Part of making informed travel choices is knowing where to look. No
matter what your passion or purpose, the world of ecotourism offers exciting
destinations, stimulating tours and comfortable accommodations that benefit you,
the local people and the planet.
Though currently only Australia and Costa Rica certify ecolodges and tours,
International Ecotourism Society and other international organizations have developed guidelines for travelers,
along with environmental, conservation, and cultural guidelines for ecolodges and
tours. Ecotravelers can use these guidelines to help make the most informed
Imagine visiting an un-crowded, actively preserved coastline or rainforest, guided by locals who are ready and able to explain the natural wonders before you. Envision dining on fresh foods from local farmers and fishermen, shopping in vibrant markets, and sensing the wealth of pride among locals who are genuinely happy to meet you and share their world.
This vision of an educational, environmentally sensitive and culturally
aware destination is no fantasy, but reality in many locations around the globe.
From Africa to South America, eco-destinations offer informed travelers the
opportunity to explore the world in a responsible, purposeful way.
Characteristics of a good
eco-destination might include:
eco-destination might include:
and cultural attractions that are
lodges, hotels, restaurants and
for participation, education and
• An on-going sense of pride in environmental and cultural heritage
It's been a long trip to reach your destination. But when you arrive at
your lodge, you are warmly greeted by your local host, who escorts you to your
private bungalow beneath the palm trees. Constructed with minimal impact on the
surrounding environment, using indigenous materials and low-impact technologies,
your retreat is as close to nature as you can get.
Meals are superb--fresh produce, meats and seafood supplied by local
farmers and fishermen--and the helpfulness of your hosts and the services of
local guides are outstanding. In fact, your lodge is one of the highlights of
Thanks to the efforts of The
International Ecotourism Society and other organizations worldwide,
ecolodges in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia and elsewhere offer
accommodations from deluxe rooms to tents, yurts and geo-domes. Most provide
unique opportunities for privacy and relaxation, as well as nature trails,
cultural demonstrations and other features of responsible accommodations.
comfortable, somewhat basic, small-scale
rooms and common areas
Utilize traditional local designs and
• Use local, sustainably harvested and/or recycled building materials
foodstuffs from local farmers
environmentally sensitive, renewable energy, water and waste disposal
Employ and train
• Offer a variety of excursions and educational materials to natural and cultural sites
• Support and be supported by the local community and businesses
Imagine arriving in an unspoiled, exotic destination, filled with
adventure, both natural and cultural. Your tour company has arranged days of
excitement for you: river rafting, mountain climbing, the opportunity to visit
nature preserves and meet with local people in their homes. Local, trained tour
guides are ready and able to provide both expert information and fascinating
local lore during your adventure.
At the end of each full day of activities, you return to comfortable, unique and environmentally sensitive accommodations. Meals, cooked from produce grown by local farmers, are outstanding. Conversations with local hosts are interesting and friendly.
Most important, you discover the tour company gives a
portion of their profits back to conservation and preservation programs in the
Welcome to an ecotour: a well-planned, interactive learning experience
that introduces small groups of travelers to new environments and cultures,
while minimizing impact and supporting conservation efforts.
make sure your tour company:
• Builds environmental and cultural awareness through education, activities, and pre-departure information
• Minimizes impact on the environment and the local culture
• Provides direct financial benefits for conservation
• Supports local businesses and service providers
• Offers site-sensitive accommodations
• Respects local culture
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© 2001 The International Ecotourism Society Burlington, VT USA
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