Ecotourism can help tackle climate and tourism challenges


European tour operators are looking for sustainable tourism experiences and ecotourism more and more. Ecotourism means that tourism limits harmful environmental impacts and creates benefits for local communities. Ecotourism can help to preserve natural, untouched environments and support community development.

Sustainable tourism

Ecotourism started decades ago and pioneered a new way of travelling. Ever since the beginning, sustainability has been a crucial part of ecotourism. Today, the tourism industry must support actions against climate change and meet global net zero emissions targets. European tourists more often strive to impact local environments and communities less. So, local tour operators can learn much from ecotourism providers.

Ecotourism is part of nature tourism. Eco-lodges are good examples of ecotourism, and Costa Rica is one of the world's best-known ecotourism destinations.

Local communities often manage ecotourism experiences in natural areas, such as:

  • National parks and reserves;
  • Rainforests;
  • Mountains;
  • Coasts; and
  • Deserts.

Ecotourism opportunities

Ecotourists, adventure tourists and nature tourists share some interests. For example, they like:

  • Low-impact travelling;
  • Staying in eco-lodges or other sustainable accommodations;
  • Learning about local cultures; and
  • Participating in outdoor activities in untouched natural environments.

There are many opportunities for local operators to attract European ecotourists, for example by offering low-impact activities. These include:

  • (Guided) cycling and hiking or walking trails;
  • Traditional wellness activities like yoga or treatments from a local expert;
  • Learning experiences about the local flora and fauna with a local expert;
  • Guided bird-watching trips;
  • Trips to local wildlife conservation parks or sanctuaries; and
  • Trips to local communities, villages, festivals and local events.

Offering food experiences is another opportunity to attract European ecotourists. Examples are:

  • Enjoying meals with local families;
  • Learning to cook a traditional dish;
  • Shopping in a local market; and
  • Meeting local artisan producers.

Tell the world

Clear communication about your sustainable tourism business and ecotourism with customers is vital. For example, you can inform customers about the following:

  • Credentials: Local tour operators with solid and sustainable credentials are essential in educating and inspiring European travellers;
  • Certification: Sustainability certification through Travelife or TourCert is one way to prove ecotourism credentials.

Find out more in the CBI study,  How to be a sustainable tourism business.

Learn more

Are you a local tour operator or ecotourism provider, and do you want to reach the European market? Learn how to do this in our latest business guide, Opportunities on the European ecotourism market.

Acorn Tourism Consulting Limited wrote this news article for CBI.

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