Ecotourism

This essay has a total of 3200 words and 17 pages.

Ecotourism

Introduction
Ecotourism in the world has been quite big over the years, but has grown in population in
the more recent years. There are many different definitions to what ecotourism really is
and even if it should be hyphenated because of the history behind it. With or without the
use of the hyphen in the word ecotourism, has often resulted in use of the term being
little more than a marketing tactic to give businesses and apparent green edge on the
competition (Ross, 1999). Ecotourism has been defined in several ways. First, ecotourism,
according to The Ecotourism Society, is a purposeful travel to natural areas to understand
the culture and the natural history of the environment; taking care not to alter the
integrity of the ecosystem; producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of
the natural resources beneficial to the local people (Ross, 1999). A second definition by
The World Conservation Union's Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas, defines
ecotourism as an environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively
undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature that promotes
conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic
involvement of local populations (Ross, 1999).

Many of the definitions of the word have the same basic meaning. When compared to mass
tourism, ecotourism not only stresses the appropriate use of all resources, but also
emphasizes community development to meet the economic, social, and cultural needs of the
community (Khan, pg.988). Mass tourism on the other hand creates initiatives in Third
World countries that are directed towards satisfying the needs of the tourists (Khan,
pg.988). Ecotourism development is most likely to be at a smaller scale, locally owned,
with low import leakage and a higher proportion of profits remaining in the local economy.
Mass tourism has the potential to degrade the environment, ecotourism promotes the
conservation and preservation of the ecosystem, so as not to disrupt the flora and fauna,
wildlife, and habitat (Khan, pg.989-990). Ecotourism is a big problem in several countries
throughout the world. With trying to preserve the natural environment of areas, and the
growing industry of mass tourism and ecotourism, countries, such as South Africa, have
grown to try to adapt to ecotourim travel and mass tourism travel.

Destination
South Africa has become one of today's most popular destinations for ecotourism travel and
travel in general. It has many things to offer to visitors who are looking to tour and
travel nature based areas that are protected by the government. Ecotourists travel all
over South Africa for all different reasons. Some go to South Africa to hunt big game,
some travel they're just for the experience.

Geographic Location
South Africa is on the southern most tip of the continent, with the Indian Ocean on its
eastern and southern coasts and the South Atlantic Ocean on its western coast (World Book,
pg. 608). It is made up of four provinces, which include Natal, Orange Free State, Cape
Province, and Transvaal. South Africa is relatively undeveloped, but growing (Loon, 2001).
It is also the richest and most highly developed country in Africa (World Book, 608).

Population
The population in South Africa includes blacks, whites, colored, and Asians. These four
categories are what each individual living in South Africa has to fit into. The estimated
population in South Africa was 34,944,000 in the year 1988 (World Book, 608). In a more
recent survey, the population for South Africa has now bumped up to 43,647,658 in the year
2002 (www.Encarta.msn). You can plainly see the population growth in just twelve years.
That is thirty-six persons per square kilometer (www.Encarta.msn). The blacks, or
Africans, make up about seventy three percent of the population in South Africa and are
further divided into subgroups according to their traditional ethnic divisions (World
Book, 608). The whites make up about fifteen percent and are split up into two subgroups
which are Afrikaners, and Afrikaans, who are either Dutch, German, British, and French
descent who all speak English (World Book, 608). The colored people make up about nine
percent and are mixed of black, white, and Southeast Asian descent. Last, are the Asian's
who make up about three percent of South Africa's population (World Book, 608).

Language
South Africa has two main languages, Afrikaans and English. The Afrikaans language was
developed by the Dutch, but includes other words from European languages and from Asian
and African languages.(www.library.think quest.org) About ninety percent of the colored
people in South Africa speak Afrikaans, and the rest speak English (World Book, 613). In
the 1994 constitution, the government added another nine languages to the South African
vocabulary. They include: Zulu, Xhosa, Sesotho sa Leboa, Tswana, Sesotho, Tsonga, Venda,
Ndebele, and si Siwati (www.Encarta.msn). This includes ninety eight percent of the South
Africans speaking all of these eleven languages.


Religion
There are a couple of different religions in South Africa that the people there practice.
The number one religion is Christian. Ninety-two percent of the South African population
makes up the Christians, while two percent make up Hindus and another two percent make up
the Muslims (www.Encarta.msn). The Hindus are of mainly Indian descent, and the Muslims
are of Indian and colored descent. Out of all the Christian churches, four thousand out of
those African independent churches claim eight and a half million adherents
(www.Encarta.msn).

Recreation
Recreation is a major role in most South Africans lives. Sports play a major role in
schools in South Africa. Rugby is the number one sport played by Afrikaners
(www.Encarta.msn). South Africa even hosted and won the 1995 rugby world championships.
Another popular sport in South Africa is cricket. Mainly the English speakers play this.
Some other popular sports are swimming, water sports, tennis and golf, especially in the
white communities (www.Encarta.msn).

Government
The government in South Africa is a parliament. It became a republic in 1961 and the
constitution the office of president as head of state (www.Encarta.msn). In 1984 however,
a new constitution was made and included a trilateral parliament of white, colored, and
Asian houses, but excluded the black majority all together (www.Encarta.msn). The
parliament consists of two houses, the National Assembly and the National Council of
Provinces (www.Encarta.msn).


Economy
South Africa's economy has many things to offer. It is a middle-income, developing country
with an abundant supply of resources, well-developed financial, legal, communications,
energy, and transport sectors, a stock exchange that ranks among the ten largest in the
world and a modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major
urban centers throughout the region (www.photius.com). The thirty- percent unemployment
and daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era, especially the problems of
poverty and lack of economic empowerment amount the disadvantaged groups
(www.photius.com). The labor force in South Africa is fifteen million who are economically
active, and by occupation are services-thirty five percent, agriculture-thirty percent,
industry-twenty percent, mining-nine percent, and other-six percent (www.photius.com).
These are just some of the examples of the economy in South Africa. Some important
economic sectors in South Africa are new investment in labor-intensive projects, expansion
of basic infrastructure services, subsidies to promote economic efficiency, and
integration into the global economy (www.photius.com).

Ecotourism/Tourism Industry
Tourism has been a big part of South Africa for some time. Just in the year 2000 alone,
African tourists got up to 2.6 billion (Loon, 2001). In tourism alone, 4.7 percent of the
gross domestic product (1995) is what the South African tourism industry contributes
(www.library.think quest.org). The industry employs about five hundred and fifty thousand
people, meaning that one in twenty five jobs are linked to tourism in South Africa
(www.library.think quest.org). The overall compound growth rate of the tourism industry
has been over seventeen percent, which is exceptional even at an international level
(Loon, 2001). The activities that fall under ecotourism are nature photography, bird
watching, botanical studies, snorkeling, hiking, mountain climbing, and hunting. Most of
the people who travel to South Africa to participate in one of these activities are
ecotourists and mass tourists. Game and nature reserves remain the most popular category
of destinations for international tourists coming to South Africa (www.tourism.org).
Hunting big game is a very big recreation sport for tourists visiting South Africa. They
allow hunting on private game land and selective trophy hunting in a few game reserves.
Professional hunters, which must accompany tourist hunters, negotiate a fee for the
desired animal directly with the owner or manager of the land on which the animal is found
(Baker, 1997). For example, the Mpakeni people near the southwest corner of Kruger
National Park sell the right to hunt buffalo for R20000 each and use the revenue for
community projects such as schools (Cadogan, 1995). South Africa is the ideal place to see
animals in their natural environment and to see Africa's Big Five, which include large
game animals (www.library.think quest.org).

Tourism Infrastructure/Visitors/Volume
Most of the travel coming to South Africa is international travelers from around the
world. There are many flights from many European capitals to Johannesburg. Malaysia and
Qantas Airways provide flights from Asia and Australia (www.new Africa.com). South Africa
Airways, etc cover the regional routes. Information about hotels, resorts, transportation
and airlines is readily available on Internet. Types of visitors include middle class and
affluent that come to hunt or view the animals or scenery for holidays, business, or work.
These tourists come from Africa, Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia. In
1999 the greatest number of ecotourism arrivals were 4,367 from Africa, 1,027 from Europe,
245 from North America and 185 from Asia.(4)

Tourism Attractions
There are several major tourist attractions in South Africa. They include some natural,
some historic, and some cultural. Kruger National Park is one of the biggest attractions
that South Africa has. It is actually the fifth most important tourist attraction in South
Africa (www.tourism.org). This park is internationally know for the wildlife management,
it offers a variety of amphibians, reptiles, birds and one hundred forty seven mammal
species including the Big Five (www.ecoafrica.com). The Kruger National Park offers a park
safari that includes a five-day, four night mobile, camping safari where tourists can see
big game and interesting sites. Another major tourist attraction is the marine and coastal
National Parks. One is the Tsitsikamma, which is a narrow coastal plain bounded by cliffs
with quiet tidal pools, deep gorges, and evergreen forests. The West Coast is in the
Langebaan lagoon and is a watersport paradise, and also home to 256 bird species
(www.ecoafrica.com).

The wilderness of South Africa is in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains. This region
includes lakes, rivers, lagoons, forests, beaches, and the sea (www.ecoafrica.com).
Another is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is made up of rust red sand dunes,
thousands of antelope, birds of prey, desert lions, and shy leopards (www.ecoafrica.com).
The Karoo National Park is the largest natural ecosystem in South Africa and fossils that
date back 310 million years ago (www.ecoafrica.com).


Impact of Ecotourism
In the western societies of Canada, the United States and Australia, travels to experience
nature are well known. During the late 1800's Parks were opened at Yellowstone, Banff and
Niagara Falls. Africa started opening parks in 1925 called game reserves to set aside
natural areas for protection and recreation.(1) With a higher demand for nature-based
tourism along with the media presenting quality nature programs, people looked to travel
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