Here the research explains that "successful sustainable development inevitably requires the application of an integrative approach, since by definition it demands that the development process not eliminate future options nor prevents the continued operations, especially of indigenous peoples," (Pearce & Butler 2004 p 77).
As it has been practiced today, sustainable tourism has often been limited to rural areas, and therefore has failed to take hold within more urban forest environments (Pearce & Butler 2004). This becomes a problem for urban tourism development, as there is no guarantee of a successful model for sustainable tourism development in such contexts. Essentially, future tourism development does need to focus on creating viable models for ecotourism within a more urban context. In such situations, "tourism planners and academics lack the expertise to translate the models and concepts into use because examples of good practice are rare," (Pearce & Butler 2004 p 103).
There are clear limitations to the heights that sustainable development as it is currently practiced can reach within the context of the tourism industry. The research suggests that there art gaps within the current discourse regarding the true nature of demand for sustainable tourism (Liu 2000). It is difficult for developing region to combine methods of sustainable tourism with the innate cultural elements that drive society in such regions. Here, "many argue that the social and cultural impacts of tourism are primarily negative and any tourism related sociocultural changes should be avoided," including those of implementing changes to tourism practices to incorporate greater eco-friendly elements (Liu 2000 p 461). Often times, the imposition of sustainable tourism practices fail to recognize the need to successfully integrate them within the cultural hegemony of the host regions (Liburd 2010). Carrier and McLeod (2005) suggest that many elements of ecotourism are not as beneficial as they may originally seen. In fact, the researchers provide two examples in the Caribbean, especially the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, and how these locations are often exploiting environmental and social resources almost as much as traditional tourism does. These two locations have seen a huge increase in tourism, with additional increases in more specified eco-tourism. Essentially, eco-tourism continues the process of exploitation of the environment and resources of the locations prime for tourism. The researchers believe that despite claims to have a lesser impact on the environment, "these two places, which developed the facilities that ecotourists use, affected both the natural environment and people's relationship with their surroundings," (Carrier & McLeod 2005 p 320). For example, conservation efforts meant to increase options for recreational activities for eco-tourists are essentially affecting the nature of the livelihood of Jamaicans who live there full-time. Conservation efforts to increase the stock of fish and ecotourism areas are essentially taking away from the ability for many of these fishing villages to make an acceptable living doing what they have done for generations. Therefore the research posits that "the environmental protection system has resulted in the dispossession of many local people from their homes and aspects of their livelihood and it is changing their surroundings from the place where they lived and worked to an object of political dispute," (Carrier & McLeod 2005 p 325). This essentially goes to show that not all elements of ecotourism and sustainable development within the tourism industry will prove to be positive in the long run, especially for the individuals living in the location where these facilities are becoming more and more popular.
Still, other research references show a number of potential benefits towards more sustainable models of tourism within the modern context. A growing number of tourism organizations are implementing eco-friendly strategies within their practices and promotions. Eco-friendly tourism is one of the fastest growing industries within the modern context of towards him and recreation. Carrier and McLeod (2005) show just how prominent this industry is becoming within the larger context of international tourism. According to the research, "it is commonly referred to as the fastest-growing sector of the tourism industry; estimates of the amount of money it generates usually range from $30 billion to $1.2 trillion," (Carrier & McLeod 2005 p 316). Sustainability in modern business is proving to be a very lucrative opportunity, as it allows for greater revenue potential because consumers are often willing to pay higher premium for eco-friendly products and services. Moreover, it increases consumer reputation of corporate organizations, as organizations tend to look as if they have a higher level of social responsibility. According to the research, "sustainability will become increasingly important to business strategy and management over time, and the risk of failing to act decisively are growing," (Berns et al. 2009 p 4). This illustrates the potentially lucrative possibilities within promoting and maintaining sustainability within modern tourism practices, both at home and abroad.
Ecotourism and sustainable development within tourism programs and practices has become a crucial feature in many of the tourism industry is in developing nations. Often times, sustainable tourism is used as a way to generate revenue to increase levels of conservation in the region that otherwise do not have the appropriate funds to maintain a level of sustainability for their natural resources. According to the research, ecotourism "has become a popular tool for biodiversity conservation, based on the principle of biodiversity must pay for itself by generating economic benefits, particularly for local people," (Kiss 2004 p 232). The enormous revenue generated from sustainable tourism often helps developing nations reserve funding for the conservation of very important natural resources and the conditions of work environment for the local people. Community-based ecotourism is a sector of sustainable tourism development motivates local communities to reduce their impact on the environment and helping increase their commitment to conservation as a way to generate future income for themselves and future generations through sustainable tourism practices. Sustainable tourism "can generate support for conservation among communities as long as they see some benefit (or maintain a hope of doing so), and if it does not threaten or interfere with their main sources of livelihood," (Kiss 2004 p 234). Often times, funding from sustainable tourism revenue is allocated to the protection of local resources, like national parks and Marine environments (Pearce & Butler 2004). This funding would've otherwise been unavailable in developing regions, therefore placing such volatile and vulnerable environment in danger of depletion.
The contemporary discourse illustrates a number of clear benefits to the progression towards more sustainable practices in tourism development. Sustainable tourism has proven to be a powerful tool within reshaping the lives and livelihood of local peoples. Here, the research states that "highly successful ecotourism can support biodiversity conservation by influencing national policy," (Kiss 2004 p 233). The potential for additional revenue helps shape the demands and beliefs of the local community, government structures, and international communities as well. Tourism lobbying has often led to increased funding for the conservation of natural resources and has become a key political strategy for many developing nations (Kiss 2004). This has effectively increased local communities' power to preserve its natural resources, without having to rely on foreign aid alone. Such efforts create a sense of independence that can help maintain sustainable practices well into the future. Additionally, the research does show that…[continue]
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