Commercial exploitation and worldwide pollution of land and the marine environment and the seemingly increasing scale and occurrence of natural disasters put our common future under continuous threat. As a result the world’s natural resources become increasingly depleted with a growing number of people becoming impoverished. Most affected are those people in poor countries. Resources to combat the adverse effects of such natural disasters are scarce and the countries have to rely on external financial and technical assistance. Unfortunately, a declining trend in development assistance and charity is noticeable. Corruption at the receiving end does the rest and what remains of the assistance is often far less effective than was expected at project formulation, if improvement at all.
To effectively tackle this immense task of arresting degradation and even start off restoration of the natural environment, a huge financial input is required. For various reasons such required money is not easily available. An alternative approach and successive rapid action is required. Integration of tourism and traditional development aid is considered such approach. Allowing leisure to have its appropriate place a new source of funding and challenging opportunities becomes available. Tourism already is one of the fastest growing commercial sectors in the world. Increasingly more money is spent on a wide variety of holidays. Remarkable is the change of the market. A noticeable shift has occurred from straightforward beach & fun holidays to a more checkerboard pattern and a variety in spending leisure time. Experiencing a holiday has become keyword and money is no limiting factor anymore. Within this new market sustainable –also called “responsible”- holidays such as genuine eco-tourism and nature holidays is growing rapidly.
Eco-tourism in combination with sustainable development yields a powerful and sustainable combination where substantial sums of money become available. Allowing the dedicated tourist to enjoy a well-catered and serviced holiday, both local community and natural environment directly take benefit. Eco-tourism will generate local jobs, either directly or indirectly, while more employment is expected from the targeted local development projects. Such projects aim at improving local livelihoods and the urban and natural environment, in turn alleviating adverse pressure on natural resources and positively affecting biodiversity.