Ecotourism as a Social-Ecological System: A Case Study in Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/195835
Title:
Ecotourism as a Social-Ecological System: A Case Study in Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Author:
Gallaher, Joanne
Issue Date:
2010
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Despite the dramatic increase in ecotourism as a sustainable development strategy over the last two decades (Honey 2008; Yunis 2000), theoretical models to interpret and evaluate ecotourism—as well as the broader field of tourism—are lacking (Farrell and Twining-Ward 2003; Weaver and Lawton 2007). Farrell and Twining-Ward (2003) call for a reconceptualization of tourism study that incorporates social-ecological systems (SES) theory. This dissertation responds by assessing ecotourism as an SES in a dryland setting, addressing the question: "What key characteristics of ecotourism increase social-ecological resilience?" The study site is Santa Rosa National Park and surrounding communities in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Higham and Lück (2008) cite sustainability as the "ultimate goal of ecotourism" (Higham and Lück 2008, p 124); however sustainability itself proves to be a difficult concept to measure and evaluate (Cater and Lowman 1994; Dernbach 2002; Weaver 2001a). SES theory recognizes sustainability as a process rather than an end goal and identifies resilience as a key attribute (Berkes, Colding, and Folke 2003). With ecotourism as an economic strategy of nearly every developing country since the early 1990s and an increasing economic strategy in rural areas worldwide (Valaoras, Pistolas, and Sotiropoulou 2002; Honey 2008), this study investigates ecotourism through the lens of social-ecological resilience for increased sustainability. Based on a 12-month survey conducted in Santa Rosa National Park and the surrounding area, this study identifies characteristics of ecotourism that can cause different levels of resilience using indicators of increasing biodiversity, economic diversity and social capital. These relationships are represented by linked and continually changing social and ecological systems, diagramed by Holling‘s adaptive renewal cycle (Berkes, Colding, and Folke 2003; Gunderson and Holling 2002). Three research papers are included as part of this dissertation: 1) Área de Conservación Guanacaste, Parque Nacional Santa Rosa Ecotourism Study: Final Survey Results, Analysis and Recommendations; 2) Ecotourism‘s Contribution to Social-ecological Resilience: A Case Study Analysis of Rural, Dryland Ecotourism in Guanacaste, Costa Rica; and 3) Barrier-free Ecotourism? The Costa Rican Approach. Findings of this study include recommendations for ecotourism programs to increase social-ecological resilience and contribute to the sustainability of linked SESs.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Costa Rica; Ecotourism; Protected Area; Resource Management; Social-Ecological Systems; Sustainable Development
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Arid Lands Resource Sciences; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Gimblett, Randy
Committee Chair:
Gimblett, Randy

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleEcotourism as a Social-Ecological System: A Case Study in Guanacaste, Costa Ricaen_US
dc.creatorGallaher, Joanneen_US
dc.contributor.authorGallaher, Joanneen_US
dc.date.issued2010en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractDespite the dramatic increase in ecotourism as a sustainable development strategy over the last two decades (Honey 2008; Yunis 2000), theoretical models to interpret and evaluate ecotourism—as well as the broader field of tourism—are lacking (Farrell and Twining-Ward 2003; Weaver and Lawton 2007). Farrell and Twining-Ward (2003) call for a reconceptualization of tourism study that incorporates social-ecological systems (SES) theory. This dissertation responds by assessing ecotourism as an SES in a dryland setting, addressing the question: "What key characteristics of ecotourism increase social-ecological resilience?" The study site is Santa Rosa National Park and surrounding communities in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Higham and Lück (2008) cite sustainability as the "ultimate goal of ecotourism" (Higham and Lück 2008, p 124); however sustainability itself proves to be a difficult concept to measure and evaluate (Cater and Lowman 1994; Dernbach 2002; Weaver 2001a). SES theory recognizes sustainability as a process rather than an end goal and identifies resilience as a key attribute (Berkes, Colding, and Folke 2003). With ecotourism as an economic strategy of nearly every developing country since the early 1990s and an increasing economic strategy in rural areas worldwide (Valaoras, Pistolas, and Sotiropoulou 2002; Honey 2008), this study investigates ecotourism through the lens of social-ecological resilience for increased sustainability. Based on a 12-month survey conducted in Santa Rosa National Park and the surrounding area, this study identifies characteristics of ecotourism that can cause different levels of resilience using indicators of increasing biodiversity, economic diversity and social capital. These relationships are represented by linked and continually changing social and ecological systems, diagramed by Holling‘s adaptive renewal cycle (Berkes, Colding, and Folke 2003; Gunderson and Holling 2002). Three research papers are included as part of this dissertation: 1) Área de Conservación Guanacaste, Parque Nacional Santa Rosa Ecotourism Study: Final Survey Results, Analysis and Recommendations; 2) Ecotourism‘s Contribution to Social-ecological Resilience: A Case Study Analysis of Rural, Dryland Ecotourism in Guanacaste, Costa Rica; and 3) Barrier-free Ecotourism? The Costa Rican Approach. Findings of this study include recommendations for ecotourism programs to increase social-ecological resilience and contribute to the sustainability of linked SESs.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectCosta Ricaen_US
dc.subjectEcotourismen_US
dc.subjectProtected Areaen_US
dc.subjectResource Managementen_US
dc.subjectSocial-Ecological Systemsen_US
dc.subjectSustainable Developmenten_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineArid Lands Resource Sciencesen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorGimblett, Randyen_US
dc.contributor.chairGimblett, Randyen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberShaw, Williamen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWilder, Margareten_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBonine, Michaelen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHutchinson, Charlesen_US
dc.identifier.proquest11012en_US
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