"Green Services": Ecotourism & Agrotourism
Traditional development paradigms have led many people to believe that a country must choose between economic growth and environmental conservation. Over the decades and in many different countries, experts have learned that the opposite is true. Environmental projects and campaigns can actually have positive economic effects and can dramatically benefit local economies.
Some countries, such as in Costa Rica, the high biodiversity level has allowed a successful national economy to be formed on “eco-tourism,” or attracting visitors and gaining profits based on strong environmental health, rather than through destroying natural resources. Large “eco-companies” have sprung up, advertising the environmental benefits of their products (such as “shade grown coffee” and other “organic” produce). Armenia’s multiple micro-climates and its high level of biodiversityafford it opportunities to develop a similar type of service industry.
There are signs that some companies in Armenia are attempting to follow along this path of making substantial profits while being good environmental stewards. Ecotourism has gained some popularity recently, given Armenia’s unique geography and microclimates. For more information visit Ecotourism Armenia.
This article touts the growth, both real and potential, of eco-tourism in Armenia, from 2008.
Finally, click on this 2009 article that highlights just how important protecting our environment is to the viability of an ecotourism industry.
Agro-tourism is another untapped service industry in Armenia. Agro-tourism, as an industry, is still a relatively unknown option, particularly to Americans. These “tours” allow people to visit working farms, in small villages, and work on them to some extent, or just relax and eat healthy, homegrown food. Money brought in by tourists to these small villages can really be a boon to their small economies.
Many ecotourist companies also offer an “agro” option as part of their packages. Others, such as those sponsored by the Rural Sustainable Development Agricultural Foundation.
The long-term costs of environmental damage and public health threats are finally being recognized around the world. Environmental degradation comes not only at an immediate and obvious ecological cost. The effects on public health (i.e. costs of treatment and loss of labor due to illness), as well as the eventual loss of the resource itself, lead to significant detrimental impacts on local, regional, and national economies. As economists are now exploring the extent to which environmental damage adversely affects the economy, we reiterate our position that economic profit can be based on environmental protection, not in contradiction to it.
As we move toward a future in which economics and environment are increasingly acknowledged as intertwined, we stress the importance of understanding the “big picture” of economic development. An AEN partner organization, Policy Forum Armenia (PFA), has produced several thorough reports on the state of the economy in Armenia. Click here to access PFA’s page and their reports.
If you know of an organization or report that should be listed here and is not, please Contact Us with a brief explanation of its relevance and an active URL for the organization or report