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Ecotourism definition and characteristics

There is no doubt that tourism has made great contributions to the world economy. However, the negative impact of tourism is an issue of major concern for environmentalists, governments, and in fact all of us. Consequently, organisations and governments around the world have taken a number of initiatives to reduce the negative impact of tourism. Many academics and regulatory bodies have also come up with different ideas and concepts. One of those ideas is ecotourism. So, let’s now have a look at ecotourism definition, characteristics and other related issues.

Ecotourism definition

According to Hunt at el. (2015) ecotourism refers to tourism which is conducted responsibly to conserve the environment and sustain the well-being of local people. According to Medlik (2003) ecotourism usually refers to ecologically sustainable trips and visits to enjoy and appreciate nature, which promote conservation, have low visitor impact, and include involvement of the local people.

There are a number of buzzwords that have gained popularity in the tourism industry. For example, green travel, nature travel, responsible tourism, ethical tourism and some others are often used as synonymous with ecotourism.

Characteristics of ecotourism

There are a number of characteristics of ecotourism that tourists need to be aware of. For instance, ecotourism aims to minimise negative impact on the natural and socio-cultural environment. It also aims to build environmental awareness and promote local cultures. The idea here is the tourists should be aware that their activities have impacts on the local environment and people. Therefore, they must try to reduce the negative impact as reasonably as possible. Ecotourism also promotes the protection of natural areas and provide financial benefits for conservation.

Benefits of ecotourism

Ecotourism has a number of benefits for both hosts and guests. For example, it provides jobs for local people. People benefit financially from employment assignments and also sometimes get opportunities for skills development.

Ecotourism educates tourists in hands-on manners. Visiting places of scenic beauty and seeing animals in their native habitats, help tourists increase their awareness of the significance of conservation of resources.

Ecotourism destinations

A number of countries and territories have earned very good reputation as ecotourism destinations. For example, Costa Rika, Norway, Botswana, Kenya, Palau, Iceland, Gelapagos Islands ( Ecuador), Antarctica, Amazon Rainforest, Kerala (India), Alaska (USA), Himalayas (Nepal), Blue Mountains (Australia) are very famous as ecotourism destinations. These destinations and many others around the world allow tourists to experience some of the most challenging and beautiful natural wonders. They also ensure that tourists enjoy those wonders in environmentally and socially responsible manners.

We hope this concise article on ‘Ecotourism definition’ has been helpful. You may also like reading Enclave Tourism and Tourism Definition. Other relevant articles for you are:

What is sustainable tourism?

Differences between tourism and hospitality

Impact of Tourism

Factors affecting tourism demand

Introduction to the Tourism Industry UK

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Last update: 18 May 2018


Hunt, Carter A., Durham, William H. Driscoll, Laura; Honey, Martha (2015-03-16) Can ecotourism deliver real economic, social, and environmental benefits? A study of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica”. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 23 (3)

Medlik, S. (2003) Dictionary of Travel, Tourism, & Hospitality, 3rd edition, Kent UK: Butterworth-Heinemann, Third edition,

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Author: Joe David

Joe David has years of teaching experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality, and tourism management. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies and a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management.

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