Case Studies in Earth & Environmental Science Journalism

Ecotourism: Sustainable solution or eco-fraud?

INTERVIEW:  Jake Kheel, Environmental Director, Punta Cana Ecological Foundation

Questions to Ponder and Discuss

Science Questions

*what does the term ecotourism mean?

*How is it different than nature tourism or adventure tourism?

*What is the difference between sort and hard ecotourism (p 105 of the cornell piece)

*how does the industry regulate ecotourism?  What are the problems?

*How should it be decided if ecotourism is the best choice for a community?  Is it always the best choice?  What are the major sacrafices of choosing this method of protection?

Questions to Ponder and Discuss:

*What sorts of news hooks do journalists use to make ecotourism into a timely story?

*What features do the heavily praised ecotourism operations have in common?

*Do you think any of the articles present a balanced view on this issue?  If so, which ones?

*Many of the articles use case studies to demonstrate their points.  Is this effective?  What problems do you think come with using case studies to argue broad issues?

*We have talked a lot about the value of nature experiences as an important step in getting people to actively care for the environment.   Do the values of ecotourism align with this idea?

*The 1992 World Magazine editorial discusses the difficulties with defining green tourism.  How do various authors shift the definition of ecotourism to fit with their viewpoint?

*Do you think that eco-labeling is the answer?  What problems could these labeling schemes encounter?

*Many of the articles are aimed at specific audiences, namely travelers, environmentalists, or the business world.  How do their approaches differ?  Overall, which group of articles is the most positive, the most critical?

*Which articles do you think are the most successful at educating the consumer?  What approach do these articles take?

*The three articles about Punta Cana tell very different stories about the resort.  Do these articles contradict or compliment each other? 


Background & Science information:

Fennell, D. A.  Ecotourism: an Introduction. London:  Routledge.  pages 31-64.  1999.

Weaver, B.  Ecotourism as mass tourism:  contradiction or reality.  Cornell

Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly.  104-112.  April 2001

Font, X.  Environmental certification in tourism and hospitality:  progress,

process and prospects.  Tourism Management.  23:  197-205.  2001.

Kiss, A.   Is community-based ecotourism a good use of biodiversity conservation

funds?  Trends in Ecology and Evolution.  19:  232-237.  2004.

Popular Articles.

Stancliffe, A.  Whose green tourism?  World Magazine.  August, 1992.

Jones, L.  Can ecotourism save the world?  Buzzworm:  The Environmental Journal.

March/April 1993.

Oliver, S.  Eco-profitable.  Forbes.  June 20, 1994.

Arlen, C.  Ecotour, hold the eco.  U.S. News & World Report.  May 29, 1995.

Zeiger, J. B. and McDonald.  Ecotourism:  wave of the future.  Parks and Recreation.

September, 1997.

Roberts, M.  Handle with care.  The Economist.  January 10, 1998.

Tanner, J.  Where ecotourism may save a jungle.  Business Week.  November 16, 1998.

Blangy, S.  Ecotourism without  tears.  The Unesco Courier.  July/August, 1998.

Hayden, T.  Safaris and sensitivity.  Newsweek.  June 5, 2000.

Mecir, A.  Into Thailand’s lost world.  International Wildlife.  November/December


Pleumarom, A.  Promise and pitfalls:  more harm than good?  St Louis Post-Dispatch.

July 17, 2001.

Vivanco, L.  Escaping from reality.  The Ecologist.  March 2002.

“Ecotourism” shouldn’t lead to exploitation, pope says.  National Catholic Reporter.

July 5, 2002.

Moss, D.  Travel, lite.  E:  The Environmental Magazine.  July/August 2002.

Pleumarom, A.  Destruction in disguise.  Alternatives Journal. Fall 2002.

Honey, M.  Protecting Eden:  setting the standards for the tourism industry.

Environment.  July/August 2003

Alipo, Amy.  Travel Watch:  doing it right:  Casuarina Beach Club, Barbados.  National

Geographic Traveler.  September 2004.

Cahill, T.  Call of the wild.  National Geographic Traveler.  October, 2004.

Fell, N.  Tourists help, harm Peru’s Machu Picchu; “lost city of the Incas” could end up

on the United Nations list of endangered sites next month.  Christian Science

Monitor.  May 11, 2005

Harder, B.  Valuing nature.  Science News.  December 3, 2005.

Higgens, M.  If it worked for Costa Rica. . . The New York Times.  January 22, 2006.


Punta Cana

Puntacana Resort and Club <> Accessed April 2, 2006.

Puntacana Ecological Foundation <>  Accessed April 2, 2006.

Norvell, S.  From the scrub comes a behemoth.  The New York Times.  January 7, 2001.

Miller, G. O.  Green beyond the golf course.  St. Petersburg Times.  February 3, 2003.

Gonzalez, D.  A different standard of living.  The New York Times.  August 29, 2003.

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