CAN ECOTOURISM OFFER SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: WHY COSTA RICA SUCCEEDED
Tourism has become the second fastest growing economic sector in the world and due to the high economic revenue generated from it, environmental and social damages have ensured. Due to these environmental and social impacts, there has been an increased demand for sustainable tourism and ecotourism. The aims of this research paper were to identify why ecotourism has been and is so successful in Cosa Rica and if it offers and can offer sustainable development in the future. The research paper systematically analysed the critical framework of sustainable development, sustainable tourism and identified that ecotourism itself follows the three principles of sustainable development. The three pillars are economic, social and environmental. The research paper identified three areas as to why ecotourism is so successful in Costa Rica and continues to thrive compared to other neighbouring and worldwide countries with high biodiversity. These included the country’s location, its unique political history as well as previous and current governmental policies, which aided in the success of ecotourism in Costa Rica. This research paper specifically analysed the current implications of ecotourism and if the industry offers sustainable development. Clear positive and sustainable outcomes were identified from the implementation of ecotourism in Costa Rica. Nevertheless, the research paper identified negative implications and effects of ecotourism as well. It analysed the environmental implications by looking at ecolodges and protected areas such as national parks. It analysed the socioeconomic implications by looking at revenues and wage distributions in the sector as well as other contributing social factors. This research paper describes that if ecotourism is implemented correctly and follows the theoretical framework of sustainable development it can in fact revert environmental damages which have already occurred due to the industry and it can offer sustainable development to Costa Rica if future recommendations are taken into consideration. These recommendations are to establish future regulations and programmes in order to increase the
IBIS - International Conference on Business and Integral Security 3
education of locals in regard to environmental conservation and economic gain from ecotourism. Future policies must require the involvement of local communities in ecotourism decision making and any eco-site and eco-accommodation must be certified in order to operate. Due to the high influx of tourists and the environmental damage it has caused in protected areas, numbers of visits must be closely monitored and capped, if necessary.