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What is Ecotourism?

The Definition:

Ecotourism is: "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." (TIES, 1990)

Importance to Tourism in Developing Countries:

  • Tourism is a principle "export" (foreign exchange earner) for 83% of developing countries, and the leading export for 1/3 of poorest countries.
  • For the world's 40 poorest countries, tourism is the second most important source of foreign exchange, after oil.

Principles of Ecotourism:

Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should follow the following ecotourism principles:

  • Minimize impact.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate.

Ecotourism Facts & Statistics:

Size of Global Tourism:

  • As the largest business sector in the world economy, the Travel & Tourism industry is responsible for over 230 million jobs and over 10% of the gross domestic product worldwide.
  • In 2006, Travel & Tourism (consumption, investment, government spending and exports) is expected to grow 4.6% and total US$6.5 trillion.

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