Is Ecotourism Important? Meaning, Examples, Pros and CONS!12 min read

Whether you’re an avid traveler, or newly stepping into spaces of the world outside your own, you may have sat for a moment and questioned how your movements, actions and choices may be impacting the world around you – and if that’s the case, then that’s amazing!

That means that you care and your inner self is wanting to ensure you take care of not just yourself but also the world around you. Just quietly, thank you for that. The world needs more people like you <3

The good news(Yay!) is that not only can you ensure you are not impacting the world negatively through your travels, you can level that up to ensuring you’re making a positive impact too!

The other good news (that’s right, we’re all about the goodness here, who has time for bad news?) is – below you’ll find some amazing tips to help you do just that! So you can be well-equipped for your adventures to come.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask us! We are always happy to help.

Tourism Impact on the Environment

Sadly, traditional tourism often has adverse effects on the environment that through lack of consideration and care can be devastating on the local peoples and wildlife.

Mass tourism can lead to overconsumption of resources, pollution, habitat destruction, and disturbance of wildlife populations. The carbon footprint of transportation, energy use, and waste management are significant contributors to these impacts.

All of this poses a great threat to the well-being of our Earth, so it’s important for us to be proactive with our interactions around the world in a balanced way that will sustain our planet and thus our continued shared enjoyment of all the beauty she has to offer. Thankfully, we have discovered more sustainable ways of traveling! Incoming: Ecotourism.

What is Ecotourism?

A form of exploration designed for the conscious and caring traveler (Also: everybody, literally every human that wants to travel), ecotourism focuses on responsibly exploring natural environments while minimizing ecological impact and benefiting local communities. It aims to promote sustainable practices and encourage travelers to engage in activities that are environmentally friendly.

Tourism vs Ecotourism – What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference, you ask? Well, quite a lot actually. While tourism encompasses a wide range of travel experiences, ecotourism specifically emphasizes the preservation and appreciation of natural environments.

Unlike traditional tourism, ecotourism prioritizes sustainable practices, education, and community involvement to ensure minimal negative impact on the environment and maximum regeneration and sustainability.

Ecotourism takes a more holistic approach to experiencing a new area by really taking into consideration what’s best for the environment we’re exploring, not just for ourselves — this means cultivating longevity for the areas we tread through our actions within, and relating to, those spaces so that they can remain luscious and abundant and continue to feel magical long after we leave.

Main Purpose of Ecotourism and Why It’s Important

The main purpose of ecotourism is to promote sustainable travel experiences that conserve and protect natural and cultural heritage while offering economic benefits to local communities.

It aims to raise environmental awareness, foster respect for different cultures, and support conservation efforts. Ecotourism prioritizes the long-term sustainability of destinations, helping to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy these natural wonders. Basically, it’s a win-win form of travel!

Types of Ecotourism

So now you understand what ecotourism is all about… but you’re wondering where could you possibly even begin to create a trip that revolves around it? Luckily, ecotourism offers a wide range of activities that allow us to have fun while engaging with nature in a responsible and educational manner.

Below are just a few examples of some of the things you could consider for your next trip:

Wildlife conservation tours: Participants can assist in research, monitor endangered species, or contribute to habitat restoration efforts.

Sustainable agriculture experiences: Visitors can learn about organic farming methods, participate in cultivation practices, and enjoy farm-to-table experiences.

Rainforest hikes and nature walks: These activities provide opportunities to witness biodiversity firsthand and learn about ecosystems and natural processes.

Cultural immersion programs: These experiences allow travelers to engage with local communities, learn about their customs, and support their traditional livelihoods.

For more detailed information and specific examples of ecotourism activities, check out our [Ecotourism Activities post](link to the post here).

Top Ecotourism Destinations

And while we’re at it, so you can really start envisioning your next eco-trip, here are some exciting destinations you could consider too. These are perfect for first-time ecotourism adventures where choosing consciously will be a breeze.

Remember, that these are merely a few ideas, and your possibilities are truly endless! As long as you are traveling to a safe destination, with a dash of savvy thinking and the help of our ecotourism blueprint, you can create an eco-conscious adventure anywhere you wish.

Costa Rica: Renowned for its commitment to conservation, Costa Rica offers diverse ecosystems, national parks, and sustainable tourism practices.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a hub of unique and vulnerable wildlife species, attracting ecotourists from around the world.

Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya: Visitors can witness the great wildebeest migration, support local Maasai communities, and contribute to conservation efforts.

Borneo, Malaysia: Known for its lush rainforests and diverse wildlife, Borneo offers opportunities for jungle trekking, orangutan encounters, and river cruises.

Pros and Cons of Ecotourism

As a passionate eco-warrior, it was hard for me to consider the cons of ecotourism, but like everything, there are positives and negatives, so I thought I would compile, as objectively as possible, a short and sweet list for you to take into consideration. Within my own personal opinion I believe the pros outweigh the cons: if we are to travel, then we must travel responsibly.

We could easily negate travel altogether in support of “protecting the environment”, however I believe this would cause more disconnect than anything else and is unnatural to the many nomadic communities of the world. One of the beauties of existing here is celebrating and learning of all of our differences, and what better way to do that than to immerse ourselves consciously into each other’s worlds, so we can better understand them?

Pros of Ecotourism:

There are many many more I could list here, especially if you also include the personal pros too such as how at peace you would feel knowing you’ve gone out into the world consciously ensuring your actions are as neutral or positive as possible — there’s a certain peace that comes with living in this way, because you know you’re living for the good of the world. Below are a few objective Pros.

  • Conservation support: Ecotourism provides a source of income for conservation initiatives, encouraging the preservation of natural habitats and biodiversity.
  • Community empowerment: Local communities benefit economically from ecotourism, helping to alleviate poverty and empowering them to protect their natural resources.
  • Cultural preservation: Ecotourism promotes respect for indigenous cultures and traditions, fostering a sense of pride and encouraging their preservation.

Cons of Ecotourism:

Taking into account the cons of ecotourism is a little more complex, one of the largest red flags I see with it is the greenwashing that comes with greed, however, this isn’t a con of ecotourism itself, but rather a human disease where we must simply be diligent in ensuring we are supporting people and brands with their hearts in the right place too, rather than those with possibly selfish motives.

We are in an age of information overload, so finding the right information can be difficult at times and this is where we must come together as a community to support each other in finding the right spaces to support with our money, time and energy.

  • Overcrowding: The popularity of ecotourism destinations can lead to overcrowding, causing physical and ecological damage if not managed properly.
  • Greenwashing: Some businesses may falsely market themselves as eco-friendly without adhering to sustainable practices, misleading tourists who seek genuine experiences.
  • Dependency on tourism: Communities may become too reliant on tourism, neglecting other sustainable livelihood options and possibly negatively impacting their traditional way of life.

Benefits of Ecotourism

If you’re not already convinced that ecotourism is your new best friend for your travels, then below are a few beautiful things that are simply causal outcomes of our contributions in choosing to travel this way.

Environmental education: Ecotourism offers opportunities to learn about ecosystems, endangered species, and conservation efforts, fostering a sense of responsibility for the environment.

Economic growth: Local communities benefit from the revenue generated by ecotourism, creating employment opportunities and supporting sustainable economic development.

Conservation funding: The income generated from ecotourism can be directly invested in conservation efforts, including park maintenance, anti-poaching activities, and habitat restoration.

Preserving cultural heritage: Ecotourism encourages the preservation of traditional practices, crafts, and languages, contributing to cultural diversity and identity.

By engaging in ecotourism, we have the power to support the protection of natural areas, contribute to local communities, and create a positive impact on the environment.

*Thorough research is crucial, as is choosing reputable tour operators and destinations that prioritize sustainability and responsible practices.

5 Simple Tips For Planning Your Next Eco-Conscious Adventure:

  1. Research Before You Go: Understand the impact of your chosen activity on the environment and local communities.
  2. Respect Wildlife: Observe animals from a distance without disturbing them or participating in harmful interactions.
  3. Practice Environmental Awareness: Leave no trace behind; dispose of waste responsibly.
  4. Immerse Yourself in Local Culture: Learn about customs and engage respectfully with locals.
  5. Support Sustainable Practices: Choose eco-friendly accommodations and activities that prioritize conservation.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your next adventure aligns with ethical ecotourism principles while enjoying a meaningful and sustainable travel experience.

References & Further Reading:

Below is a little list I compiled incase you’re interested in learning more from other sources! These sources provided data, insights, and information about various aspects of ecotourism.

The International Ecotourism Society – “What is ecotourism?”

National Geographic – “Sustainable Tourism: Eco-Friendly Destinations and Travel Tips”

The Ecotourism Blog – “The Pros and Cons of Ecotourism”

Green Global Travel – “Ecotourism: Definition, Benefits, and Types of Activities”

Ecotourism.org – “10 Best Ecotourism Destinations”

UN Environment – “Ecotourism”

Tourism Concern – “Ecotourism, conservation and community development”

World Wildlife Fund – “Ecotourism”

Feel free to reach out for support and may this help you on your journey! <3