Ecotourism is a relatively new concept, and it is still often misunderstood or misused. Some people have abused the term to attract conservation conscious travellers to what, in reality, are simply nature tourism programs which may cause negative environmental and social impacts. While the term was first heard in the 1980s, the first broadly accepted definition, and one which continues to be a valid “nutshell” definition was established by The (International) Ecotourism Society in 1990: Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.
As awareness and experience of the activity has grown, so has our need for a more comprehensive and detailed definition. Most recently (1999), Martha Honey has proposed an excellent, more detailed version: Ecotourism is travel to fragile, pristine and usually protected areas that strives to be low impact and (usually) small scale. It helps educate the traveller; provides funds for conservation; directly benefits the economic development and political empowerment of local communities; and fosters respect for different cultures and for human rights.
However, consensus exists among organizations involved with ecotourism (including The Nature Conservancy) around the definition adopted in 1996 by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) which describes ecotourism as: Environmentally responsible travel and visitation to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples. Based on statistics of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism has become one of the world’s largest industries. As early as 1993, it was accounting for about 6% of the world’s gross national product. In 1998, the tourist receipts in the Philippines amounted to US$246.76...
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