Examining the Management of
Belize Audubon Society's Protected Areas,
Belize, Central America
Defined by The Ecotourism Society as “responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of the local people,” ecotourism has become the fastest growing niche in the travel industry. Despite criticism from skeptics who question whether ecotourism is more than mass tourism promoted with a “green” label, ecotourism has gained considerable recognition in the past decade as a viable alternative to more destructive forms of development, particularly in developing areas.
Belize is no exception to the worldwide growth in ecotourism development as tourist arrivals have more than doubled in the last 7 years, and a majority of those (65%) participated in some form of nature-based activities, such as bird watching or hiking, while in Belize. In fact, each of the ten most-visited sites in 1998 were protected areas sheltering natural and cultural resources.
While ecotourism does provide income for protected-area management and incentives to protect additional protected areas, there are significant economic, social and ecological costs associated with ecotourism that must be evaluated when planning for ecotourism as a piece of protected-area management. This project will evaluate key issues associated with ecotourism in BAS protected areas, such as coordination with local communities and partnerships with other nonprofits, and offer recommendations for future management.
Visitor Infrastructure in and near BAS Protected Areas
Viewing platform in Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
Thatched Cabins near Blue Hole National Park