What is Ecotourism

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Many stakeholders involved in ecotourism. Nature conservation organizations and environmental experts consider ecotourism as a tool for conservation of natural environment, while the world donor institutions see it as a tool to achieve sustainable development.On the other hand, many developing countries hope it will become an opportunity to attract many international visitors. Almost similar with them, the tourism actors also use ecotourism as a marketing tool to attract visitors who are more aware about enviromental and social issues. As a result, various definition about ecotourism inevitably emerge, depend on each own interests.
These are several definition from influential institutions in the world:
“Ecotourism is a responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”

- The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), 1990
“Ecotourism is an 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-The World Conservation Union
The World Tourism Organization (WTO) has noted that much has been written about ecotourism, but there is little consensus about its meaning , due to many forms in which ecotourism activities are offered by a wide variety of operators, and practiced by an even larger array of tourists. Despite the lack of a consensus definition, the report goes on to note that the general characteristics of ecotourism can be summarized as follows1:
1. It isset in natural areas
2. It minimizes negative impact upon the natural enviromental
3. It supports the protection of natural areas
4. It directy benefits local communities
5. It respects local cultures and values
6. It increases the awareness towards environment and nature conservation
1Special Report; The U.S. Ecotourism Market, WTO, 2002