The dichotomy of conservation vs. sustainable development has generated numerous debates since the introduction of the latter in the late 1980s. In the recent past, many initiatives to address the issue gained ground worldwide, such as ecotourism, a form of tourism that takes place in natural areas, sustains local communities, and involves a learning experience. Even though it might look like the perfect tool to strengthen the link between conservation and sustainable development, ecotourism faces many challenges. Through a case study of Monviso Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, this research aims at understanding local stakeholders’ perspectives on the matter. A series of interviews were conducted to explore the possibility for ecotourism to act as a learning tool. Results show that ecotourism had some positive effects, such as the creation of a network for collaboration between various stakeholders. However, negative perceptions still play an inhibiting role. It is discussed that this might be a consequence of one main factor: a lack of proper environmental education. Adjustments in the language and methods used in the educational system and a change of course at higher governmental levels might support ecotourism as a learning tool and a catalyst for sustainable development.
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© 2018, © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- Sustainable development
- UNESCO biosphere reserve
- environmental education
- learning tool