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. As compared to other forms of tourism ecotourism is small in scale, non-consumptive, ethical/responsible, and of benefit to local people. However, in the absence of an adequate management regime ecotourism is unlikely to be sustainable ecologically by any relevant measure. Most ecotourism destinations are geographically remote and hence ecotourism involves the issue of carbon expenditures with long distance travel and their contribution to climatic changes. Therefore, ecotourism can never meet the parameters of environmental sustainability.
The sustainability of ecotourism is a controversial issue. As long as ecotourism serves its purpose as an 'alternative tourism' by satisfying ecotourists and fulfills their mission, it has already achieved its goal and purpose. There is a definite scope of developing ecotourism both at the local and global scales in order to promote tourism industry as such.
Different types of ecotourism have to be formed and developed by the government systems of developing and developed countries. Ecotourism must aim to gain the economic advantages of tourism development causing minimal negative environmental impact.
Tourism and Environment
With reference to the environmental impacts of tourism from geographical perspective tourism as an industry depends on physical environment. Tourism is associated with environmental benefits although it is not free from negative impacts. Tourism is not free from related pollution problems. Most of these are related to traffic, tourist infrastructure and the activities of tourists. In congested areas emissions negatively influence vegetation, soil and visibility.
Heating systems of tourist related buildings emit some