WHAT IS ECOTOURISM? The World Conservation Union (IUCN) defines ecotourism as “... Is environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features – both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low negative visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations.” [IUCN, Tourism, Ecotourism and Protected Areas, Ceballos-Lascurain, 1996]
The travel industry defines ecotourism as “purposeful travel that creates an understanding of cultural and natural history, while safeguarding the integrity of the ecosystem and producing economic benefits that encourage conservation . . . The long-term survival of this special type of travel is inextricably linked to the existence of the natural resources that support it” (Bandy, 1996 quoting: Ryel and Grasse 1991:164).
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as, “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people”. According to the World Tourism Organisation [UNWTO] tourism that involves travelling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specified objective of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural aspects [both of the past and the present] found in these areas is defined as ecotourism. An optimum number of environment friendly visitor activities, which do not have any serious impact on the ecosystem and the local community and the positive involvement of the local community in maintaining the ecological balance are some of its key elements (UNWTO, 2002).