Ecotourism is now described as “responsible travel to natural regions that conserves the environment, supports local people’s well-being, and includes interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015).
Both staff and visitors are expected to participate in education.
Ecotourism has been hailed as a panacea around the world: a way to fund conservation and scientific research, benefit rural communities, promote development in poor countries, improve ecological and cultural sensitivity, instill environmental awareness and social conscience in the travel industry, satisfy and educate discriminating tourists, and some claim and bring world peace
Ecotourism is a type of tourism that aims to have a low environmental impact, is environmentally friendly, and avoids the negative consequences of many large-scale tourism projects in previously undeveloped areas.
History of eco-tourism
Although the origins of the term “ecotourism” are unknown, Heizer (1965) appears to be one of the first to use it, identifying four “pillars” or principles of responsible tourism: minimizing environmental impacts, respecting host cultures, maximizing local benefits, and maximizing tourist satisfaction.
In the 1970s and 1980s, ecotourism grew out of the environmental movement’s womb. Growing environmental concerns, along with a growing discontent with mass tourism, resulted in a surge in demand for alternative outdoor experiences.
At the same time, developing countries came to recognize that nature-based tourism may be a source of foreign cash while also being a less resource-intensive alternative to forestry and agriculture.
Many Definitions of Eco-Tourism
Ecotourism, according to Ceballos-Lascurain, is “travelling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific goal of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural manifestation (both past and present) found in these areas.”
Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural regions that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people,” according to the Ecotourism Society.
“Ecotourism is nature-based tourism that combines teaching and interpretation of the natural environment and is managed to be environmentally sustainable,” according to the Ecotourism Association of Australia.
This definition emphasises that the word “natural environment” encompasses cultural elements, and that “ecologically sustainable” refers to a fair return to the local people as well as long-term resource conservation.
Ecotourism, according to Tickell, is “travel to appreciate the world’s wonderful diversity of natural life and human culture without harming either.”
Ecotourism is a type of environmentally friendly tourism that promotes environmental and cultural awareness, appreciation, and conservation.
Types of Eco-Tourism
We defined mass tourism as a more traditional kind of tourism development in which short-term, free-market principles predominate and profit maximization is the primary goal. Tourism development was once thought to be a desirable and generally “clean” business for nations and regions to pursue.
This was especially true in terms of gains in foreign exchange profits, job creation, and infrastructure development, such as transportation networks.
We are more prone these days to demonize or portray traditional mass tourism as a beast; a creature with few redeeming features for the destination place, its people, and its natural resource base.
This isn’t to say that “mass tourism” hasn’t generated issues; it has. There has been a legitimate need to establish an alternative way to tourism growth that mitigates the harmful effects of mass tourism.
As a result, the concept of “alternative tourism” has gained popularity. This alternate strategy has been referred to as a “competing paradigm” to mass tourism, but it may also be seen as a complimentary approach. That is, there is no such thing as “alternative tourism.”
As a result, the dispute devolves into a semantic one. It may be best to recognize that alternative tourism is a natural result of a growing awareness of tourist development and its strengths and weaknesses.
Alternative tourism is a broad phrase that refers to a variety of tourist tactics (e.g., suitable, eco, soft, responsible, people to people, and green tourism), all of which claim to provide a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional mass tourism in specific areas.
However, as Weaver correctly points out, alternative tourism is not without its detractors. It is apparent that just because alternative tourism arose in response to mass tourism’s negative repercussions does not mean it is less destructive or better than its alternatives.
Nature of Ecotourism
Between 2008 and 2017, tourism is predicted to rise at a rate of 4.3 percent per year in real terms. Ecotourism, often known as nature-based tourism, is the fastest-growing segment of the tourism business, increasing three times faster than the overall industry.
There can be little doubt that rising environmental concerns, along with the historically common habit of travel as a means of escape to nature, are encouraging people to seek solitude with nature, resulting in an increase in the number of visitors to national parks and other protected places.
Nature-based tourism encompasses a variety of aspects. Although not all forms of travel to natural places are necessarily ecotourism, this is an important step in distinguishing nature-based tourism from ecotourism and provides us with a number of levels at which to differentiate the link between certain tourism activities and nature:
Those activities or experiences that rely on the natural world.
Those activities or experiences that are made better by the presence of nature.
Those activities or experiences that happen to take place in a natural context.
Nature-based tourism is divided into numerous categories, each of which employs a combination of these dimensions.
Camping, too, is an activity/experience that is frequently enhanced by nature. Most people would rather camp in a natural area than along the side of a busy highway.
As a result, while nature is an important aspect of these experiences, it is not the driving force behind them.