Ecotourism travel is a new way of traveling for those who are not into mass tourism. It’s about respecting and benefiting local people and the environment. Ecotourism means to minimize the impact that tourism has on an area through cooperation and management and it encourages travelers to have a positive impact on their new surroundings. Ecotourism strives to be of low impact to the local community. Responsible ecotourism minimizes the negative aspects of mass tourism on the environment and enhances the cultural integrity of local people.
The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” This means that those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should follow the following principles:
- Minimize impact
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
- Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts
- Provide direct financial benefits for conservation
- Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people
- Raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate
- Support international human rights and labor agreements.
Ecotourism, a term that is derived from “ecological tourism,” refers to a type of tourism that is focused on environmentally, culturally, and sociologically sound tourism. Since the 1980s, global awareness has increased, leading to the development of ecotourism. The focus of ecotourism is enjoying what the planet has to offer, without humans having a negative impact on natural resources, cultures, or communities. Historically, tourism has been known to exploit not only various areas of the world, but also to promote decadent use (and often abuse) of natural resources, despite the obvious financial benefits to the tourist destinations.
Ecotourism is more than just tourism with a nature twist. It encompasses more global ideas, and focuses on the natural gifts that the world has to offer, as well as recycling, energy preservation, conservation, and economic opportunities for communities. The most popular ecotourism destinations are often considered to be exquisitely beautiful places, with interesting natural structures, a wide variety of indigenous flora and fauna, and cultural heritage that embraces the beauty and splendor of the area.
A focus of ecotourism is responsible travel. Typical ecotourists are not visiting the popular amusement parks or overcrowded resorts. Instead, ecotourism is the type of travel enjoyed by those in search of ways to better use and sustain our natural resources, for both environmental and cultural integrity.