Authored by: David Fennell

The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and the Environment

Print publication date:  July  2012
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415582070
eBook ISBN: 9780203121108
Adobe ISBN: 9781136325564


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Ecotourism (‘eco’ as in ecological) is a type of tourism based on an interest in the natural history attractions of a destination. The term itself can be traced back to the work of Hetzer (1965), who used it to explain the intricate relationship between tourists and the environments and cultures in which they interact. Hetzer identified four fundamental pillars that need to be followed for a more responsible form of tourism: (1) minimum environmental impact; (2) minimum impact on – and maximum respect for – host cultures; (3) maximum economic benefits to the host country’s grassroots; and (4) maximum ‘recreational’ satisfaction to participating tourists. In 2003 ecotourism earned US$25 billion globally, representing approximately 2–4 per cent of international tourism (Cater 2006). It is often referred to as the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry, and its reliance on parks and protected areas as a form of supply often diversifies marginalised economies in remote or peripheral areas.

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