Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version

Spring 5-2011


Globally we are witnessing growing environmental destruction, particularly to the natural resource bases of underdeveloped countries. If ecotourism can generate profits for local economies, while protecting and conserving the natural resource base of that community, it could be a strong alternative for numerous countries. Evidence suggests that the ecotourism industry has been expanding at a rapid rate in recent decades (Dasenbrock 2002). It is important to understand the positive and negative ecological impacts of the industry as this rapid growth rate continues.

The main objective of this study is to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the ecotourism industry in Costa Rica with regard to environmental impacts. Costa Rica has been selected as a focus country to examine these impacts due to its strong reputation as an ecotourism destination and because it’s economy has been increasingly fuelled by ecotourism (see appendix D). Using in-depth interviews conducted with four Costa Ricans, the strengths and weaknesses of ecotourism in Costa Rica as it relates to the environment are revealed.

This research proves to be significant because Costa Rica is a top ecotourism destination in the Western hemisphere, and therefore provides us with a working framework of what ecotourism principles are most valuable in ensuring sustainability. This new knowledge will allow for an understanding of ecological impacts and factors that minimize these impacts. To limit negative impacts, there must be sustainable management of ecotourism sites.