Evolution of Ecotourism in East Africa: From an idea to an industry, The
Tourism is the world’s largest industry and, in both developed and developing countries, ecotourism is now the fastest growing sector of this industry. Being such a powerful economic force, particularly in developing countries with little other industry, ecotourism has been able to prevent environmental destruction and, when managed correctly, promote community development and empowerment. Development of an ecotourism project is complicated, however, and involves many different parties, all of whom aspire to gain from the process. All parties involved must collaborate to ensure not only that the wildlife and habitat are protected, but also that the venture is beneficial to the local communities who traditionally manage the wildlands. This report is based on the proceedings of the East Africa Regional Conference on Econtourism, held in March 2002 in Nairobi, Kenya and organised by The African Conservation Centre. The conference explored ways to ensure that all parties involved in an ecotourism enterprise benefit, and concluded that, through communication, sensitivity, transparency and realism, such an enterprise can become sustainable.