With the turn of the century, we have seen a rise in alternative tourism options. The most prominent of these being the rise in eco-tourism.
Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015). Aims of ecotourism include educating guests, uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt some of the following ecotourism principles; to minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts, building environmental and cultural awareness and respect, providing positive experiences for both visitors and hosts, providing direct financial benefits for conservation, generating financial benefits for both local people and private industry, delivering memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates, designing, constructing and operating low-impact facilities, recognizing the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.
Though there is a plethora of other sustainable tourism opportunities (the green tourism, the soft tourism, the rural tourism and agro tourism, community tourism, equitable tourism, solidarity and responsible tourism etc.), ecotourism is both the most prominent and the umbrella term applicable to most of the alternatives.
Sustainable tourism is gaining traction in Europe, where a large part of the population is in favour of introducing quotas for how many tourists are welcome every year. Especially in widely acclaimed tourist destinations such as Mallorca, Spain and throughout France, there have been protests against mass tourism. Sustainable tourism is also at the forefront of tourism in sub Saharan Africa, where ecotourism has become the dominating type of tourism in the region.
However, many nations are not on board with sustainable tourism, from turkey and china, where the two largest airports in the world opened last year to south east Asian countries, Australia, certain regions in Europe, northern Africa and north America, where the tourism industry has changed its model to house mass tourism.
We also cannot discuss mass tourism and sustainable travel without mentioning cruise ships and their noticeably large impact on the environment and noticeably small impact on local economies. Cruise ships have also seen some resistance in public opinion and certain countries legislation (eg, Norway and the United States). Most countries however, have little to no control over the boats due to maritime law and the countries the boats are registered in (mainly panama and Libya), and they rely on cruise ships for things such as free advertisements.