The web definition of ecotourism is "travel undertaken to witness sites or regions of unique natural or ecologic quality, or the provision of services to facilitate such travel". It is also known by many other names - nature tourism, low impact tourism, green tourism, bio-tourism, and ecologically responsible tourism. What I see missing is the burning of depleting fossil fuel and the CO2 emission caused by the often long journey to participate is the so called ecotourism. For example, a journey of 10,000 kilometers uses about 700 liters of fuel per person and an estimated of about 2 tons of carbon dioxide. However, such travel also involve emission of water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, soot particles, sulphate aerosols and nitrogen oxides.
Water vapor also act as a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide by forming clouds that insulate the earth and contributing to global warming, leave condensation trails behind which can persist as cirrus clouds.
There are however hundreds of websites that helps travellers offset carbon emissions from their travel. Just try typing "carbon emission calculator" or "carbon offset" into the search box above. These sites help find projects involving renewable energy, energy efficiency, methane capture or forestry to ‘offset’ the emissions.
Hotels in ecotourism sites can adopt green practices such as:
* rerouting waste water to irrigate their golf courses and salvaging the sludge to use as fertilizer
* reducing laundry water temperatures from 90 °C to 60 °C
* replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lamps
* installing low-flow shower heads and low-flow toilets
* offering a sheet and towel reuse program whereby guests have their linens exchanged every two to three days instead of daily
* installing solar panels to heat water
* implementing a hotel-wide recycling program
* and replacing individual soaps and lotions with wall dispensers.
These practices not only contribute to the preservation of the environment, but the hotels can get considerable savings that can range from several thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
However, ecotourism have other detrimental effects on the environment. Ecotourism activities may disturb fauna and flora. Even "environmentally-friendly" activities like a nature hike can be ecologically destructive. Wildlife viewing may scare away animals and disrupt their feeding and nesting sites, or get them used to the presence of people. Motor vehicles criss-cross the park as tour drivers search for rare species. Roads disrupt the grass cover with serious consequences on plant and animal species.These vehicles frequently drive off-track and harass the wildlife.
To be viable, ecotourism sites need to have a high volumn of tourists which translate to higher pressure on the environment. Affluent ecotourists results in the development of destructive markets in wildlife souvenirs, such as the sale of coral trinkets and animal products.