Gary T. LaVanchy* - University of Denver
The southwest region of Nicaragua has experienced significant growth related to tourism development over the past decade. This growth has led to increased infrastructure, revenue, and employment opportunities for many local communities along the Pacific coast. Not surprisingly, it has also brought concomitant issues of deeper poverty, widening gaps between rich and poor, and depletion of natural resources. This presentation is a portion of a larger research that proposes to advance the understanding of the impact of tourism related development in a way that accounts for changes in local environments, access to basic natural resources, and local experiences and perceptions. The objective of this research is to assess water supply availability amidst the growing challenges of tourism development in the Playa Gigante area. It proposes to answer the question "can local groundwater supplies sustain the demand for freshwater imposed by increased tourism development?"
This research project contributes to debates over the socio-environmental influences of tourism development on local populations in Central America. In the case of Nicaragua, the potential for conflict over freshwater availability appertains to tourism development and predicted decrease in precipitation from global climate change. Information and conclusions generated from this study will help local populations and developers make plans for a future with less water.