NGOs in ecotourism: patrons of sustainability or neo-colonial agents? Evidence from Africa

A. Wondirad, D. Tolkach, B. King

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


NGOs have become involved in ecotourism because of its potential to balance economic development, environmental conservation, and socio-cultural revitalisation. However, some critics have associated ecotourism with neo-colonialism and with the perpetuation of economic and political hegemonies because the concept has been advanced from the West. The present study adopts a qualitative research approach to explore the merits of two opposing views–that NGOs facilitate and advance sustainable development or that they are agents of neo-colonialism. The researchers focus on a nation which was spared the experience of colonisation–Ethiopia–to explore whether ecotourism practice can be accurately characterised as ‘neo-colonial’. Through a close examination of NGO involvement in ecotourism, the authors challenge the widely held view that NGOs use sustainable development as a pretext to promote neo-colonial ideas. The paper contributes to theory and practice by explaining the relationship between neo-colonialism and ecotourism. Implications and opportunities for future research are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2019


  • Dependency
  • ecotourism
  • neo-colonialism
  • NGOs
  • Southern Ethiopia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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