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Individual Journal and Reflection Assignment (200 points)
TRVL3020 – Ecotourism
Section I: Daily Journal
Due: Monday, March 11th
You will have a journey of a lifetime during our travels to Costa Rica on the Sustainable Tourism spring break
program. Keeping a journal during the time we are in country will help you to collect your thoughts for each
day. While you can include more in your journal than the questions that are asked below, it is important that
you review the questions for each day, respond, and keep track so that can write your paper upon your return.
A minimum of one full page per day (100 words) in writing (text) and at least one picture will be submitted
as the final paper.
Print and bring a copy of this assignment with you to Costa Rica. Bring a notebook and pen to write down
your observations and to keep track of information for your final paper.
Paper guidelines: The assignment must be typed with 1” margins, double-spaced, 12 points Times New Roman
font and numbered pages. Pictures must be labeled. Cover page is required. Turn in an electronic version
through ulearn. Late assignments will not be accepted.
Day
Day 1
Itinerary / Activity
Arrival in San Jose
Welcome & Orientation
Sun. 2/24
Journal Topics
What is your first impression when you arrive? Include the
people of Costa Rica (dress, body language), infrastructure
(roads, transportation, etc.), climate, and the airport.
How was your travel to the destination? Did everything go
smoothly? Were there any complications?
What are you most looking forward to now that you are here?
How was the orientation that was provided on your first day?
What information was most helpful? What would you have
liked more information about?
Day 2
Mon 2/25
White Water Rafting on the
Sarapiqui River
Describe the overall experience including the White Water
Rafting Company, its Employees, and potential environmental
impact on the Sarapiqui River.
Thinking back to the Ecotourism 101 Handout that you read
and the Ecotourism Levels (1-5). How would you rate this
experience? Are they a perfect 5? If not, what areas can be
improved to obtain the “perfect 5” category?
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Day 3
Tue. 2/26
Eco Farm Tour
Chocolate Tour
Arenal Springs Hotel
Describe the experience of the Eco Farm Tour.
Could the same exact farm-to-table restaurant experience
work in the US? Why or Why not- be specific
What did you learn about the regulations that are in Costa Rica
related to the Eco Farm? Could we do the same in the US?
Describe the Chocolate Tour. What did you learn? How does
this relate to what you are studying?
Day 4
Wed. 2/27
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge
River Tour
Day 5
Thur 2/28
Monteverde
What are the amenities of the Arenal Springs Hotel? What
sustainable practices do they have? What have you learned
about the Hot Springs, how does it relate to what you are
studying?
Describe the overall experience.
Describe the overall experience.
How does the history of Monteverde relate to the US?
Day 6
Fri 3/1
Hanging Bridges
Canopy Adventure
Butterfly Garden
What are some of the potential threats to the local community
and ecosystem?
Describe the overall experience for each of the sites visited.
Did you enjoy the experience to each of these locations?
Do these sites practice “responsible tourism”? Why or why
not? Explain.
Hummingbird Garden
As a reminder, the definition of “Responsible Tourism” was
“Tourism which operates in such a way as to minimize
negative impacts on the environment”.
Day 7
Sat 3/2
Sarchi & the ox-cart factory
Describe the experience.
What is the significance of Ox Carts to Costa Rica?
What are some of traditions that you have learned about
during your time abroad?
How does the visit to the ox-cart factory relate to cultural
tourism? Have you seen / participated in any examples of
cultural tourism during our trip?
Day 8
Sun 3/3
Depart for home
We depart for home with many memories and say a fond
goodbye to Costa Rica.
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Evaluate the tour operator, transportation, overall
infrastructure of Costa Rica and the economy (including own
your own meals and anything they purchase in Costa Rica
compared to prices in the US).
Section II: Reflection
This assignment is designed for you to reflect on your study abroad experience. Please answer the following
questions.
1. Which experience had the most impact on you while studying abroad?(rafting)
2. What was the biggest difference in culture that you experienced while studying abroad?(ecotourism
concept is so emphasized in Costa Rica)
3. What surprised you the most?
4. Has this experience changed you? How?
5. How do you think your international experience will aid you in the future?
6. In your own words, explain why Costa Rica is an ecotourism destination? Give examples.
7. What are the advantages / disadvantages of tourism to Costa Rica?
8. What was your most memorable experience about this study abroad experience?
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ECOTOURISM 101 Handout
TOPICS AND CONTENT:
TOPIC: DEFINITIONS & TERMINOLOGY
TOPIC: STAKEHOLDERS
TOPIC: ECOTOURISM VS. SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
TOPIC: CREATING A GRADING SYSTEM FOR ECOTOURISM
TOPIC: TOURISM AND THE ENVIRONMENT
TOPIC: ECOTOURISM BENEFITS, COSTS, IMPACTS
TOPIC: ECOTOURISM GUIDELINES
TOPIC: DEFINITIONS & TERMINOLOGY
The term ecotourism was coined by Héctor Ceballos-Lascuràin in 1983, and was initially used to
describe nature-based travel to relatively undisturbed areas with an emphasis on education. The
concept has, however, developed to a scientifically based approach to the planning, management
and development of sustainable tourism products and activities.
ACCORDING TO TIES – THE INTERNATIONAL ECOTOURISM SOCIETY (ECOTOURISM.ORG)
Ecotourism is:
“Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being
of local people.” (TIES, 1990) Sometimes it is defined as a sub-category of sustainable tourism or a
segment of the larger nature tourism market.
It includes:
1. An interpretation/learning experience.
2. Is delivered to small groups by small-scale businesses.
3. Stresses local ownership, particularly for rural people.
Ecotourism is about connecting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that
those who implement and participate in responsible tourism activities should follow the following
ecotourism principles:






minimize impact
build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts
provide direct financial benefits for conservation
provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people
raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate
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Ecotourism is sustainable tourism, which follows clear processes that:




Ensures prior informed participation of all stakeholders,
Ensures equal, effective and active participation of all stakeholders,
Acknowledges the Indigenous Peoples communities’ rights to say “no” to tourism
development – and to be fully informed, effective and active participants in the development
of tourism activities within the communities, lands, and territories, and
Promotes processes for Indigenous Peoples and local communities to control and maintain
their resources.
BENEFITS AND IMPORTANCE OF ECOTOURISM




Provides jobs and income for local people
Makes possible funds for purchasing and improving protected or natural areas to attract more
ecotourists in the future
Provides environmental education for visitors
Encourages heritage and environmental preservation and enhancement (the creation of new
or enlarged national state parks, forest preserves, biosphere reserve, recreation areas,
beaches, marine and underwater trails, and attractions.)
MORE TERMS:
(WHO KNEW THERE WERE SO MANY WORDS CONNECTED WITH ECOTOURISM!)
Defining The Experience: (FROM: UNTAMEDPATH.COM)
There are almost as many terms to describe types of travel as there are travel companies. A couple
of buzzwords that you often hear these days are “Eco-Tourism” and “Adventure Travel” . To further
confuse the issue there is also “Sustainable Tourism”, “Responsible Tourism”, “Nature Based Travel”,
“Green Travel”, “Multi-Sport Adventures” and “Cultural Tourism”. The following are definitions
based on common usage.
Eco-tourism: Perhaps the most over-used and mis-used word in the travel industry. But what does it
mean? The Ecotourism Society defines it as “responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the
environment and improves the welfare of the local people”. A walk through the rainforest is not
eco-tourism unless that particular walk somehow benefits that environment and the people who
live there. A rafting trip is only eco-tourism if it raises awareness and funds to help protect the
watershed.
Adventure Travel: Another term heavily used by marketing departments. While travel to another
country is often adventurous it is not necessarily “Adventure Travel”. “Adventure Travel” includes
the idea of risk and oftentimes some unconventional means of transport. A dugout canoe journey
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deep into the Amazon basin with it’s attendant difficulties meets this definition. While a city tour of
Paris might have some level of uncertainty it is not by definition “Adventure Travel”. If you love true
adventure you probably already know this and can see through the hype to find the real thing for
yourself.
There is sometimes a distinction made between “Soft” and “Hard” adventures. Soft adventures
have a lower level of risk, greater comfort in accommodations and are less physically rigorous. Hard
adventures often have very basic facilities, higher risk factor and greater physical challenge (ie:
mountain climbing, backpacking or river expeditions).
Sustainable Tourism: Any form of tourism that does not reduce the availability of resources and
does not inhibit future travelers from enjoying the same experience. If the presence of large
numbers of tourists disturbs an animal’s mating patterns so that there are fewer of that species in
the future then that visit was not sustainable. Kayaking school on a free flowing river is an example
of sustainable tourism. Big game hunting in Alaska is not.
Responsible Tourism: Tourism which operates in such a way as to minimize negative impacts on
the environment. A wilderness camping trip using “Leave No Trace” ethics would be considered
responsible tourism while dune buggy tours would not.
Nature-Based Tourism: A more generic term for any activity or travel experience with a focus on
nature. Large jungle lodges fall into this category as do cruise ships to view penguins in Antarctica.
These types of trips may or may not be environmentally sustainable or responsible. Green Tourism: Often used inter-changeably with eco-tourism and sustainable tourism but more
accurately described as “any activity or facility operating in an environmentally friendly fashion”. A
lodge with composting toilets, gray water system, and solar powered lighting is probably “green”.
There are varying degrees of “greenness”; an awareness of where resources are coming from and
where wastes are going is at the heart of the idea.
Multi-Sport Adventures: These trips have a focus on physical outdoor activities. Rafting, mountain
biking, climbing, surfing, diving, etc. all offered in the same package. Not necessarily sustainable or
eco but might be since many companies want to protect the areas where these activities take place.
Cultural Tourism: Interacting with and observing unique cultures is the focus of this style of trip.
The concept of learning from other cultures to broaden ones perspective is usually a core value. An
artisan showing you how to weave a tapestry and learning from them about their traditional dress
would be a form of cultural tourism. Buying crafts in the market with no more interaction than the
exchange of money does not provide the insight into another culture that is the central theme of
cultural tourism.
Agro-tourism:
This concept is a direct expansion of ecotourism, which encourages visitors to experience
agricultural life at first hand. This type of tourism is gathering strong support from small
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communities as rural people have realised the benefits of sustainable development brought about by
similar forms of “green tourism”. Visitors have the opportunity to work in the fields alongside real
farmers and wade knee-deep in the sea with fishermen hauling in their nets.
Community based Tourism:
The aims are to enable participation from the local community in the development and operations
of tourism with their consent and support. Another important feature is that a reasonable share of
the revenues are enjoyed by the community. This type of tourism also maintains and respects the
local culture, heritage and traditions. Often, community-based tourism actually reinforces and
sometimes rescues these. Community-based tourism also implies respect and concern for the natural
heritage, particularly where the environment is one of the attractions.
Pro-poor Tourism:
This type of tourism is set up in developing countries as a means to improve the local economy for
local people. It enhances the linkages between tourism businesses and poor people, so that poverty
is reduced and poor people are able to participate more effectively in tourism development. The
aims of pro-poor ranges from increasing local employment to involving local people in the decision
making process. Any type of company can be involved such as a small lodge or a tour operator. The
most important factor is not the type of company or the type of tourism, but that poor people
receive an increase in the net benefits from tourism
Mass Tourism:
Development exists as a means by which to concentrate people in very high densities, displacing local
people from traditional subsistence-style livelihoods to ones that are subservience based. The
attractions are created and transformed to meet the expectations and demands of visitors.
Emphasis is often on commercialization of natural and cultural resources, and the result is a
contrived and inauthentic representation of a cultural theme of event that has eroded into a distant
memory. Marketing is on the basis of high volume, attracting as many people as possible, often over
seasonal periods of time.
PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES:
ECOLOGY: How many visitors can an area absorb? The vulnerability of species and habitats,
problems of pollution, waste disposal, and the disruption of critical ecological processes by tourism
are barely understood. What is the number of visitors a cheetah can tolerate? The impact of a
burgeoning tourist industry is running ahead of our ability to measure the damage.
AESTHETICS: Impact is measured as much by what visitors will tolerate as by ecological damage. The
tourist happy to pay a few dollars to watch a moose in Yellowstone ringed by curious onlookers balks
at spending $3,000 to do battle with twenty minibuses around alion in Serengeti. Values &
perceptions complicate the picture. The acceptable levels of use are far lower in Serengeti than
Yellowstone because the visitor is paying top dollar for the “feel of the wild.”
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Crowding ruins the esthetic appeal and lowers the visitor’s willingness to pay. Ecotourism reflects a
rising set of expectations. Ecotourism by its very nature builds up expectations and raises the risk of
hit-and-run tourism: an influx of nature lovers drawn to the latest wild spot, followed by its
abandonment once discovered and degraded.
ECONOMICS: It is no longer enough to measure the benefits of tourism in terms of gross or net
income. Treating a park as an economic island is unacceptable in poor countries. What about the
foreign exchange component or servicing ratio? Is the cost worth the drain on the economy? What
about the externalities and opportunity costs of the tourist attracted? And what about the economic
dependency and vulnerability tourism brings.
SOCIAL: Culture was the forgotten element in conservation. No longer. The alienation of local
people has become a leading issue in conservation. Conservation and tourism that denies the rights
and concerns of local communities is self-defeating. Tourism can destroy ancient cultures and ruin
indigenous economies.
TOPIC: STAKEHOLDERS
STAKEHOLDERS IN THE ECOTOURISM “SYSTEM”
Ecotourism involves numerous stakeholders, including:
• Visitors or tourists/consumers
• Natural areas and their managers, including both public and private areas;
• Communities & native (indigenous) peoples;
• Businesses, including various combinations of local businesses, in-bound operators, outbound
operators, hotel and other accommodation providers, restaurants and other food providers,
suppliers and so on;
• Government, in addition to its role as a natural area manager; and
• Non-governmental organizations such as environmental and rural development NGOs.
The relevant stakeholders will vary across sites. For example, local communities may be present at
some sites, but not others. Likewise, businesses may play a large role at some sites, but little or no
role at others.
CLASSIFICATION OF VISITORS:

SAME-DAY VISITORS OR EXCURSIONISTS = visitors who do not spend the night in a collective
or private accommodation in the country visited.

TOURISTS = Visitors who stay in the country/area visited for at least one night.
FOUR CATEGORIES OF TOURISTS:
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THE ELITE = Individually tailored visits to exotic places. Likely to be small in number but to spend
high sums. Can be destructive (e.g. safari hunting) and waste of resources as they usually look for
accustomed luxuries in accommodation, food, etc.
THE MASS = Package tours leading to tourist enclaves and standard Western facilities. Considerable
sources of income and employment. High demand for Western facilities, foods, services and
entertainment, but also for local souvenirs and entertainments. Often a standard demand for sun,
sand, sea and sex.
THE EXPLORER = Seeks adventure, discovery and involvement with the local people. May be
sympathetic to local environments and attempt to accept local lifestyles, though can also have
considerable impact on areas not organized and prepared for such visits. Unlikely to return a second
time, but will tend ot look for new areas to explore.
THE ALTERNATIVE = Similar to explorer but less intent on adventure more interested in environment,
local contacts, and specific features of host culture. Can be attracted in reasonable numbers but is
likely to spend less than a mass tourist.
PSYCHOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF ECOTOURISTS:
1. Possess an environmental ethic.
2. Willingness not to degrade the resource.
3. Focus on intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation.
4. Aiming to benefit wildlife and the environment.
5. Striving for first-hand experience with the natural environment.
6. Possessing an expectation of education and appreciation.
7. High cognitive and affective dimensions.
TOPIC: ECOTOURISM VS. SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
(WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO?)
The main distinction between these terms is the motives and ethics behind them:
• Is the environment being cared for?
• Is there genuine effort to help the local economies?
• Are resources being left intact for future generations?
• Is the local culture being honored and valued and not just photographed?
YOU KNOW IT’S ECOTOURISM WHEN IT:
1) Involves travel to natural destinations. These destinations are often remote areas, whether
inhabited or uninhabited, and are usually under some kind of environmental protection at the
national, international, communal or private level.
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2) Minimizes Impact. Tourism causes damage. Ecotourism strives to minimize the adverse effects of
hotels, trails, and other infrastructure by using either recycled materials or plentifully available local
building materials, renewable sources of energy, recycling and safe disposal of waste and garbage,
and environmentally and culturally sensitive architec …
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