The term “ecotourism” was coined in 1987 and is used to describe a wide range of activities. The word itself is a blend of “ecology” and “tourism.” In 1991, The Ecotourism Society (TES) developed the following definition of ecotourism: “Ecotourism is a responsible travel to natural areas that covers the environment and sustains the well being of local people.”
TES has expanded the definition with these 6 basic principles of ecotourism:
- It avoids negative impacts that can damage or destroy the character of the natural or cultural environments being visited.
- It educates the traveller on the importance of conservation.
- It directs revenues to the conservation of natural areas and the management of protected areas.
- It brings economic benefits to local communities and directs revenues to local people living near the protected areas.
- It emphasizes the need for planning and sustainable growth of the tourism industry and seeks to ensure that tourism development does not exceed the social and environmental “capacity.”
- It retains a high percentage of revenues in the host country by stressing the use of locally-owned facilities and services.
The term ecotourism covers aspects of tourism that draws upon natural, human-made and cultural environments. It is often used to describe any type of travel which focuses on natural environments or settings. Additionally, ecotourism adds social responsibilities to make travel to natural areas purposeful and attempts to increase understanding of cultural and natural history of the environment. The local people benefit economically from conservation and the overall goal is to preserve the natural environment despite the human pressures of tourism.