Eco-certification can generate private benefits for tourism operators in developing countries and therefore has the potential to improve their environmental performance.
Tourism associated with beaches, protected areas, and other natural resources often has serious environmental impacts. The problem is especially acute in developing countries, where nature-based tourism is increasingly important and environmental regulation is typically weak. Eco-certification programs--voluntary initiatives certifying that tourism operators meet defined environmental standards--promise to help address this problem by creating a private-sector system of inducements, monitoring, and enforcement. But to do that, they must provide incentives for tourism operators to participate, such as price premiums and more customers. Rigorous evidence on such benefits is virtually nonexistent.
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