According to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”
Ecotourism, sensitive to both the cultural and environmental ramifications of travel, may take a variety of approaches. Ecotourists may purchase carbon offsets for their flights, stay in accommodations that practice conservation, visit environmentally beneficial projects or combine their tourism with volunteering.
Ecotourism can provide an economic boost to regions that are normally not tourist destinations. For example, wind farms may bring tourists to agricultural regions with few other attractions. Ecotourism encourages travelers to be mindful of the impact tourism has on local cultures and environments.
Ecotourism can suffer from “greenwashing,” where facilities or trips are advertised as being “green” without actually taking steps to be environmentally friendly. Another problem is that travelers may objectify local people or harm local environments regardless of their intent to do otherwise. Ecotourism also may cost more than regular tourism.
Travel as part of a volunteer project to experience local cultures and environments in a personal way. Be knowledgeable about and observant of local customs when traveling.
Consult the resources on responsible travel and ecotourism offered by The International Ecotourism Society to ensure your trip adheres to your values.