Is future coast eco-tourism sustainable?

ECO-TOURISM on the Coffs Coast has the potential to threaten the very environment that draws in the visitors, according to a leading futurist.

This week, writer and futurist, Richard Watson, warned an eco-tourism and green travel conference that tourism has a dark side.

“In the short-term there is a definite problem that people are possibly going to destroy the very thing they came to experience,” Mr Watson said.

“That is without a shadow of a doubt true, depending on what the economy does and there is going to be a significant growth in population numbers over the next 10 to 50 years.”

But Glen Chapman, spokesman for New England Ecotourism Society which fosters sustainable tourism on the Coffs Coast, said by definition eco-tourism is beneficial to the environment.

“Tourists themselves are becoming more discerning and there is a growing demand from travellers to ensure that they don't impact on the places they visit,” Mr Chapman said.

“But if tourism is not focused on being sustainable, it can have a negative impact on the very thing that people want to see. Any development of tourism has to be sustainable for the environment, the communities and the culture of the area.”

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