“Ecotourism” has become one of the most abused words in the tourism and travel promotion world!
So what is Ecotourism?
The International Ecotourism Society proposed one of the 1st definitions in 1991:
“Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well being of local people.”
Many tour operators and promoters have hijacked the term in order to try to attract travelers to a growing segment of the tourist market, which stems from an increasing number of travelers who are concerned about the social and environmental impact of their trip.
If an activity occurs outdoors in a natural setting, it is often called “Ecotourism” by many, including even 4-wheeling through the rainforest!
Components of Ecotourism:
Contributes to biodiversity conservation
Sustains the well being of the local people
Includes an interpretation / learning experience
Involves responsible action on the part of the tourists and tourism industry
Is delivered mainly to small groups by small-scale business
Requires the lowest possible consumption of non-renewable resources
Stresses local participation, stewardship, and business opportunities, particularly for rural people.
Those people who are truly interested in Ecotourism are also interested in an environmental and cultural learning experience, rather than just lying on a beach or just having a good time. Many also want to contribute to local conservation and livelihoods, rather than just taking or having their tourist dollars go to some large, often foreign, tourism company.