Sustainable development in ecotourism: Tour operators managing the economic, social and environmental concerns of sustainable development in Costa Rica
Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Sustainable development is concerned with acknowledging economic, social and environmental development aspects, catering for the current needs of society without damaging the well-being of future generations. Ecotourism is a niche market that emerged because of increased market demands for sustainable tourism practices. It serves to provide tourism products and services while accommodating for the economic, social and environmental aspects of society. However, earlier research suggests that it is difficult to handle the three dimensions of sustainable development, indicating that trade-offs may occur. Furthermore, as tour operators are able to affect local development prospects, it is of interest to examine how they handle sustainable development, and more specifically, contribute to trade-offs between the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.
This thesis was aimed at answering the following research question; “How do ecotourism tour operators contribute to trade-offs between the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development?”, with the objective of examining how ecotourism tour operators handle the dimensions of sustainable development, and what trade-offs that may occur between economic, social and environmental concerns.
This qualitative research was carried out in the context of ecotourism tour operators in Costa Rica through semi-structured interviews. Nine respondents participated in this research, representing seven local ecotourism tour operators. The data collected on the trade-offs of ecotourism and sustainable development has in turn been analysed with reference to a pre-established theoretical framework.
This study has revealed that ecotourism tour operators are actively engaging in initiatives supporting the idea of sustainable development. The tour operators handle the economic, social and environmental concerns through different initiatives. One conclusion that can be derived from this research is that all pillars of sustainable development are important to acknowledge. However, this is difficult as the three dimensions are somewhat contradicting. Therefore, depending on how ecotourism tour operators prioritise different initiatives, trade-offs are inevitable as both inter- and intragenerational needs are difficult to align.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 95 p.
Ecotourism, Sustainable development, Trade-offs, Triple bottom line
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79524OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-79524DiVA: diva2:642300
Retail and Supply Chain Management Program
UppsokSocial and Behavioural Science, Law
Bonnedahl, Karl Johan