Don't Assume Anything
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Does ecotourism generally protect indigenous people?
Since ecotourism is supposed to promote more appreciation of the environment, you would expect respect for indigenous cultures. Unfortunately, even ecotourism can have a negative impact on local communities, as these examples demonstrate:
- In Kenya and Tanzania, for example, Masai herdsmen were displaced so that wildlife preserves could be extended;
- Tourism was already an important source of income for Sri Lanka and Thailand before the tsunami struck and is now seen as a means of financing reconstruction. However, the rush to repair resorts has diverted attention and supplies from rebuilding coastal fishing villages. Many survivors were relocated further inland to housing that is too hot and too small.
If you want to travel to these regions, support smaller, locally-run establishments. If you use a tour operator, find out what percentage of money is staying in the community. Sites like Cultural Survival (http://www.cs.org/
) can help you stay current about these issues.