Eco-tourism is defined as, responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. Eco-tourism is more than a catch phrase for nature loving travel and recreation. Eco-tourism is consecrated for preserving and sustaining the diversity of the world’s natural and cultural environments. It accommodates and entertains visitors in a way that is minimally intrusive or destructive to the environment and sustains & supports the native cultures in the locations it is operating in. Responsibility of both travelers and service providers is the genuine meaning for Eco-tourism.
Eco-tourism also endeavors to encourage and support the diversity of local economies for which the tourism-related income is important. With support from tourists, local services and producers can compete with larger, foreign companies and local families can support themselves. Besides all these, the revenue produced from tourism helps and encourages governments to fund conservation projects and training programs.
Saving the environment around you and preserving the natural luxuries and forest life, that’s what Eco-tourism is all about. Whether it’s about a nature camp or organizing trekking trips towards the unspoiled and inaccessible regions, one should always keep in mind not to create any mishap or disturbance in the life cycle of nature.
Eco-tourism focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on our vulnerable planet. It is typically defined as travel to destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible Eco-tourism includes programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water reuse, and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities are an integral part of Eco-tourism.
Historical, biological and cultural conservation, preservation, sustainable development etc. are some of the fields closely related to Eco-Tourism. Many professionals have been involved in formulating and developing eco-tourism policies. They come from the fields of Geographic Information Systems, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Photography, Marine Biology and Oceanography, National and State Park Management, Environmental Sciences, Women in Development, Historians and Archaeologists, etc.
Eco-tourism is considered the fastest growing market in the tourism industry, according to the World Tourism Organization with an annual growth rate of 5% worldwide and representing 6% of the world gross domestic product, 11.4% of all consumer spending – not a market to be taken lightly.
Offering market-linked long-term solutions, Eco-tourism provides effective economic incentives for conserving and enhancing bio-cultural diversity and helps protect the natural and cultural heritage of our beautiful planet.
By increasing local capacity building and employment opportunities, Eco-tourism is an effective vehicle for empowering local communities around the world to fight against poverty and to achieve sustainable development.
With an emphasis on enriching personal experiences and environmental awareness through interpretation, Eco-tourism promotes greater understanding and appreciation for nature, local society, and culture.
Principles of Eco-Tourism
Eco-tourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement and participate in Eco-tourism activities should follow the following Eco-tourism 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.