Study on the Benefits of Ecotourism as an Alternative form of Tourism


Chandradeep Singh

Freelancer Researcher, Gwalior, India.

*Corresponding Author Email:



Ecotourism is defined as the movement of tourist to the natural and undisturbed areas. It is emerged as the form of alternative tourism for the minimization of the adverse impacts of mass tourism. Eco-tourism is also referred as Community-based Tourism as the betterment of the community is one of the major principles of ecotourism. It has the appearance of being environmentally and socio-culturally sustainable, rather in a way that enhances the natural and cultural resource base of the destination and promotes the feasibility of the operation. The most obvious characteristic of ecotourism is that it is nature based. Ecotourism has started with an experimental idea that many expected to contribute for the conservation of natural resources worldwide. In this research the researcher has tried to find out the impacts of ecotourism on the life of host community. This research evaluate the benefits of the ecotourism as an alternative form of tourism and its effects on the life of people life of the people living in and around the natural area where the eco-tourist visit more frequently. This research focuses on Manali as the research area as it is the most important tourism site in India, famous for its natural beauty. This research focuses on the how the people got empowered socially and economically by adopting ecotourism practices.


KEYWORDS: Eco-tourism, Alternative tourism, Community-Based Tourism, Nature Based Tourism, Manali.




Having its origin deep rooted in the history, tourism is being developed as a most important industry and the contributor to the GDP to the country’s economy said by Francesco Frangialli, Secretary-General World Tourism Organization (WTO). Tourism is a social science that deals considered as the movement of the people; this movement must be outside their usual place of work and must have a purpose (UNWTO, 2014) the global growth in tourism lead to increasing number of tourists. The global phenomena have a negative impact on the area and the community, which is considered as “Mass Tourism”. To minimize the negative impacts of ‘mass tourism’, to divert the attention of the tourists to some other segments.


These different segments is considered are now becoming popular and these different segments are collectively called as ‘alternative tourism’. Dernoi (1981) relate the term alternative tourism accommodation style as the accommodation received by tourist in alternative tourism is directly at the home of the host, where the host will arrange the services for the tourist. Smith and Eadington (1992) stated that the emergence of alternative tourism results with the huge criticism and negative impacts of mass tourism on the destination and the host communities. Alternative tourism consist of small-scale tourism, wild-life tourism, nature tourism and integrated tourism. Alternative tourism has showed fewer negative impacts on destination, environment and population as of mass tourism.


Ecotourism is also considered as a form of alternative tourism as Ecotourism is considered as traveling to the natural area. It involves the movement of the tourist to the fragile, untouched and relatively undisturbed natural areas. According to the fifth meeting of the conference of parties of the convention of Biological Diversities, Ecotourism has a special purpose of educating the travellers about the worth of the healthy environment and biological diversity. The first formal definition of ecotourism is generally credited to Ceballos-Lascuráin (1987), who defined it as: ‘travelling to an undisturbed or uncontaminated natural area with the purpose of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestations found in these areas’. Although any number of principles of ecotourism can be devised, an analysis of definitions such as these indicates that three dimensions can represent the main essence of the concept. In this research the researcher will try to find the benefits of Ecotourism as an alternative form of tourism and its impact on the livelihood of the host society.



According to UNWTO Tourism is considered as a social science that deals with the movement of the people; this movement must be outside their usual place of work and must have a purpose. Goeldner and Ritchie (2002) Tourism can be defined as the processes, activities, and outcomes arising from the relationships and the interactions among tourists, tourism suppliers, host governments, host communities, and surrounding environments that are involved in the attracting and hosting of visitors. Moreover Ryan (1991) stated tourism as a study of the demand for and supply of accommodation and supportive services for those staying away from home, and the resultant patterns of expenditure, income creation, and employment. Tourism is a global activity providing service to the locals of any destination and creating the motivation for large number of tourist traveling to the destination which is generally referred as ‘Mass’ tourism. Mass tourism is considered with the movement of large number of people to particular destination. However, in the last few decades a number of types of tourism have increased as a different segment to mass tourism, which collectively are referred to as ‘alternative’ tourism. Britton (1980) stated kind of alternative approach of suitable for tourism, which holds strategies considered desirable to mass tourism, have been catered to ecotourism for over two decades.


Alternative tourism consist of small-scale tourism, wild-life tourism, nature tourism and integrated tourism. Alternative tourism has showed fewer negative impacts on destination, environment and population as of mass tourism. According to Holden (1984), alternative tourism is a form of tourism which promotes the travelling to the members of different communities which helps in achieving the mutual understanding, harmony and equality amongst them. He mainly stated the evolution of the interrelation of guests and hosts, through the setting of well-organized special interest tours, rather on actual development of facilities. Thus, alternative tourism is termed as forms of tourism that are consistent with natural, social, and community values and which allow both tourist and the host to have the encouraging and worthwhile interaction and experiences‟ (Smith and Eadington, 1992). Fragaki (2003) divide the alternative tourism into five major categories : i) Conference and Exhibition tourism, organizing conferences and international exhibitions in areas that also offer other facilities, ii) Sports tourism, in the sense that tourism can be combined with sport events, training or individual sports, iii) tourism for Religious reasons, including churches, monasteries, religious festivals etc., iv) Culture tourism that is associated with visits to monuments or cultural events, v) Ecotourism, tourism that combines local economic development, protection of the quality of the environment and promotion of the natural advantages and the history of an area.


Despite of a very unclear origin of ecotourism, it has been appeared in the works of many researchers. For the first time ecotourism appear in the work of Hetzer (1965), where he identified the basic four principles of ecotourism: minimization of negative environmental impacts, empowering the host cultures, maximizing the benefits to local people, and increasing tourist satisfaction. Later other references of ecotourism was found in the work of Miller (1978) work on national park planning for eco-development in Latin America, and documentation produced by Environment Canada in relation to a set of road-based ‘ecotours’ they developed from the mid-1970s through to the early 1980s. Smith and Eadington (1992) stated that the emergence of alternative tourism results with the huge criticism and negative impacts of mass tourism on the destination and the host communities.


Ross and Wall (1999) also have identified five fundamental functions of ecotourism; namely: (i) protection of natural areas; (ii) education; (iii) generation of money; (iv) quality tourism; and (v) local participation; the last three fall under the heading ‘sustainably managed’. Buckley (1994), also stated that ecotourism happens along with the four main functions, including a nature base, support for conservation, sustainable management and environmental education. These may be perceived as the root characteristics of the concept. Weaver (2002) writes that Ecotourism is a form of tourism that raises the learning experiences and obligation of the natural environment, or some component thereof, within its associated cultural context. It has the appearance of being environmentally and socio-culturally sustainable, rather in a way that enhances the natural and cultural resource base of the destination and promotes the feasibility of the operation. The most obvious characteristic of ecotourism is that it is nature based. According to Anandaraj (2015) the eco-tourist must take care for the place visited as much as he or she takes care for his or her home as ‘eco’ in ecotourism is derived from the Greek word ‘oikos’ meaning ‘house’. Healy (1994) further added that the eco-tourism not only benefit in terms of conservation of natural resources but it has been doing great in proving various opportunities in the field of handicrafts and handloom. Though the possibly income have been generating through eco-tourism and merchandizing the other tourism attributes, the eco-tourism have benefited in many other ways as well. Moreover Stem et. al (2003) has added that the ecotourism have benefited in a bigger strategy and it can be worked for the larger area for the conservation and it provide many opportunity but in costa Rica the eco-tourism have indicated a effectiveness as a conservation strategy but it somehow influenced to abandon their land and convert it into forest. Though the benefits from the tourism have provided employment and educational level too and conservational perspective as well. Kiper (2013) further elaborated that eco- tourism helps in community development by providing the different sources, of opportunity which are more sustainable. The main reason is to provide the service for the conservation resources which is very important for the sustainable use and maintaining biologicals diversity, which help to understand the perspective of travellers towards the ecological environment and at the same time it help in providing the facilities for the local community. Wood (2002) stated the general principles of ecotourism which are: minimization of the negative impacts, importance of environment conservation, importance of responsible business, revenue generation for the conservation and management of natural and protected areas, maximize economic benefit for the host country, tourism development does not exceed the social and environmental limits, harmony between infrastructure development and the environment.



Research refers to a search for knowledge and it is the scientific and systematic search for pertinent information on the specific area or a topic. Sometimes research is considered as art of investigation with careful determination with the use of proper parlance to search for the new facts and information of any branch. Research is contribution to existing knowledge by making it more advance with the proper analysis observation, comparison and experiment to help out the study and to pursuit the facts. This research employs a qualitative research method. A qualitative research approach can be used to develop the understanding required for evaluating if a variable is relevant or not to a given problem situation. Compared to the perspective on quantitative research as counting, qualitative research can be seen as proposing which variables to count. In this current study, the research methodological perspective flow has been familiarized through the research approaches, research design, sampling, data collection technique, and data analyses procedure in following sections. In the philosophy of qualitative approach for analyzing qualitative data, there are five different approaches, namely; quasi-statistical, content analysis, thematic coding or analyses, analytical induction and grounded theory approach. Each of these approaches have its own process to analyze and treating the qualitative data, while further making it ready for coding process and categorize it. These methods are reviewed here to determine which approach is rightful for this current research study.


Research design is the projection of a framework for research process and analyses of the data guided by the research questions (Bryman & Bell, 2007). The research design defines the research type and sub-type creating the way how researchers gain knowledge and the pathway for the research process to be conducted and constructed (Sikes, 2005). Mouton (1996, p. 175) the research design serves to "plan, structure and execute" the research to maximise the "validity of the findings". The qualitative research approach has been used for the analysis of the data and where the exploratory methodology used for the study due to the nature of the study. Exploratory research provides insights into and comprehension of an issue or situation. Exploratory research is a type of research conducted because a problem has not been clearly defined. Exploratory research helps to determine the best research design, data collection method and selection of subjects. For effective and flawless data collection, survey, interview and ethnography study methods were used. Interviews are an appropriate method to use when exploring practitioners perspectives due to the qualitative nature of the information. In the existing study, the respondents for qualitative data collection are chosen based purposive sampling technique for the in-depth personal interviews, as this was the most suitable sampling technique for the current study to achieve the aim and objectives. Overall, Sixteen (16) respondents agreed to participate for the interview process, twelve (12) were from village and four (4) were from travel agency of Manali, India. This was adequate sample size to ensure accurate saturation (Smith, 1998) to address the research questions.


The interview questions were based on the three research questions, specifically, each interviewee was primarily asked to describe the effects of eco- tourism in the lives of locals. Further, asking the interviewee how eco- tourism is helping out the lives of locals lastly, each of the respondent was questioned on their views. In recognition of their organizations, few probing questions were asked to each respondent to collect more in-depth information for. The interviews were conducted in a place where it was convenient for the interviewee to access and support the interview session process; while the structure of the interview attempted to manage and focus through a briefed scheduled medium. Each interview session took place through face-to-face interview. The duration of the interviews ranged between 25 minutes to 48 minutes depending upon the information and the depth of it.



The interpretation have been made according to the research questions that have been made and final interpretation have been made as per the content analysis. The observation have been made according to the locals and their viewpoint towards and observation method deals with the 5 major sensory organs and their functioning – sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. The participant have been observed in their natural environment and taking the view point of the locals who are the actors of this research and studied their character and understand their interaction to get their real idea about the topic.


Ecotourism have observed as to promote both the quality of life of people and the conservation of resources. It has found that the local people have benefited in many ways to conservation of resources as well as development of tourism. After observed and interacting with the locals of Manali, India the local communities are aware of eco- tourism and using the concept of ecotourism as a means of sustainably utilizing physical resources and can provide employment opportunities. The local people have been observing the rise in the eco-tourism in Manali, and they have deliver the information regarding the development of tourism and the benefits of tourism in the premises and further the locals have added the compliment tourist activities such as a rural tourism, home stay and participation of tourists in the local regular activity highly successful. They aim to ensure that local is to trained people, and spread awareness of regarding the conservation, so that ecotourism can be both socially and economically sustainable, reviving respect for traditions and enhancing local livelihoods by providing an income for many previously unemployed people. While ecotourism pomposity proposes that there is much support for community-based ecotourism it operators and involved local communities primarily in terms of their public relations value. But at the same time it has also been observed that there was little commitment to supporting the rights of indigenous peoples to benefit from their traditional lands and wildlife.


A beneficial way to separate responsible community-based ecotourism is to approach it from a development perspective, which considers social, environmental and economic goals, and questions how ecotourism can ‘. . . meet the needs of the host population in terms of improved living standards both in the short and long term. This perspective differs somewhat from hose approaching ecotourism predominantly from an environmental perspective. Devised a framework which proposes that ecotourism is based on nature tourism which is sustainably managed, includes environmental education and supports conservation (Buckley, 1994). While they consider the extent to which ecotourism generates economic benefits for local communities, they do not account for how the greater amount of money entering communities might be distributed, or how communities are being affected socially and culturally by the ecotourism ventures. Even where ecotourism results in economic benefits for a local community and at the same time it may result in damage to social and cultural systems thus undermining people’s overall quality of life. This approaches of ecotourism therefore need to acknowledge the importance on environmental. Undoubted that the tourism have provided with many benefits to the local but at the same time it somehow deteriorated the resources that is made available to the tourists, so their motive behind the local is to develop tourism simultaneously it should be conserved at the same time.



This study will provide the insight of the Eco- tourism what are the requirement that is needed in the future and for further enhancement in the eco- tourism and the opportunity toward the development of eco- Tourism. As preceding research have exposed, what are the benefits of ecotourism over mass tourism and how they have been doing in terms of development of tourism at the same time conservation of natural resources and educating the tourists towards the culture and wild life of local. The 16 local have been interviewed and observed that the local are aware of the concept and they do follow but due to increasing number of tourists every year they felt that they are not making efforts towards the conservation. So they have started to involve the tourists as well in the activities so that they should develop the sense of belonging towards the nature and enjoy the beauty of the mother-nature.



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Received on 17.10.2020         Modified on 21.11.2020

Accepted on 19.12.2020      ©AandV Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2021; 12(1):27-31.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2021.00005.X