The Difference Between Ecotourism Vs Sustainable Tourism Explained

Travel provides an opportunity to experience new places, people, and cultures that can vary drastically from our own. It can be focused on adventure or vacationĀ fun, or happen on a whim in a way that causes us to recognize an entirely new perspective on the world. What we gain on a personal level by traveling can be significant, but how we travel matters too.

Not all of the places that make such a difference in our travel lives are designed to support the number of visitors welcomed each year. Nature is inevitably changed as a result of heightened tourism. Similarly, the places people live and call home can take on a new vibe when a quiet corner of the world suddenly becomes a travel hot spot.

Ensuring meaningful destinations, landmarks, and communities remain intact for generations to come requires new approaches to responsible travel practices. This topic of conversation often includes references to both ecotourism and sustainable tourism as solutions. While frequently used interchangeably, these positive approaches to travel do mean different things.

The common thread motivating ecotourism and sustainable tourism is typically the concept of over-tourism. This happens when tourists flood a particular destination causing negative effects in the way of biodiversity, landmark degradation, and even altered cultural experiences. Where ecotourism is an environmentally-focused form of travel, sustainable tourism is a more overarching concept that promotes thoughtful travel practices overall. Examining the differences in detail is important when it comes to recognizing the global impact of travel over time.

Understanding the details of ecotourism

Environmental welfare is typically the overarching goal of ecological tourism, otherwise known as ecotourism. It's a type of travel aimed specifically at adventurers who focus their sights on nature-based destinations. Ecotourism provides travelers with options to experience and explore nature and cultures while minimizing the negative impact on local peoples and ecosystems.

Ecotourism can be considered a subset of sustainable tourism. The United Nations World Tourism Organization emphasizes the importance of ecotourism as a type of travel where the focus is on both carefully observing and genuinely appreciating nature and local cultures. As a practice, ecotourism is viewed by the International Ecotourism Society as a form of travel that promotes education and interpretation as priorities.

Small group travel is a common defining feature of ecotourism. This is purposefully designed as a way to reduce the impact of group travel on the environment. Oftentimes, ecotourism involves locally-owned business partnerships in the destinations being explored. This approach is implemented as an efficient route to supporting a local community's economy.

Many travelers mistakenly associate ecotourism exclusively with trips that focus on wildlife conservation. While this is certainly a facet of ecotourism, it's not the entire concept or experience. Ecotourism is designed to encompass environmental and cultural protection across the globe.

The specifics that define sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism is an umbrella travel concept under which ecotourism and several other subsets can be categorized. It's tourism that encompasses the long-term impacts of travel overall. Sustainable tourism infuses steps to protect the environment, defend fragile social structures, and boost the economy of destinations too.

Within the idea of sustainable tourism, there is an aspiration that sustainable practices can be integrated into all forms of travel. This approach focuses on aiding the longevity of destinations and working to preserve impacted cultures. It's also designed to protect threatened environments now and into the future.

Sustainable travel doesn't exclude the visitor experience or the future success of the travel industry. Instead, it encourages travel companies and independent travelers to integrate practices that are immersive, locally supportive, and thoughtful. This could be something as simple as skipping out on purchasing mass-produced goods and investing in local, handcrafted souvenirs instead.

Other examples include group tours that invest in exploring national parks and subsequently support nature with each admissions ticket. Choosing to dine at a restaurant where the menu features locally sourced ingredients is a good way to support a sustainable economy while traveling too. Even swapping out a rental car for a city bike makes you a successful participant in sustainable tourism.

Yes, there are clear-cut differences between ecotourism and sustainable tourism. However, both succeed at making a positive impact. Participating can pave the path to enjoyable travel for yourself and others for years to come.