Romancing the Wild: Cultural Dimensions of Ecotourism

Duke Univ. Mar. 2014. 264p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780822355830. $89.95; pap. ISBN 9780822356004. $24.95. TRAV
A frequent ecotourist, anthropologist Fletcher seems qualified to write on this subject, briefly defined as "tourism selling an encounter with a 'natural' landscape." Ecotourism has become the fastest growing segment of the travel industry. It tends to be physically demanding and is dominated by white, middle-aged, middle-class, liberal-leaning men. Although the main topic in this substantially researched title is why people engage in ecotourism, the practical implications of this study are important. Because ecotourism brings funds to environmentally sensitive regions and raises awareness of local issues, environmentalists have promoted it as a beneficial and fun way of saving the world. While this is true in some cases, the author finds that's not always the case. Adventure-seekers, while proud of "roughing it," still expect certain amenities and generally are seeking thrills, not planning to help local regions. Only certain types of locales attract these visitors: river rapids, sheer cliffs, steep mountains, deep caves. A tranquil forest with rare wildlife or plants is less likely to get much attention, and the visitors who do come demand lodging that requires transformation of the environment. The book has serious implications for those who would promote ecotourism as a primary means of saving endangered landscapes, saying it may not be the panacea we had hoped.
VERDICT Recommended for academic libraries.
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