PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF ECOTOURISM IN LATIN AMERICA: KOWABUNGA ECOPROJECT ASSOCIATION
Ecotourism, understood as a kind of active, participatory and sustainable tourism both to the environment as with the traditions, culture and local economy, is nowadays an important means of development in many countries. In recent years, Latin America has seen increased its economic resources from tourism thanks to the proliferation of ecotourism activities. In this way, projects that contribute to the conservation of the area, while promoting socioeconomic development, appears. In the framework of MEST Project (MSc Degree on Management of Sustainable and Ecological Tourism), in the practical phase of the Master -second year-, students can develop their final masters project in different ecotourism entities around the world. In this article the activity undertaken by the ecotourism association, “Kowabunga Ecoproject”, is collected.
Kowabunga Ecoproject is a Spanish ecotourism association which works in sea turtles conservation in the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Oaxaca´s State. This association is responsible for the problematic of sea turtles, whose population have been declined to the point that today all species of sea turtles are endangered. Mexican rural communities of Costa de Oaxaca region have lived, along their History, of the exploitation of these animals. Kowabunga Ecoproject association proposes a change in the valorisation of marine turtles, so that local communities can continue taking advantage of these animals without the need to sacrifice turtles.
Ecotourism activities demonstrate not only that people can get economic benefit of nature without having to destroy it, but which in turn are a focus of activities that promote cultural development of local communities on the basis of respect for their traditions, so the natural and economic development implies a human development.