Ecotourism involves travel and education. Participants in ecotourism travel to natural environments and experience local culture. Eco friendly transportation is also an expectation of ecotourism. Participants are expected to minimize their impact on the environment by respecting the culture and natural elements of their surroundings. Education gained during the experience is expected to be shared and awareness regarding issues such as conservation should be passed on to others.
Those that operate ecotourism experiences are expected to help fund eco friendly efforts, educate participants, operate minimally invasive facilities that do not harm the environment and empower the local culture.
For example, some popular ecotourism locations include Palau, Microasia diving, hiking or biking Norwegian Fjords, exploring Costa Rican rain forests, discovering the forests or beaches of Kerala, India and the famous safari tours of Kenya.
Some of the key features of ecotourism include;
Minimizes impact- Ecotourism is centered on low impact behavior towards both the environment and the culture of the local community. The ecotourism activities should have minimal to no degradation on the part of the environment or the culture of the locals.
Local participation in decision making- The local communities are consulted and involved in decisions regarding any projects and development plans
Environmental awareness- Ecotourism has an educational concept in which both the visitor and the local community is enlightened on positive environmental activities so as to instill the preferred environmental friendly values in participants. This also enhances the general environmental awareness of the participants.
Provides direct finance for conservation efforts- Ecotourism is a source of funding for activities geared towards conservation of the natural ecology.
Key features of ecotourism include the following.
- Ecotourism is centered around locations that are rich in natural environment or have other natural features of special interest that are unspoilt by human activity.
- It is carried out in a way that takes special precautions for maintaining the natural environment of the tourist destinations.
- It may be organized for profit as a business activity . Alternatively it may also be used to create awareness of and garner support for environmental protection.