Ecotourism, Tourism, and Development in Mexico Essay

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Ecotourism, Tourism, and Development in Mexico

“The issue of growth in the travel industry - how much, how fast, what kind - is crucial to the future of communities, local lifestyles and cultures, and the natural environment. There are a variety of instabilities and inequities associated with the expansion of tourism. If the social costs of infinite growth (human consequences of ecological pollution, centralized concentration of power, inequitable income distribution) are as high as they appear to be, our current social systems cannot support such growth indefinitely. Tourism remains a passive luxury for thousands of travelers. This must change” (Rethinking Tourism and Ecotravel by Deborah McLaren, 1998, p. 6).

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While these activities are most intimately tied to the environment, it is important to recognize that any tourist activity necessarily impacts the environment, and any development that supports tourism and travel has environmental consequences. We found that the ocean, reef, fish, beach, mangroves, jungle, ancient and contemporary Mayan culture, and drinking water are all being drastically effected. We will examine the problems and what can be done to increase environmentally ethical (eco)tourism, which could be considered tourism that focuses on experiencing and learning about the nonhuman and human aspects of a place while critically examining the effects of one’s individual actions and the combined effects of one’s role as part of a group.

Our study area stretched from Cancun (the northeast tip of the Yucatan Peninsula) southward along the Carribean coast as far south as Akumal (although development has went far beyond there. Cancun is a city of 455,000 or more people and is the second largest (behind Merida) on the Peninsula. Most of the development and jobs in Cancun (and the rest of the coast) is in direct support of tourism, from the airport to the restaurants, from the hotels to the street vendors. The town of Puerto Morelos, where we spent most of our time, is twenty minutes south of Cancun and has turned into a quiet
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