The Role of Ecotourism in Sustainable Rural Development



    Received: 23 May, 2010 Accepted: 30 August, 2010     Ecotourism with its potentials can be a major strategy in sustainable rural development which regards expanding opportunities and improving living conditions of the present and next generations of vulnerable people in rural communities as its main objectives. This paper attempted to have an applied examination of tourism with the help of SWOT method. The results showed the advantage of strengths over weaknesses, and the balance between opportunities and threats of ecotourism. The main strengths included: increase in employment, enhancing rural people participation in development programs, and poverty reduction. The most important weaknesses were: commodification of culture, resource scarcity, and the low tendency of rural people to farming and animal breeding. Provision of basic infrastructures, and improving the quality of public services were the main opportunities; and the delegation of the rights to exploit natural resources to self-interested people and economic leakages were among the main threats of the growth of ecotourism in rural development.