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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Dr Andrew J. Russell

Russell, A.J. (2007). Anthropology and Ecotourism in European Wetlands: Bubbles, Babies and Bathwater. Tourist Studies 7(2): 225-244.

Author(s) from Durham


Recent literature, particularly in social anthropology, has focused on `bursting the bubble' of ecotourism, arguing that it has become a meaningless umbrella term for too many practices that are essentially `irresponsible' in their nature. This article proposes that, although scepticism is entirely appropriate, such arguments cannot be allowed to negate the value of ecotourism entirely. Based on research conducted in three European wetlands of marginal economic status in Greece, Lithuania and Romania, this article proposes a typology of models — of ecotourism, sustainable tourism, and responsible tourism — that helps to differentiate `practice' from `good practice'. The research highlights the importance of local people's discourse on ecotourism, which in this case was seen not only as an economic activity but as an aspirational moral virtue concerned with tidiness and maintaining the beauty of nature. Anthropology for ecotourism, which takes local people's views and opinions into account in the search for appropriate forms of tourism development that can transform people's lives and environments for the better, is as important as the anthropology of ecotourism.