More than 500 million people around the world travel for leisure each
year. Most travelers visit the same popular destinations--major international
cities, national and wildlife parks, monuments and ruins, and beach resorts.
Statistics tell us that mass tourism has a wide range of effects on the
environment, culture and economies of local communities. Ecotravel offers an
alternative to many of the negative effects of mass tourism by conserving
fragile ecosystems, supporting endangered species and habitats, preserving
indigenous cultures, and developing sustainable local economies.
By looking at the alternatives and making informed travel choices, you
can minimize your impact and positively contribute to:
Have you ever thought about what happens to a coastal environment when
beachfront property is transformed into large resorts? What happens to prairies,
forests, and the homes of wild and endangered animals?
According to recent statistics, the environmental impact of tourism
development is of serious concern. In some popular destinations, the natural
attractions of the area have been damaged or destroyed due to overbuilding and
But tourism doesn't have to create negative environmental impacts. In
fact, today many destinations and tour operators are realizing the value of
conservation and are altering their business practices to protect their natural
resources and improve the environment.
you can do
destinations that are not over-crowded or over-developed.
responsible tour operators and guides who are aware of environmental
impacts and contribute financially to conservation and preservation
Seek out responsible,
environmentally sensitive accommodations.
Follow all advisories, rules and
regulations regarding protected areas, water sources or wildlife
nothing with you and leave nothing but footprints.
If viewing wildlife, never
touch, chase or harass animals or marine life.
Support the work of local
conservation and preservation organizations.
Learn more about the environmental impact of tourism.
In the Galapagos Islands, the number of ships allowed to cruise this remote archipelago is limited and
only designated islands can be visited to ensure that visitors have little impact on the sensitive
environment and animal habitats.
Cruiseliners in Antarctica now operate under strict self-imposed guidelines to limit the number of
protect the seals, penguins and
other wildlife from human impacts.
And in Belize, a $3.75 departure tax goes directly to the Protected Area Conservation Trust, a national
fund dedicated to the conservation of Belizes
barrier reef and rainforest.
tourism expands and reaches the remote corners of the earth, its
impact on local culture is inevitable. The influx of foreign values, money and
goods alters the cultural landscape, sometimes permanently. Often that impact is
negative, forcing locals away from their traditional lands, lifestyles and
But tourism doesn't have to be harmful to local people and their
traditions. Around the world, ecotourism has helped conserve local control over
land use, encouraged local pride in cultural heritage and enabled many
traditions to be preserved or resurrected.
The San of Namibia and southern Africa and the aboriginal peoples of
Australia have recently regained management or ownership of traditional national
park lands and conservancies, operating ecolodges and serving as guides and
rangers while continuing their heritage.
The Cofan peoples of the Amazon are running an ecotourism enterprise in
their territory where they sustain a thriving home-based craft industry for
local visitors, while conserving and sharing their language, shamanic culture,
and traditional knowledge of medicinal plants.
you can do
out tour operators and accommodations that are sensitive to the local
yourself about your host country's customs before traveling. Remember that you are a guest and behave
traveling. Remember that you are a guest and behave
and dress appropriately.
sensitive to where, how and when you take photographs.
Be respectful of local people's
peace, privacy and land. Ask permission before entering buildings, shrines or sacred lands.
Learn a few words of the local
language and use them when meeting people. Speaking to
locals in their language will demonstrate your respect for local culture.
local cultural events. Your support helps local performers preserve their heritage.
purchasing souvenirs, support the work of local craftspersons and
artisans and help keep cultural traditions alive.
Learn more about the cultural impact of tourism.
Tourism is the world's largest and fastest growing industry. The
World Tourism Organization estimates that in 1999 more than 663 million
international tourists spent an estimated $453 billion (USD).
Tourist arrivals are predicted to grow by an average 4% a year over the
next two decades, surpassing one billion international travelers by 2010 and
reaching 1.6 billion by 2020.
Fortunately, ecotourism can help reverse some of these
negative economic effects. Through sensitive development practice and the
financial support of tourists, locals in St. Lucia, Nepal and Peru, among other
places, are participating in a sustainable tourist economy via locally-owned
hotels, tour companies, wildlife park management and farming cooperatives that
supply food to hotels and resorts.
you can do
Choose locally owned and operated lodges, hotels, tour guides, and take advantage of local taxis, buses and car rental agencies.
Support local and international tour companies and accommodations that employ local people and purchase locally grown foodstuffs.
Eat in local restaurants and shop in local markets.
Purchase souvenirs from local shops and artisans.
When paying locals for goods or services make every effort to offer a fair price.
Pay access fees to protected sites, even when voluntary.
Frequent local cultural events.
Learn more about the economic effects of travel.
Women in the booming trekking regions of Nepal are emerging from tea
house kitchens to become guides and lodge owners with the help of a community
tourism program that provides funds and training.
In Natal, South Africa, the park service works to ensure that villagers
have free access to parks for local needs and have the opportunity to sell their
handicrafts at local lodges. Proceeds from the sales of handicrafts make it
possible for parents to buy better clothing and school supplies for their
© 2001 The International Ecotourism Society Burlington, VT USA
No part of this content may be reproduced, distributed or posted without the express consent of The International Ecotourism Society.