Have you ever heard that tourism can be harmful to the environment? Want to know how this is possible? Although it may seem incoherent, this is a simple situation to understand: tourism makes use of the natural heritage without considering its conservation, which harms nature as a whole.
So, thinking about it, how about joining activities that value the preservation of nature and its resources? To help you find the form that pleases you the most, we will explain in today’s post the difference between sustainable tourism and ecotourism.
Thus, it will be easier for you to choose which of them fits your preferences!
What is ecotourism?
Also known as ecological tourism, ecotourism was introduced in Brazil in order to value nature, following a worldwide trend. Over time, this concept has become popular and has worked mainly as marketing for companies.
According to the Ministry of the Environment and EMBRATUR, “ecotourism is a segment of the tourist activity that uses, in a sustainable way, the natural and cultural heritage, encourages its conservation and seeks the formation of an environmental conscience through the interpretation of the environment, promoting the well-being of the populations”.
That is, according to this definition, in ecotourism there is a direct contact with the environment, preserving not only the nature, but creating, in this way, a culture that aims to preserve it.
However, this is not always how ecotourism is developed. Many times, this concept is linked only to ecological tourism, leaving the consciousness of preservation aside. Therefore, it is important to understand how the development of this activity takes place, ensuring that it will be carried out correctly.
Characteristics of ecotourism
This is the fastest growing branch of tourism. This happens because ecotourism has as a differential the realization of activities that aim to promote knowledge and experience with the environment – it is based not only on sustainability, but also on conservation and education.
It is an aspect that has introduced a paradigm shift: tourism can be an activity that offers effective economic incentives for the conservation of the environment, making it a constant and not mandatory practice.
For this to happen, it is necessary that the tourist offer in this segment includes, in addition to common services already performed – such as transportation, lodging, food, reception and agencying -, activities that allow the integration of tourists with the environment. This is the only way to raise awareness of nature preservation, making it a frequent attitude.
What is sustainable tourism?
This is the area of tourism that works in harmony with nature and the surrounding communities. In other words, we can say that sustainable tourism aims to meet the needs of tourists and the regions where this practice is developing, but without leaving sustainability aside.
In this way, it is possible to guarantee better opportunities for the future, optimizing the management of resources in a way that the social, economic and environmental needs are met, while also maintaining cultural integrity and biological diversity.
According to the definition of the World Tourism Code of Ethics, this aspect can also be defined as follows: “sustainable tourism is what relates the needs of tourists and the receiving regions, protecting and strengthening opportunities for the future”.
Also according to the code, sustainable tourism “includes the management of economic and social resources and aesthetic needs, maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems”.
It can be concluded, then, that this activity seeks to meet the needs of tourism development, adding the desires of regions that are benefited by tourism and stimulating the growth of this activity, without leaving aside the protection of the environment, especially in unusual places that have rare natural resources.
Characteristics of sustainable tourism
This is a segment whose main objective is to meet the desires of tourists and receiving regions, ensuring environmental protection and, at the same time, the development of tourist activity in conjunction with all those involved.
This implies the practice of economically viable, socially just and ecologically correct actions. Tourism should be carried out in a way that preserves nature and its biodiversity, with activities programmed to follow this intention.
In addition, the agents involved must respect the limits of their actions, always having as a priority the conservation of natural resources. For sustainable tourism to be developed, it is important to pay attention to three key factors:
- development of structures compatible with environmental preservation;
- clarity to clients about how the activity is carried out;
- not adopting mass tourism practices.
With this planning, it is possible to seek solutions that contribute to sustainability, generating benefits not only to those responsible for the practice of tourism, but also to the entire community involved in this activity.
Thus, tourism can be carried out so that sustainability and economic development go hand in hand, protecting nature and encouraging the practice of this activity, which is no longer a concern only of the sectors involved in this area.
Ecotourism x Sustainable Tourism
Now that you know the characteristics of each of these activities, you can differentiate them, do you agree? It is necessary to emphasize, yet, that ecotourism is based on two pillars of sustainability: the economic and the environmental – complementing its activities with actions based on the political and cultural sector of society.
Sustainable tourism, on the other hand, takes into consideration all aspects related to sustainability, encompassing the various segments of tourist activity – economic, social and cultural.
It is important to remember, finally, that in the first case it is a tourism segment – unlike the second, which applies to all sectors involved in this activity. Have you noticed how important it is to know the difference between these segments?
Don’t forget to pay attention to the conduct of companies that claim to practice ecotourism or sustainable tourism. Not always an enterprise that is located in a tourist center or in a green area is involved with this type of activity!
Now that you know the difference between ecotourism and sustainable tourism, how about helping your friends get to know these practices? Share the text on your social networks and help us spread the information!