Purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the cultural and natural history of the environment, taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem while producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of natural resources beneficial to local people
— The Ecotourism Society



EIGHT CHARACTERISTICS OF ECOTOURISM*

1. It must promote positive environmental ethics - fostering preferred behavior in its participants.

2. It does not degrade the resource - There is no consumptive erosion of the natural environment visited.

3. It concentrates on intrinsic rather than extrinsic values. Facilities and services may "facilitate" the encounter with the intrinsic resource; they never become attractions in their own right, nor do they distract from the natural attraction itself.

4. It is biocentric rather than homocentric in philosophy. Ecotourists enter the environment accepting it on its terms, not expecting it to change or be modified for their convenience.

5. It must benefit the wildlife and environment. If the environment has not at least achieved a net benefit toward its sustainability and ecological integrity, then the activity is not ecotourism.

6. It is a first-hand experience with the natural environment. Movies and zoological parks do not constitute an ecotourism experience. Visitor centers and interpretive slide shows are included.

7. It has an "expectation of gratification."

8. It has a high cognitive and effective experiential dimension.

*SOURCE: Ecotourism: Its Changing Face and Evolving Philosophy, Dr. James R. Butler, Department of Forestry, University of Alberta, Canada, 1992