Ecotourism and sustainable tourism are getting popular forms of travel for individuals from around the world. However, ecotourism is still an up-and-coming type of travel that is continuing to spread across the globe and increase in popularity. Today we’re going to head back in time to look at the history and evolution of ecotourism and help you discover how this became one of the most popular options for sustainable tourism around the world.
What is Ecotourism?
If you are unfamiliar with this type of travel, you might be wondering: what is ecotourism?
The Global Ecotourism Network states: “Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and creates knowledge and understanding through interpretation and education of all involved: visitors, staff and the visited.”
Ecotourism is a way of traveling or vacationing that focuses on places of natural beauty without damaging the environment during your trip. It helps the local economy and people who live in that area and allows travelers to connect with nature, the environment, and the culture of the country they are visiting. It offers many benefits to locals, visitors, and the environment, and the money from this type of travel goes towards the local community as opposed to large corporations. With more individuals around the world looking for more sustainable tourism options, it’s only continuing to increase in popularity each year.
How Did Ecotourism Start?
While sustainable tourism has gained more interest from individuals around the world in the past decade, you’ll be surprised to know its history dates back much further. The term ecotourism appeared in the dictionary nearly forty years ago, so it’s certainly not a new concept. This sustainable tourism idea first came about at the start of the 1980s and offered travelers a way to minimize their damage to the environment when visiting exotic locations. By the 1990s, this had become a more commonly used form of travel, especially as the public’s awareness of climate change and our planet’s limited resources increased. The United Nations declared 2002 the year of ecotourism, and in the following decade, this form of sustainable tourism became a more popular offering around the world.
Previous to the increase in ecotourism, some developing countries were using poaching and slash and burn farming that were incredibly detrimental to the natural environment. However, many international organizations have since stepped in to help educate locals about the importance of protecting their land. This change has helped these countries become popular ecotourism destinations, as they have switched their primary income source over to tourism.
When you think of sustainable tourism, the first country that often springs to mind is Costa Rica. Their government has promoted ecotourism opportunities since the 1980s, and by the 1990s, it was known around the world as the top location for sustainable tourism. It’s one of the most popular forms of tourism for their economy, particularly due to its protected areas and national parks, such as Cocos Island. 25% of the country’s land has been put aside and made into reserves and protective parks to safeguard it for future generations.
Australia is another popular sustainable tourism destination, whose government has also been promoting ecotourism vacations since around the same time as Costa Rica. One of their top sustainable tourism organizations, Ecotourism Australia, was founded in 1991. It’s worked since then to promote ecotourism in the country and encourages vendors to create high-quality ecotourism experiences for visitors. Australians are passionate about the environment and the creatures that call their land home, so it’s the ideal location for a sustainable tourism vacation.
If you have been wondering what is ecotourism or considering traveling in this manner in the future, it’s important to understand the origins of this type of travel. Ecotourism is a popular form of travel, and we are sure you can now see the benefits to the local community, the natural environment, and to you as a visitor that this form of sustainable tourism offers.
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