Table of Contents

International Handbook on Ecotourism

International Handbook on Ecotourism

Elgar original reference

Edited by Roy Ballantyne and Jan Packer

This Handbook brings together contributions from over forty international experts in the field of ecotourism. It provides a critical review and discussion of current issues and concepts – it challenges readers to consider the boundaries of what ecotourism is, and could be. The Handbook provides practical information regarding the business of ecotourism; insights into ecotourist behaviour and visitor experiences; and reflections on the practice of ecotourism in a range of different contexts.

Chapter 4: Ecotourism and ethics

David A. Fennell

Subjects: development studies, tourism, environment, ecological economics, environmental sociology, tourism, geography, tourism


Perhaps no other form of tourism has been identified as having so much promise and yet so many inherent contradictions as ecotourism (Duenkel & Scott, 1994). This stems from what ecotourism proposes to stand for in the face of the many external market forces that dictate the pace, scale and nature of ecotourism development. Ecotourism, like all other forms of tourism, is faced with many competing demands: personal and organizational prosperity against ecological and socio-cultural stability. For the Swiss tourism theorist Krippendorf (1991), who had much to say about the environmental impacts of tourism, each aspect of the industry clamours for a greater percentage of the market, and ‘Each will sacrifice everything and operate with the most stringent marketing methods to reach its target’ (p. 309). The purpose of this chapter is to examine the short history of the use of ethics in ecotourism. As supposedly the most ethical form of tourism – or at least that type of tourism that should be most open to the theory and practice of ethics – there is still much to do. While the aim is not to write a history of ecotourism, aspects of history are included in order to situate ecotourism, that is, to place it in a context of being a more ethical form of tourism by virtue of how it evolved. In this chapter the moral foundation of ecotourism is discussed, followed by examples of early successes and challenges in some of the regions where ecotourism has been well studied.

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