Ecotourism is low-impact travel coupled with conservation efforts in wilderness destinations. Ecotourism should help promote the health of natural areas rather than contribute to their deterioration the way high-impact tourism can.
Perhaps the cardinal rule of ecotourism is to leave only footprints and take only photographs. Don't litter or remove souvenirs from natural areas. It's a crime to remove coral from the Great Barrier Reef and other protected areas.
Follow the Rules
Always stay on designated paths to minimize erosion and habitat destruction. Don't feed wildlife. Human diets can make wildlife sick and upset population balances in wild areas.
When possible, patronize local businesses. Local hotel, restaurant and shop owners are more invested in the health of their own ecosystems than the producers of foreign products. Attending local events can also help support traditional cultures and customs.
Know Your Souvenirs
Never purchase products that are derived from endangered animals or plant species. Don't buy ivory, tortoise shell or animal skin products. Do support local craftspeople when possible.
Use environmentally friendly personal hygiene products when visiting natural areas. Many soaps are dangerous to aquatic species.
Book travel and lodgings with businesses that use green products and practices. Many modern eco-lodges are basic but comfortable, and are designed with a low environmental impact in mind.