What is Eco Tourism? Types, Nature, Growth & Development

  • Post last modified:2 October 2021
  • Reading time:16 mins read
  • Post category:Tourism

What is Eco Tourism?

Eco tourism can be defined as travel to the natural attraction that contributes to their conservation respect the integrity of local communities and enhance the tourists understanding of the natural attraction its conservation and the local community.

It should have a minimum impact on soil, water, air, flora, fauna & biophysical processes that use little energy, cause little pollution, and educate the tourist. Discontinue the welfare of the local & indigenous populations.

Ecotourism as a concept dates back to the 1970s, although it was only defined in 1990 by the International Ecotourism Society, which described ecotourism as, Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the wellbeing of local people.

Despite this and other efforts to formalize the concept, ecotourism has always been the victim of terminological ambiguity. Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people.”

Sometimes it is defined as a sub-category of sustainable tourism or a segment of the larger nature tourism market. It includes an interpretation/learning experience, is delivered to small groups by small-scale businesses, and stresses local ownership, particularly for rural people.

Nature of Ecotourism

The term ecotourism is surrounded by confusion. It has been defined by Blangy and Wood as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people.

However, it is contended here that, regardless of definition, ecotourism is an instigator of change. It is inevitable that the introduction of tourists to areas that were previously seldom visited by outsiders will place new demands upon the environment associated with new actors, new activities, and new facilities.

This will involve the forging of new relationships between people and environment, between peoples with different lifestyles, and between a wide variety of forces for both change and stability. These forces act at a diversity of scales from global to local.

There are likely to be tensions and, in some cases, contradictions between the outcomes desired by the various participants in ecotourism as well as between those directly involved and those indirectly affected by its introduction and operation.

Thus, compromise and trade-offs must be sought between the legitimate aspirations of different people.

Difference between Ecotourism and Nature-based Travel

While nature-based tourism is just traveling to natural places, ecotourism provides local benefits – environmentally, culturally and economically. A nature-based tourist may just go bird watching; an ecotourist goes bird watching with a local guide, stays in a locally operated eco-lodge and contributes to the local economy.

Disadvantages of Ecotourism

Eco tourism can also become problematic if it involves activities, transport facilities or levels of visitation that have major environmental impacts, or if is occurs in areas that are environmentally fragile or with vulnerable communities.

Accordingly, while there are reasons to encourage eco tourism it must be controlled so that it is ecologically and socially sustainable. There must be controls on tour operator’s touristÊs behaviour & tourism developments in natural areas as well as enforcement of regulations and monitoring of impacts.

Emergence of Ecotourism

While eco tourism has been around since the 19th century it has grown considerably in popularity and commercial significance in just the past ten years in response to interest in the environment and exotic and adventure holidays, increase in leisure time and persons, incomes the improved accessibility of many natural attractions, promotions by selected countries and business for economic benefits and a belief that ecotourism will build support for conservation.

Objectives of Ecotourism

  • Conserve biological and cultural diversity of the place and plan for sustainable use natural resources.

  • Share the benefits of eco tourism developments equitably with local communities and indigenous people and creating awareness campaign among the beneficiaries and disseminating methods for sustainable planning, management, regulation and monitoring.

  • To impart nature education to different target groups i.e. children, teachers, bureaucrats, media persons, rural people and politicians and to provide interpretation facilities to generate conservation awareness among the visitors by discovering wonders of nature and its intricate relationship.

  • To strengthen the staff and infrastructure for managing the eco tourism and interpretation programmes and creating employment opportunities for local people to cater to the needs of visitors in raising taxi, hotels, engagement in ret houses, lodges etc.

  • Involve local people in recycling the revenue from tourism for improvement of resources and facilities in the villages by subsidizing alternate energy devices, improving educational and medical facilities.

Principles of Eco Tourism

All nature based forms of tourism in which main motivation for tourists is to observe and appreciate nature as well as the traditional cultures prevailing in natural areas and their protection. Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

This means that those who implement and participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt the following ecotourism principles.

The basic principles of ecotourism can be described in the following points:

  • It contains educational and interpretation features

  • It minimises negative impacts upon the natural and socio–cultural environment

  • Supports the conservation of natural areas and wildlife

  • Ecotourism include designing, constructing and operating low–impact facilities for tourists

  • Minimizes air and water pollution as well as tourist waste

  • Offers safe and enriching or educational visitor experiences

  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect

  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.

  • Provide awareness towards the conservation of natural and cultural assets, both among locals and tourists.

  • Providing alternative employment and income opportunities for local communities

  • Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.

  • Respects the cultural tradition of the host destination.

  • Maintains and enhances the landscape so as to avoid physical or environmental degradation.

  • Maximizes opportunities for local prosperity for the host destination in the form of long–term tourism viability, local management control, quality employment, local retention of visitor spending, and fair distribution of economic and social benefits.

  • Ecotourism helps in using non–renewable resources efficiently.

  • Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.

Growth & Development of Eco Tourism

Ecotourism has been developed particularly in East Africa, Central America, North America, Antarctica, The Himalayas, New Zealand, Australia and Parts of Europe. Costa Rica’s National Parks of Europe now receives over 3, 00,000 visitors per day of use per year.

Over 40,000 tourists now visit the Galapagos Islands each year and every Antarctica attends over 5,000 tourists annually, Ecotourism moreover is a major source of Foreign exchange for countries such a Kenya and Costa Rica.

The estimated gross value of Tourism on the Galapagos Islands in 1991 was $ 33 million. It should be a considerable initial and continuing investment in nature protection, facilities, services, promotion and training to the earth such revenues.

The factors influencing the growth of Eco tourism are mainly the development of transport, system, along with the facilities of package tourists which allows people to travel with an easy mind. Tourism has become a status symbol.

All these factors along with better education have helped the growth of Ecotourism. Eco-development refers of a form to planned growth which is concerned mainly with the development of locally available resources within the constraints of the local environments So as to maximize the local capacities of the biosphere to supports human life and passional wastes.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been encouraging the eco-development concept from the angle of villages so that development of the villages through the world takes place on the basic natural resources and human skills locally available.

Eco development implies the creation of a horizontal authority capable of transcending sectoral approaches & dealing with various aspects of development Efficiency of such authority depends upon the active participation of the local population. It is felt that such an approach to ecodevelopment will be helpful in maintaining the ecological balance.

Types of Ecotourism

Following are the main types of ecotourism:

  1. Coastal Tourism
  2. Island Tourism
  3. Mountain Tourism
  4. Inland Tourism

Coastal Tourism

The overwhelming attraction of the three S’s Sun, Sea and Sand has subjected coast lines to the fall forces of recreation pressures and mass tourist as witnessed around much of the Mediterranean as well as the North American East coasts, besides the channel and the North Sea area of Europe, Scandinavia and Japan often.

The coast is a fragile ecosystem. For these types of environments, it is difficult to find examples of positive impact where as the detrimental effects are region.

The tourist’s value of the coasts invariable lies in their landscape and amenities character physical offer tend to relate trilogy with the infrastructure of the resort consisting of land buildings on a soft landscape.

Saturation developments at many resorts typify mass tourism and high density use is often found along coastal region of the industrialized countries parts of Mediterranean, California and Florida are supreme examples of this phenomenon.

Island Tourism

By their nature islands are liable to all the potential and actual impacts associated with a coastal ecosystem of they are large and hair significant inland areas, they are also prone to the impacts which affect the later.

Very small land, such as those along the Yugoslavian Adriatic coasts, most of the Greek islands and small island states which are the tourist attraction and depends mainly on tourism as an economic activity, can experience impacts particularly specific to their island character.

On such small island resources may be limited, land space may be severally restricted and there may be labour shortage problems. Island with good and cheap transport services after experience high-density use, e.g., Hawai & Majorda where travel time and coasts are relatively high and or the facilities poorly developed, torsion density tends to be low and it is easier to control physical developments.

Eg. Helones & Maldives. The provision of air transport facilities is a necessary pre require a site to tourism development on small islands.

Mountain Tourism

Although mountains and uplands areas have been popular as a tourist attraction for a great many years, mass tourism in such environments is a more recent phenomenon. Seasonality is an important factor in evaluating tourism impacts in mountainous regions.

Mass tourism is generally normal in winter months, for example in the European Alps, South California and Scandinavia, but not in the summer.

Thus the winter’s pressures may exceed the carrying capacity of the resort but the level of summer activities can remain density tourism is the likely norm in higher altitude mountains where trekking is the commonest activity e.g.

The Himalayas & Cordillera Blanca North American Rockies, Peru. Tatos mountains of Eastern Europe & the Caucasus.

Inland Tourism

  1. Rural Countryside
  2. Wilderness Areas

Rural Countryside

The countryside used leisure on a massive scale by a person from the towns in the West consequently there is great pressure & the fragile and rural environments in many areas. The countryside visiting encompasses a tremendous variety of activities that can be enjoyed in rural numerous, but they make use of the countryside in a variety of ways.

Countryside recreation according to Allan Patmore is a convenient term for a wide range of leisure time activities whose only common factor is that they take place in the open air on land or water in the countryside.

Wilderness Areas

These are those relatively large natural ingenious where one or several ecosystems are not materially altered by human exploitation and occupation. Some areas are designed national Park by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and others are regulated in some manner. These exist in more than 120 countries throughout the world.

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