Main Article Content
Aims: The study aims at finding out the perceived economic, environmental and socio-cultural impacts of ecotourism by residents who live near the Ratargul freshwater swamp forest.
Study Design: The study is qualitative and empirical which focuses on the residents’ attitudes towards the economic, environmental and socio-cultural changes due to ecotourism.
Place and Duration of Study: The study was conducted in the villages near the Ratargul freshwater swamp forest located in Gowainghat Upazila of Sylhet District of Bangladesh. The study period was from November 2014 to February 2015.
Methodology: A total of 301 respondents were interviewed from the residents using a formulated questionnaire consisting of nine demographic variables and thirty-five impact items classified into economic, environmental and socio-cultural categories. A five-point rating scale was incorporated into each impact item for both belief and evaluation components. The sampling method was arbitrary (non-probability sampling) but without preconceived bias.
Results: The study shows the impact items regarding economic and socio-cultural aspects secured higher ranks by possessing higher mean values. Contrarily, items associated with the environmental aspect possessed lower mean values. These findings denote that residents favored both the economic and socio-cultural impacts of tourism as they positively perceived both impacts, whereas the environmental impact was least favored by the residents. Besides, it was also found that resident’s attitudes towards ecotourism vary with the variations in income, occupation, and gender.
Conclusion: The study concluded that residents acknowledge economic and socio-cultural benefits conveyed by ecotourism without sacrificing environmental and aesthetic aspects. Further studies are recommended to find out the trends of ecotourism and its impacts on residents and the forest.
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