Tourism Impacts

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Tourism Impacts

Regions of high biodiversity are magnets for tourist activities, as people from all over the world seek adventures in rich and dramatic landscapes.

Tourist activity promises benefits to local and national economies, but can also damage the very ecosystems and cultural traditions that draw travelers in the first place. Impacts of tourism range from the conspicuous—habitat fragmentation caused by growing infrastructure development—to the less obvious, such as erosion of cultural norms and natural resources. Interdisciplinary SFS programs allow students to critically evaluate the multiple trade-offs associated with tourism and contribute to the development of ecologically sound and socially just practices.

 

 



Tourism is the nation’s third top revenue generator after hydropower and agriculture. While there have been economic benefits to tourism, Bhutan is now beginning to face the negative impacts of increased tourism, as well. Students conduct research on both the positive and negative impacts of tourism on communities and the environment, while investigating the potential of ecotourism.


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Costa Rica’s remarkable biodiversity provides a rich platform for nature-based tourism, which is one of the country’s primary economic drivers. But such tourism runs the risk of over-exploiting the very natural beauty that draws tourists to Costa Rica in the first place. Students consider the effects of tourism on local communities and the local culture, including the ways in which tourism gives rise to significant, singular economic dependence.


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For decades, Kenya was the bullseye for eco-tourism and wildlife tourism in East Africa. Many thousands of outsiders enjoyed the parks and protected areas of Kenya and pumped money into the economy. Students study the consequences of intense tourism on the landscape and evaluate how wildlife behavior is affected by human visitors. Excursions to Tanzanian parks will allow students to make comparisons between the tourist-visitor experience and the management objectives and successes of two countries.


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The issue of tourism impacts is addressed via participant observation and interviews with local authorities and stakeholders, including business owners, Bocatoreños, fishers, tour operators, and visitors. Additionally, students are taken into the field to measure, analyze, and interpret how tourism impacts habitats and ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangroves, and forests.


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Tourism is perceived as benefiting TCI and particularly South Caicos, an island of just 1,200 people. However, the growing tourism industry is increasing the demand for reef fish on restaurant menus, incentivizing fishers on South Caicos to increase their catch. We visit the Sailrock Development, designed for high-end tourism with an emphasis on being “sustainable,” and we consider how the concept of sustainability can be presented.


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