What is Ecotourism?
In a few words, the International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as:
‘Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.’
This form of travel was first introduced in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s that it really began to grow. Thanks to the growing trend to prioritize greener options, ecotourism is becoming increasingly popular.
Ecotourism is about building a culture of respect and protection of the environment, while providing positive experiences for visitors and hosts.
The ecotourism mindset is about generating value for local people and the tourism industry, and should help provide remarkable experiences for visitors, while increasing their sensitivity to local environmental, political or social issues.
The TIES highlights some principles associated with ecotourism, which we will discuss below.
Why is this form of tourism so important?
Ecotourism ensures that biodiversity, ecosystems and local communities remain protected and unspoiled. It encourages travelers to help protect the environment and contribute to local communities on a much deeper level.
The best way to protect the world is to educate ourselves about these kinds of issues that play such an important role, so the more we know, the better we can protect it. So the more we know, the better we can protect it.
The role that education plays is vital, to teach travelers about some of the difficulties that these environments face.
Over-tourism is a big problem for a number of reasons. It can put a strain on a destination’s resources and people, and can prevent them from effectively safeguarding their most fragile assets.
In order to participate in ecotourism activities or to be able to commercialize this practice, the following principles should be adopted:
- Physical, social, behavioral and psychological impacts should be minimal or nonexistent.
- Environmental and cultural respect should be a fundamental pillar to create awareness.
- The experiences provided must be beneficial for both visitors and hosts.
- A direct economic benefit must be provided for conservation.
- Local people and private industry must generate economic benefits.
- Provide memorable interpretive experiences for visitors that help raise awareness of the political, environmental and social climate of host countries.
- Design, build and manage low-impact facilities.
- Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of indigenous peoples in their community and work collaboratively with them to generate their empowerment.
Educates people and travelers
Education is key in any subject. And one of the principles of ecotourism is to educate people and travelers to make better decisions when traveling. This can make a big difference to local communities, the environment and the tourism industry.
Ensures that the world remains beautiful
Ecotourism ensures that some of the planet’s most fragile ecosystems are protected and preserved for generations to come. And it ensures that these places remain beautiful for the long term.
By supporting ecotourism, you’ll be making your travels save some of the world’s most precious natural places.
Support conservation and local communities
It gives back economically to the places you visit and helps sustain the livelihoods of local communities.
One of the great things about ecotourism is that it helps generate income for small businesses and local communities. Instead of large corporations cutting costs to save money.
Improves the travel experience
The travel experience should be an enriching one. And that is precisely what ecotourism does, it helps us gain a much deeper cultural understanding of a destination and the opportunity to truly appreciate its natural beauty. That should be the concept of travel.
In addition to being good for the environment, ecotourism is also beneficial to our personal development and mental health. It helps us connect with nature in an interactive and respectful way, which brings a multitude of benefits to our well-being.
Many studies have shown that exposure to natural environments is crucial to our psychological health.
Ecotourism offers the opportunity to engage with the natural world in an enjoyable and effective way, helping us to create greater compassion and better stewardship of the world’s remaining natural wonders.
Joining the cause of ecotourism is one way to ensure that the tourism industry continues to thrive and provide social and economic benefits to destinations and communities around the world.