Asian Diver (English)
A BRIGHT FUTURE?
ASIAN DIVER: Tell us what, in your opinion, is real “eco-tourism”, or “sustainable” tourism?
JUDI LOWE: Eco-tourism is an important concept, defined by Ceballos Lascurain in Mexico in 1983 and adopted by the IUCN in 1996, to mean responsible travel to natural areas that promotes conservation, has low impact and provides benefits to local people.
Sustainable tourism is defined by the UN World Tourism Organization as “Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”.
For dive tourism to be sustainable, it must actively conserve coral reefs, not just passively enjoy them. Since 95 percent of the world’s coral reefs lie in the tropics, with fishers living in poverty along their shores, the future of coral reefs and local fishers cannot be separated. For dive tourism to be sustainable, there must be tangible benefits to local fishers.
Judi Lowe is about to release the results of her groundbreaking new PhD research, which will change the way we think about dive tourism and the conservation of coral reefs, forever.
Soon to be internationally recognised as expert on sustainable dive tourism, with a revolutionary new approach that could be the key to safeguarding coral reefs, fish stocks and megafauna, Judi agreed to give us a tantalising glimpse into the results of her extraordinary research.
ASIAN DIVER: Why hasn’t “ecotourism” been delivering the results we need in terms of conservation? How have most of us been missing the mark until now?
JUDI LOWE: Eco-tourism is a popular concept and it sells well. Sadly, it has become a much-abused marketing tool, promoting the perception that a tourism product is sustainable when it is not. Science shows that most dive tourism is anything but sustainable.