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Home > What is ecotourism? - Updated: 08-01-2003 2:43 pm
Enumarating the general characteristics of ecotourism.  
ecotourism.gif Much has been written about ecotourism, but there is little consensus about its meaning, due to the many forms in which ecotourism activities are offered by a large and wide variety of operators, and practised by an even larger array of tourists.

While there is not a universal definition for ecotourism, its general characteristics can be summarized as follows*:

  • Ecotourism encompasses all nature-based forms of tourism in which the main motivation of the tourists is the observation and appreciation of nature as well as the traditional cultures prevailing in natural areas.


  • It contains educational and interpretation features.


  • It is generally, but not exclusively organized for small groups by specialized and small, locally owned businesses. Foreign operators of varying sizes also organize, operate and/or market ecotourism tours, generally for small groups.


  • It minimizes negative impacts upon the natural and socio-cultural environment.


  • It supports the protection of natural areas by:

  • -Generating economic benefits for host communities, organizations and authorities managing natural areas with conservation purposes
    -Providing alternative employment and income opportunities for local communities
    -Increasing awareness towards the conservation of natural and cultural assets, both among locals and tourists.

    *Based on text in a brochure prepared by UNEP and WTO for the International Year of Ecotourism 2002.


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