Ecotourism is set to boom worldwide. Asian Property Review examines the phenomenon including the challenges and solutions.
The temporary closure of Boracay in the Philippines followed by Maya Bay on Phi Phi Island, Thailand was a surprise but something that was not entirely unexpected. Both were closed due to environmental concerns. But these are not the only tourist attractions in the world that had brakes put on them by the government.
The Taj Mahal late last year had to temporarily close the mausoleum’s interior due to overcrowding while Venice is limiting cruise ships from entering the city centre, prohibiting swimming in the canals and imposing tougher penalties for littering. Barcelona has to limit the number of beds available from hotels and tourist apartments as well as freeze the building of new hotels in some zones – both to take effect in 2019. In Egypt too, in the Valley of the Queens, entry to the tomb of Queen Nefertari is priced at a hefty 1,000 Egyptian Pounds (USD56) on top of entrance fees to preserve the tomb’s condition.
While these restrictions mainly concern mainstream tourist attractions, the trend is loud and clear – there has to be a more holistic and sustainable approach to tourism.
The good news is the answer has been around for over 3 decades – in the form of eco-tourism which over the years has embraced a broader definition covering sustainable and responsible tourism, and even spilled into poverty alleviation, empowerment of women, adventure tourism and nature-based, cultural, and heritage tourism. These have become among the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry worldwide.