UN seminar on ecotourism in Latin America and Caribbean opens in Santiago

UN seminar on ecotourism in Latin America and Caribbean opens in Santiago

Experts from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean gathered at the United Nations offices in Santiago, Chile, today, for a two-day seminar on attracting tourists who wish to experience the region's ecological wonders.

The seminar on "local policies for global opportunities" aims to promote the development of ecotourism while preserving Latin America's natural environment, according to Ricardo Jordan, an official from the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, which co-organized the event with Chile's National Forestry Service.

Mr. Jordan underscored the value of sharing environmental marvels with visitors. "If you leave these areas abandoned with no use at all, you are going to lose them with no return," he told the UN News Service. He added that "it is preferable that you have some ecotourism activities" achieving both conservation and development.

Experts devoted their talks to how local communities can improve their capacities to deal with new ecotourism opportunities. According to ECLAC, while general tourism is growing at a rate of 4 per cent worldwide, ecotourism is expanding at a much faster pace -- 25 per cent annually.

Today's sessions also focused on case studies of ecotourism in renowned environmental preserves, such as Monteverde in Costa Rica and the Galapagos in Ecuador. Tomorrow's meetings will address ecotourism in Chile, including a discussion of State-protected wilderness areas.