ARC4000 Specialized Design Studio_Semester01,2012

ECOTOURISM AND ECO-RESORT: A QUESTION OF PROMISE AND PERILS
YEAP LI SA 165539 BACHELOR OF ARCHITECTURE, FACULTY OF DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE, UNIVERSITY PUTRA MALAYSIA.

Introduction Ever since the term ecotourism was coined in July 1983 by Hector Ceballos-Lascurain1, a Mexican architect and environmentalist, there has been no clearly defined regulation or rating index that preserves ecotourism in its intended purposes. With it being a delinquent account and surrounding controversies arising from plethora of definitions, it is not strange that eco-resorts and destinations are often laced with “greenwashing” practices. This is a well abrading issue to the environment as well as the effects of ecotourism has garnered more disdainful criticisms outweighing the good. Definition Ecotourism as defined by the ICUN (World Conservation Unit) International Ecotourism Consultancy Programme, is “environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations” (Ceballos-Lascurain, 1993a).2 Discussion The arising problem questions not how do we design a well-planned ecotourism policy or eco-resort but where do we draw the line balancing it all. It is a very typical scenario that an eco-resort proposal often started earnestly and progressed to a well-received ecotourism destination but dies off or eventually abandoned due to lack of visitors. One of the main reasons for being so is a poorly maintained destination stripped of its pristine beauty and sensorial stimulant to its visitors that directly causes the operation lifecycle sustainment a failure. Ecotourism does not rely solely on providing what is best for the ecotourists and creating ecological awareness while preserving the nature and assisting the local community in socio-economics betterment but a precarious juggle of all mentioned aspects. In setting up an ecotourism destination, the inevitable criterions include an environmental impact assessment (EIA), socio-economic impact assessment, financial benefits for conservation, localization of benefits, respect of local culture and informed consent by local communities and participation by them. These considerations are then taken into design proposal and execution of its programming that creates the least impact to the environment, working within its definite carrying capacity and limits of acceptable change. Material and construction method selection are also a crucial point to ponder as

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Hector Ceballos-Lascurain, Planeta, Retrieved 2012-02-21 National Ecotourism Plan, Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, Retrieved 2012-02-21

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walk and talk. The execution of construction must be also of low carbon footprint that uses least damage and removal of the site’s ecological existing dynamic balance by ensuring proper access to the site and educating the workers well of the need to be ecologically sensitive. it is imperative to ensure the result of multiplier effect does not cause leakage of tourism expenditure that soon would be taken over by commercial imperialism. Local community should be given education to ensure that they are not oppressed by the business around and should be given socio-economic equity in terms of health. Human and ethics does not start and ends at the hands of proprietor and regulating bodies but also efforts involving the local indigenous community and ecotourists. There should and must be guidelines that gives consensus to deserving eco-resorts in their efforts of carrying true ecotourism. Ecotourists often do not realize the impact of their presence and visit to ecologically-sensitive sites. the nonexistence of guidelines and poor implementation consents for failure of responsible ecotourism. Conclusion Ecotourism whether or not as to promote awareness and conservation of the nature while benefiting the local community still remains a debatable issue. . Soon new eco destinations will be discovered and once again exploited by corporations. Nonetheless such issues are always far more complicated than what it seems to be on the paper where political. Another main scope that affects the integrity of eco-resorts is the involvement of human and ethics. The downturn of allowing the eco-resort to grow beyond its capacity of scale will in turn affect its manageability and soon its wellbeing of its original purposes. The construction technologies should also reflect and respect the local culture and tradition for local culture preservation is one of the key aspects in ecotourism that balances its operation lifecycle. As discussed earlier. As the eco-resort benefits the socio-economics of the local communities and those of surrounding. education and economic opportunities.2012 how the outcome would impact the site and its surroundings both in short and long term. eat. They fail to understand that being ecologically aware extends beyond providing benefits of conserving the nature but also in the way they shower. However. taking over plot by plot through marketing ploy. This is continuously a questionable aspect whereby the ecotourism skeptics labeled it as where everything went vague and misty. Often so these destinations which are once home to endangered wildlife are now abandoned by multinational corporations when its diminishing beauty is ravished by greed and conceited motives.ARC4000 Specialized Design Studio_Semester01. clearly there should be a dynamic interplay of the discussed issues to ensure that ecotourism stays true to itself. Passive technology should first be prioritized in integrating into the eco-resort design with employment of active technologies that are minimally invasive to the environment. economic and commercial agendas come into play.

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