Keywords: ecotourism, sustainable tourism, sustainable development, environmental education, conservation ethic, Costa Rica, sustainability, green tourism, ecolodges
The importance of education in ecotourism ventures: lessons from Rara Avis ecolodge, Costa Rica
Ecotourism is based on three main concepts: conservation and protection of the environment, supporting local cultures and economies and environmental education for both locals and tourists. Thus far much of the research has focused on the first two components; largely ignoring the importance that environmental education has in the future of ecotourism and the conservation movement as a whole. Therefore, this paper will focus on what research has been conducted so far on environmental education. Furthermore, it will describe a study done in the first ecolodge in Central America, Rara Avis, on the effect education can have on knowledge gained and an improved conservation ethic. As a result, this paper will show why the future of ecotourism needs to include a stronger focus on building quality environmental education to increase conservation ethic and pro–environmental attitudes.