The Planeta Forum features a Q&A
with Hector Ceballos-Lascurain in celebration of the 25th anniversary
Winner of the Colibri
Ecotourism Lifetime Achievement Award, Hector Ceballos-Lascurain
is a Mexican architect, environmentalist and international ecotourism
consultant. He is Director General of the Program of International
Consultancy on Ecotourism (PICE), based in Mexico City, and
also a Special Advisor on Ecotourism to IUCN (The World Conservation
Union), The International Ecotourism Society and the World Tourism
Hector has performed research and provided consultations in
more than 70 countries worldwide on all aspects of ecotourism
planning and development, including the architectural design
and construction of ecolodges and other environmentally friendly
facilities. He has authored or co-authored more than 130 books,
reports and articles and is widely credited with coining the
term 'ecotourism' and its preliminary definition in 1983.
Hector has agreed to participate in an online conversation to
celebrate ecotourism's 25th anniversary. The Q&A
is featured on the Planeta
In 2008 ecotourism is being developed in practically every
country around the world, at different levels and with varying
orientations. In some developed countries (including Australia,
New Zealand, Canada, the U.S. and Japan) ecotourism has mainly
been a private sector initiative (including both inbound and
outbound operations), with somewhat limited participation of
poor rural communities (and also limited benefits to them).
In a number of Latin American, African and Asian countries
there have been some noteworthy community-based experiences,
in some cases solely developed by the rural inhabitants themselves.
In some nations (including Mexico), ecotourism has been in recent
times strongly promoted by government authorities, interested
in improving the quality of life and economic level of poor
rural communities (however, many of these experiences have failed,
because of excessive paternalism of the public authorities and
due to lack of interest and proper training of local groups).
Generally speaking, I think ecotourism is going strong around
the world, and is providing important tangible benefits to local
communities and to nature conservation in many places
of our globe.
Ecotourism is too often being confused with adventure tourism,
i.e, the practice of physically exertive sporting activities
in a natural setting (frequently with limited benefits to poor
rural communities and little concern for the conservation of
the natural environment). In this case, ecotourism is failing
in two of the main goals which I set out back in 1983, namely
benefiting local communities and nature. Another drawback in
Mexico is that (for some reason unknown to me) many of the 'ecotour'
operators are mainly addressing the domestic market and hardly
trying to attract international ecotourists, thus missing out
on the possibility of attracting large amounts of foreign currency,
something which is badly needed in our country.
the Web: Hector Ceballos-Lascurain
Interview conducted by Antonis Petropoulos (PDF)