Impacts of Ecotourism

Tour guide Victorino Molina talks about the history of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. The reserve is a popular ecotourism location. (Jackie Trahan/Missouri School of Journalism)

Tour guide Victorino Molina talks about the history of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve along a trail within the reserve. The reserve is a popular ecotourism location. (Jackie Trahan/Missouri School of Journalism)

By Jackie Trahan

MONTEVERDE, Costa Rica — Ecotourism is tourism in natural environments to observe undisturbed wildlife and progress conservation efforts. Ecotourism is commonly viewed as a positive way to boost the economy in an area while preserving threatened environments.

Guillermo Vargas, program coordinator at Life Monteverde, worries that ecotourism may have brought more adventure tourism into Monteverde. Adventure tourism includes activities such as butterfly gardens, serpent houses and zip lines.

Vargas sees tourism as beneficial if it is educational and sharing experiences, not just for the money. He worries the invasive nature of current adventure tourism and the tourists that come to experience it could destroy what brought tourists to Monteverde in the first place.

“[It’s] almost breaking a toy, just to see how it works,” Vargas said.

He wants to stress the importance of keeping Monteverde the way it is and teaching tourists about the land.

“It is not enough to know the present and guess the future, we must know the past,” Vargas said.

Below is a chart by Anibal Torres, sustainable futures coordinator at the Monteverde Institute, listing the impacts of Ecotourism on Monteverde.

Type of Impact




-Preservation -Disturbance


-Education -Clearance & Erosion


-Consciousness -Garbage


-Air & Noise Pollution


-Jobs -Leakage


-Diversity -Dependency




-Education -Coherence Loss


-Facilities -Degradation of Culture


-Empowerment -Loss of access to facilities for locals


-Promote Local Culture -Growing Crime, prostitution, drug abuse and alcohol abuse rates.

Torres believes that ecotourism is for the better since it provides funding for protection that might not otherwise be possible.

“[The social cons] are true for any growing city, not just ones visited by ecotourists,” Torres said.

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5 thoughts on “Impacts of Ecotourism

  1. Debbie Allen says:

    Informative perspective on the area. Chart offers further clarity.

  2. Caitlin Wood says:

    Do the pros truly outweigh the cons, though? Of course it is bringing a source of revenue to the area, but with the world’s natural resources dwindling, is the pollution and disturbance worth it? Also, by creating a tourist destination the unique culture is being tainted with outside influences.

  3. Caitlin Wood says:

    Very, very good article, though. Highly researched and written very smoothly.

  4. Vanessa says:

    Is opening culture to outside influence and allowing it to evolve always equivalent to “degradation of culture”? Seems to ignore the potential for improvement that comes from cultures mingling and sharing knowledge. Without ecotourism to bring in new ideas, maybe relatively isolated cultures would stay the same to their detriment?

    This is a great summary of a complex topic with significant impact – thanks for putting this together so we can think about the components!

  5. Sommer says:

    Hi there, this weekend is good in support of me, for the
    reason that this occasion i am reading this fantastic educational post here at my residence.

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