The Myth of Ecotourism
The Galápagos Islands’ historical isolation created the unique natural environment that inspired Charles Darwin’s Evolution of the Species. The archipelago is a focus of international conservation efforts. It is a magnet not only for scientists and conservationists but also an increasing number of eco-tourists. There is growing concern about the compatibility of tourism-induced economic growth and conservation in the archipelago. Past studies ignore the economic linkages that transmit impacts of eco-tourist spending through the Galápagos economy. This chapter shows how to use survey data to construct a spatially-integrated (three-island) local economy-wide model to simulate the impacts of eco-tourism. It finds that eco-tourism stimulates income and population growth on the islands, casting doubt on islanders’ ability to balance the dual objectives of economic development and conservation.
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