A critical evaluation of ecotourism


İçinde: ECOTOURISM IN FOREST ECOSYSTEMS WORKSHOP AND TODEG IN ITS TENTH YEAR,  2010, s.65-81

A Critical Evaluation of Ecotourism 

İrfan Erdoğan

ABSTRACT
 This presentation examines the reality and prevailing explanations of ecotourism as ideological discourse  helping to legitimize, sustain and expand the industrial activities by means of creation and forging descriptive  concepts purposefully tied with practices called ecotourism. Doing so, this presentation clarifies the  rationale underlying the increased need for mind and behavior management, explains the reinterpretation of  economy via the concept of environment, explicates the inclusion of tourism in development as sustainable  tourism and expanding it to the ecotourism, and discusses dominant explanations and real facts of  ecotourism. The presentation concludes that the dominant discourses on ecotourism provide a mythical  way of understanding, thus, fail to explain scientifically the nature of the host of interrelated activities  called ecotourism. Aspiring to establish, sustain and expand mental environments that are functional for the  tourism and related industries, they present theoretical descriptions as facts, make functional exceptions  rule, and offer strategically prescriptive and normative ethics and principles that are mostly unattainable, but  functional in marketing, promotion and mind management. They ignore the fact that the dominant notion of  ecotourism is deeply embedded in the logics of ideological normalization of corporate activities, commodity  production and circulation and global governance of the economic, political and cultural markets.   

  INTRODUCTION
  Tourism continues to be steadily growing sector in the world economy. Many developing countries consider  tourism as an alternative source of economic development. Governments, bureaucrats, academicians and  business people project tourism as an engine of growth, and source of foreign exchange and employment  to revive the local economy” (Sreekumar and Parayıl 2002, 529). Asia, Africa and Latin America have rich  natural, historical and cultural resources for ecotourism activities that are steadily increasing in quantity  and scope. Resources are being diverted to the provision of airports, local transport, infrastructure, tourist  destinations and hotels with a view to creating a niche of their own in the international tourism market.  Natural forests are being encroached by an expanding developmental and tourism activities. The major trend,  especially since the mid 1980s, has been a move from mass tourism towards the various types of naturebased  tourism, including ecotourism (Rein, 2005). For instance, by the mid-1990s, ecotourism was being  hailed as the fastest growing sector of the travel and tourism industry.

 During these developments, numerous theoretical and promotional explanations and also discussions about  the nature and benefits of ecotourism flourished and proliferated.

  
Need for Myth Making: Images over the Essence

 Throughout the history of human society, the art of mind management and management of the economical,  political and cultural marketplace have always required the creation of myths via conceptual frameworks and  ritual practices. The need for myth making dramatically gained momentum when people started demanding  democratic rights by mass demonstrations, rallies and strikes since the second half of the 19th century. In  order to save the democracy from the democratic demand and participation of common people, the planned  and organized practices of the creation of public opinion and manufacturing the consent gained utmost  importance. Since then, for the sake of saving democracy against democratic demands, people have been  pulled into the values and interests of ruling forces in such a way that they willingly participate in the daily  production of their own material and mental poverty. These prevailing practices are reinforced by the fear of  unemployment and oppressive state apparatuses. 

Beside the mass movements, two interrelated developments shaped and fueled the need for mind management.  The first one was (and still is) the expansion of mass production and, consequently, mass production of demand  (consumers). The second half of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century taught the capitalist  system that the demand can not be left free: Mass production requires mass consumption and sustained and  expanded consumer (or voter, tourist) demand. Thus, those who produce the supply in masses also started the  business of creating the demand in masses. The mind management business quickly proliferated and became  a lucrative business. The propaganda with long history in organized human history gained utmost importance.  Propaganda ministries, public and private institutions and agencies were established for marketing the system,  planning and selling the domestic and international policies of psychological warfare, oppression, terror and local  and regional wars. Public relation and advertising industries emerged and became multibillion-dollar businesses.  Formal in schools and informal education via communications media started working as the most effective mind  and behavior management tools for the dominant interests. 

The second one was (and still is) the need of marketing and advertising the mass-produced goods to the  domestic and international markets. This need rapidly expanded the business of demand creation and consent  management to the international arena. After the Second World War, the US academicians, businesspersons  and politicians engaged in massive activity of creating, sustaining and expanding the demand for the  modern way of life that is controlled by the logic of capitalist production, distribution and consumption of the  mass produced goods and services. A complete package for creating and sustaining the development of  underdevelopment was prepared and named as “modernization and development.” This package contained the  political and economic structure grossly mimicking “western democracy and free market.” The East and South  imported the western political and economical institutional structures, bought a lot of weapons, television sets,  radios, cinema films, musical equipments, music tapes and household goods. However, they are not industrialized  yet. Contrary to the generally accepted idea, the modernization and development projects were not failed,  because the objective was never “to develop a country,” but to create and sustain the conditions of dependency  (the development of underdevelopment) and to use the natural and human resources all over the world. In  fact, the modernization era of 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was very trying, but very lucrative era for the capitalist  world market: They successfully created the basic economical, political and ideological infrastructure during  this initial preparation phase. Then came the neo-liberal era: The Keynesian policies of welfare state policy  was collapsed by bold initiatives of the capitalists in the mid 1980s and massive activities of expansion started.  As Bourdieu states, along with the neo-economic policies, the political and economical power holders deify  the power of markets in the name of economic efficiency, demand the lifting of the administrative or political  barriers that could hinder the owners of capital in their purely individual pursuit of maximum profit instituted as  a model of rationality, want independent central banks, preach the subordination of the national states to the  demands of economic freedom for the masters of the economy, want the suppression of all regulations on all  markets starting with the labor market, privatize the public services, and reduce the public and welfare spending  (Bourdieu, 1998: 101). The new mythmaking and mind management processes included many new redefinitions  and introductions of new concepts strictly defined by their creators: Post-modernism, post-positivism, post fordism, post-colonialism, globalization, glocalisation, flexible production, deregulation, privatization, small state,  decentralization, information society, knowledge society (Erdogan and Alemdar, 2005). New concepts like  ecotourism, sustainable tourism, nature tourism, ethical tourism, green tourism, geotourism, heritage tourism,  culture tourism, archeological tourism, ethnic tourism, pro-poor tourism and the like were formulated and  disseminated. All kind of tourism is tied with the increased income for the destination and, thus, development of  the country.

 Myths, in order to survive, should be buttressed by some other myths that include business principles and  ethics, certificates and awards, dinner parties, symposiums and ceremonies, and some factual examples like  poor becoming rich, success stories about environmental protection and financial gains in some places, and  also few bad ecotourists, tour operators and managers. 

The Economy Meets the Environment

 The reinterpretation of the economy through environmental rhetoric and “sustainable development”  slowly emerged in the 1970s and gained momentum in the 1980s and 1990s. The intellectual bias and  mythological character of sustainable development existed at the beginning of its official formation and  declaration by the World Commission of Environment and Development (WCED, 1987: 43). It was declared  that sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising  the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This catchy phrase gives the impression that  sustainable development is sustainability of every body’s needs and interests. The declaration acknowledges  that there is a serious problem in sustaining the needs at present and danger on sustainability in the future.  When we closely look at the solutions presented then and afterwards in every world summits and other  international or regional meetings, we do not see any demand for structural change in industrial practices.  İnstead, we see the same old policy disguised in different clothing: Control of global economical and political  marketplace by owning, controlling and exploiting the natural and human resources, and marketing the  goods and services. 

At the 1992 Rio Conference on the environment, the mythical notion of sustainability was accepted  by governments, NGOs and many environmentalists. Finally, it turned to be the part of global politics  of domination as green geopolitics supported by the U.S. and the EU in the 2000s. Idea of sustainable  development became the major part of the rationalized popular global control in the 21st century. The main  organizing principle of sustainable development is the economic growth: Creating it, managing it, distributing  its costs and benefits on a national scale in particular territorialized states. “There is now broad consensus  that tourism development should be sustainable; however, the question of how to achieve this remains an  object of debate” (Gössling et al., 2005:417) All, it is claimed, want more material goods and social services;  so global elites compete to control the markets that allow them to implement various policies to serve these  ends (Hardt and Negri, 2000). 

Tourism and Ecotourism for Development 

The dominant rationale behind the inclusion of tourism in the national and local development can be  summarized by the OECD statement: “Tourism helps to speed up development in poor countries. It is easier  to attract tourists than to sell high-tech products on the world market” (Kertsen, 1997). Similarly, in 1989,  the Hague Declaration on Tourism focused on the place of tourism in economic and social development.  It emphasized the importance of formulating and applying policies to promote harmonious development  of domestic and international tourism and leisure activities for the benefit of all those who participate them. However, this explicit acknowledgement of the socio-economic issues appears to have been lost in  the subsequent discourse on sustainable tourism (Roe et al., 2003). Later, ecotourism is introduced as a  form of sustainable tourism: “Ecotourism is a sector of tourism, based on nature travel, but including the  principle of sustainability (TIES, 2003: 5). It is regarded as a viable tool for economic development that  takes into account conservation (Khan, 2003: 109). In fact, ecotourism with the framework of ecological  sustainability is the parcel and part of this market policy that expands its sphere of influence and activity  in rural and natural areas, enhancing the tourism industry, mass-market consumerism, dependency,  destroying indigenous life forms and ecological integrity. During the implementation of this policy, new  “environment friendly” products are produced and clean production processes, environmental monitoring  and rehabilitation systems are developed, initiatives for preventing pollution, reducing waste and maximizing  the energy savings are taken by the same system that pollute the environment. These policies based on  the instrumental rationality enhanced the corporate image, profits, productivity, resource management, labor  utilization, energy savings, and the power of the corporate and state control at the same time. 

Mainstream Explanations of Ecotourism

  Definitions of ecotourism presented by the proponents of dominant paradigm focus on the concepts like  responsible travel, natural areas, wildlife, nature-based, small scale, benign, non-damaging, non-degrading,  environmental effect, minimum or no impact, bird watching, wildlife watching, nature walk, conscientious  use, sustainability, conservation, balance, awareness, education, admiring, knowing, appreciation, respecting,  participation, local life, culture, history, welfare, economic benefit for local communities, local ownership, the  relevance of cultural resources, and host community participation. 

Place of Activity 
 In ecotourism, locus of activity is the natural environment. Ecotourism is a form of nature-based tourism,  an enlightening nature travel experience (Wight, 1993). Almost all definitions state that ecotourism takes  place in relatively undisturbed natural (Björk 2000; Blamey 1997; Valentine, 1991, 1993) or pristine  areas (Ceballos-Lascurain, 1991). It involves traveling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural  places (Wallace and Pierce, 1996). It is natural history-based and/or wildlife-related recreation activity  (Hvenegaard, 1994). These explanations describe the place of activity and prescribe the activity location.  These descriptions create the myth that any activity done in the natural areas is ecotourism. 

There is a serious problem in defining ecotourism by the place of activity, because ecotourism is an  activity determined by nature of activity, not by the place of activity. It is not the location or the quantity,  but the nature of the use, organization, activity and outcome that characterizes ecotourism. When defined  this way, fencing a large area of land on top of mountains, building bungalows, restaurants and providing  entertainments, organizing tours and daily excursions to remote and natural areas are not sufficient  condition for an activity to be called ecotourism. 

A notion and feeling of normalcy is constructed by the mainstream explanations: Ecotourism is inspired  primarily by the natural history of an area, including its indigenous cultures (Ziffer, 1989). Then, driving force  of the ecotourism is the historical and cultural inspiration (pull) of the place. If there is no pull, there can be  no reason to go there. This normalcy is true only if there is no promotional activity for demand creation and  no reorganization of the natural environment by the tourism industry. The normal is manipulated and reality is  transformed by landscape designers and developers in order to fabricate attractive “natural environment”. 

Objectives of Activity 

In the process of forging and mythmaking, objectives of ecotourism are presented in terms of the honorable  intention of ecotourists and tourism industry, and theoretical objective of conservation and sustainability. 

Honorable intentions: Beside a few factual ones, explanations related with the intensions of ecotourists  are mostly mystified exaggerations: Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the  environment and improves the welfare of local people” (TIES, 2003: 5). The ecotourists visit relatively  undeveloped areas in the spirit of appreciation, participation and sensitivity (Ziffer, 1989) with the specific  objective of admiring, studying, relaxation, sightseeing, adventure and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants  and animals, as well as any cultural features (both past and present) found in the areas (Cabellos-Lascurain,  1991). It is a travel to a particular natural site entirely because of the amenity and recreational value derived  from having contact with some aspect of the natural world (Steele, 1995). It is to admire, to study and enjoy  the existing nature, wild plants, animals and any cultural features (both past and present) found in the areas.  It is travel for study, enjoyment, or volunteer assistance. It concerns itself with the flora, fauna, geology, and  ecosystem of an area, as well as the people who live nearby, their needs, their culture, and their relationship to  the land (Cabellos-Lascurain, 1991; Björk, 2000). All this theoretical constructs are presented as if ecotourism  is the type of tourism that the organizers and tourists appreciate and conserve the nature, culture, local life,  while using it, and ecotourism activities are organized for various objectives such as interaction with nature and  rural life, knowing and exploration, training and education (Wight, 1993; Scace et al., 1993; Weaver, 1999).

 Theoretical objective of conservation and sustainability: According to the mainstream theoretical narration,  ecotourism establishes a sustaining balance between the natural environment and use of environment for  ecotourism: The development of ecotourism can help saving the natural environment by encouraging a nonconsumptive  use of wildlife, while generating valuable foreign income. This prescriptive narrative assumes  that the protective use of natural areas is inevitable and necessary for generating source of income. Thus,  ecotourism is presented as a tool for both conservation and sustainable development, especially in areas  where local people are asked to forgo the consumptive use of resources for others (Wallace and Pierce,  1996). This focus on the notion of balance between economic interests and environmental conservation is  one of the main tenets of ecotourism. This notion is nourished by the ideology of development and sustainable  tourism. Some researchers like Hunter (1995, 1997) think that sustainable tourism development is not always  in line with sustainable development. According to the theoretical framework of this study, the idea of the  sustainable tourism is mostly a disguise for either image making or orientation gimmick for an activity, or  the both. In dominant theory, the balance between economy and ecology is established primarily by setting a  carrying capacity. It is also cleverly put forward that “the importance of the customers, i.e. tourists, must not be  forgotten, but included in a balanced approach; the ecotourists must be offered genuine areas and possibilities  to take part, be active and learn; all actors should benefit from an ecotourism development (Björk, 2000:194). 

Types of Activity 
 Defining the ecotourism, the literature indicates number of nature-based tourism and ecotourism activity  types, such as wildlife viewing/observation, walking, hiking, trekking, visiting parks and protected areas,  highland tourism, bird watching, photo safari, fishing, bicycle tourism, balloon tourism, scuba diving,  agricultural tourism, natural horse riding tourism, camping and caravanning tourism, cave tourism,  mountaineering, rafting, canoeing, hillside parachuting. Included in this category are also adventure tourism  (white-water rafting, bungee jumping, rock climbing, mountain biking, hang-gliding in natural areas), culture  tourism among indigenous peoples (to witness and experience other cultures, for instance, by trekking  villages throughout Nepal and other places where traditional values and products have been replaced by  Pepsi and pizza culture), science tourism (including opening the protected areas for tourism), visiting and  camping in the national parks and heritage tourism (Erdogan, 2003; Pomfret, 2006). 

The myths and false images are created while describing and promoting the activities by attaching them  some extraordinary traits and gratifications they provide.
 
Actors of Activity: Tourists as Special Clients and  Conscientious Users 
 Tourists are depicted in some instrumentally functional ways:  The related literature positions ecotourists at the center of the activity and treats them as active agents.  They are the ones that take the trip with certain objectives, go to destination, stay certain time there and  return home. These kind of explanation supports the myth that ecotourists (people) are self-deciding free  agents on their choices and actions. They exclude the role of the industrial practices on the course of  decisions, choices and actions. 

Tourists are also portrayed as conscientious users of the nature with good intentions such as admiring,  studying, relaxation, sightseeing, enjoying the existing nature, wild plants, animals and any cultural features  (both past and present) found in the areas (Björk 2000). The literature suggests that ecotourists tend to  be much better educated than general tourists are. They are environmentally aware, sensitive, dedicated,  knowing and contributing actors. We can logically deduct at least two conclusions from these statements:  (1) If these are the discriminating and distinguishing factors, then mainstream tourists are not aware,  sensitive, knowing and contributing. (2) Ecotourists are potential culprits if anything happens to the nature.  Despite the theoretically stated superior objectives, not all tourists can be expected environmentally aware  and sensitive ones. Additionally, tourist behaviors cannot always be congruent with awareness and knowing,  since there are strong intervening variables that eliminate the causal relationship between the awareness,  knowledge, attitude and the behavior.

 Describing tourists as environmentally aware, literature also indicates that they should be informed,  enlightened and educated by the ecotourism industry. Education is presented as solution to many problems  by the dominant paradigms in the social sciences. Actually, most of the time education is neither the cause  nor the solution. Finding statistical significant relations between the education and material and mental  poverty does not mean that there is a causal relationship. It only means they exist together. We should look  for causes elsewhere. 

We know there are environmental problems (and material and mental poverty). Roots of environmental  deterioration and damage are not lack of education or culture or behavior of uneducated people.  The damage uneducated/illiterate people have caused to environment in 10.000 years is most likely  incomparably less than the extent of damage highly educated people working for the industrial and  organizational interests created on earth in the last 100 years. Namely, the cause is not the lack of  education: It is the highly educated people with well-planned goals create undesirable conditions on earth.

 In the mainstream literature, the relations of the industry to ecotourists are reduced to service providing: The  tourism industry only caters the objectives and needs of ecotourists. “In order for any ecotourism business to  position itself favorably in the global marketplace, it has to deliver high quality service that fulfills the needs  and expectations of ecotourists. Understanding customer expectations are a prerequisite for delivering  superior service” ( Khan, 2003:109, 110). 

It is claimed that the ecotourists are new types of tourists are highly selective, educated, demanding and  eager to seek information, and sensitive to the environment, thus, they are one of the driving forces urging  the industry to become more responsive to the environmental issues (Chi and Luzar, 1998; Wearing and  Neil, 1999; Krugger, 2005). Indeed, mass producers of goods and services have always being under the  pressure of capturing the attention of people as consumers in order to convince them for using their goods  and services. However, it is not clearly known if there is such pressure coming from tourists. Studies show  conflicting results on the quality, behavior and environmentally sound and forceful demands of tourists. For  instance, Duffy describes ecotourists as behaving badly due to their pursuit of hedonistic pleasures. Selfsatisfaction  is still the over-riding concern of ecotourists. They are not interested in the idea of community  development, environmental protection and aboriginal justice. Some of them want to have sex with other  people. They do not display “features of self reflexivity that might produce environmentally development”  (Duffy 2002:40,157). ‘‘Ecotourists in Belize do not reflect on their own position in the ecotourist economy  or their impact on their environment” (Duffy, 2002:45). Similarly, Ryan, Hughes, and Chirgwin (1999:148)  indicate that ecotourism may be culturally determined, with the culture being that of consumerism; it is a  hedonistic experience rather than concerned with learning. On the other hand, some studies found that  attitudes and behavior of some tourists are consistent with the principles of ecotourism (Galley and Clifton,  2004).

 According to the mainstream literature, the quality of service and environment are the function of the tourist  demands. Industry provides services according to the demand of the ecotourists: People get what they want.  Thus, no one can blame the industry for the quality of service and environment.  The practices of mind management in this sense include the use of people as vehicles of attaining and  sustaining power that demands creation of norms and habits of consumption and conspicuous consumption.

 In the literature, ecotourists are depicted as money spenders at the destination, thus, they are the chief  contributing agents to the local development. In any case, a large proportion of the money spent by  ecotourists is spent at the place of origin for buying the tickets and vacation packages. As Wall indicates  (1997:489) “the most companies involved in ecotourism have their headquarters in the North, and a large  proportion of profits are repatriated.” Furthermore, ecotourists cannot spend money at the destination even  if they want to, because theoretically you can not spend money in natural areas, national parks, historical  places and wildernesses, except paying for entrance fees and buying some local souvenirs. 

Actors of Activity: Tourism and Travel Industry as Service  Providers 

The dominant paradigm readily accepts that the industry provides goods and services in a proper way,  except few travel agents and tour operators who do not pay due attention to the principles and ethics of  ecotourism. The dominant paradigm discusses the role of the industry in terms of principles, ethics, social  responsibility, sustainable business, organizational effectiveness and the like. 

The major myth on the good nature of industry is reproduced by attaching the tourism and travel industry  certain roles compatible with high principles of conduct: They provide services without intentionally  causing ecological, social, cultural and economical damages. However, it is generally accepted that there  are some problems (mostly because of some “bad guys” in the business). Problem are spelled out as  business ethics and practicing the principles of ecotourism. According the Executive Director of The  International Ecotourism Society (TIES) Honey, the central challenge is “how to set standards to measure  the environmental and social impacts of tourism businesses, and how to recognize those that are adhering  to sustainable practices”. Presenting the “genuine ecotourism” as savior, Honey indicates the existence of  ample evidence that, “in many places, ecotourism’s principles and core practices are being corrupted and  watered down, hijacked and perverted. Indeed, ecotourism includes a mixed grill with three rather distinct  varieties”: “Ecotourism-lite” businesses that adopted a few environmental practices; “Green-wash scams”  which use green rhetoric in their marketing but follow none of the principles and practices; and Genuine  ecotourism, or those businesses that are striving to implement environmentally and socially responsible  practices (Honey, 2004). Some studies indicate that some travel agencies organize travels and tours paying  no proper attention to actual ecotourism principles and goals. Some engage in misleading advertisements  and marketing activities using names and symbols that provide false images such as “nature with its best,  eco adventure, sole ecofeeling, adventure experience”. For instance, The web page of Gordon Guide (2005)  promotes ecotourism and cultural tours in Turkey as follows: “GAP Adventures offers travelers a grassroots,  small group adventure vacation, with a focus on culture, nature and active travel; small international groups,  excellent guides, delicious local cuisine, special destinations and charming local accommodations, all come  together to create an authentic adventure experience”.

 Promoters and marketers add ecolabel to everything: Eco-Rent-A-Car in Costa Rica, Eco Taxis in Mexico,  Eco Cines and Eco Parking Lot. In Latin America, “Proyectos ecoturisticos” sell everything from community  development projects to jet skis (Mader, 2002:272). Such ads and marketing have dangerous potentials  for everyone. Similarly, in Turkey, business of travel agencies ranges from selling tickets to constructing  residential buildings. Various attractive tourism developments are marketed as ecodevelopments all over  the world. Many ecotourism developments are unchecked, unaccredited and only hint that they are based on  policies that are environmentally friendly (Ananthaswany, 2004). In South Africa, a developer plans to build  “an $800 million dollar ecotourism paradise” equipped with “a floating casino, hippos in the water hazards,  Club Med-style hotels, and imported wild game” (Honey, 1999:28). In Nepal, you can take helicopter treks  to the summits of various mountains instead of climbing the mountainous landscape. As Twidale and  Bourne (2003:483) point out “some administrators and tour operators not only have a relaxed and sanguine  attitude to false claims, inaccurate data and misleading language, but actively and vigorously oppose its  being corrected”. The expanding domination of neo-liberal idea that shuns the government intervention  and upholds the self-regulation or auto-control unfortunately buttresses the practices of fakery and show  off. As Font indicates (2002: 203), even if governments take active attitude towards regulating claims, this  is limited to governmental boundaries, which make it inefficient because of the international nature of the  tourism industry.

 It is almost impossible to find a study emphasizing the massive effort of the tourism industry to manipulate  as many customers/tourist as possible. Instead, the relations of the industry to ecotourists are reduced to  providing best possible service: The tourism industry only caters the objectives and needs of ecotourists. Mass producers of goods and services have always being under the pressure of capturing the attention of  people as consumers in order to convince them for using their goods and services. The practices of mind  management in this sense include the use of people as vehicles of attaining and sustaining power that  demands creation of cultural norms and habits of consumption and conspicuous consumption.

 Material interest of the industry either presented as universal fact in explanations of ecotourism or does not  mentioned al all. The dominant explanations set the agenda by discussing the role of the industry in terms of  principles, ethics, social responsibility, sustainable business, organizational effectiveness, culture etc. These  ethics, principles and ideas are mostly part of the image making, marketing, mind and behavior management  practices supporting the organized material relations of daily life.

 Actors of Activity: Role of the State 
 According to the mainstream ideological framework, state institutions and governments play the role of  regulator in order to make things run smooth, but generally fail to provide necessary legal provisions,  establish monitoring and control mechanisms. Local governments lack guidelines, regulations, monitoring  and implementation systems that protect natural resources from negative effects.  The expanding domination of neo-liberal idea that shuns the government intervention and upholds the selfregulation  or auto-control buttresses the practices of fakery and ostentation.  Principles, ethics, forged social responsibility, legal restrictions and regulations cannot make business people  act accordingly, unless a business culture and awareness supporting such actions exist. 

Outcomes of Activity

 Use without effect and contribution to environment: According to the literature, ecotourism is benign and  does not have any undesirable environmental effect on destination, because ecotourism is a non-consumptive  use of wildlife and natural resources (Hvenegaard, 1994; Ziffer 1989). It is non-damaging, non-exploitative  and non-degrading, and provides ecological sustainability and direct contribution to the continued protection  and management of areas used (Björk, 2000; Valentine 1991, 1993). Contrary to these claims, there will  be some environmental impact and ecological disturbance even in the most meticulously prepared and run  ecotourism activity. There cannot be any use without some undesirable outcomes. For instance, the growth  of ecotourism in Belize and Costa Rica has been responsible for damaging natural areas and habitats due to  overdevelopment (Kersten, 1997). As Wall indicates (1997:488), “there are good reasons for suggesting that  ecotourism has the potential to be environmentally disruptive. 

Social, cultural and economic benefit to host community: It was indicated in the literature that ecotourism  contributes to the community through employment and other financial means, provides the economic  well-being to the local residents, brings welfare to the local communities and recognizes the needs and  rights of local populations (Pederson, 1998; Twynam and Johnston 2002). It maintains and enhances the  integrity of the natural and social-cultural elements and sustains the culture (Scace et al., 1993). These are  mostly exaggerated social, economic and cultural outcomes of the ecotourism. It may be the case for some  communities; but you can hardly find a community prospering from ecotourism in Asia, Africa or Latin America.  No one can show that tourism and ecotourism have regularly contributed to the economic well-being of local  people and provided alternative employment except entrepreneurial opportunities for few investors, seasonal  low paid wages for some local people, and the unemployment, poverty, loss of life style and migration for  the most natives. “Often, a greater proportion of tourism revenue becomes profit for only a few individuals or families because well-connected persons monopolize the opportunities for guiding, transporting or hosting  visitors, while others have to bear the costs, like rising prices for goods and services” (Gössling, 1999).

 Some researchers indicate that even though sums of money may not be large, it should be acknowledged  that their consequences might be substantial when they are injected into small economies (Wall, 1997:  489). It is true, while some local people get minimum wage, tour operators, chain hotels, one or two  local investors, top administrators, politicians, some local shops, drug pushers, pimps, prostitutes and  sex merchants share the substantial benefit. Ecotourism, like mass tourism, fosters local political and  administrative corruption, money laundering, sex trafficking, the international drug trading, extensive foreign  influence on the local community and society. There are increasing examples that traditional mode of  production and resource uses are influenced by allocation of resources for the tourism and the ecotourism  activities. As tourism expands, local people increasingly lose their lands; they are deprived of their way of life  like farming, forestry, grazing, mining and hunting. Except one or two families and very few special places in  the world, relatively few jobs are created for local residents, and local people often receive little or no benefit  from any kind of tourism (Che, 2005; Duffy 2002; Honey, 1999; Lindberg et al., 1996; Mansperger 1995;  Place 1991; Stem et al., 2003; Stone and Wall, 2004). As Loon and Polakow (2001: 893) indicate financial  viability of a hotel or lodge does not invariably mean that, it will result in optimal socio-economic benefits.  Studying a local community in Turkey, Gücü and Gücü (2003) found that the economic gain from tourism is  low, and except a few market owners and restaurants, the community does not benefit significantly. In fact,  ecotourism provides high profits to travel agencies, tour operators, airlines and investors who also own hotel  chains. Leakage to outside from the local community reaches over 90% in many countries. In addition, the  most of it leaks outside of the country. It brings low regard to environmental protection and local life style  that is marketed as part of the commodified cultural, enjoyment and experience package (Brandon, 1996;  Campbell 1999; Colvin, 1996; Jones 2005; Loon and Polakow, 2001; Stem et al., 2003:325; Welford and  Ytterhus 1998). Ecotourism activities are initiated, managed and comanaged by ‘‘outsiders” (Belsky 1999;  Jones 2005; Wearing and McDonald 2002). No one can provide a reliable developmental data beyond a  few marginal local examples such as in Kenya, Costa Rica and Ecuador, and the claim of yearly or seasonal  increase in the national tourism income without detailed distribution statistics.

 It is argued that ecotourism can provide many benefits, but tangibility depends on the structural factors.  Besides, local people do not have marketing skills, foreign language and capital to establish an income  generating business from tourism. We should also keep in mind that tourism is a seasonal activity: it creates  a seasonal parasitic commercial culture at its best, while destroying the traditional local way of life and  indigenous development. It is externally induced economic activity in the interest of the external powers and  their national, regional and local cooperators. 

Balanced sustainability and development: Ecotourism is presented as sustainable tourism based on a positive  overall balance in environmental, communal and economic interrelations. The development of ecotourism can  help saving the natural environment by encouraging a non-consumptive use of wildlife, while generating  valuable foreign income (Farrell and Marion, 2001; Stem et al. 2003). There are series of false images are  created by this prescriptive evaluation: The use and the nature of ecology are not mutually exclusive. There is  a use called non-consumptive use. The use of natural areas is inevitable and/or necessary and it is the source  of income. The conservation requires finance and the ecotourism brings finance for conservation. These  myths present ecotourism as a tool for both conservation and sustainable development. The notion of balance  between tourism and environmental conservation is nourished by the ideology of sustainable tourism.

 Ecotourism is touted as providing better sectoral linkages, reducing leakage of benefits out of the country,  creating local employment, and fostering sustainable development (Jones, 2005). The sustainability  means ecological, economical and cultural sustainability. However, the tourism activities can mean only the  economical sustainability of the organizing industry with some costly financial benefits to the local areas,  while ecological and cultural sustainability remain mostly discourse at the rhetorical and ostentatious levels.  The economical sustainability of the capital/business is the aim and the rest are mostly strategies and  tactics for market expansion. The sustainability notion is “at once exciting and terrifying. While it ostensibly  represents endeavors to protect and manage the sustainability of our biosphere, it arguably serves as a  more efficient means for rapacious and predatory social forces to retain cultural dominance and productive  security” (Bandy, 1996:539). Duffy (2000:551) indicates that Belize, for example, markets itself based on  its pristine natural environments; this exotic image is packaged and commodified by external consumption;  it has little to do with the harsh reality of people live in the area. Similarly, as Weaver (2001) rightly points  out the whole issue of sustainability has proven to be murky and contentious.” It is “unlikely that anything  can be described as being ecologically or socio-culturally sustainable beyond the shadow of a doubt” (Duffy,  2002:104). Similarly, “not all tourism products that are positioned as ecotourism are truly sustainable”  (Chang-Hung et al., 2004:151) 

Theoretical potential or probable benefits should not be confused with the actual happenings and facts  of organized practices. The notion of ecotourism with the idea of promoting the local economic initiatives  supports (and supported by) other myths like free market, free trade and free entrepreneurship. ‘‘Ecotourism  and organized crime are two different sides of the same process: the global resurgence of the idea that  neoliberal economics will provide development” (Duffy, 2002:160). 

The negative outcomes: problems and solutions: The negative outcomes are usually stated as probability:  The development of ecotourism can create socio-economic problems, affect wildlife and indigenous people  and conflict with conservation efforts. The potential negative outcomes are attributed mostly to the ecotourists’  use behavior, some irresponsible tour operators and travel agents, and to the shortcomings of legal structure.  They are divided as direct and indirect effects, or on-side and off-side impacts. Some of the on-side impacts  include disturbance of ecology and damage to natural resources (Deng et al., 2003:530; Erdogan 2003),  waste generation, habitat disturbance and destruction, forest degradation (Stem et al., 2003:322, 324),  removal of vegetation (e.g., collection of plants or firewood), air pollution, noise pollution, tourist traffic, soil  erosion and compacting, trail proliferation, trail widening, tread incision, muddiness on trails, vegetation cover  loss, excessive soil and root exposure, tree damage, permanent restructuring of the environment through  infrastructure, development and construction (e.g., clearing of forests for hotels, bungalows, cabin, golf  courses), vandalism, changes in population dynamics, the transmission of diseases to wildlife (Cosgrove et  al., 2005; Farrell and Marion, 2001;; Roe et al., 1999; Wenjun, 2004: 561), accidental introduction of exotic  species, disturbance of feeding, breeding, and behavioral patterns. 

Generally accepting that ecotourism can generate some negative environmental impacts, the mainstream  academicians and policy makers, in order to provide solutions, turn their attention to the determination of  acceptable level of impact and carrying capacity, monitoring and controlling the tourists’ behavior, maximizing  the local support and minimizing the possibility of local population’s active reaction against the ecotourism.

 Disappointed with the negative outcomes, some researchers recommend prescriptive, ethical and normative  solutions that are nothing more than restatement of the basic theoretical notion of the ecotourism in  different way: “Club-med style hotels should not be able to peddle their mega-structures under the façade  that they are offering an environmentally friendly adventure. Tougher restrictions should be placed on all  kinds of ‘alternative tourism’ to ensure that the objectives of tourism are fulfilled. The benefits should go to  the local people, not foreign investors, and a major priority should be on the conservation of the environment  (seeing as it is the generator of the new revenue). There should be mandated prerequisites for successful  local participation in ecotourism projects and initiative” (Cosgrove et al. 2005).

CONCLUSIONS 

The study concludes that dominant ideological discourse on ecotourism scientifically fails in explaining the nature of a host of interrelated activities called ecotourism, because the majority of the dominant explanations that put forward by mainstream academicians and people who are in public administration, public relations, advertising, propaganda and tourism present the theoretical descriptions as facts, make the functional exceptions rule, offer strategically prescriptive and normative ethics and principles that are unattainable, but functional in mind management. Normative and prescriptive evaluations can only play the role of diversion, deliberate agenda setting, and neutralization of the negative feelings. Some explanations are explicitly after creating false images about the relations and business of ecotourism. Others knowingly or unknowingly confuse the fact with fiction, fact with forged normative/prescriptive principles. They all intentionally or unintentionally ignore or hide the fact that the widely propagated notion of ecotourism is deeply embedded in the logics of ideological, discursive and relational normalization of corporate activities, commodity circulation, technological end-product diffusion and global governance of the economic, political and cultural market conditions. The ultimate objective in creating and employing the functional myths about industrial practices is sustainability in production of goods, services and people. As one of the nicely knitted industrial activities with forged claims, “eco-tourism, which is basically practiced in the orthodox tourism mould often masquerades as alternative tourism” (Sreekumar and Parayıl, 2002: 531).

The mainstream idea of ecotourism nicely fits in the sustainable development notion: There are poor, conventional and economically inactive local communities. These communities need jobs and products of modern life. Ecotourism is one of their saviors: Ecotourism brings the opportunities of welfare to the Local communities. What they have to do is simply to participate in the action for development. This classical rhetoric, which is supported by the other rhetorical discourses about globalization, privatization, free market, individual freedom, entrepreneurship, sustainability and development, serves the systemic requirements of politics of the globalizing industrial structures. State institutions and governments, international finance and lending institutions and corporations all over the world promote ecotourism as one of the ways of local wealth, safety, security, longevity and welfare. Once ecotourism (or any other activity) is conceived and accepted this way in popular mind, then any intervention, like opening the protected areas for the use of tourism industries and land developers, can be easily sold as the necessary initiative for the national development, maintaining growth, advancement, creating jobs and raising the standards of living in local/ rural communities. This forged reality is vehemently supported thorough daily discourses by governments, politicians, academicians, corporations and mass media. Thus, the global practices of economic exploitation and the exploiters are metamorphosed into the providers of goods and services for the benefit of people on earth.

Continuously expanding international arrivals and domestic tourists, combined with increasing use of resources and mounting production of environmental degraders and polluters are being accepted as the part of the “reality of life” by many people in the world. Mass media and academicians mostly bless the tourism and talk about the contribution of tourism to national economy. Environmental effects and human conditions are hardly ever mentioned by the mass media. It seems that some researchers are more interested in public image and income of the tourism industry and mounting costs than human condition and ecology. The sustainability and development of tourism industry is positioned at the center and the world turns around it. Some disenchanted researchers further indicate that environmental/ecological research is rarely used in the developmental processes because of the “ignorance” of researchers about the fact that developmental decisions are made by global market and of “inability” of researchers to admit that, “certain ecological tourisms are not applicable to economic development” (Di Casti, 2000). study concludes that dominant ideological discourse on ecotourism scientifically fails in explaining  the nature of a host of interrelated activities called ecotourism, because the majority of the dominant  explanations that put forward by mainstream academicians and people who are in public administration,  public relations, advertising, propaganda and tourism present the theoretical descriptions as facts, make  the functional exceptions rule, offer strategically prescriptive and normative ethics and principles that are  unattainable, but functional in mind management. Normative and prescriptive evaluations can only play the  role of diversion, deliberate agenda setting, and neutralization of the negative feelings. Some explanations  are explicitly after creating false images about the relations and business of ecotourism. Others knowingly  or unknowingly confuse the fact with fiction, fact with forged normative/prescriptive principles. They all  intentionally or unintentionally ignore or hide the fact that the widely propagated notion of ecotourism is  deeply embedded in the logics of ideological, discursive and relational normalization of corporate activities,  commodity circulation, technological end-product diffusion and global governance of the economic, political  and cultural market conditions. The ultimate objective in creating and employing the functional myths about  industrial practices is sustainability in production of goods, services and people. As one of the nicely knitted  industrial activities with forged claims, “eco-tourism, which is basically practiced in the orthodox tourism  mould often masquerades as alternative tourism” (Sreekumar and Parayıl, 2002: 531).  The mainstream idea of ecotourism nicely fits in the sustainable development notion: There are poor,  conventional and economically inactive local communities. These communities need jobs and products of  modern life. Ecotourism is one of their saviors: Ecotourism brings the opportunities of welfare to the Local  communities. What they have to do is simply to participate in the action for development. This classical  rhetoric, which is supported by the other rhetorical discourses about globalization, privatization, free market,  individual freedom, entrepreneurship, sustainability and development, serves the systemic requirements  of politics of the globalizing industrial structures. State institutions and governments, international finance  and lending institutions and corporations all over the world promote ecotourism as one of the ways of  local wealth, safety, security, longevity and welfare. Once ecotourism (or any other activity) is conceived  and accepted this way in popular mind, then any intervention, like opening the protected areas for the use  of tourism industries and land developers, can be easily sold as the necessary initiative for the national  development, maintaining growth, advancement, creating jobs and raising the standards of living in local/  rural communities. This forged reality is vehemently supported thorough daily discourses by governments,  politicians, academicians, corporations and mass media. Thus, the global practices of economic exploitation  and the exploiters are metamorphosed into the providers of goods and services for the benefit of people on  earth.  Continuously expanding international arrivals and domestic tourists, combined with increasing use of  resources and mounting production of environmental degraders and polluters are being accepted as the part  of the “reality of life” by many people in the world. Mass media and academicians mostly bless the tourism  and talk about the contribution of tourism to national economy. Environmental effects and human conditions  are hardly ever mentioned by the mass media. It seems that some researchers are more interested in public  image and income of the tourism industry and mounting costs than human condition and ecology. The  sustainability and development of tourism industry is positioned at the center and the world turns around it.  Some disenchanted researchers further indicate that environmental/ecological research is rarely used in  the developmental processes because of the “ignorance” of researchers about the fact that developmental  decisions are made by global market and of “inability” of researchers to admit that, “certain ecological  tourisms are not applicable to economic development” (Di Casti, 2000REFERENCES

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