Keywords: backwash effects, ecotourism, livelihoods, spread effects, sustainable development
Spread and backwash effects in ecotourism: implications for sustainable development
Increasingly, ecotourism is advocated not only as a form of sustainable tourism, but also for the contribution that it can make towards sustainable development. Donor agencies such as DFID and USAID now recognise the contribution that ecotourism can make towards sustainable livelihoods, and it is being advocated as a pro-poor strategy in the developing countries. Ecotourism must not, however, be considered in a vacuum, isolated from all other forms of economic activity. It is vital to set it into the context of place characteristics, which both condition, and are conditioned by, economic, socio-cultural, political, ecological, institutional and technical forces that are exogenous and endogenous as well as dynamic. It is essential to understand how ecotourism interacts with these as there are marked spread, or positive, and backwash, or negative, effects between the various sectors, levels and interests which will dictate prospects for sustainable outcomes.