from experts in the field:
Andy drumm is senior eco-tourism specialist at The Nature
JULY deBATe reSULTS:
Do politics have a place at
the BooMINg deMaNd for nature tourism has not been matched
by increases in budgets to hire and train staff, strengthen facilities and
provide the information necessary to the nature-hungry crowds that
would ensure that these delicate destinations are not damaged by this
growth. Consequently, our desire to get close to nature is eroding our
natural capital as wildlife habitats are disrupted by vehicles and rivers,
shorelines and lakes become depositories for hotel waste. If the current situation is allowed to
continue, we may lose what we most love about the outdoors: its pristine natural values.
For example, in the remote Bolivian altiplano, one of the poorest regions in the americas,
the eduardo avaroa andean Fauna reserve is home to thousands of pink flamingos nesting in
high-altitude lagoons surrounded by snowcapped volcanoes. local indigenous people scrape a
living from herding llamas and selling their wool and meat. When tourist numbers quintupled
over the last eight years, the impact of off-road vehicles was pretty bad. guides did nothing to
prevent tourists from scaring huge flocks of flamingos into flight for a photo opportunity, and
local people saw no benefit. however, the introduction of a $5 entrance fee enabled the park
to invest in improved management and also create a visitor information center, restaurant and
hostel from which local people have generated notable improvements to their quality of life.
Percentage reflects votes
received by July 9, 2008.
JUne deBATe UpdATe:
Is being neat and organized
YeS: 9% no: 91%
Percentage reflects votes received
by June 30, 2008.
If nature tourism is ever to evolve, the solution is a direct link between tourism spending
from experts in the field:
and eco-management. tourists and the tour companies that eagerly take travelers’ money need
to be doing a lot more to ensure that tourism at the very least pays its own way.
tour companies that specialize in marketing nature must do more if destinations are to
be sustainable over time. this means actively making donations and facilitating their clients’
donations to local conservation organizations at the destination. It means engaging their sup-
pliers to support an area’s financial sustainability through permits and fees that reflect fair
market value. Until this happens, many of our most treasured natural places face a rising tour-
ist tide that may well end up drowning them. C
“sUstaINaBle toUrIsM” refers to a level of tourism activity that
can be maintained over the long term because it results in a net benefit
for the sociocultural, economic and natural environments of the area
in which it takes place. It’s a set of principles and practices based upon
Brian mullis is the president and co-founder of sustainable
Travel International (www.sustainabletravelinternational.org),
a nonprofit that helps travelers and travel providers protect
the cultures and environments they visit.
a few interrelated concepts: supporting environmental conservation and protecting cultural
heritage while also promoting cross-cultural understanding and economic development.
Numerous case studies show that when travel and tourism providers take all these variables into consideration the net result is an improvement in conservation of the natural environment, social benefit for local communities, profit for business owners and shareholders,
and gains for national and regional economies. at the same time, travelers benefit by gaining
an appreciation and understanding of other cultures and by enhancing their global perspective. they also feel good about supporting the communities they visit and supporting environmental conservation while helping to protect that special sense of place.
In a 2003 travel Industry association and National Geographic Traveler magazine study,
61 percent of americans said their vacation experience is better when their destination pre-
serves its unique natural, historic and cultural sites. that was five years ago, clearly a little
ahead of today’s green movement.
today, conscientious consumers are aligning their travel decisions with their values and
demanding green travel services, and more and more travel and tourism providers are starting
to adopt sustainable business practices in their operations. For those that are, there is a world
travelers should explore the world and enjoy all the diversity it has to offer, but they must
do it carefully and do their best to mitigate their negative impacts and enhance their positive
opinions expressed are those of the individuals or organizations represented and are
presented to foster discussion. Costco and
The Costco Connection take no position on
any Debate topic.
AUGUST 2008 The Costco Connection 15