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Delia M. Andries, Cecilia Arnaiz-Schmitz, Pablo Díaz-Rodríguez, Cristina Herrero-Jáuregui and María F. Schmitz

Sustainable Tourism and Natural Protected Areas: Exploring Local Population Perceptions in a Post-Conflict Scenario

Land 2021, 10, 331.

DOI: 10.3390/land10030331


The expansion of urban areas around the world and the application of the sustainability paradigm to tourism discourses has favored an increase in the number of people visiting natural protected areas (NPAs) in their leisure time. While tourism is desired to boost the economy of destinations, mismanagement can bring negative consequences for social– ecological systems, particularly in post-conflict rural scenarios. In the context of a broader ethnographic research, we analyzed the perceptions of the local population about tourism development in the NPA Jaltepeque Estuary (El Salvador, Central America) and the establishment of a Biosphere Reserve in the area, using structured questionnaires and Multiple Correspondence Analysis for the typification of social actors. We found that overall, the population regards positively the development of tourism in the area. Fishermen are the only ones who highlight the negative economic consequences of tourism development, claiming disparity in the distribution of benefits and an increase in the cost of living. We conclude that although tourism development is an activity desired by local people, there is a need in the community to discuss how this process of socio-economic transformation should be approached and an evident conflict between two different models: the one desired and offered by the population and the one that is currently being developed in the nearby Costa del Sol corridor