Sustainable Travel

Ecotourism Vs. Sustainable Tourism

Do you know the difference between the terms Ecotourism & Sustainable Travel?

Traveling is one of the most important sectors, it creates thousands of jobs, develops the infrastructures of countries, and plants a sense of cultural exchange between foreigners and citizens. According to Statista in 2020, the number of jobs in the travel and tourism industry worldwide was 272 million. The tourism industry incorporates many industries, including transport, accommodation, travel companies, food and drink services, and more. All of these industries were impacted in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the health crisis, travel and tourism employment saw a significant decline in 2020 over the previous year.

las nubes_holbox_sand_hammoc_chilling_beach_mexico
Las Nubes de Holbox - Mexico

Tourism is slowly being reactivated and we couldn’t be happier about it! Nevertheless, the virus keeps on spreading and new variants rising so we mustn’t lower our guard. Ever since the pandemic started, people have become more conscious about the situation our planet is going through. Sustainability has been a growing trend in the past few years and people are applying it to all the different aspects of their daily lives. Today we’re going to talk about ecotourism and sustainable tourism. You might think these two terms are basically the same but make no mistake, they are completely different things. We’re going to talk you through these two terms so you get a better understanding of them.

nayara_springs_bridge_costa rica_jungle
                                                                                                   Nayara Springs - Costa Rica


Let’s start by defining what ecotourism is; according to the International Ecotourism Society and Fennell ecotourism is now defined as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education. It is a sustainable form of natural resource-based tourism that focuses primarily on experiencing and learning about nature, and which is ethically managed to be low-impact, non-consumptive, and locally-oriented. It typically occurs in natural areas and should contribute to the conservation or preservation of such areas. Their core principles involve the following aspects:

  • Building a culture of environmental respect and protection while providing positive experiences to visitors and hosts.
  • Generating value for local people and the industry.
  • Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
  • Observation and appreciation of nature.
  • Supporting the maintenance of natural areas.

Ecotourism is more focused on ecological conservation and educating travelers on local environments and natural surroundings. They focus on taking care of not altering the integrity of the ecosystem; producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of natural resources beneficial to local people.

                                                                                                       Morgan’s Rock - Nicaragua

Sustainable Tourism

Now let’s define what sustainable tourism is. According to UNEP & UNWTO sustainable tourism refers to sustainable practices implemented in the tourism industry. It is a form of tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts. Its principles refer to the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance between these three to guarantee its long-term sustainability. 

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) is a global initiative dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism practices around the world. GSTC and its global members of UN agencies, global travel companies, hotels, tourism boards, and tour operators follow the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The 23 criteria focus on best practices to sustain natural and cultural resources, maximize social and economic benefits for the local community and minimize negative impacts to the environment.

Sustainable tourism focuses on travel that has minimal impact on the environment and local communities. Destinations and industries may practice sustainable tourism by prioritizing the natural environment when developing activities and infrastructure, respecting the cultural practices of their communities, and ensuring long-term economic operations to support the destination.

Tierra Atacama - Chile

Understanding the difference between sustainable tourism and ecotourism educates travelers on the significant impact their travel decisions have on the environment, economy, and local communities they visit. Participating in sustainable tourism, or ecotourism vacations means travelers can contribute to development and conservation efforts while enjoying themselves on vacation.


Click here to learn more about the New Kind of Travel

Similar posts