On behalf on the Quichua nation organisation I have been asked to write a report on whether ecotourism is the way forward for countries such as Ecuador. The Quichua people are a native group who live in Napo. In this report I will look at whether Commercial tourism or ecotourism would be best for Napo.
Commercial tourism is the traditional tourism that the western world knows. Ecotourism is a way of travelling while improving the welfare of the local people.
Ecuador is a republic in north-western South America. It has an area of 272,045 sq km which is roughly the same as the United Kingdom. Ecuador has a pollution of 11 million with a growth rate of 3% per year. It has a diverse population composed of people of European, Native American and African descent. The main language spoken is Spanish but many Indian languages are also spoken. Most Native Americans in Ecuador have become converts to the Roman Catholic faith.
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Agriculture dominated the economy of Ecuador until the 1970s, when the discovery of petroleum deposits brought added income to the nation. The influx of cash resulted in price increases for many goods and because Ecuador had a limited manufacturing base, people spent the new oil money on goods imported from abroad, therefore increasing Ecuador's foreign debt.
Ecuador is a developing and poverty stricken country. There is only one nurse per 2,320 patients which does not help the child mortality rate at 82 deaths per 1000 births. Only 44% of the rural population have access to safe drinking water and the GNP is $1000.
Ecuador would benefit from attracting tourists because it would bring money into the country, improving the quality of life. As Ecuador is an LEDC (Less Economically Developed Country), tourism may be its last option and a quick way of bringing money into the country.
LEDCs promote tourism because it is a very large source of money. LEDCs that do not have any other sources of money coming into the country can turn to tourism for a reliable and steady income unlike farming and other sources which are unreliable.
Tourism brings much needed money into the country to help with clean water, electricity, health care, schooling and housing.
Tourism creates direct employment at hotels, bars and shops and it creates indirect employment, for example the local farmers growing produce for nearby hotels. Local people would be able to produce and sell their souvenirs to tourists opening up the souvenir trade. Local unskilled people would be trained to work in hotels, and as tour
guides. Commercial tourism creates many more jobs than ecotourism due to the number of facilities and hotels and because of this unemployment in the region would be very low.
Tourism encourages overseas investment into airports and roads, improving transport systems. This would then encourage more tourists to come to that country. The profit and improvements made from tourism would stop migration of people from the country as there would be many jobs available and an incentive to stay.
Tourism can have very positive effects on a country while at the same time ruining the culture, traditions and lives of native people.
The sight of hotels and planes can spoil the appearance of the once untouched surroundings creating air and noise pollution. Usually only between 10 and 20% of all profits made stays in the country. As most hotels are foreign owned and most tourists spend their money in the hotels all of the profits go out of the country. As the tourism industry is seasonal, people may not be earning an income for some parts of the year. As the hotels are foreign owned most of the high paid jobs for example 'manager' would be filled by foreign people. The money earned by these people would not stay in the country.
Local craft industries would be destroyed due to the need for mass produced cheap souvenirs unlike their hand made quality pieces. Foreign companies may seize the souvenir monopoly by selling very cheap mass produced goods. Again this profit would be leaving the country. The farming economy is damaged as land is sold off to developers to build hotels. The hotels would prefer to buy food from overseas as the food grown in Ecuador would not meet the demands of European style foods for the tourists.
All the new facilities, for example, airports and other transport services would not benefit the native people as they could not afford to use them.
The borrowed money from overseas would increase the country's national debt which would not help the overall economy. Tourists expect unlimited water supplies into hotels and attractions. Their supply is ten times greater than the local people's demand. This could cause water shortages for local people's domestic and farmland use. If farmers do not have enough water to grow their crops, they could lose their entire harvest for the year which can have devastating effects.
Local cultures and traditions can be destroyed by the new problems that are only due to tourism for example crime, prostitution and drugs. This is because they have never before had any contact from the western world. Tourists do not have any respect for the local people's customs and beliefs by walking into mosques and temples inappropriately dressed.
The building of hotels, airports and other facilities means local people lose their homes, land and traditional means of livelihood. For example fishermen are no longer able to fish, because overseas companies have closed off parts of the beach and sea to only allow their hotel customers to use it.
There can also be many risks in commercial tourism. Commercial tourism can be greatly affected by political events such as terrorism. Tourism trends can change. Places where tourists used to go can become unwanted travel destinations, leaving many people unemployed. People are unemployed, as businesses have failed as there are not any customers. This can have a great effect on a country's economic structure.
The people who would be in favour of this type of tourism would be overseas companies who want to invest in LEDCs. The land in LEDCs is very cheap so it would not cost companies that much to build hotels. These companies could then discriminate employees by paying them a very low wage and charging tourists a lot to stay in them. They also know that there is a large willing workforce to use and would be able to take advantage of this.
Overseas tour operators would prefer commercial tourism as it attracts many more tourists. Tour operators would make more money from selling commercial holidays rather than eco holidays.
Local businesses would also like commercial tourism as it brings more customers, along with good transport links such as, roads, trains and airports. This also opens up the rest of the world to businesses who want to export goods internationally. Local farmers may also be in favour of commercial tourism as it opens up a large market to sell their produce.
The people who would be opposed to this tourism would be local native people who would not want airports, roads and other facilities to ruin their culture and natural way of life. Commercial tourism creates a lot of jobs, but most of the profits go out of the country to large companies who own the hotels and other facilities. Their natural ways of life would be taken away by the invasion of foreign cultures and traditions.
Local people who sell souvenirs would not like commercial tourism as this would bring in mass produced cheap souvenirs crushing the local people's businesses. Foreign companies would have more money to set up shops unlike local people attracting more customers. A lot of the money earned from commercial tourism would leave the country for large foreign companies and does not benefit everyone. People's cultures and traditions are ruined, and with that their jobs and lives.
Below are some quotes from people who have been employed and disrupted by commercial tourism.
"Commercial tourism has been in Napo for a long time but it's benefited only the tour companies and not us. It also brought crime into the area"
"Commercial guides brought tourists to our villages and paid us hardly anything, not even enough for a bus fare to Tena. The tourists walked around our villages, into houses, and took photos without asking"
"We want to continue existing according to our own culture and alongside our natural mother, the jungle"
Ecotourism is a responsible type of travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local people
Ecotourism is a way of travelling while improving the welfare of the local people. This means that in ecotourism areas, there are not any hotels or airports that ruin the landscape. People stay in the same facilities as the local people. This means there is not air or noise pollution.
All the income made by this type of tourism stays in the country with the local people helping towards schooling, clean water and healthcare. No money leaves the country to go to large overseas companies. Local craft industries can grow as there are not any large companies mass producing cheap souvenirs. People will pay for the time and effort that a local person has put into making that souvenir. No land is taken over for development of hotels and airports so farmland is not lost. No food is imported from abroad as all the food eaten by the tourists is locally grown.
Ecotourism costs a lot less than commercial tourism so it does not increase national debt. Local cultures and traditions are not destroyed as local people are allowed to carry on living normally. The type of people going on eco holidays are not the same people who go on commercial holidays. This means that in eco areas, they will not get any drug abuse, prostitution or crime. The people who go on eco holidays respect the local people's ways of life, try and help the local people and will not try and get in their way.
Farmers and people do not lose their land or houses to ecotourism or their traditional way of life as there are not any large companies taking over parts of land or beaches for foreign use only. The local people let tourists into their way of life instead of adapting to foreign ways. Also the local people and the environment is respected and cared for in ecotourism unlike commercial tourism.
The disadvantages of ecotourism are that a lot less money is made from ecotourism than commercial tourism. As a lot less people go on eco holidays the countries get less money, but all the money is going straight to the local people instead of out of the country.
Ecotourism does not create as much employment as commercial tourism as it is not on a large scale. It is based around the local people and not always for the tourist's benefit. Due to this there are not any attractions or many facilities which in commercial tourism would create a lot of jobs.
The people who would be in favour for ecotourism are the Quichua people in Napo who would not want commercial tourism in their area. Here is a quote from the Quichua people about ecotourism:
"Our way of life, traditions and culture are being preserved. Some people who left our village to find work are now returning to work in ecotourism. Our community is becoming stronger"
They would not want commercial tourism as the hotels, airports, roads and other facilities would spoil the natural environment and ruin their cultures and natural ways of life. They would prefer ecotourism which would invite tourists into the area, generating money for the country without spoiling the natural environment or disturbing their native way of life. The Quichua people earn a living from making souvenirs and farming. With commercial tourism, their farmland would be taken away and their souvenir industries ruined. All the money created would stay in the country and be used directly to improve their way of life.
Below are some quotes from people who have been employed and benefited from ecotourism.
"We work as guides and decide who we invite to our village. We grow food and make handicraft to sell to the tourists"
"The profits we earn from ecotourism are invested to improve our community, by building schools and a health centre for our children"
"Now we can make a living preserving the forest and not destroying it"
The people who would not be in favour of ecotourism are companies and businesses in Napo and Ecuador. Companies and businesses in Napo would prefer commercial tourism as it brings in more customers. Ecotourism has a lot less tourists entering the country which would not benefit them. Commercial tourism also brings good transport links such as airports, roads and trains unlike ecotourism. These transport links would create international customers, expanding the business and recovering Ecuador's debt. Ecotourism limits companies expanding by the low number of tourists and transport links.
Local hunters and loggers in Napo may also be against ecotourism. This is because ecotourism enforces many rules on local people, preventing any more destruction of the rainforest. Hunters and loggers could be out of work and find it very hard to earn a living as they are unskilled in others areas of employment.
I have looked at Commercial Tourism and Ecotourism for possible tourism solutions in Napo on behalf of the Quichua people. Both have advantages and disadvantages but in my opinion the most important factors are preserving the Quichua culture and traditions, keeping the Quichua people happy. The advantages of ecotourism are, it protects the people's traditions and native ways of life, it helps the local people instead of using them, it creates money directly for the native people and is a more respective and friendly type of tourism.
Although there are some advantages to Commercial tourism such as more customers, more money and more overseas investment, these things can sometimes be a disadvantage to the native people. Overall I would choose ecotourism for the Napo region as this type of tourism fills the needs of the Quichua people. I would also choose this type of tourism for LEDCs similar to Ecuador.
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