The International Ecotourism Society, also known as TIES, defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”
South Africa is still a developing country and many still live under the internationally established line of poverty. It is a country that was struck hard by the economical downfall, but it is also a country that is strong and built to survive.
South Africa is home to the Big Five, the Knysna Woods, Cape Point, the Drakensberg, Magoebaskloof and the Kruger National Park. Its natural resources are what help it to survive and the tourism industry has picked up on the trends of Ecotourism.
After the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, many had the opportunity to see what South Africa has to offer. It has a rich and diverse culture with 11 official languages. If you want to experience culture, South Africa has more than you can handle.
Ecotourism also contributes to sustainable development and more environmentally sound projects. If looked at from an overall prospective, ecotourism has the potential to positively influence the economical development as well environmental well being of a country.
For especially African countries that have nature and its beauty on their side, ecotourism is an effective way of not only bringing people into the country, but creating jobs and preserving natural environments as well.
If those who rely on poaching for survival are given other means of survival and properly educated on more a sustainable way of using what they have been given, it will aid in turning these underdeveloped countries in more economically stable regions as well as aid conservation in these regions. People will only protect something if they know what it can mean for future generations.
South Africa has been smart enough to realize that a great income lies within tourism and that its natural habitats are one of the things that draw tourists to the country. By investing in Ecotourism, South Africa can create local jobs while preserving the natural habitats and cultures it houses.
In order to this though, proper management and knowledge is essential. Without management and knowledge, South Africa’s natural resources will remain nothing but a beautiful view. It is an under-used source of income that can alleviate the pressure put on job creation and the country’s overall economic development. -ANNABEL SCHOEMAN