Ecotourism is defined by the International Ecotourism Society as "responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local people." Another definition, provided by Ecotourism Australia, is "Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation". Simply put, it's tourism helps the environment and helps the local community.
Benefits from ecotourism are numerous. It's good for the local community, provides jobs, services, and stimulates the economy. It provides energy conservation, less fuel is used and less harmful gasses are released into the air. It's helpful to plants and animals, keeping them protected. Best of all, the tourist gets a vacation that they will never forget.
International Ecotourism Society
The International Ecotourism Society, claims that their mission is as follows; "Creating an international network of individuals, institutions and the tourism industry; educating tourists and tourism professionals; and influencing the tourism industry, public institutions and donors to integrate the principles of ecotourism into their operations and policies." They offer information on ecotourism ranging from educational material to vacation suggestions. They also provide information on ecotourism events and conferences.
Types of Vacations
There are numerous types of vacations that can fall under the guidelines for ecotourism. Many beach resorts offer environmentally friendly experiences, while giving guests a chance to get up close and personal with the natural inhabitants. Other vacations include hiking trips, white water adventures, mountain climbing, or camping, to name a few.
If a expedition, attraction, or resort uses so-called "green" measures, (solar power, windmills, recycling, etc.) it could fall under the guidelines of ecotourism. Helping the local people is also a requirement to qualify. Providing local jobs, informing people of the history of the area, and helping to keep it preserved are benefits to the community.
Adventure trips, such as white water rafting or rock climbing, are very popular. To be considered ecotourism, the natural habitat cannot be disturbed. Visitors are also expected to clean up after themselves before leaving.
Sustainable tourism is enjoying an area the way that nature intended it. Animals must not be disturbed, therefore hunting and fishing are not considered sustainable. The area must be left the way that it was found for the next group to enjoy.