The following definition of ecotourism, established by TIES in 1990, is the most widely used and recognized definition of ecotourism: “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people” (TIES, 1990).
Ecotourism is an important and growing segment of the global tourism industry that is making significant positive contributions to the environmental, social, cultural and economic well-being of destinations and local communities around the world. Furthermore, ecotourism has provided an impetus to assist in greening the tourism industry on many fronts.
Ecotourism advocates for the well-being of local people, and requires that it “provides direct financial benefits and empowerment for local people,” as stated in the following principles of ecotourism: Principles of Ecotourism (TIES, 1990) –
Ecotourism is about connecting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should follow the following ecotourism 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
The terms community-based tourism and community-based ecotourism are commonly used to describe the type of tourism that, recognizing the significant social, environmental and economic impacts tourism can have, primarily focuses on tourism’s benefits to local communities.
“Community tourism,” therefore, strongly aligns with ecotourism, which fosters responsible practices where the local community significantly participates in the development and management of tourism, and empowers local citizens to utilize natural and cultural resources in a sustainable manner.
We urge all the readers of this article to learn more about the positive contributions of the global ecotourism community, and to join us in our efforts to stop green-washing (or the irresponsible use of the terms green, eco and sustainable) in travel and tourism through education on principles and benefits of ecotourism, advocating sustainability.
This article was published by CNN. To access the site, click here