Marine ecotourism is a major growth area within ecotourism, itself a rapidly expanding area within tourism as a whole. The activity has been attracting increasing attention, both from the popular media and from professionals and academics with an interest in tourism's potential to contribute to sustainable development. However, there is a growing consensus that far too often the term has been used merely as a tool for capitalising on the good intentions of tourists, without the industry itself having to make fundamental changes to their products or to the way they go about their operations. This has often been to the detriment of local environments, economies and host communities. Yet the ideal of ecotourism, as it is properly understood, is to present local communities with a sustainable development alternative – one that works to the benefit of local ecosystems, local economies and local people. The purpose of the first section of this book is therefore to introduce the concept of marine ecotourism and to draw out some of the key issues involved in ensuring that marine ecotourism is developed in a genuinely sustainable manner. The second section then discusses some practical experiences of planning and managing marine ecotourism from around the world, identifying common problems and discussing what might constitute good practice in addressing those problems.
Brian Garrod is Associate Head of the School of Economics at the University of the West of England, Bristol. He lectures in tourism economics, and researches on the interface between ecological economics and sustainable tourism. His work is published in a range of journals and he is co-editor of Managing Visitor Attractions: New Directions (2002). He has twice been consultant to the World Tourism Organization on the subject of sustainable tourism.Julie C. Wilson is Research Associate in Tourism, also at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Her teaching and research interests include tourism and imagery, tourist behaviour, backpacker travel and ecotourism. She is presently working on projects funded by the Royal Geographical Society, the British Council/NWO Netherlands, and the Royal Society (UK).