The International Tourism Society (TIES) defines eco-tourism as "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people." A relatively new travel model, eco-tourism attempts to reduce negative human impact on sensitive ecosystems, on fragile cultures and third world economies. However, the advantages of eco-tourism remain mostly theoretical while disadvantages continue to plague eco-tourism as they do traditional tourism.
The negative environmental impact of tourism on ecosytems creates a need for more enlightened tourism models. Advantages and disadvantages still remain. According to TheBenefitsofEcotourism.com, eco-tourism is minimising negative effects of tourism on local communities and the environment. If not properly monitored, the eco-tourism industry may not conduct itself any better than traditional tourism. According to TIES, eco-tourism is "major threat" to natural habitats. BenefitsofEcotourism.com attests that, in reality, natural resources and ecosystems "rarely" enjoy preservation because corporate interests build tourist attractions that further endanger the environment.
Eco-tourism aspires to give indigenous peoples an opportunity to realise fair income and to raise them up from extreme poverty. According to BenefitsofEcotourism.com, ecotourist dollars could create an environment in which local residents enjoy the economic benefits of stretching natural resources. In reality, investors and corporations gain monetarily and local poverty often is not alleviated.
When eco-tourism agents are legitimate, TIES assures that eco-tourism upholds international labour standards and protects resources for future generations. Unfortunately, BenefitsofTourism warns that tourism schemes abound. Use caution when selecting an ecotourist travel agent. Ask questions to ensure the agent's legitimate concern for the environment and cultures.