Emergence of Ecotourism Ecotourism has emerged as an important sector towards ensuring sustainable and ethical tourism and it shares many characteristics associated with adventure tourism. It takes place in unspoiled natural areas and thus it is a form of tourism that seeks to conserve the environment, educate the tourists and improve the lives of the neighboring communities. According to Johnstone (2012) ecotourism emerged in the late 1980s in response to a growing interest on environmental conservation matters. It emerged with an aim of playing the role of conserving the environment at a time when species extinctions and habitat destruction was accelerating at an alarming speed and environmentalists were creating awareness about changes in the global climate.
At this time ecotourism was considered as a small –based niche product in which it was a specialized form of adventure tourism or nature based. In the early 1990s the niche concept was changed and this made ecotourism to be regarded as a form of mass tourism. The emergence of ecotourism was mostly motivated by the need of tourists to discover new animals and new plants species and at the same time to discover new environments Smith, MacLeod and Robertson (2008) note that ecotourism is the fastest growing segment in the tourism industry and it grows at a rate which is three times as compared to the other sectors in the industry.
Ecotourism has gained favor because of the fact that it conserves the environment and also facilitates the channeling of economic benefits to the local community. Moreover, it has gained favor because of its ideal characteristic of promoting sustainable tourism development in the face of escalating threats to biodiversity.
Furthermore, the increased concern for the global environment conservation has made ecotourism to gain worldwide favor. Therefore, ecotourism acts as a form of sustainable and it promotes environmental conservation and economic sustainability hence this has made ecotourism to gain global favour. Current approaches to ecotourismAccording to weaver (2007) minimalist approach and comprehensive approach represent the current approaches to ecotourism. Minimalist approach to ecotourism occurs when the focus is on charismatic approach towards ensuring sustainability. Minimalist approach fosters a superficial or basic approach in understanding of specified charismatic mega flora and mega fauna.
The approach does not aim to transform the behaviors or values held but it focuses on transforming the participant’s attitudes and behaviors. The objective of minimalist approach is to employ combined environmental, socio -cultural and economic variables that fully involve the community in order to ensure sustainability in ecotourism. The approach asserts that the ability to attain environmental and social cultural sustainability requires the implementation of comprehensive options. However, using the minimalist approach may hinder the achievement of sustainability objectives. Problems can arise from the trend in the basic model to construct hierarchies in the species.
This arises where certain species in the charismatic mega fauna are valued more by the approach that the other species hence this may lead to neglect of some species. Moreover, the process of observing wildlife as advocated by the approach increases the risk of diseases, social disruption and stress on human beings due to increased contact with animals.