Political tourism? : A critical social analysis on ecotourism and the indigenous struggle in the Ecuadorian Amazons

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Romanska och klassiska institutionen

Abstract: Enabled by a Minor Field Study scholarship from SIDA, this thesis examines indigenous involvement in ecotourism in the Ecuadorian Amazons. Indigenous people are the most marginalized social group world-wide, and coincidingly often live in resource rich pristine land. The oil-rich lands of the Amazons is called a resource frontier and is now increasingly important for the tourism sector, which comes to entail conflict of interests between the State and indigenous communities living in this area. Both the global call for sustainable development and national policies of “Buen Vivir” promotes ecotourism as an ecologically, socio-economically, and culturally sustainable activity. Scholarly opinion suggest that ecotourism generates potential tools of empowerment for the involved indigenous communities. With this backdrop and with the theoretical framework of the postcolonial debate, main opportunities and challenges are examined with the correlation of tourism ventures and socio-political implications in the local reality of indigenous organizations in Tena, Napo. Complex impediments are uncovered and analysed within the social field of indigenous ecotourism. The conviction of the study holds the call for attentive cross-cultural communication in order to continue the seemingly inevitable path of globalization in a more sustainable and non-discriminatory manner.

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