Tourism Impacts

01020304050607080910
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.

 

 



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.


View Center

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.


View Center

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.


View Center