Exploring Eco-Tourism: Persuasive Writing and Decision Making in Geography

Have you ever thought about the impact your holidays have on the places that you visit? Here, our Geography teacher Mrs Barrett explains what her Year 9 group has been working on recently...

In Year 9 last term that is exactly what we were considering. At the end of the unit we completed a decision-making exercise to decide whether a new ski resort should be built in Baad, Austria.  Each student took on the role of a character affected by the proposal and write an argument either for or against the ski resort. Characters included a local restaurant owner, a retiree, a young resident, ecological society member and a skier from a nearby city.

The students wrote some fantastic, well thought out and persuasive arguments. Some quotes can be seen below;

‘Hi, I’m 15 ……creating a ski resort where people can ski and have fun with their friends would bring tourism…. so more money would come in.’

‘It would provide jobs, however, they are almost exclusively seasonal and poorly paid.’

‘The overriding issue just has to be the impact on the environment. As we know, overuse of footpaths and tracks leads to soil erosion.’

‘When tourists visit the areas…. They always leave waste, which would be harmful to the environment and wildlife. A particular problem is single use plastics exposed as the snow melts.’

‘I believe that this ski resort would improve our village. Not only will it create jobs, but it will also result in the roads, sewers and other things being greatly improved.’

Each student put forward their argument either for or against the resort to the rest of the group. We then held a class vote. We started with only two options either to build or not build. However, due to the arguments put forward by members of the class, we decided to add in a third option, that of an eco-resort. The students had learned about eco-tourism earlier in the term and used their knowledge to suggest environmentally friendly options in their arguments such as renewable energy and recycling.

The final votes were 50% in favour of an eco-tourist resort, 25% in favour of building the ski resort and 25% for no development at all. It was wonderful to see the students taking on the different roles so effectively and thinking through the advantages and disadvantages of tourism from all the different perspectives.