What’s the difference between ecotourism and sustainable tourism?

What’s the difference between ecotourism and sustainable tourism?
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Ecotourism and sustainable tourism: what is the difference?

The following two concepts are often considered to be almost identical, but are actually different: ecotourism and sustainable tourism. Learn the difference once and for all with clear definitions and short videos.

The best thing you can do to travel with a green state of mind that does not harm our beloved world is to be informed. And that’s why I am here, to help you understand a bit better the travel industry, especially the part of it that supports being respectful with nature, the environment in general and local communities. If you’ve ever wondered: what’s the difference between ecotourism and sustainable tourism?, here you have the answer!

Sustainable tourism

“Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development. A suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability”,according to the UN World Tourism Organization.

Sustainable tourism is focused on certain initiatives carried within the industry (mainly by businesses and travelers) that aim to achieve an economic, cultural and environmental balance at the destination. Its goal is to reduce the negative impact that tourism can have on local communities and the environment.

A sustainable traveler stands for:

  • Only supporting quality authentic travel experiences which respect local culture.
  • Supporting healthy work environments.
  • Reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Opting for activities that are kind to the animals, flora and fauna of your destination.
  • Supporting local economies (when eating, buying, sleeping…). Go for local sellers.
  • Giving back to the community by supporting a local NGO

WATCH: Here’s a short video that perfectly explains the concept in one minute!


“Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”, according to the International Ecotourism Society.

Ecotourism is a subtype of sustainable tourism, and refers to tourism activities in rural and wilderness areas that develop a direct benefit to regarding the conservation of their natural resources and their well-being.

An ecotourist stands for:

  • Traveling to natural areas to purposefully understand its culture and environment.
  • Traveling to learn from natural surroundings without altering the integrity of the ecosystem.
  • Supporting and producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of these areas beneficial to local people.
  • Traveling specifically for doing activities that protect autochtone biodiversity and raise environmental awareness.

WATCH: Here’s a short video that perfectly explains the concept in two minutes!

I hope these explanations about the differences of traveling sustainably and being an ecotourist were helpful! It’s always a good idea to keep these concepts in mind during your trips, especially the first one, which you can support EVERYWHERE. We have a beautiful world we should take care of. If you can do this traveling, what else can you ask for? It’s all about awareness, information and the willingness to have your trip in a different way.


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