What is Ecotourism

As efforts in environmentalism move into the mainstream, green travel has emerged as an important issue in the travel industry as well as one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism, growing between 10-15% in 2007 alone.

Whether it be promoting a more conscious effort when traveling or simply using a more eco-friendly mode of travel like bicycles and hybrid vehicles, green travel is at the forefront of the travel industry. As the world gets wise to the positive effects of ecotourism, people are demanding greener efforts from the businesses within that industry. But what exactly defines green travel and how does it apply across the many different businesses within the travel community? In this section we take a closer look at how ecotourism is defined and how businesses in the travel community are responding to this growing trend of environmental consciousness.

Green travel and ecotourism have a lot of different definitions, but most of them focus on the same efforts. In the broadest sense ecotourism focuses on visiting places in the world while making a minimum impact on the environment while you are there. This means conserving local plants, wildlife, cultures and the ecosystems you visit. Other words used to convey the same ideal are sustainable tourism and responsible tourism, although you can easily use these terms synonymously for ecotourism and green travel without causing confusion. However, here are a list of criteria that helps to define ecotourism:

  • The idea of people traveling to natural, typically exotic and remote locations
  • Conservation of bio diversity and ecosystems
  • Minimal impact as a direct result of tourism
  • The respect local cultures
  • Promoting sustainable tourism in the area
  • The environment, culture, people, nature and animals are the primary focus of travel to the area
  • Provide direct financial benefits to the area
  • Raise awareness about problems in the area
  • Promote responsible tourism

It goes without saying that when some people hear about ecotourism or green travel they often think about jungles, living with local cultures and eating all organic or vegan foods.

While there is surely an eco-traveler of this sort out there doing all kinds of good, the green travel industry doesn’t expect you to give up comfort in exchange for your commitment to traveling green. As the positive effects of helping to maintain the world’s precious ecosystems and environments gains even more popularity hotels, hostels, restaurants, airlines, cruise liners, car dealerships and even clothing lines are making strong efforts to contribute to a green style of living. Even though there is an extreme side to ecotourism and being a responsible traveler, there is a way to educate the public and the businesses effecting the environment while they travel so that everyone wins. This is the bigger idea behind ecotourism and travelers going green.

What it means to be a green traveler however, is something different. When you are a green traveler it means you consciously seek out businesses, tours, adventures, vacations and hotels that have also made a commitment to conserving the world’s ecosystems and environments. By promoting and supporting those who are working with environmentalists, green travel is helping to make the world not only a better place for travelers, but for everyone.

Check out our sections on some of the world’s ‘greenest’ vacation destinations and help do your part!

History of Ecotourism >>>