A Trip Too Far
by Rosaleen Duffy

Reviewed by Jed Standen

Rosaleen Duffy’s A Trip Too Far charts the emergence of eco-tourism in developing countries and explores the effects of the industry on these nations. The books central endeavor is to discern whether eco-tourism brings help or harm to such places, in an economic and environmental sense.

Duffy focuses on the Central-American country of Belize, an increasingly popular hotspot for the contemporary tourist. Once an undiscovered gem, Belize’s natural beauty has kick-started a trendy and progressive form of tourism– eco-tourism–an industry that provides the tourist with an intimacy with nature, while also endorsing conservation and minimum-impact methods. Yet, as Duffy points out, such practices often don’t practice what they preach. In such cases, effective and necessary measures aren’t employed in order to minimize environmental impact. If the image of eco-tourism is enough to attract patrons, sometimes that is all that matters. In a country like Belize, where Mayan heritage and influence loom large and historic ruins abound, conservation is imperative to preserve the remnants of incredible human accomplishment.

Duffy’s book is structured like a persuasive essay or research paper, making use of various angles on the subject to paint a complete picture of both the virtues and evils of eco-tourism. She then leaves the reader to form an informed opinion. Much of the text deals with current domestic issues in Belize in which the eco-tourism industry plays a role. By shedding light on such specific issues, Duffy creates within the reader a connection to the places of which she writes. San Pedro, once a cozy, coastal fishing village, is now a hotbed for all types of tourism, not all of which is environmentally conscious or responsible. Duffy argues in favor of more government regulation of such businesses in order to make eco-tourism sustainable, effective and lucrative. If the government proves capable and pro-active, Duffy believes that the industry has significant potential to positively impact Belize’s economy without sacrificing its natural beauty.

The book’s content, though somewhat dry, is eloquently presented and well-researched. Very much an academic and educational work, Duffy proves her ability to persuasively argue her points and present all of the relevant facts and background. A Trip Too Far both warns against the evils of tourism and touts its virtues, attempting to establish a safe middle-ground.

An engaging read for anyone interested in global politics, economics and conservation, Rosaleen Duffy’s research has been assembled in a coherent and rhetorical manner. Her format makes it easy for the reader to jump back and forth between chapters or to skip portions altogether and still maintain a common thread throughout. Even more refreshing is Duffy’s willingness to offer real solutions to the problems that she presents, making for dynamic and thought-provoking dialogue between her and the reader that goes beyond the lecture-like style that typically is found in books on such academic subjects.

Rosaleen Duffy
A Trip Too Far
(London: Earthscan Publications, 2002)
ISBN: 1-85383-759-8   $15.95   210 pp.

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