Ecotourism, promise or reality?

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Ecotourism, promise or reality?
Tue July 30, 2019

Although tourism contributes to the economic development of the communities where it takes place, it generates an impact on the environment that can often lead to negative consequences for the native flora and fauna

Tourism is an engine of economic growth and an indispensable tool for development. According to the World Tourism Organization, the sector contributes to more than 10% of world GDP and provides one in ten jobs. In turn, tourism is responsible for 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. For this reason, it is important to move towards a tourism economy, in which growth is not necessarily linked to environmental, social and cultural degradation.

Responsible tourism in Latin America is still very incipient, but it has a lot of growth potential. Demand is mostly from American and European tourists. The big challenge is to attract tourists from the region.

Authorities at all levels of the Americas consider tourism as a priority sector to promote economic development and diversification and several countries in the region are adopting new laws and policies in that regard.

The region has set its sights on travel and tourism as an instrument to strengthen itself. Through regional and local, public and private initiatives, investing in the development of internal and external tourism, the results are increasingly positive, even with instability against the dollar and the stagnation of two of the largest economies: Argentina and Brazil.

Latin America will grow 2.1% in 2019 supported by the better performance of the external sector and the boost in investment, although with quite heterogeneity between countries. This is what BBVA Research indicates in its report‘Situation Latin America Third Quarter 2018 ‘, in which it has slightly adjusted its downward projection due to the lower expected growth for Argentina and Brazil. ECLAC also estimates the growth of the region at 1.7%.

Latin America received 217 million tourists in 2018. With an annual growth of 3%. According to the figures of the World Tourism Organization, global tourism increased by 6% the flow of international tourists and in the region its growth was 3%.

While Latin American economies grew between 1.3% and 1.5%, the increase in receptive international tourism was double, considering that emerging regions for tourism such as the Middle East and Africa grew 10% and 7% respectively, the opportunities are much greater because of their potential.

According to ECLAC, Brazil, the region's largest economy would accelerate its expansion rate to 2%, Mexico 2.1%, Argentina will decrease 1.8%, Colombia and Chile would grow 3.3%, and Peru would increase its GDP 2.6%. The fastest growing country in Latin America would be the Dominican Republic with 5.7% strongly driven by tourism, thanks to the positioning of Punta Cana and its growth as one of the strongest regional destinations.

But why is it so important to manage tourism through projects? Projects are the basic unit of development management. Sustainable tourism must be based on projects whose objectives are in accordance with the three sustainability variables (economic, environmental, socio-cultural). If the project is managed effectively, the results are optimal and the desired objectives are achieved through the lowest possible cost, providing benefits to all involved. In addition, the implementation of projects allows, through its control, to detect possible problems early for its subsequent solution, to make a diagnosis of the current situation and a description of the situation to be reached after closing. A project lets you know what work should be done, such as when, who should participate, what should be controlled to ensure the scope of objectives.

Concluded, the project will be an antecedent for future work, it is at this closing stage where documents with the final results such as files, directories, evaluations, lessons learned are attempted. Taking into account that sustainability is a process, it is not only achieved by concluding a project but is built on continuous work.

It must be ensured that all the actors involved, whether from the public or private sector, organizations or individuals that will be affected or benefited by the development of the project, are involved in this process.

On the other hand, tourism, especially in Latin American and Caribbean countries, uses international cooperation (aid modality that consists in granting resources in order to support economic and social development), whether technical or financial. These resources are mostly channeled through projects, which are more likely to be accepted if they are part of a program and these respond to a plan, whether national, regional or municipal.

For these reasons, proceeding through the management of sustainable projects is a path that can ensure the strengthening of tourism, better environmental conditions and a better quality of life for communities.


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