Ecotourism anywhere? The lure of ecotourism and the need to scrutinize the potential competitiveness of ecotourism developments

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Abstract

This study critiques attempts to develop ecotourism operations at sites with low ecotourism potential. It draws on 34 interviews from five mangrove forests in the Philippines that were developed for ecotourism under various co-management arrangements involving private entrepreneurs, local government, and community participation and empowerment. These stakeholders were initially lured by a vision of the economic, social, and environmental benefits that ecotourism can deliver. However, most sites were located far from major cities and tourism hubs, with limited infrastructure, and unable to outcompete other attractions such as beaches. Financial and business challenges ensued, including low tourist numbers and insufficient revenues to cover operational and maintenance costs. Subsequently, some ecoparks experienced mismanagement, embezzlement, and the psychological and political disempowerment of local communities. The study cautions that despite ecotourism's allure, stakeholders could have much to lose from pursuing the ecotourism vision and failing to realise it.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104568
Number of pages13
JournalTourism Management
Volume92
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Coastal management
  • Destination competitiveness
  • Livelihoods
  • Mangroves
  • Planning
  • Sustainable tourism
  • Tourism development
  • Tourism potential

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