Nature based tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of tourism industry (Buckley 2000, Ryan et al., 2000, Weight 2001, Kuo 2002). Ecotourism has been found to be growing three times faster globally than the tourism industry as a whole (WTO 2004, cited in TIES 2006).
However, according to the normative definition, ecotourism is centered on three main criteria: (i) 'it should have nature based attractions (ii) visitor interactions should focus on education, and (iii) experience and product management should follow the principles associated with ecological, socio-cultural and economic sustainability' (Weaver and Lawton 2007:170).
Prescriptive definitions of ecotourism is preferred amongst experts which include 'value-based dimensions' such as conservation, community involvement and social responsibility.(Weaver and Lawton 2007: 1169).
Ecotourism is being promoted by governments and the tourism industry as a sustainable alternative to mass tourism. However, this too has not escaped critics' comments and myths. They have suggested that ecotourism can be damaging to the natural environment. Critics are skeptical that the future of tourism industries can be at risk (Mihalic 2000) with the motivation of ecotourists.
There are different types of eco/nature tourists. Lindberg's 1991 typology distinguishes hard-core, dedicated, mainstream tourists from casual nature tourists. Similarly Laarman and Durst (1987) has drawn a distinction between 'hard' and 'soft' ecotourism experiences based on the degree of difficulty in ecotourism.
Ecotourism is one of the 'new' forms of tourism based around sustainable ideas. ...