Site Specific Approaches For Managing The Impacts Of Ecotourism In Belize, Central America
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Demand for ecotourism opportunities has increased dramatically world-wide in recent years. Heightened visitor interest has strained the capacity of ecologically, historically, and archaeologically sensitive sites. In third world countries such as Belize, sensitive sites have suffered from erosion and resource degradation, while local managers, governments and NGO’s do not have the monetary or institutional capacity to anticipate, manage and mitigate the unintentional impacts imposed by ecotourists. As such, a framework must be established to identify sites that can sustain their integrity through visitation by ecotourists and locations that should remain closed to visitation by the general public and only used for managed scientific study. Keywords: visitor impacts, ecotourism, impact assessment, sustainable site design, Belize. 1 Introduction The past decade has seen the demand for ecotourism opportunities increase dramatically world-wide. Theoretically, ecotourism is a win-win staple for a developing Central American third-world country such as Belize. Tourists who come from primarily from first-world countries spend money in underdeveloped areas of third world countries, augmenting local economies while receiving varying degrees of goods and services along with a sense of experiential and cultural enrichment. Because this sector of the tourism economy is focused on so-called low-impact locally-run operations, in theory revenue from visitors
visitor impacts, ecotourism, impact assessment, sustainable site design, Belize.