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INTRODUCTION

Introduction “Tourism can be a positive force to help alleviate poverty, educate the public, and motivate preservation and conservation of cultural, natural and historic resources. When done poorly, tourism fails to provide local benefits and may destroy the distinctive assets of a destination”. (Jonathan B. Tourtellot, National Geographic Fellow and Center for Sustainable Destinations (CSD) Founding Director).

Tourism is a global phenomenon, which has reached and penetrated the remotest parts of the world. As such, tourism has assisted the process of economic and a cultural globalization. Tourism produces both short and long-term effects for destinations; the ramifications of which are only partially addressed by the social and economic sciences. It was not until the late twentieth century that tourism began to evoke real interest within human behavior and environmental sciences; resulting in an evolving multidisciplinary scientific consideration of tourism and its effects. Today, a number of important theoretical considerations and approaches exist; having emerged from numerous disciplines, including geography, anthropology, sociology, economics, natural resource management, development studies, behavioral psychology, marketing studies and business management, among others. As in any emerging field of research, there are divergent views among scholars regarding the methodologies for defining, analyzing and measuring basic concepts and phenomena related to tourism and its effects. For example, the operational definition of tourism, developed and disseminated by the World Tourism Organization (hereinafter WTO)1, proposes that “Tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes”. While this definition helps to frame the phenomenon of tourism, it does not explain the phenomenon or its implications. This is the mandate placed on academia, to provide the data and critical reflection needed to construct the foundations for multidisciplinary research relating to tourism. This is not an easy task! Universities and research centers all over the world are working hard to establish the theoretical frame for understanding the implications of tourism, including the Center for Investigation in the Ecosystems of Patagonia (CIEP) in the Aysén region of southern Chile. For more than six years, CIEP has included tourism in its research and regional development priorities; culminating in the 2009 creation of a Department of Sustainable Tourism that

1

http://media.unwto.org/en/content/understanding-tourism-basic-glossary

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Explorando las Nuevas Fronteras del Turismo. Perspectivas de la investigación en Turismo  

Documento del Centro de Turismo Científico de la Patagonia, sobre este importante ámbito que combina el turismo y las ciencias en Aysén.

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