Asian Diver (English)



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.

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