Sample Research Paper on is Eco Tourism a Viable Way to Make Money in the Hospitality Industry?

Ecotourism defines a certain type of tourism that involves touring delicate, pristine, and significantly unexploited natural regions. Ecotourism is often intended to enhance low-level impact and offer alternative small scale tourism in place of the commercial form of tourism. The purpose for engaging in this form of tourism can be to educate the tourists, to enhance the generation of financial support towards ecological conservation, to support economic progress, to foster cultural heritage or to politically empower the surrounding communities. Since the recent past, environmentalists have perceived ecotourism as an important endeavor that can allow future generations to enjoy experiencing beautiful sceneries that are rarely exploited through human intervention. According to Anuar (89), ecotourism comprises of the living aspect of the natural environment and it focuses on promoting socially accountable touring, personal growth and ecological sustainability. It typically involves visiting places where plants and animals, as well as cultural heritage, are key attractions. It seeks to give insight into how human interaction with the environment destroys the natural habitats and to enhance fostering of the natural environment. Accountable ecotourism programs mainly include those intending to limit the impact of conventional tourism on the environment and to promote cultural integrity of the surrounding communities. On this note, ecotourism, in addition to promoting cultural and environmental stability, enhances recycling, energy efficacy, water conservation and economic advancement among the surrounding communities. Different organizations in tourism and hospitality sector have adopted ecotourism as an alternative way to generate money. It is however not clear if this is a viable way of making money (Jennifer 37). This inquiry aims to establish whether ecotourism is a credible way to generate money in the hospitality industry.

Ecotourism is not a viable way to make money in the hospitality industry

Despite the many environmental, cultural, social and economic benefits that ecotourism has proven to render, sufficient evidence has shown that it is not a viable way to make money in the hospitality sector. Ecotourism is a rapidly growing market as the tourism industry continues to change and natural destinations gain more significance. The need to explore historical and cultural features in their natural settings has seen most travelers opting for ecotourism destinations where sceneries are subjected to limited human intervention. According to Hall (77), ecotourism is a strong conservation catalyst that encourages individuals to preserve the natural habitat. Having seen the fragile habitats first hand, travels are able to understand how they can protect nature in their respective home locations, which ultimately help to limit environmental degradation. This is because the travelers can be able to change their destructive conducts by adopting more constructive and environmentally sound practices. The growing demand by travelers to see animals roaming in their natural lodges has seen the governments implementing anti-poaching efforts, which has significantly reduced the probability of killing and trading wild animals. As noted by Jennifer (42), ecotourism promotes social equity by offering local communities with an opportunity to meet and interact with people from diverse social and economic backgrounds. While most eco-lodges are located in remote regions, the native people living in these regions are able to interact with mainstream people, which would otherwise be unattainable (Anuar 90).

Ecotourism has further proven to perpetuate significant economic benefits that can help to alleviate poverty particularly among the native populations being visited. Unlike mass tourism where voices of the native populations are not heard, ecotourism allows for the engagement of local people mainly through promoting their cultural heritage. This creates a huge number of employment opportunities thereby enabling the local populations to benefit from the economic growth. Conversely, a significant amount of money generated from ecotourism is usually paid to the native communities where eco-lodges are located, which further plays a significant role in reducing poverty (Wood 11). While over 80% of money generated from mass tourism is usually spent on inclusive package tour services offered by airlines and international companies, eco-lodges exploit local services and talents, which ensure that more than 95% of the money generated is spent on the local economy. Ecotourism further perpetuates the advancement of infrastructural facilities by enhancing the construction of roads, railway lines, medical facilities and schools in remote areas. This in return enhances lifestyles of the native populations where they would otherwise have no access to modern schools and medical care (Anuar 110).

Although ecotourism has proven to generate a significant level of benefits that impacts the social, environmental, cultural and economic aspects of the local communities, evidence indicates that it is not a viable way through which the hospitality industry can generate money. An investigation by Hall (91) showed that while the tourism sector continues to expand at the rate of twenty percent per annum, an increasing number of travelers are being converted to ecotourism. Forecasts further indicate that ecotourism will take up to one third of the total global travel market in a few years time. This rapid expansion will be perpetuated by the potential exploitation of the unexploited natural habitats remaining around the world. This means that the hospitality industry will only be able to generate a small amount of money within a short period of time before the remaining fragile ecosystem is shaken. As argued by Wood (17), ecotourism destinations, although they present aesthetically attractive sceneries, comprise of delicate natural habitants that can easily be depleted with persistent human intervention. Although raising awareness is one of the fundamental principles stressed in ecotourism, most foreign visitors are unaware of the negative implications that their mere presence may pose to the newly realized natural habitations. Local communities may cautiously use their natural environment in a way that promotes its existence. This may however not be the case with foreign visitors as they often apply conservation standards employed in their home countries, and as such, they end up taking the conservation principles employed in the ecotourism destinations for granted (Anuar 115). Coupled with a rapidly increasing number of travelers, these conducts pose a significant level of stress on the visited sceneries, which further intensifies deterioration of the natural habitats. Intensive deterioration of the natural habitations limits the probable amount of money that hospitality would generate before such sites are termed unattractive and hence receiving a small number of foreign travelers (Hall 108).

According to Jennifer (58), significant drain of available resources further interferes with efforts by ecotourism managers to effectively develop the sites, which further reduces their aesthetic value and the subsequent fund generation. The presence of visitors in natural habitats perpetuates misuse of water, which in certain instances may be an expensive commodity. This exerts pressure on the natural habitations particularly those prevailing in arid destinations, which interfere with efforts intended to improve the aesthetic value of the natural sceneries. The inability to develop such sceneries in order to maintain their natural attractiveness limits their potential capacity to generate a reasonable amount of money to benefit the hospitality industry hence the reason why ecotourism is perceived to be an unviable way to generate revenue (Wood 19).

Smith (122) further explains that various establishments that describe themselves as ecotourism locations tend to modify the habitations in order to promote guest comfort. This does not only interfere with the natural aspect of these destinations but it as well perpetuates depletion of resources, which further reduces the overall capacity by the hospitality industry at large to generate a reasonable amount of money. Most establishments that mainly include hotels tend to justify the high price tags placed on guest rooms by modifying the natural habitations so as to improve the overall comfort that the guests experience. This may include provision of air-conditioned havens and special amenities that include swimming pools, hot tubs and gymnasiums, which further contributes to extensive contamination and subsequent depletion of water sources. This in return limits the overall capacity by these destinations to maintain their aesthetic value, which ultimately reduces the probability to generate a reasonable amount of money within the hospitality industry (Smith 119).

Ecotourism further places the nation in a complex situation that demands for increased economic dependence on foreign support, which further reduces the viability of the hospitality industry to generate money. According to Hall (110), ecotourism’s existence and survival is highly dependent on foreign nation’s demand for services and supply of financial support. This leaves the developing nations venturing in this form of tourism without any option but to accept a double-sided dependence in spite of the fact that it perpetuates a significant level of abuse and exploitation. As noted by Kennedy (119), ecotourism relies on foreign investors to fund the activity so as to ensure it that ventures into the unexploited markets as well as exploits untapped natural resources. This in return allows the foreign investors to cheaply exploit the resources and subsequently use them as a distinguishing factor against the stiff competition in the market. This in return inhibits local hospitality establishments from effectively exploiting the natural resources, which limits the ability of the wider hospitality industry from making any reasonable amount of money. Conversely, the developing nations, having reaped benefits from the short-term outcomes generated from a rapidly growing ecotourism sector, are committed to provide extensive financial incentives to the foreign investors. They thus give them tax breaks so as to intensify their willingness to invest in the sector (Smith 131). This does not only expose the poor nations to severe trade deficits but they as well heighten their reliance on wealthy investors in pursuit of a healthy and sustainable equilibrium. The unveiled logic behind this statement is that unless wealthy nations stops taking advantage of the poor nations through cheaply exploiting their natural resources, the poor nations will never be in a position to reap the full benefit of venturing into ecotourism. This explains why ecotourism may not be a viable means through which the wider hospitality industry can make money (Anuar 128). On the other hand, favoring ecotourism has increasingly exposed developing nations’ economies to fluctuations perpetuated by the world’s growing demand for rooms. While such nations have emphasized to use their natural resources for tourism rather than agriculture, their poorly diversified economies have increasingly been exposed to the cyclical demand patterns that ultimately inhibit steady growth. On this note, establishments intending to generate money through ecotourism may not be able to effectively achieve their objective as global fluctuations interfere with a steady flow of tourism activities. This in return affects their overall capacity to generate a reasonable amount of money that can consistently benefit the wider hospitality industry.

Ecotourism further limits the capacity to uphold social equity, which further explains why the hospitality industry may in return be unable to generate money viably. According to Kennedy (121), ecotourism, in theory, admits and strives to fulfill its social obligation in contributing to the wellbeing of the local communities. In practice, however, ecotourism entails a breach of that obligation, which is usually ignored by members of the public as well as avid developers. This is particularly the case where the socio-cultural impacts are often ignored while ecotourism on the other hand continues to thrive near culturally vulnerable local communities. A powerful example of such impacts is the displacement of local people as they are often moved so as to create room for park development. While this robs the locals of their source of economic livelihood, investors do not put profits back into the local economy or even support development of the local environment. This ultimately cultivates a high degree of resentment among the local people, which may eventually translate into destruction of the natural resources (Hall 119). Conversely, the socio-cultural impacts perpetuated by ecotourism encourage the local communities to engage in illegal poaching and destructive markets, which further degrades the environment. This eventually reduces the aesthetic value of the prevailing natural resources while on the other hand demanding for huge proportions of ecotourism managers’ budget to guard the environment against destructive activities. On this note, ecotourism becomes an ineffective means through which the hospitality industry can make a reasonable amount of money to cover up for the high costs and generate profits (Smith 122).

Environmental mismanagement further contributes to degradation of natural resources, which further explains why ecotourism is not a viable means for the hospitality industry to generate money. According to Smith (141), the government is often entrusted to oversee the implementation of environmental protection policies but it is usually reluctant and lacks commitment or sufficient knowledge on how to effectively manage ecotourism. While regulations for environmental conservation may be costly to implement, the government often makes decisions that will be politically favorable but environmentally unproductive. This in return affects the eventual capacity by the natural sites to maintain their aesthetic value, which subsequently limits the hospitality industry’s ability to generate money (Kennedy 122).


Ecotourism is a significant form of tourism that enhances touring of unexploited natural habitats while promoting small-scale impact in place of mass tourism. This form of tourism is particularly beneficial as it promotes social equity, cultural heritage, environmental conservation and creation of employment opportunities for local communities. Sufficient evidence has however indicated that ecotourism is not a viable way through which the hospitality industry can generate money. The growing number of commercial establishments venturing into ecotourism will eventually deplete the remaining natural resources and reduce economic sustainability for the hospitality industry. Regular human interference through commercial visits, modification of the natural habitats, exploitation of water sources, engagement in illegal poaching and destructive markets as well as the construction of eco-lodges contributes to environmental degradation, which reduces the aesthetic value of natural habitats and the subsequent capacity by the hospitality industry to make money.

Works Cited

Alexander, Drosdov. “Ecotourism Potential and Ecotour Offer in Russia.” Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends 3.1(2010):59-85.

Anuar, Jaini. “The Practice of Sustainable Tourism in Ecotourism Sites among Ecotourism Providers.” Asian Social Sciences 8.4(2012):88-129.

Eugene, Ezebilo. “Choosing Ecotourism Destinations for Vacations: A Decision-Making Process.” Asian Social Science 10.2(2014):98-154.

Hall, Michael. The Geography of Tourism and Recreation: Environment, Place and Space. Westport, CT: Routledge, 2012.

Jennifer, Hill. “Ecotourism in Amazonian Peru: Uniting Tourism, Conservation and Community Development.” Geography 96.2(2011):34-67.

Kennedy, Magio. “Ecotourism in Developing Countries: A Critical Analysis of the Promise, the Reality and the Future.” Journal of Emerging Trends in Economics and Management Sciences 4.5(2013):119-122.

Smith, Melanie. Issues in Cultural Tourism Studies. Westport, CT: Routledge, 2013.

Wood, Megan. Ecotourism: Principles, Practices & Policies for Sustainability.