What Ecotourism is - Definition and Benefits for Tourism

What Ecotourism is – Definition and Benefits for Tourism

Ecotourism is one of the most important matter nowadays. But it is necessary to understand what ecotourism is and the benefits, before anything.
Table of Contents

With tourism widespread and growing fast in recent years we must find new and efficient ways of travelling.  

Ecotourism is one of the most important matter nowadays. But it is necessary to understand what ecotourism is, the definition of it. In this sequence, we leave our thoughts below. We will discuss the benefits, principles and actions to take.  

What Ecotourism is


There is no better definition of Ecotourism that the one you will find in The International Ecotourism Society. Back in 1990, they create the world’s first international non-profit organization dedicated to ecotourism.

So, according to TIES (The International Ecotourism Society), what ecotourism is?

‘Ecotourism is now defined as ‘responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.’

In simple language, ecotourism is a form of tourism. Ecotourism means awareness from tourists. They must know their impact on the environment and the local community. Therefore, tourists should try to reduce the impact and also support local communities whenever this is possible.

Ecotourism before & now

To understand what ecotourism is and when started we had to go back many years ago. In the late 1970’s environmental activism gain root. Many describe Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin, Mexican architect/environmentalist as the ‘father’ of ecotourism.

He found the Mexican Association for the Conservation of Nature in 1981, and in 1984 he created the first Mexican ecotourism agency, named Ecotours.


Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin was ecotourism advisor to United Nations World Tourism Organization and Internation Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

He also publishes a book named Tourism, Ecotourism and Protected Areas, in 1996 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

No doubt that Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin played an important role in ecotourism nowadays.

For the past 40 years, there were so many ecotourism ‘heroes’ from Megan Epler Wood (wildlife biologist), Jonathan Tourtellot (National Geographic destination Stewardship Center), Jacques Cousteau (oceanographer, marine biologist), Jeff Greenwald (founder of Ethical Traveller) and many more.

What is important to all of this was the contribution to the society in knowing what ecotourism is, the benefits it can bring and what could do for tourism.

Nowadays, ecotourism grows so big that the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicts, even more, developing over the next decade.

Why we need Ecotourism


Actually, is easy to understand why we need Ecotourism. Just look at the way we treat our Planet.  

We have been consuming all the resources and with more and more people travelling we need to find alternatives.

It is huge pressure for our world. The aviation industry, for example, set records of passengers year after year. Tourism industry grows frantically, touristic places are receiving a big amount of people and this is a huge burden on ecosystems.


If a country sustains more tourists, it’s inevitable that additional infrastructures have to be built, like, facilities, lodging, sanitation, water treatment and others. Mostly, local communities aren’t able to respond to such demand and results can be destructive.

So, in this context ecotourism can make the difference. It will help to create a positive impact and reducing environmental pressure.

It is absolutely necessary that countries, governments, local people and tourists work together to build new ideas for ecotourism. Everyone will benefit from that.

Benefits for Tourism

It’s now clear that ecotourism brings benefits for tourism. This applies to tourists and local people too.

Ecotourism is just a better way of travelling and the future of the travel industry. Let’s disclose some of the benefits of ecotourism.


Benefits to the Environment:

  • Protect the natural environment;
  • endangered species are protected by conservation projects;
  • more regulations to protect natural areas;
  • ensure the better overall health of the ecosystems;
  • generate sustainable revenue;
  • offer a long-term alternative to exploitation

Benefits to Local People:

  • Preservation of local culture and costumes;
  • local and national sustainability;
  • offer revenue to local people;
  • create jobs in the communities;
  • empowering local communities;
  • offer indigenous people an opportunity to remain on ancestral land

Benefits to Travellers

  • Offer incredible experiences;
  • allow travellers to develop closer personal relationships to nature and local people;
  • change travellers to be more conscious and mindful;
  • travellers will be more responsible;
  • travellers will be aware of their impact

Ecotourism is the Future

In 2019 The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) surveyed members to ask how they see Ecotourism nowadays. Responses from different continents and countries came. According to TIES:

‘90% of the respondents were able to classify their industry segments using the choices we provided, but we did get several suggestions to allow multiple industry segments.’

They even show it in a graphic:

TIES survey relative to Ecotourism. @ecotourism.org

With this survey, they conclude that almost all respondents agree that Ecotourism is growing rapidly. Here is the graphic to understand it better:

Ecotourism Growth according to TIES survey. @ecotourism.org

Other initiatives took place recently and fall in line with this survey by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES).

This demonstrates how people look optimistic about Ecotourism in the future, it is a better way to travel and experience the world.

To know more about ecotourism read our Introduction to Ecotourism

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4 Responses

  1. Garantidamente, o Ecoturismo é o caminho… em todas as suas vertentes, sobretudo nas atitudes.

    1. Ainda bem que cada vez se afirma mais o Ecoturismo. Mostra que a mentalidade dos turistas está em mudança, uma mudança necessário. No entanto, há ainda um longo caminho a percorrer.

  2. Good article with great ideas! Thank you for this important article. Thank you very much for this wonderful information.

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