Ecotourism: An environmental concern or a new diversification of the mass tourism market, the case of Crete.

Saatsakis, Ioannis (2018) Ecotourism: An environmental concern or a new diversification of the mass tourism market, the case of Crete. Doctoral thesis, Buckinghamshire New University (validated by Brunel University).

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Crete has experienced rapid tourism development since late 1960s when the growth in international tourism and broader socio economic changes disturbed past equilibrium patterns. Tourism has become a leading economic sector but also caused negative economic, environmental and sociocultural impacts, prompting tourism authorities to develop plans aimed at the achievement of sustainable development while continuing to promote tourism in the island. A critical review of the literature shows that the concept of ecotourism is closely associated with other concepts, such as nature, ecology, protection, culture, small scale, alternative, and others. Whilst a variety of ecotourism typologies and development patterns have been produced by academics derived from the residents’ perspectives, our knowledge is still limited because of the absence of the industry’s perspectives; thus the meanings of ecotourism from those responsible for its development remains incomplete. This study explores the industry’s perspective of ecotourism and its development in Crete and discusses its impacts. To this end, qualitative interviews (20) were undertaken with local and regional authorities, hoteliers, tour operators, and managers of tourism related enterprises. Data was analysed using the ‘comparative analysis’ approach, where responses of interviews were checked to identify similarities and differences to allow main themes and categories to emerge. The study's findings questioned the established argument of ecotourism as small scale, environmentally friendly, nature driven tourism activity. It produced some novel findings. The analysis suggests that eco-tourism in Crete is product driven, where the local industry perceives it as market extension, profit motivated economic activity that has little to do with nature. Hence, from the industry’s perspective, ecotourism is spontaneous and adhoc development concerned more with satisfying increasing consumers’ needs for seemingly authentic ecotourism products than with environmental issues. The analysis revealed that genuine nature driven ecotourism has yet to be demonstrated and practiced in Crete and that ecotourism is an entrepreneurial ploy, rebranding mass tourism to increase economic growth in a region ravaged by unemployment and stagnation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: Ecotourism, Crete, Sustainable Tourism, Tourism Planning & Development, Marketing Ecotourism
Depositing User: RED Unit Admin
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2019 09:51
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2019 09:51

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