Academia and the Evolution of Ecotourism

Robert Douglas McKercher

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: This review paper traces the evolution of ecotourism and the role academia has played in that evolution. Ecotourism arguably would not exist, and certainly would not exist in the form it is now, were it not for the active involvement of the academic community. Academics and academia have played a critical stewardship role in the conceptualization and operationalization of this activity, more so than any other form of tourism. Ecotourism has evolved, and is still evolving through three phases. The ‘New Dawn’ phase is typified by idealism, hyperbole and hope. It is followed quickly by a ‘Crisis of Legitimacy,’ where critics illustrate that the ecotourism largely fails to meet its social, economic and ecological ideals, that has not yet been resolved fully. Finally, ecotourism reaches maturity when it achieves the ‘Sustainable Product Niche’ phase where a realistic understanding of what it can and cannot do, emerges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • ecotourism
  • evolution
  • ideology
  • market
  • product
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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