SUSTAINABLE TOURISM MANAGEMENT
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The importance of ecotourism in Costa Rica
Ecotourism refers to touring areas which have undisturbed and conserved natural vegetation, areas, landscapes, and lands. It is also known as responsible travel because it comprises promoting and improving the well-being of the tourist destinations (Fennell, 2014). Eco-tourists strive to learn new things such as species of plants and animals, understanding better the behaviors of animals and insects, learning and enjoying new cultures, and so on (Fennell, 2014). Costa Rice is a major ecotourism destination that is known all over the world. At the beginning of the 1990s, Costa Rica became well known for its effort towards conserving the environment and encouraging tourists to visit and see the beautiful sceneries in their country (McKeone and Emily, 2011).
Costa Rica has many big national parks which have amazing animals. The allocation of 26% of their land to environmental conservation proves Costa Rica’s determination to promote ecotourism (Nost, 2013). Additionally, Costa Rica is widely known for promoting responsible agriculture whereby farmers are encouraged to till the land without risking or endangering the natural habitats or causing soil erosion (Nost, 2013). The country has several protected areas whereby trees are not cut down, and natural life is left alone to grow and spread. The rich biodiversity and massive ecosystem attract tourists from all over because the varieties of trees and animals in the country are therapeutic to watch (Nost, 2013). This essay aims at examining the importance of ecotourism in Costa Rica, the significance of environmental education in promoting ecotourism, how Costa Rica can market ecotourism and the organizations that are best placed to do that, and discussing factors that can hinder ecotourism in Costa Rica.
According to Nost (2013), the strategic location of Costa Rica coupled with its rich biodiversity which attracts tourism has brought tremendous benefits to the country. Every year a large number of nature lovers flock Costa Rica to see exotic birds in the verdant rainforests which are also a source of exercise because of hiking (Nost, 2013). Moreover, the many types of marine animals and wildlife species make the tourists want to come over and over again to the beautiful country. The tourists come with many advantages because apart from getting economic benefits, the conserved land benefits the country tremendously.
First, the environmental conservation culture has been easy to promote in Costa Rica because people now see the benefits of conserving nature (Nost, 2013). In the early stage of ecotourism in Costa Rica in the 1970s, there was a rapid expansion of the national parks and many initiatives to increase the number of protected areas. At this time, conservation was only a dream and not a reality, but now the realization of its benefits has made it easier for the government to influence people to be perverse the natural environment (Vivanco, 2006).
Costa Rica does not struggle with damages caused by industries because their environment is well taken care of and instead of introducing more industries, the country is promoting ecotourism which is more advantageous than industries. Conservation promotes the development and growth of plant and animal species (Vivanco, 2006). All species in the world are important because they play a unique role in the environment. Extinction of species is detrimental to the environment because it causes imbalances in the ecosystem and causes other harms to the rest of the species. Extinct species cannot are irreplaceable thus it is essential for conservation measures to be put in place to promote biodiversity (Nost, 2013).
The natural environment is an advantage in itself. Having more areas covered with trees promotes clean air, and the sight of trees is therapeutic (Nost, 2013). Nobody doesn’t want to be associated with the beautiful nature, and that is why Costa Ricans have benefitted from the ecotourism through having a beautiful environment. Unlike the polluting industries which threaten the lives of sea animals, land, and air animals and even humans through causing respiratory diseases, having an eco-friendly environment promotes longevity (Nost, 2013). Moreover, ecotourism in Costa Rica has reduced rural-urban migration which has negatively affected other developing countries. Rural-urban migration causes the rural areas to be neglected and higher poverty levels because people who should develop those regions seek greener pastures and do not invest there (Honey, 2008).
Ecotourism has motivated many Costa Ricans to remain in their rural areas and develop their areas thus ensuring a balanced distribution of resources (Honey, 2008). It is not peculiar to find an established rural area in Costa Rica because a large number of people remain in the in ancestral lands, develop them to earn a living through ecotourism. By a large number of people moving to urban areas, there has been increased levels of robberies, murders motivated by frustrations of lacking essential things in life, poor living standards due to congestion, and much more (Honey, 2008). However, ecotourism in Costa Rica has solved that issue, and people strive to stay in their rural areas which are more lucrative.
Costa Rica has several unique plant and animal species which attract tourists and scientists. It is ethical to conserve the environment because humans are the custodians of planet earth (Nost, 2013). Moreover, the future generations should not only hear about certain species without seeing them. Having many genetic variations in animals and plants ensures the survival of the entire population in case of a catastrophic event (Nost, 2013). The many varieties of species also prevent inbreeding which can lead to unhealthy species which cannot survive the rapid changes in the world. Therefore, Costa Rica’s conservation ensures that nature is conserved to reveal its beauty to the current and future generations and also because humans need plants and animals in their life.
After logging was made illegal and locals were moved to make space for protected lands, ecotourism began to thrive, and protectionist measures were done away with (Nost, 2013). Since the shift took place, the locals have embraced ecotourism and participated in the conservation of the environment to improve their livelihoods. A large number of Costa Ricans have high living standards because they have turned into tour guides, built hotels, planted forests to entice tourists and so on (Nost, 2013). All these activities have benefitted Costa Rica.
A sustainable environment is something that every country in the world is seeking. Costa Rica has achieved a lot regarding promoting environmental awareness (Hunt, Durham, Driscoll, and Honey, 2015). Because tourists who visit the country also want to see their culture, ecotourism promotes the culture of the people of Costa Rica. Environmental is also one of their cultures because they have made it an aspect of their culture which they will pass from one generation to another. Therefore, ecotourism in Costa Rica improves the understanding and appreciation of conserving nature (Hunt et al., 2015). The citizens have carved a niche through which they are identified, and they are benefitting from it by gaining monitory advantage white at the same time conserving their environment. The benefits of ecotourism to different stakeholders in Costa Rica
Ecotourism has also raised the consumption of local products of Costa Rica. For instance, the coffee industry gains a lot because more coffee is consumed when the tourists visit. studies show that approximately $16.5 million is gained from coffee consumed by tourists (Hunt et al., 2015). The recent low coffee prices in the Latin American countries has not affected Costa Rica because of ecotourism. While other countries are struggling to outcompete the cheap coffee brands from Asia, Costa Rica is reaping more and more because tourists love the local coffee (Hunt et al., 2015).
Another advantage of environmental conservation in Costa Rica is the financial benefit. Ecotourism is the key economic activity in Costa Rica due to its high income regarding foreign exchange (Hunt et al., 2015). The tourists bring a lot of benefits to the locals because they spend money in travelling, entering national parks and restricted areas, and also in paying for the hotels in which they reside in. Additionally, money is got from donations from tourists who are passionate about the conservation of nature and the proceeds are directed towards more nature conservation activities (Hunt et al., 2015). For instance, while tourists are visiting the Carara Biological Reserve they part with $15 as the entrance fee while some give out some donations (Hunt et al., 2015). The tourists also have to board a plane into the San Jose’s International Airport and use a bus to travel to the park. During their stay around Carara, they use hotels whereby they buy food and souvenirs which promote the local community. All these economic benefits are spread to the citizens of Costa Rica who live around the tourist destinations (Hunt et al., 2015).
Due to the improved ecotourism, the locals of Costa Rica have benefitted from the improvement of infrastructure (Nost, 2013). The government of Costa Rica has been in the forefront ensuring that ecotourism receives as much support as possible because they have witnessed its importance to the environment, the local people, and the tourists. The government has built many areas in the areas which have tourist destinations thus improving the livelihoods of the locals (Nost, 2013). Additionally, more hospitals have been built to meet the needs of the tourists and the locals also tremendously benefit from the improved healthcare. Remote areas which would not imagine getting electricity now are well lit because they now are big tourist attraction centres. Electricity has multiple benefits too because it improves security, improves businesses because people can work 24 hours and much more (Nost, 2013). Moreover, most of the parts of the country have mobile network coverage that supports the communication of both the locals and the tourists. Improved infrastructure translates into progress because the locals will also use the roads to transport their products, the hospitals to treat their patients, use the water and electricity to benefit themselves and much more (Nost, 2013).
Ecotourism in Costa Rica has attracted many investors who have established businesses such as hotels, courier services, restaurants, and so on which benefit the locals (Hunt et al., 2015). Since the improvement of ecotourism began in Costa Rica, the rate of unemployment has gone down significantly because a large number of locals are employed in hotels, as drivers, as tour guides, and much more. The employment has reduced the rate of employment in the protected areas by 16% which is a considerable improvement (Hunt et al., 2015).
The economy of Costa Rica has improved tremendously due to ecotourism. The largest source of foreign exchange in Costa Rica is tourism and ecotourism forms a significant part of that (Hunt et al., 2015). Before the advent of ecotourism, only 2% of Costa Rica’s revenues came from tourism. However, after ecotourism gained momentum, the percentage increased quickly such that in 1994 it was 8% (Hunt et al., 2015). These figures show that ecotourism is the central tourist attraction aspect in Costa Rica thus it is a significant contributor to revenue in the country.
A large number of investors in Costa Rica benefit from ecotourism. When the tourists come to view the magnificent nature, they also visit beaches to enjoy themselves. Additionally, they eat the local foods and familiarize themselves with the culture of Cost Ricans (Hunt et al., 2015). These are benefits that they would not have gotten had they not embarked on environmental conservation. By the government allowing people to enhance ecotourism by developing forests, planting rare trees privately, and so on, people have become direct beneficiaries of the tourism (Hunt et al., 2015). In Costa Rica, there are many private environmental conservation experts who have developed their lands into biodiversity centers. These private investors are free to develop the land and receive tourists who pay them after being offered services. Encouraging private environmental conservation has reduced poverty levels while at the same time promoting the ecosystem of Costa Rica (Hunt et al., 2015).
Factors that may prevent sustainable tourism development for ecotourism in Costa Rica
The primary threat to ecotourism in Costa Rica is visitor overcapacity (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). Fragile environments should not host many people because it will lead to disturbance and cause problems. Costa Rica has been experiencing an influx of tourists every year as tourists want to enjoy the beautiful and breathtaking sceneries of plants, animals, and landscapes and this has endangered the environment even more (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). Although some policies have been put in place to protect places with fragile natural resources, it is not easy to regulate them because of the vastness of the protected areas. As the visitors hike the mountains, witness the nature, they step on undisturbed soils, plants, insects thus causing a threat to the biodiversity (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014).
Inadequate local expertise is another threat to Costa Rica’s ecotourism (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). Because Costa Rica has no adequate resource to train individuals who can protect and regulate things in national parks and protected areas, some efforts cause environmental degradation instead of promoting conservation. For instance, approximately 44% of the protected areas in Costa Rica are still managed by their previous owners thus the government cannot adequately control the activities in them (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). Logging might be done without the government’s knowledge because there is no enough coverage of personnel to advance the efforts of conservation.
The government also needs funds to educate the locals about the best ways of conserving the environment and why it is not right to take part in environmental degradation (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). Lack of funds to actualize that has caused some parks to struggle because the locals do not use safe agricultural practices and so on. Lack of enough resources to manage parks and infrastructure are threatening the efforts by the government towards promoting a sustainable environment (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). The government needs a lot of funds to fight pollution, prevent irresponsible litter dropping, and stop habitat disruption and much more. Because there is no enough money to enact all those activities, the environmental conservation efforts sometimes become a burden to the government (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014).
According to Ferraro and Hanauer (2014), corruption in Costa Rica is threatening efforts of maintaining and promoting a sustainable environment. Some officers collude with loggers, while others allow locals to live in protected areas after they pay a small fee. These activities threaten the ecosystem because human activities in protected areas disturb biodiversity. The fact that nearly half of the populations in protected areas are still living in them causes a great danger because it shows that the government has no absolute control of the areas. Some locals who do not see the impact of ecotourism take part in activities such as burning charcoal, practising unsafe agriculture to earn a living but end up promoting environmental degradation (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014).
In Costa Rica, there is lack of enough standards for guiding ecotourism (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). For instance, there are few national laws and regulations to guide locals on who should take part in ecotourism and how they should go about it. Moreover, the Costa Rican government has not put down licensing procedures which regulate ecotourism (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). The effect of these issues is some tourism outfits taking part in the activities although they have little or no experience to do so. The government’s failure to restrict ecotourism such that only the qualified personnel practice it is threatening tourism because tourists are getting poor services from inexperienced tour guide operators (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). Moreover, the lack of regulation causes a breach of principles that guide environmental sustainability and how local income should be generated which will cause adverse effects on the tourism sector (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014).
Another threat to ecotourism is the failure by the government to ensure that the locals benefit from the activities (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). Some residents in the tourist destinations do not benefit from the proceeds gotten from tourism because they continue living in poverty, lack necessary infrastructure, people from outside are employed leaving the locals in the lowest positions, and many more injustices (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). Neglect of the locals by the government is a threat to ecotourism because the locals will not take part in a process which does not improve their lives. When the governments are only promoting the interests of international tour operations firms without considering the locals, it will be an uphill task to convince the locals that they should conserve the environment (Ferraro and Hanauer, 2014). Therefore, some parts of Costa Rica have difficulties realizing the impact of ecotourism because the money got from the tourists is not equally distributed.
Possible markets for Costa Rica’s ecotourism and the key target markets
Ecotourism is tourist magnet which attracts nature enthusiasts from all over the world. Many countries which have not embraced environmental conservation do not have magnificent natural places where people can go to relax (Hunt et al., 2015). Therefore, Costa Rica has many possible markets for ecotourism. First, countries which are highly developed major in industrial development rather than environmental conservation. Costa Rica can target those countries to offer citizens a tourist destination where they will experience undisturbed natural creatures and plants (Hunt et al., 2015).
Costa Rica is a tropical country thus has a favorable climate. People living in cold countries are a good target for the ecotourism because apart from experiencing the beautiful natural sceneries they will enjoy good temperatures (Hunt et al., 2015). Many tourists travel during the summer whereby many holidays fall. Additionally, there is an influx of tourists during December holidays because people love to have quality time during the Christmas festivities. Costa Rica should target countries which experience cold temperatures during these holidays such as United States of America, Canada, and England (Gray and Campbell, 2007).
Costa Rica has many potential markets for ecotourism all over the world. First, its positioning is near the US which is the world’s most influential country makes it easier to appeal to potential tourists (Gray and Campbell, 2007). One market for ecotourism in Costa Rica is the United States of America. Coincidentally, the U.S is leading regarding tourists who visit Costa Rica. However, more needs to be done to market ecotourism in Costa Rica. America has a large number of professionals who are passionate about biodiversity, environmental preservation, and science. Costa Rica is a favorable destination for these tourists because it offers them a unique opportunity to experience an environment with diverse aspects of nature (Gray and Campbell, 2007).
Additionally, thrill seekers, honeymooners, people who are celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, and so on are a target market for ecotourism. From America to Costa Rica it takes less than four hours (Gray and Campbell, 2007). Therefore, America is a favorable market for the biodiversity in Costa Rica. Moreover, Americans love fun and getaways. Most people in the U.S live in urban areas which are congested hence they require a quiet place where they will be away from their offices of condominium (Gray and Campbell, 2007). Furthermore, there is a large number of Americans who want to give back to the society such as pensioners who have just retired. Costa Rica offers that because they will come, enjoy the nature and donate money for developing the conservation of the environment (Gray and Campbell, 2007).
Another market for Costa Rica’s ecotourism is Nicaragua who are neighbors. Costa Rica receives about half a million Nicaragua tourists every year (Dodds, Ali, and Galaski, 2016). This is a high number because many tourists prefer visiting far countries for holidays. Therefore, Nicaragua is one market that the Costa Rica government should focus on when marketing their ecotourism (Dodds et al., 2016)
Organizations that can help technical, marketing, and other advice on ecotourism of Costa Rica
Costa Rica needs a lot of support in promoting its ecotourism. The first support should come from nongovernmental organizations that promote environmental and climate conservation (Dodds et al., 2016). The services of these organizations are essential because they will promote the conservation of the Costa Rican environment. The reason why some parts of Costa Rica are struggling to attract tourists is that of lack of expertise in environmental preservation. Having experts who know which are the best species to interbreed, what plants need to grow healthy, how to preserve species which are becoming extinct and much more will make things easier (Dodds et al., 2016)
Moreover, Costa Rica needs advertising experts who will assist the country to market it to the outside world. Although Costa Rica is widely known as a tourist destination, making it more conspicuous is essential because there are several other destinations which compete with it (Dodds et al., 2016). To stay above the others, the potential tourists have to be wooed and enticed to visit Costa Rica. The government should hire advertising organizations to make the goodies of Costa Rica widely known all over the world. Nongovernmental organizations have also proven to be good advertises because of their ability to sponsor and mobilize people to rally behind a certain course (Dodds et al., 2016).
There are many organizations in Costa Rica which can assist in marketing ecotourism. For instance, the government can partner with hoteliers, business owners, and airlines to encourage tourists to visit Costa Rica (Dodds et al, 2016). Using the airlines to market the tourist destinations can increase the number of tourists because the airlines, booking agents, hoteliers will inform potential visitors how interesting visiting Costa Rica can be. Moreover, by offering discounts and privileges, these organizations can influence more people to visit Costa Rica (Dodds et al., 2016).
The government of Costa Rica should hire experts of making attractive websites and managing social media accounts (Nost, 2013). Social media has proven to be an effective marketing tool because a big number of people all over the world spend approximately four hours on social media in one day. Additionally, people are highly influenced by social media because it has created a subculture which people follows (Nost, 2013). By seeking help from experts in advertising in social media and websites, Costa Rica will get more eco-tourists. For instance, they can create a website by the name Visit Costa Rica which advertises everything about Costa Rica. Another way is creating social media pages in Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Snapchat, and so on which will enhance direct interaction between different stakeholders in the tourism industry and the potential tourists (Nost, 2013).
Other organizations which can help Costa Rica in marketing their ecotourism are science organizations. Scientists who are passionate about conservation should be involved in research of how to best develop the ecological sites in Costa Rica (Nost, 2013). The significance of scientists is their ability to solve environmental problems scientifically. For instance, the scientists should find out ways of maintaining the fragile ecosystem while at the same time allowing tourists to visit the sites. Having the expertise ensures that everything falls into place and no damage is done while the government is striving to make more money (Nost, 2013).
Legal experts should also be consulted to make regulations which will enact the conservation laws (Dodds et al., 2016). For instance, the laws about logging should be revised and heavy penalties imposed on people who are found doing that. Moreover, the legal experts can assist the government to make laws which will improve environmental conservation and do not impeded the ecotourism (Dodds et al., 2016). The protected areas should be absolutely out of bounds by the locals. The problem is the system which is in place, which does not put more efforts in maintaining the laws. Having legal experts can alleviate those problems (Dodds et al., 2016).
The future development of sustainable tourism in Costa Rica
The future development of Costa Rica’s ecotourism is bright only if they improve on their weak areas. It is encouraging so far to see the government’s efforts towards environmental conservation and in the promotion of ecotourism (Hunt et al., 2015). Costa Rica’s tourism sector has improving year after year meaning that if they keep on improving, the future will be better. However, there are aspects which need a lot of improvement, and a major one is the funding, and management of ecotourism (Hunt et al., 2015).
Better management is needed for ecotourism to improve in Costa Rica. There is a need for better implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the conservation laws (Hunt et al., 2015). Making rules which are not enacted of followed up is a waste of time because no change can be achieved by drafting laws in a paper and not enacting them on the ground. The government of Costa Rica, therefore, must establish a system that will cover all the ecotourism aspects such as financial, biophysical, and social (Hunt et al., 2015).
More scientific studies need to be carried out to find out how the biodiversity of parks should be enhanced, promoted and maintained because the environment changes swiftly (Hunt et al., 2015). Additionally, studies on the best ways of not disrupting habitats, allocating the correct populations in parks, preventing pollution, controlling visitation, and much more need to be done. Other studies which need to be done include examining the best ways of income generation, how to develop best activities which will generate income, and methods of knowing the progress achieved after these measures are put in place (Hunt et al., 2015). All these studies will be of much help in the future of Costa Rica’s ecotourism.
There is a need for increased funding in the ecotourism of Costa Rica. More funds will ensure there are better ways of income generation, the protected areas are well maintained to protect the environment, and personnel in the tourism sector are well trained (Hunt et al., 2015). Moreover, the government should allocate more funds towards developing the infrastructure in the tourist destinations to make the tourists as comfortable as possible. Different stakeholders in the sectors such as hoteliers and tour guide companies should be well vetted to ensure that they offer professional services which will encourage tourists to come back and advertise the services to their friends (Hunt et al., 2015).
For the future of ecotourism in Costa Rica to be brighter there need to be stricter standards in the sector. For instance, only visitors and trained individuals should access the protected areas (Hunt et al., 2015). Additionally, the number of people entering parks at a given time should be regulated accordingly to ensure that biodiversity is not threatened. The capacity of each park should be assessed and established to reduce confusion and promote how the laws are followed. Private Ecotourism operators should also be vetted to ensure that tourists get the best and prevent people who are not qualified from messing up the systems (Hunt et al., 2015). More efforts should also be put in marketing the ecotourism in Costa Rica. The higher the number of visitors, the higher the income. Therefore, the government should put down measures of promoting and advertising ecotourism because that will bring in funds which will help in sustaining the sector. All these measures will make the future of Costa Rica’s ecotourism brighter although for now, things are not so bad (Hunt et al., 2015).
The need for environmental awareness and education for sustainable ecotourism
For sustainable tourism to take place, there is a need for environmental awareness and education (Sander, 2010). Without proper training about the need for environmental conservation, it is difficult to achieve ecological protection. Provision of environmental education makes the locals aware of the need to improve the ecosystem by practicing safe agriculture, not cutting down trees, not hunting down animals, not carrying away sand from river beds, and much more. The local people are the best to people to involve in environmental conservation because it is their land and they are the ones who use it regularly (Sander, 2010).
Ecotourism cannot happen without the sustainable development of the environment. Without educating the locals about the need to plant trees, it is impossible for them to realize that. People only care about issues that affect their livelihoods (Sander, 2010). Explaining to them that improving biodiversity will promote ecotourism makes them motivated to plant more trees and conserve their environment. There is a need for prevention of pollution for a country to achieve environmental conservation. Pollution is caused by humans who dispose of nonbiodegradable items into the environment (Sander, 2010). For instance, plastics endanger the lives of sea animals and land animals. Disposing chemical materials such as oil kills bacteria and other microorganisms which are vital in the ecology. People need to be taught about the importance of disposing wastes responsibly to promote environmental conservation which will cause biodiversity and improve ecotourism (Sander, 2010).
Incorporating environmental conservation lessons in school curriculum promotes biodiversity and healthier ecology (Sander, 2010). Governments should promote curriculums which teach children since a young age on how to conserve the environment. Children are the future leaders, parents, and citizens. Educating them about the significance of protecting animals, plants, and the environment ensures that they take an active part in the process of promoting biodiversity. Additionally, teaching students that ecotourism can be a primary or significant source of income if they conserve their environment can encourage the spirit of ecological conservation which is instrumental in the advancement of ecotourism (Sander, 2010).
There has been an increase of nongovernmental organizations which promote the environmental organization. Many NGOs focus on teaching people about soil conservation, stopping soil erosion, using organic materials in farming such as manure, and much more. Providing these lessons to individuals has a lot of impact on the environment (Wals, 2014). The environment cannot be protected by some individuals while others are not taking part. Environmental conservation is a collective affair which calls for the inclusion of everyone. Provision of expertise is therefore essential to ensure that the people understand what they should do because by merely discouraging them not to do a particular thing without offering an alternative does not make things any better (Wals, 2014). Therefore, it is good for people to be provided with the best options to promote the conservation of the environment thus enhance ecotourism.
Many governments from all over the world and nongovernmental organizations have been taking part in promoting family planning. Family planning is a significant solution to overpopulation which threatens the environment (Wals, 2014). Lack of family planning causes poverty which causes people to lack necessities in life. The only option left after people lack basic needs is to exploit the environment. For instance, they might start burning trees to make charcoal or logging to get money for food (Wals, 2014). Educating people about proper family planning ensures that there are low levels of poverty thus promoting environmental conservation. Additionally, with lesser people in one family, it is possible to keep more uncultivated or undisturbed lands which attract rainfall and improve biodiversity. Therefore, educating people about family planning is a measure which can promote environmental conservation thus enhance ecotourism (Wals, 2014).
Although governments might enhance environmental conservation through making and enacting laws that prevent people from tempering with the environment, environmental education is a better way because it makes people self-motivated to participate in the conservation activities (Wals, 2014). Provision of environmental education can significantly reduce corruption in the ecotourism sector because people will gain a first-hand knowledge that the environment is a resource which can be of much help to them. Additionally, by the government supporting programs which promote environmental conservation, people can get an alternative source of income. Promising people that planting more trees and not disturbing the land will make them productive can make the people self-motivated to participate in the process (Wals, 2014).
Environmental education promoted innovation. Teaching people about environmental conservation creates an interest in learning more about practices which can make their environment (Wals, 2014). Residents who are aware of the significance of environmental conservation are more likely to research about the best ways of improving the environment and teaching their friends thus making the initiative a reality. Additionally, the research raises new issues which were not thought of. Encouraging people to do research makes them better critical thinkers and effective decision-makers which are essential characteristics in environmental conservation (Wals, 2014).
Another advantage of environmental education is enlightenment. A large number of people suffer because they lack knowledge (Wals, 2014). Knowledge is power because if people know more about conservation, they will be empowered to become better environmental custodians. Teaching several members of a given community means that they will influence the others who will see a difference (Wals, 2014). One educated member of the community can affect the rest because there is a big difference between people who know and who do not know. Therefore, environmental education promotes ecotourism because it helps people to conserve the environment which is the magnet of eco-tourists (Wals, 2014).
For sustainable tourism to take place, the local members should be knowledgeable too. Tourists interact massively with the local communities which host them (Wals, 2014). They like to learn their culture, their beliefs, and much more. Therefore, educating the local community empowers them to effectively interact with the tourists, teach them about the diverse plants, animals, and landscapes and the reasons why they are the way they are (Wals, 2014). The host-tourist bond is created more if the locals are well informed about their environment. It is essential for the locals to be good communicators and communication is learned. Therefore, environmental education promotes ecotourism (Wals, 2014).
Locals should be educated about their environment for them to understand its importance. For a country to gain more in ecotourism, the local people should be offered training for not only the conservation but the maintenance of the environment (Wals, 2014). For instance, there are species which are endangered. Informing the locals about them promotes their likelihood of survival because the locals will then assists when necessary. Locals interact with the environment more regularly than any other person thus understand it better (Wals, 2014). By teaching them about the best ways to protect an endangered species promotes the interests of the animal.
Environmental education also helps communities to gain maximally from their environment. People who are not aware of the worth of their environment cannot understand how to make use of it (Sander, 2010). For instance, if tourists visit villages in Costa Rica and the villagers do not know how to gain money from them, the tourists will end up going back with their pockets stiff full. Therefore, locals need to be educated about the value of their environment and how they should charge people who enjoy their services and nature (Sander, 2010). These measures will make the country benefit more from the ecotourism thus promote the living standards of its citizens.
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