Topics: Costa Rica, Biodiversity, Natural environment Pages: 10 (3155 words) Published: February 22, 2013
Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial (mass) tourism. Its purpose may be to educate the traveler, to provide funds for ecological conservation, to directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities, or to foster respect for different cultures and for human rights. Since the 1980s ecotourism has been considered a critical endeavor by environmentalists, so that future generations may experience destinations relatively untouched by human intervention. Today, Eco-tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry that attracts between 40 to 60 % of all international tourists, translating into anything between 317 million to 600 million. Generally, ecotourism focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for local communities.  The main advantages of eco-tourism are environmental preservation and global awareness. Without these advantages, eco-tourism wouldn't be what it is. In addition, eco-tourism can also enrich your body, mind and soul, especially when you share the experience with a friend or family member.

Characteristics of ecotourism
There are mainly seven characteristics of ecotourism:
1) Involves travel to natural destinations
2) Minimizes impact
3) Builds environmental awareness
4) Provides direct financial benefits for conservation
5) Provides financial benefits and empowerment for local people 6) Respects local culture
7) Supports human rights.

Benefits of Eco tourism
There are several benefits of Eco tourism:
1) money will go back into the community
2) endangered habitats and biodiversity will be conserved 3) providing employment will ensure fewer people leave for the cities 4) poor countries often sell their primary resources to survive - water, trees, minerals, wildlife... so ecotourism provides them with a decent alternative source of income 5) provide financial incentives that encourage local people to protect their environment 6) Ecotourism offers new opportunities for small-scale investments and increases the national responsibility in protecting biological resources. Especially in developing countries, it is a means of socio-economic and environmental upliftment. 7) Ecotourism provides recreational and educational travel without disturbing the harmony of the natural environment. It helps in reaping the benefits by the participation of people in the conservation of the flora and fauna. Ecotourism is becoming very popular nowadays especially in adventure trips such as mountain climbing, white water rafting, bird watching etc. In such travels, the visitors are expected to clean up the mess before leaving and hence natural habitat is kept undisturbed. 

Types of ecotourism
There are various types of ecotourism:
1) Ecolodging: Ecolodging involves accommodations that have been built with environmental awareness and conscientiousness or that are simply in natural settings. Ecolodging options vary greatly, from hotels or hostels built with sustainable or alternative materials to "eco resorts" in remote locations with access to activities such as bird-watching, sea kayaking and tours of local outdoor attractions.

2) Agrotourism: Agrotourism is a type of ecotourism that capitalizes on rural...
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