Crucial social and cultural environment of ecological tourism (case study)
The department of general sociology State University - High School of Economics Moscow, Russia
The case study, which I observe, considers an example of the crucial impact of social and cultural factors on an attempt to organize ecological tourist route in Elets' surroundings. The idea was to organize family pastime by rafting from one equipped site to another. The organizers have been Russians by birth but immigrated many years ago and had "similar" experience in Sweden, Norway and Canada. My function in the project was sociocultural expertise.
First, we've met that less people are ready to rest "within" their family and many parents are not ready and don't have skills to communicate with their children so close and all days around.
Most requests were not from families but from young and middle-age teams going to drink without social and civilized pressure. It reveals a set of valued related to the spare time (ways of spending), social norms (enforced "system" norms in opposition to close informal, dependence instead of responsibility and so on), nature ("wild", external, out-social, out-cultural).
Of course, no rules of behavior and nature protection (including regulations concerning campfire, firewood, natural and sanitary needs) were complied with.
Natives have not considered the project as the way to get some income and their activity has been directed to plundering of site and ruffianism.
Local authorities on the contrary have had an idea to get much money and other benefits from the project. And they obstructed it, used all forms of formal and informal pressure and racket as if they saw "unavailability to collaborate".
Therefore, the analysis of ecological tourism as some social and cultural activity in some "particular" environment reveals attitudes not only to nature, even environment overall. It reveals on a large extent not "external", but "internal" social and cultural attitudes of the groups involved. These attitudes include value and normative background, group identity and interrelations, structural conjunctions of the members of the group within some large social system, indirect organizational relations of tourists mediated by travel agencies.