Chapter 3: The history of ecotourism
Natural areas have been tourism destinations for centuries, with initial forays into natural areas being considered ‘romantic’ at the beginning but latterly more ‘ecological’ (Davidson & Spearritt, 2000). It was not until the mid-twentieth century that ecotourism was born, through the growth of mass tourism, on the one hand, and environmental awareness, on the other. Thus, to understand the birth and growth of ecotourism it is first necessary to examine the evolution of the environment–tourism relationship. An investigation of this illustrates the range of factors that led to the genesis of ecotourism. This genesis has been attributed to a number of people over a range of decades in the second half of the last century. The history of ecotourism has been described by Lindberg and McKercher (1997) and Fennell (1999) described the convergent evolution of ecotourism. Both suggest that it was only in the 1980s that it sought to find common ground due to the expansion of global tourism and the increasing interest in the natural environment. The phenomenon known as ecotourism was in existence long before the terminology began to be used within tourism studies even though it was often called other things.
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