Ecotourism or Egotourism

CARL PURCELL/CORBIS

ASSETS ON SHOW: Rhinos, lions — and even local tribes — are used to "sell" their countries

In the wide world of socially responsible travel, one of the cardinal rules has long been "Take only pictures, leave only footprints." After reading academic Rosaleen Duffy's critical analysis of the impacts of "ethical," nature-based tourism, A Trip Too Far — Ecotourism, Politics & Exploitation (Earthscan; 210 pages), altruistic souls may feel they have little choice but to do their exploring the old-fashioned way — in a comfortable chair with a stack of books.

Duffy, a lecturer at Britain's Lancaster University, pulls no punches in her critique of the political nature of "green" tourism. It is, she argues,...

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