Ecotourism can offer a viable combination of ecological and cultural protection, increase local awareness of the value of preserving the natural and cultural environments, and aid in economic development. However many sources suggest that most ecotourism efforts have focused towards advancing the economic objectives rather than protecting the very resources that attract visitors.

Ayer's rock tourist destinationThere has been much deliberation about the term ‘ecotourism’ but it is important to realize that it is the principals of ecotourism that are important – any form of tourism could become more sustainable but not all forms of tourism can be ecotourism. In addition, there is often controversy about whether ecotourism exists only in ‘relatively undisturbed natural areas ‘. While undisturbed natural areas may be a focal point for most research and writing of ecotourism, the majority of ecotourism occurs in area that have been ‘disturbed’ and are often very close to activity or urban areas.

Principals of ecotourism often include:

  • Natural areas
  • Contains educational and interpretive features
  • Generally for small groups
  • Minimizes negative impacts
  • Supports the protection of natural areas by generating economic benefits for host communities, organizations and authorities managing natural areas with conservation purposes
    (Source: World Tourism Organization)

For more information about ecotourism, check out the following resources: