Magazine: Ecotourism

Nowadays, many of us try to live in a way that will damage the environment as little as possible. And we want to take these attitudes on holiday with us. Ecotourism is becoming more popular.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercise.

Imagine the scene. You're sitting in the hot sunshine beside the swimming pool of your international luxury hotel, drinking your imported gin and tonic. In front of you is the beach, reserved for hotel guests, with motor boats for hire. Behind you is an 18-hole golf course, which was cleared from the native forest and is kept green by hundreds of water sprinklers. Around the hotel are familiar international restaurant chains and the same shops that you have at home. You've seen some local people – some of them sell local handicrafts outside the hotel. You bought a small wooden statue and after arguing for half an hour you only paid a quarter of what the man was asking. Really cheap!

Is this your idea of heaven or would you prefer something different?

Nowadays, many of us try to live in a way that will damage the environment as little as possible. We recycle our newspapers and bottles, we take public transport to get to work, we try to buy locally produced fruit and vegetables and we stopped using aerosol sprays years ago. And we want to take these attitudes on holiday with us. This is why alternative forms of tourism are becoming more popular all over the world.

But what is ecotourism?

There are lots of new forms of tourism: responsible tourism, alternative tourism, sustainable tourism, nature tourism, adventure tourism, educational tourism and more. Ecotourism probably involves a little of all of them. Everyone has a different definition, but most people agree that ecotourism must:

  1. conserve the wildlife and culture of the area
  2. benefit the local people and involve the local community
  3. be sustainable, that is, make a profit without destroying natural resources
  4. provide an experience that tourists want to pay for.

So, for example, in a true ecotourism project, a nature reserve allows a small number of tourists to visit its rare animals and uses the money that is generated to continue with important conservation work. The local people have jobs in the nature reserve as guides and wardens, but also have a voice in how the project develops. Tourists stay in local houses with local people, not in specially built hotels. This way they experience the local culture and do not take precious energy and water away from the local population. They travel on foot, by boat, bicycle or elephant so that there is no pollution. And they have a special experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

This type of tourism can only involve small numbers of people, so it can be expensive. But you can apply the principles of ecotourism wherever you go for your holiday. Just remember these basic rules:

  • Be prepared. Learn about the place that you're going to visit. Find out about its culture and history. Learn a little of the native language, at least basics like 'please', 'thank you', and 'Good morning'. Think of your holiday as an opportunity to learn something.
  • Have respect for the local culture. Wear clothes that will not offend people. Always ask permission before you take a photograph. Remember that you are a visitor.
  • Don't waste resources. If the area doesn't have much water, don't take two showers every day.
  • Remember the phrase 'Leave nothing behind except your footprints and take nothing away except photographs.' Take as much care of the places that you visit as you take of your own home. Don't buy souvenirs made from endangered animals or plants.
  • Walk or use other non-polluting forms of transport whenever you can.
  • Be flexible and keep a sense of humour when things go wrong.
  • Stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants.
  • Buy local products whenever possible and pay a fair price for what you buy.

Choose your holiday carefully. Don't be afraid to ask the holiday company about what they do that is 'eco'. Remember that 'eco' is very fashionable today and a lot of holidays that are advertised as ecotourism are not much better than traditional tourism.

But before you get too enthusiastic, think about how you are going to get to your dream 'eco' paradise. Flying is one of the biggest man-made sources of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Friends of the Earth says that one return flight from London to Miami puts as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the average British car driver produces in a year. So don't forget that you don't have to fly to exotic locations for your 'eco' holiday. There are probably places of natural beauty and interest in your own country that you've never visited.



Language level

Advanced: C1


Hi jack,
You are right. I hadn't thought about this aspect. people should feel free about their comments.
Thanks for correcting my comment it was really helpfull.

HI Jack [as the British council exacutive];
I was wondering how it would be terrific if it was the oppertunity  for us to have our comments coorected as our writing exercises.I do not khnow how it can be possible; but if you do something like that, I will thank you A LOT.

 Hi Omid

If we were going to correct comments, we'd have to set up a special place and put some rules in place so that the comments weren't too long. 

It's important to us that people feel free to comment without the fear of criticism.

This time, I'll give you a little feedback on your comment:

I'm afraid I'm only a coordinator and not an 'executive' (ha ha).

It's great that you used the indirect question form (very polite), but you didn't get it quite right.

  • I was wondering, if it would be possible to (+ infinitive) ...


  • I was wondering if you could (+ infinitive) ...

I will certainly talk to my colleagues and see what they think of your idea.



The LearnEnglish Team

Personally, i agree with the most of it. I do apply all the above rules - or at least the most of them - in my country as much as possible. But i still have some reservations about whether ecotourism - even if it is strictly applied - can be effective enough, if products, which are rightly considered as contaminating, are still being produced, as it is mentioned above. Not to mention nuclear power plants.
Thank you.

I certainly agree with this article. When we travel or go to different places, we should always be mindful of our actions. Everything we do, from throwing candy wrappers to taking sand souvenirs has an effect on the ecological balance of the place that we visit. In our own way, we can make an impact in preventing the destruction of natural resources as well as preserve the cultural heritage of the local people. Instead of staying in posh hotels, we can live in local settlements. This gives us firsthand experience of their way of life, traditions and culture. Not to mention, it's more economical with minimal waste of resources. It would also benefit the local people if we patronize handmade products. Income from these products can be utilized to pay for the cost of maintaining their environment and resources. However, we should not buy goods made from animals since hunting endangers them or it might lead to their extinction. There are other ways we can enjoy a holiday without doing harm to nature or wildlife. To preserve and protect should be one of our utmost considerations when we go on a holiday. By doing so, we can always go back to enjoy these wonderful places. At the same time, we do our part in saving the planet.


Your texts

Corina writes: “Yes, I totally agree with the article, but even though I recognize it I don't remember all the time to take care of this aspect. We always go on holidays and make sure that we have a wonderful holiday, but not at any time do we think about how we get this pleasure. I'll try to think about all these things, before thinking of all the others aspects that are usually important for me.”

Katherine writes: “Thank you for the very interesting article that showed me this unknown kind of tourism. I myself agree with the point stated in the article. I love nature very much. I always try to keep places that I visit clean and safe, and I respect their people and culture. I wish other people behaved so! I think the main problem the idea of ecotourism will face will be the beliefs of tourists. Maybe a clue to this problem lies in our education? Many people wouldn't just think that their efforts to save the environment may somehow matter. Others believe that they don't have to do anything for their planet (as if their planet isn't their home... it is home, it is just a little bigger than a flat). Our beliefs are developed during the process of education. Maybe, if we change a few moments in the education system (not only school, college, university, etc; but also and maybe mainly in our home upbringing), we will save our planet.”

Eric Ramirez Rodriguez writes: “No, no, no. Ecotourism is just  a fashion to avoid your responsibility in the destruction of the environment. It is arrogance. What happens when you are not an Eco-tourist? For example, Do you really think when you are recycling bottles you are not contaminating? If you really wanted to protect the ecosystem, you would not drink soda, instead of recycling. Recycling produces pollution too.”

Zein Quandour writes:

Dear Sirs,

I salute this posting as it is very educational and interesting ...
Writing eco-tourism awareness articles is part of my job - other than the fact that I love writing in general, nature is one of my passions.
I work with the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) in Jordan. The RSCN has established 6 nature reserves in some of the country's most beautiful and endangered places. And eco-tourism is a HUGE part of our work. We have amazing reserves with beautiful lodges, guesthouses and campsites ...  

Thanks you & Eco regards,

Zein Quandour
PR Executive
Wild Jordan / RSCN

Roshita Abdul Razak writes: “Tourism has become one of the major income generators for most countries in the world. Many hotels have been built to accommodate the tourists. This has resulted in major deforestation activities in most parts of the world. Other implications of severe deforestation include major flooding, soil erosion and the disturbance of animal habitats, which can lead to the extinction of the animals. Perhaps tourists should be smart enough to choose tourism products that are environmentally friendly and with the emerging awareness on ecotourism, tourism can act as activities that provide money for day to day life but also act as educational tools to increase human awareness about the importance of going green.”