The Ecotourism Game
Ecotourism is an increasingly
popular form of tourism in which tourists seek out wild and scenic areas
such as rainforests or mountains for an active and educational trip. The
tourists are usually from the North America, Europe or Australia/New Zealand;
their destination is often in the developing world.
Ecotourism has also become popular among people interested
in both environmental conservation and sustainable development. It has
been called a way to save the rainforest and a "win-win development
strategy for undeveloped rural areas."
In many situations, however, ecotourism fails to deliver
on its promise. Many researchers have studied ecotourism's failures as
well as its successes. In this game, you can try your hand at developing
an ecotourism project in the Amazon. Can you make ecotourism sustainable?
You and your family
are Quichua, an indigenous tribe of the Ecuadorian Amazon. You live in
a community of 100 Quichua on the banks of the Río Pangayacu, near
the Río Napo, an Amazonian tributary. Your community is also called
Pangayacu. There are other Quichua communities in the area, but you must
travel by canoe to reach the nearest town.
parents and grandparents used to survive by hunting, fishing, and growing
a few crops like plantain (right) and manioc (below) . But
times have changed. You now spend most of the day in the fields growing
coffee, maize (corn) and rice to sell at the market. Many years ago your
land was covered with tropical rainforest, but in the past decade your
family cleared 10 of your 15 hectares (25 of 40 acres). You need this
land for crops, but you are also worried about losing the rest of the
from North America and Europe have begun showing up in your community.
They seem nice enough, but no one likes guests arriving uninvited. Some
people say the community should avoid anything to do with tourism. Tourists,
these people say, interfere with daily life and tempt the youth with their
city ways. But your neighbor Agustín and several other members
think that the community should develop an ecotourism project. That way,
tourists would come on organized tours and the money they spend would
benefit the people who live here. It might also bring in enough money
to replace some agricultural income, so no one would have to clear more
|This pile of plants represents how much primary rainforest your community has left. Currently about a third of all community land is forested.
||This pile of coins represents household income. Currently each household earns about $600 a year.
You and the rest of the community have to decide what to
do. Will ecotourism help preserve the rainforest? Will it bring in money
for food and other goods from the market, school supplies, and other necessities?
Or will it interfere with daily life?
What do you think?
Let's try ecotourism
No, let's not get into tourism