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Eco Travel
prepared by Industry Tracker Karin Marcus


What Is This Industry?

Description of Industry

Ecotourism is an umbrella term for responsible, ethical travel to natural areas that strives to minimize any impacts upon the environment, while creating social and economic benefits for the local communities.

Travel and Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world.  In 2009 alone, the travel and tourism industry made up nearly 10% of the global gross domestic product, which equates to billions of dollars worldwide.  The broader travel industry is also credited with generating 8-10% of the world's employment.  For many countries, tourism is their primary source of economic development. 

The “greening” of the tourism industry has been evolving since the 1980s, and has become more prevalent in the last 20 years as climate change issues have become more significant and newsworthy.  As people become more ecologically-conscious at home and in their workplaces, they also are seeking travel opportunities and destinations that preserve and protect the world's diminishing, pristine natural environments.  Like other sectors, the tourism and hospitality industry has recognized the economic benefits of “going green” and adopting sustainable business practices.

Ecotourism can fall under many different headings:

  • Green Hospitality applies to any activity or facility operating in an environmentally-friendly fashion.  It is comprised of several industry sectors including lodging, event planning and restaurants. 

  • Sustainable and Responsible Tourism refers to any form of tourism that does not delete the natural resources and operates in such a way as to minimize negative impacts on the environment.

  • Nature-Based Tourism refers to any activity or travel experience with a focus on nature.

  • Cultural Tourism involves interacting with and learning from different cultures.

  • Voluntourism has become increasingly popular as a vacation alternative, giving the traveler an opportunity to live and work among people of a different culture while contributing skills and expertise toward a project in that environment.

Ecotourism incorporates all of the above!  It involves travel to natural destinations that results in minimal impact on the environment.  It seeks to raise the environmental and cultural awareness of travelers and support local conservation efforts.  There is also an important social justice component to ecotourism that provides opportunities for local economies to diversify, by promoting the formation of small enterprises in remote areas and introducing technologies and basic infrastructures which strengthen their linkages with the outside world – as opposed to the exploitation of an area's natural resources and employment opportunities.

The Ecotourism Industry is a powerful worldwide economic engine and an effective mechanism for promoting responsible, sustainable development and natural resource conservation.  And the career opportunities are endless! 


Industry Overview

What Is Ecotourism? – Since 1999, Untamed Path, based in Williams, Oregon, has been leading high quality adventures in South America.  With over 35 years combined experience in responsible travel guiding and educating, they have designed this site to introduce and define the concept and terms used to describe Ecotourism.  Additional eco-information links are provided at this site.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Leisure & Hospitality
- This Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition, includes a general overview of the three segments that make up the broader Travel Industry.  Various topics, such as Nature of the Industry, Occupations and an Industry Outlook, are addressed.  The three general travel segments are: Hotels and Other Accommodations; Food Services and Drinking Places; and Arts, Entertainment and Recreation.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Spotlight Report - This July 2010 publication is a BLS Spotlight on Travel Report, which provides statistics on employment and expenditures in the overall travel industry.

Ecotourism Celebrates 20 Years – This series of articles from 2010 describes the growth of ecotourism since the launch of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) by Megan Epler Wood in 1990.

How Green Is My Travel? - Written by Natalia Thomson, and posted to on January 5, 2011, this article discusses the current state of inconsistent policies and practices among the various eco-tour operators.  It addresses the “Different Shades of Green” within the industry, and offers “What to Look For” from eco-tour suppliers.


What's It Like to Work in This Industry?

Job Function Areas

Careers in the Ecotourism industry generally fall into four main areas, which are listed below.  Positions associated with the industry, examples of which are shown here, can be found among a wide array of employers, such as:  hotels, motels and lodges; local, state and national park and recreation agencies; resource management and conservation organizations; travel transport carriers; colleges and other educational foundations; documentary film makers, writers and photographers; scientific research societies; and non-profit climate change, wildlife and conservation organizations.

Education requirements for these jobs cover a wide range of both specialized disciplines and general expertise, and are addressed later in this Profile.

  • Assessing and Developing Sustainable Tourism Destinations:  Tourism development specialist, sustainable tourism business development manager, sustainable development consultancy, ecosystem management and development, tourism and human resources advisor.

  • Managing Ecotourism Destinations Sustainably:  Heritage tourism officer, sustainable tourism manager, ecotourism project manager, rainforest station manager, eco-lodge manager, cultural tourism project facilities manager, rural tourism officer, sustainable tourism operator, eco-tour leaders, green caretakers of tropical island, coastal tourism and conservation program officer, sustainable consumption and conservation manager, conservation expedition country coordinator, nature tourism ranger, nature tourism park manager, parks and recreation director, wildlife visitor center advisor, reserve director, conservation project manager, preserve manager, naturalist programmer, conservation expeditions field positions, conservation program assistant.

  • Marketing:  Guidebook writers, protected areas communications officer, responsible tourism communications manager, adventure travel promotion manager, responsible tourism marketing manager.

  • Cultivating Global Partnerships:  Public health advisors, human resource specialist, translators and community organizers, proposal and grant writers, regional recruiter, communications specialist, artisan product and business specialist, teachers, tutors.


Online Job Profiles Interviews - This site provides an excellent resource for interviews with various people already working in the ecotourism industry.  To access a complete interview, click on each interviewee's name on the Web page.

Eco Travel Logue - This Web page offers a brief description of several jobs found in the ecotourism industry.  The site also provides access to additional ecotourism resources, such as Accommodations (eco-lodges) and Holidays (eco-tours).

Megan Epler Wood #1 – A short bio and audio interview of Ms. Wood, founder of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), addresses the growing demand for sustainable tourism worldwide.

Megan Epler Wood #2 – During this informative 50 minute video presentation titled “Ecotourism from the Ground Up,” Ms. Epler Wood discusses her experiences and insights after 20 years as a leader in the field.  Note – Scroll half-way down the page to locate this video link.

Rachel Dodds Interview on - This October 2007 interview showcases Rachel's education and experience in the sustainable tourism industry.  She is currently the Director of Sustaining Tourism, a consulting firm, and Assistant Professor in the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Ryerson University in Toronto.


Occupation Profiles

O*NET Resource Center - The National Center for O*NET Development investigated the impact of green economy activities and technologies on occupational requirements.  Their efforts identified green economic sectors, green increased-demand occupations, green enhanced-skills occupations, and green new and emerging occupations, all of which can be found at this Website.

A few examples of occupations associated with Ecotourism are listed below:

Environmental Economist - Summary Report for Occupation #19-3011.01

Forest and Conservation Technician - Summary Report for Occupation #19-4093.00

Public Relations Specialist - Summary Report for Occupation #27-3031.00

Transportation Manager - Summary Report for Occupation #11-3071.01

Urban and Regional Planners - Summary Report for Occupation #19-3051.00


Job Boards – This is an award-winning network and information resource for people working in the ecological tourism industry. The Web site has a wealth of information and access to resources around the globe.  This page links you to the Ecotourism Job Centre, which contains fulltime and part-time vacancies and paid internships, in a variety of associated fields.  To access the career opportunities, you will need to become a member for a modest annual fee.  Access to their newsletter is free. - This Web page highlights ecotourism jobs and degree programs for anyone interested in green and/or sustainable travel and conservation careers.

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) – To access the Ecotourism Job Board at this Web site, go to the Events & Tools Tab, then you must become a Society member for a small annual fee.  This Web site also provides a wealth of information through their Learning Center, a Newsletter and up-to-the-minute News Feeds. - This site provides a general overview of a career in Ecotourism, with links to a Job Center, Articles and Training Programs.

Hot Travel Jobs – This Web site is not specific to ecotourism, but provides free access to job opportunities in the travel industry. - This Web site provides a list of ecotourism companies that have job opportunities, along with links to the companies' sites.  This Web site also provides links to search for jobs and post resumes on its Facebook page.

Adventure Career Center - This is the premiere electronic recruitment resource for the adventure travel industry.  It is associated with the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).



Where Is This Industry Active?
Organizations to Watch

The Ecotourism Industry is served through an eclectic mix of non-profit organizations, non-governmental institutions, educational research groups, governmental travel and tourism agencies, and commercial hospitality providers.  For that reason, a sampling of key participants within the industry has been separated into two groups – Non-Profit Organizations and Private Companies.  Listed below are examples of international associations, small entrepreneurial tour operators and large corporate travel providers.

In a separate category listed at the end of this section, you will find a sampling of Third-Party Certification Organizations.  Generally, these are separate entities that verify and/or certify that ecotourism providers are indeed meeting globally-established sustainability standards.  

Non-Profit Organizations:     

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) is the world's premiere non-profit international ecotourism association.  TIES was launched in 1990 by Megan Epler Wood, as the world's first international non-profit dedicated to ecotourism as a tool for conservation and sustainable development.  It has become a global source of information to help unite communities, through conservation and sustainable travel.  It hosts an annual Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC), and provides an extensive Web site for consumers, hospitality providers, educators, government organizations, and anyone connected to the goals of Ecotourism.

International Ecotourism Club  promotes social and ecological change through tourism. Started in 1999 and based in Athens, Greece, EcoClub is “a mutual aid network for ecological and socially just tourism and living.”  It has a worldwide membership, and supports ecotourism practitioners through networking, education and career opportunities.  Its Web site provides a wealth of information through news feeds, blogs, published articles, a career center, and more.

Sustainable Travel International (STI) - Founded in 2002, STI is a non-profit organization, dedicated to providing education and outreach services that help travelers, travel providers and destinations support environmental conservation and protect cultural heritage, while promoting cross-cultural understanding and economic development.  STI created the Sustainable Tourism Eco-certification Program (STEP), setting specific operating standards for travel providers that meet the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.  These third-party certification programs serve as globally-recognized brands that validate a travel company's sustainability practices.   

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) - It is the mission of the UNEP, Division of Technology, Industry & Economics, “to mainstream sustainability into tourism development by demonstrating the economic, environmental, and socio-cultural benefits of sustainable tourism.”  This extensive Web site provides access to reports, presentations and publications regarding the UN's Tourism and Environment Program.  A copy of the International Task Force on Sustainable Tourism Development report is available, along with key documents describing the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism.

World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) – The World Tourism Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations and is headquartered in Madrid, Spain.  “It is the leading international organization in the field of tourism, and it serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how.  It plays a central and decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, paying particular attention to the interests of developing countries.”  This Web site contains access to an E-library of publications, various tourism and development resources, the latest in global tourism news, tourism-related facts and figures, and a listing of global events to promote sustainable tourism.

Private Ecotourism Companies:

EplerWood International - Founded by Megan Epler Wood, a leader and innovator in the ecotourism industry, this consultancy advises private business, governments, international organizations, academics, and others on the development of sustainable tourism projects.  This site has a wealth of information about the evolution of the industry, and many links to Projects, News and Publications.

Lindblad Expeditions - This environmentally-focused cruise and travel company has been operating since the 1950s.  Their expeditions are conducted “with the focus of creating experiences that foster an understanding and appreciation of the most remote and pristine places on the globe.”

TUI Travel PLC – This firm is a large U.K. travel company formed through a merger in 2007.  The management team are “strong advocates for sustainability within the leisure travel sector,” and the company is a member of the Tour Operators' Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development.  This Web page provides a link to their 2009 Sustainability Report, which is an example of their commitment to socially responsible tourism.

The World Outdoors - This Boulder, Colorado outdoor travel company was one of the early adopters of responsible, sustainable and conscientious travel experiences around the world.  They have been conducting hiking and multisport adventures since 1988. 

InterContinental Hotels Group – This international hotel company, which includes the InterContinental, Crown Plaza and Holiday Inn brands, has 4,400 hotels in 100 countries and territories around the world.  Their Corporate Responsibility Report can be accessed from this page.  Through the Report you can also access their Innovation Hotel, an interactive prototype hotel that showcases their new approach to operating their properties responsibly and sustainably.

Kalahari Management, Inc. – Based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Kalahari Management is a private consulting company specializing in ecotourism and nature-based tourism planning and communications.  Its owner, Carol Patterson, provides ecotourism consulting services to industry clients and offers presentations, lectures, public speaking, and publication of the quarterly Ecotourism Management newsletter.  She also teaches an online course based on her book, Tourism Development Success Strategies.

Tauck Tours – Since 1925 this U.S.-based tour company has provided enriching travel experiences to its clients around the world.  In addition to their successful family-owned company, the Tauck Foundation was created in 1994 and supports the company's vision of embracing community outreach and volunteering.  The foundation provides “Destination Grants” that fund environmental protection, cultural integrity and understanding, and historical preservation in the various locales where Tauck World Discovery brings its guests. – Produced by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) and its travel partner, American Express, this Web site is designed to show the broader travel industry “why environmental sustainability is good business, and how business and leisure travelers are seeking eco-friendly travel options.”  This site provides access to a wealth of sustainable travel-related information and resources, including Sustainable Travel Organizations, Tour Operators and Green Meetings.

Third-Party Certification Organizations:

Similar to the green building and clean energy industries, Ecotourism has developed third-party certification programs.  These programs establish sustainable development, operating and marketing standards for travel companies, eco-lodges and resorts, hoteliers, and other hospitality and tourism providers.   The programs also provide a recognizable brand to the buyers of travel and leisure services, ensuring that a tour operator or destination meets globally acceptable sustainability standards.  Several examples of these programs are listed below:

Rainforest Alliance - Third-party Certification, Verification and Validation Services are provided by the Rainforest Alliance.  Their certification marks and seal include:  FSC-certified Forestry Products, Rainforest Alliance Certified Agricultural Products and Farms, and Rainforest Alliance Verified Tourism Operations.  Their “little green frog” logo is recognized by consumers around the world as the symbol of environmental, social and economic sustainability. 

Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas promotes sustainable tourism throughout the Americas. It brings together certification programs, public and private entities that promote certification, and other environmental, tourism-related and academic organizations, all aiming to share information, reach out to other relevant programs, identify training needs, and define a progressive market strategy.  There are currently over 130 members from 23 countries in the region.

The Green Key - The Green Key Eco-Rating Program is a graduated rating system designed to recognize hotels, motels and resorts that are committed to improving their environmental and fiscal performance.  This rating is available for establishments in the U.S. and Canada.

Sustainable Tourism Eco-Certification Program (STEP) - Developed by Sustainable Travel International, this certification program is available worldwide and is used primarily in North America.

ECO Certification Program for Australia - This is a globally recognized brand for EcoTourism Australia.  It has been developed to address the need to identify genuine nature and ecotourism operators, and is now being exported to the rest of the world as the International ECO Certification Program.  There are 3 levels:  ECO Certified Nature Tourism, ECO Certified Ecotourism and ECO Certified Advanced Ecotourism. – This Web site offers a free updated Ecotourism Certification Guide as of February 2011.  There are more than 25 sustainable tourism and ecotourism certifications available worldwide, and this site attempts to separate legitimate organizations from “green-washers.”


Ecotourism Explorer - Created by The International Ecotourism Society, this map identifies various members of the Society. Click on the icons to discover the stories and contact information of numerous travelers, travel professionals, education institutions and ecotourism organizations around the globe.



Where Can I Go to Connect with This Industry?

Professional Associations  

The International Ecotourism Society - TIES is a “global network of ecotourism professionals and travelers seeking to make tourism a viable tool for conservation, protection of bio-cultural diversity, and sustainable community development.”  Launched in 1990, it is the largest ecotourism organization and it offers tremendous industry resources on its Web site.

Sustainable Travel International – STI is a non-profit organization founded in 2002.  It provides education and outreach services that support conservation, cross-cultural understanding, and economic development.  STI created the Sustainable Tourism Eco-certification Program (STEP), a third-party process that certifies whether an ecotourism provider operates according to specific sustainability standards.

The International Ecotourism Club – Commonly known as, this member-organization is a network that promotes social and environmental change through eco-social tourism. It also provides low cost ecotourism consultancy services.  The organization was founded in 1999 and is based in Athens, Greece.

Adventure Travel Trade Association – ATTA is a global network of professionals seeking to provide a unified voice to promote and market sustainable adventure tourism.

The Center for Responsible Travel – CREST is a non-profit research institution whose mission is to improve ecotourism practices and principles. Its policy-oriented research focuses on reducing poverty and supporting biodiversity, as well as socially- and environmentally-responsible tourism practices.  (CREST was formerly known as the Center on Ecotourism & Sustainable Development.)

International Tourism Partnership – This is an organization of leading companies from the tourism industry seeking to make a valuable contribution to the countries and cultures in which they operate.  Their goal is to demonstrate that environmental and social responsibility make good business sense.

Green Hotels Association – This professional organization is dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting ecological consciousness in the hospitality industry.  Their first goal is to give their members all the informational available on ways to conserve and save.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Alliance – GSTA is a partnership of leading organizations in the sustainable tourism field working together with USAID Missions to apply a holistic and market-driven approach to sustainable tourism development.  GSTA's purpose is to advance best-practice sustainable tourism development that will foster sustainable futures for individuals, communities and societies in those developing countries in which USAID operates. 

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) - For over 40 years, this worldwide non-profit travel association has been the source for critical information on the business travel industry.  GBTA is dedicated to putting corporate social responsibility policies into practice to promote sustainable social, environmental and economic benefits among its business travel industry members.

Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) - Founded in 1970, this nonprofit organization is committed to improving the quality, value and use of travel and tourism research and marketing information.  TTRA seeks to improve the industry through education, publications and networking activities.  There are six regional chapters in the U.S., and single chapters in Canada and Europe.

Events & Conferences

Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference - This is the annual conference sponsored by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), which focuses on worldwide sustainable tourism topics for travel and tourism professionals, business leaders, community stakeholders, and other industry experts.

European Ecotourism Conference (EuroEco) - This annual European conference addresses topics, such as ecotourism marketing, business and destination management, and conservation and communities.  This site includes information from the previous year's conference.

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention - This annual event is the premiere business travel conference and hosts travel industry specialists from around the world.  The event is planned to be carbon neutral, and a donation will be made to a local wildlife refuge reforestation project.

Adventure Travel World Summit - The annual Adventure Travel World Summit is sponsored by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).  It is designed to encourage open dialogue and candid discussions of challenging issues and visionary opportunities around the world. This event offers a blend of best practices, travel innovations and progressive technologies that are part of the global adventure travel industry.  According to the ATTA's Web site, “we succeed only by serving our members and by advancing responsible and sustainable adventure travel practices.”  
Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) - Founded in 1970, this nonprofit organization is committed to improving the quality, value and use of travel and tourism research and marketing information.  TTRA holds an annual international conference and other regional conferences around the U.S., Canada and Europe.  The focus is on improving the travel industry through education, publications and networking activities.



What Training or Education Do I Need to Enter This Industry?

Education Requirements

The general tourism industry offers a wide range of job opportunities, many of which transfer easily over to the Ecotourism sector.  Under the Job Function section listed earlier in this Profile you will find a substantial list of occupations that are more specific to Ecotourism.  Education requirements for these jobs vary, depending on their complexity and level of responsibility.  Entry-level or “green collar” jobs may require on-the-job training only, or a combination of classroom education plus OJT.  Technical or industry-specific certification programs may last a few months, possibly with an apprenticeship period, or require 2-year associate degrees at community or technical colleges.  The highest skilled jobs will require bachelor or graduate degrees at colleges and universities.  Some examples of educational programs are listed below:  

  • The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) has a number of educational options listed on their Web site, from professional certifications to partnerships with traditional university programs. You must become a member of the TIES to gain access to these lists. They also have books and online training options.  This information is found on their site at the Learning Center tab.

    The University Consortium Certificate (UCC) in Sustainable Tourism fosters a holistic understanding of ecotourism and sustainable tourism. This multi-disciplinary program allows professionals to gain a certification that is flexible to meet their needs. The program can be focused around these disciplines: recreation, parks, and tourism; hospitality management; geography; business; natural resource management; natural resource law, public administration; and landscape architecture majors.  The UCC Program is for students who have completed their freshman and sophomore years and hold the equivalent junior or senior standing.  Consortium university members include the University of Utah, West Virginia University, University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, California Polytechnic, and the University of Southern Maine.
  • Cornell University School of Hotel Administration - This is the premier institution for hospitality management.  Under-graduate, graduate and executive education programs are available.  In addition, Cornell boasts The Center for Hospitality Research, which includes many published papers, articles and research programs on various aspects of the hospitality industry, including ecotourism.  There is also the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship.

  • Harvard University – The course found at this Web link, Environmental Management of International Tourism Development, is part of the Graduate Program in Environmental and Sustainability Management.

  • University of Guelph - The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Guelph hosts Canada's most long-standing and prestigious university hospitality program.  Under-graduate, graduate and executive education programs are available.

  • Temple University, School of Tourism & Hospitality Management  – Located in Philadelphia, PA, the school offers full bachelor and master's degree and non-degree programs. Temple is also a sponsoring partner of the Tourism Education Futures Institute (TEFI) which holds an annual World Congress.  The other universities and organizations that are partners in TEFI are listed at this site, along with direct links to their hospitality and tourism programs.

  • Central Lakes College - This Brainerd, Minnesota Community & Technical College offers an Associate of Applied Science Program in Ecotourism.  “At the core of the program is respect for the environment.  It is designed to enable the graduate to use sustainable tourism to expand economic development and to improve the quality of life for the destination.”

  • Charles Sturt University – Multiple programs centering on ecotourism and environmental careers are available at this Australian university.  There are three Ecotourism programs – Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and the Master of Ecotourism.  Both on-campus and distance-learning options are available, ranging from 1.5 to 3 years to complete.  “This structure allows students to quickly gain Ecotourism knowledge and qualification they need today, and to add to their credentials at a later date if necessary.”


Certification or Licensing Requirements

The various cities, states and countries have their own business licensing requirements for professionals that work in the disciplines serving the Ecotourism Industry.  This could range from local business license requirements, to State, Federal and/or International operating licenses or certificates.  There may also be pre-requisite and continuing education benchmarks that need to be met in order to maintain professional certifications.  To find this information, search online for your State government's licensing board, bureau or agency.  You may also need to research the Federal and International licensing requirements, as most eco-tour destinations are in developing countries or remote locations.


Education/Training Options

The International Ecotourism Society Certificate Program – TIES, in partnership with George Washington University's International Institute of Tourism Studies, offers the Certificate in Sustainable Tourism Management course. This program is delivered online, and is designed to provide professional development for ecotourism practitioners, but is also available to general audiences.  Ten courses are offered and each is the equivalent of 12 hours in the classroom. TIES members receive a discount.

The Rainforest Alliance provides training and technical assistance on environmentally and socially-sound management, certification standards and marketing to hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, and other tourism businesses in Latin America.
Kalahari Management, Inc. - Offered by well-known ecotourism professional, Carol Patterson, the Tourism Development Success Strategies Series is a 5-course, online program.  It includes real world instruction based on her book, The Business of Ecotourism.

University of British Columbia, Continuing Studies Centre for Sustainability - This online Introduction to Sustainable Tourism course provides both entry-level and seasoned tourism professionals with an in-depth understanding of the current issues and provides specific methodologies for managing tourism sustainably.  The course was developed by Dr. Rachel Dodds, Assistant Professor in the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Note:  Many professional and trade associations listed throughout this Profile offer individual courses and certification programs in Ecotourism, which can be found on their Web sites.


Where Should I Go to Learn More about This Industry?


First Comprehensive Travelers' Philanthropy Handbook – Published in 2011 by the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), this 260-page book is free for download, or can be purchased in hardcover version for $35.

Policy and Practice for Global Tourism - Published in March 2011 by the U.N. World Tourism Organization, this book is a guide to the major themes in world tourism today.  Topics include:  Understanding Global Tourism, Sustainability, Destination Development, New Media Marketing, and Crisis Management.

Ecotourism & Sustainable Development: Who Owns Paradise?
2nd Edition, by Dr. Martha Honey, PhD, Island Press, Washington, D.C., 2008 – This is a comprehensive overview of worldwide ecotourism, showing how the concept and the reality have evolved over the last 25 years.

Travel Green Guide 2010-2011 - Published by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), this 104 page downloadable guide represents an extensive resource.  It is filled with a TIES Membership Directory broken into the following categories:  Association, NGO, College & University, Institution, Business and Professional organizations.

The Business of Ecotourism, 3rd Edition, by Carol Patterson, Tafford Publishing, 2007 – This book discusses the key elements of sustainable tourism and provides ideas and examples on how to succeed in the industry without compromising environmental principles.  The author is owner of Kalahari Management, Inc., a tourism consultancy.

Ecotourism:  Principles and Practices, by Ralf C. Buckley, CAB International, 2008 – This broad-based textbook provides a basis for studies into environment-based tourism.  The author is the Director of the International Centre for Ecotourism Research (ICER) at Griffith University in Australia.

Touring, Trekking &
Traveling Green: Careers in Ecotourism by Diane Dakers, Crabtree Publishing Co. – This book is due out in August, 2011.


Online Reports

Innovators Symposium - Sponsored by Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) and Stanford University, this is a recap of the January 2010 Symposium titled, Rethinking Coastal Tourism Development:  The Importance of Innovators in Times of Climate Change & Economic Crisis.  Video sessions and PowerPoint presentations can also be accessed at this site.

The World's Best Ethical Destinations - 2011 - This article from the Responsible Travel Report lists The Developing World's 10 Best Ethical Destinations for 2010-11.  The list was created by, and the destinations met their specific criteria for “working to maintain strong environmental, human rights and ecotourism values.”  The Responsible Travel Report is an online magazine published by Sustainable Travel International (STI). 
Can Ecotourism Survive in Costa Rica? - Written by Alice Henley for OnEarth Magazine, this March 2011 article addresses Costa Rica's status as one of the best examples of successful sustainable travel.

Good Deeds, Good Business - Written by Jerry Clausing at on March 2, 2011, this article addresses how larger hotels and chains are incorporating the concept of “corporate social responsibility” into their travel programs, their business operations and their properties. 

The Threat of Green Fatigue - This article came from a panel discussion at the March 2009 Green Travel Summit.  It addresses how going green impacts travel company strategies and affects business travel and corporate meetings.  From this page, there are links to four other short discussions from this event.

Corporate Travel Industry Focuses on Green Travel - This press release from the 2009 Green Travel Summit addressed the fact that “green is not a destination, but a concept that will continue to evolve.”  Within this release are the Top 10 Challenges that the conference participants listed regarding implementation of green initiatives within their corporations.



San Francisco's Eco-friendly Airport Terminal #2 – This short video highlights SFO's 1954-era Terminal 2 that was remodeled according to U.S. Green Building Council standards and opened April 14, 2011.  It serves Virgin Airways and American Airlines.  Many other general travel related videos can be found at this site.

Sustainable Travel International - This Web page includes an 8-minute video that explains STI's mission to promote sustainable development through responsible travel, by providing programs that help travelers, businesses and destinations protect the environment, preserve cultural heritage, and promote economic development.

Eco-Tourism in the Philippines, Thriving through Balanced Development & Environmental Protection – This 2009 video from the Asia Development Bank (ADB) showcases the efforts to improve the economy of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, through the results of ecotourism.


Where Should I Find Current Trends and Background Info

Note:  In addition to the sampling of blogs, newsletters and online magazines listed below, many professional associations and companies offer newsletters, news feeds and informational blogs on their own Web sites, or they provide links to other resources.

Blogs - This blog page is associated with The International Ecotourism Society (TIES).

Top 50 Ecotourism Blogs & Sites - Even though this list dates from 2009, the Travel Answer Man's Blog aggregates numerous blog, organization, and travel operator Web sites that remain active and are devoted to ecotourism.

Responsible Travel Report Blog – This blog site hosts numerous writers on the topic of ecotourism.  It is actually home to the Responsible Travel Report digital magazine, and is associated with Sustainable Travel International (STI), a major ecotourism organization and resource. - This site provides access to upwards of 50 general travel and ecotourism blogs that are aggregated at this site and are written by contributors from around the world.



Rainforest Alliance Canopy Newsletter – The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. Their focus includes sustainable agriculture, forestry and tourism, along with mitigating the effects of climate change.

Responsible Travel Report - This is the online magazine published by Sustainable Travel International (STI).

TIES Newsletter – This Web page offers access to The International Ecotourism Society's Newsletter, Blog and Digital Traveler Magazine.

Green Hotelier - The International Tourism Partnership is a global program of the International Business Leaders Forum. Green Hotelier is its key communications tool and most successful publication. Formerly a print magazine, this Web site is now the communications portal that sets the agenda for responsible business in hotels and tourism.  Up-to-date information can be accessed at the News section on this Web site.

Adventure Travel News – This is a part of the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), and represents the adventure travel segment's source for News, Events, Exclusive Features, Profiles, Research and more. - Established in 1998 and known as “The First Online Community for the Travel & Tourism Industry,” this site carries current News Bulletins, hosts Blogs and offers other Resources for the broader travel industry.  Included is a section on Sustainable Travel.

Africa Geographic Safari - This is a completely interactive digital magazine with “amazing stories about African wildlife, conservation and travel.”  It was launched in May 2011. 

UNWTO News – Digital copies of the United Nations World Tourism Organization's quarterly magazine are available at this Web site.

What Keywords Best Describe This Industry?

Keywords for Job Boards and Searches

Keywords are one of the best ways to gather additional information about your target industry. For more information about how to use keywords effectively in your research, please see the article Making the Most of Industry Keywords.

Adventure travel
Eco-lodge or resort
Cultural tourism
Green hospitality
Green hotel/lodging
Green event planning
Green travel
LEED-certified hotel
Nature-based tourism
Natural resource conservation/management
Responsible tourism
Sustainable tourism
Sustainable development
Voluntourism or volunteer vacation

Must-know Terms

Climate change
Community-based tourism
Conservation of local resources
Cultural tourism
Destination travel
Economic development & political empowerment of communities
Economic impacts to indigenous cultures
Ecotourism vs. green travel 
Ecosystem protection
Environmentally sensitive destinations
Environmental protection
Environmental responsibility
Natural resource management
Nature-based hospitality/travel
Responsible hospitality/travel
Sustainable development
Sustainable tourism
Wildlife management
Wilderness travel

Note: Know the various legitimate Third-party Ecotourism Certification Programs as well.


Sustainable Tourism Glossary - This is an extensive reference on the Sustainable Travel International association Web site.

Tourism Glossary - This is a thorough listing of terms within the global tourism industry, and is found at The Global Development Research Center (

Glossary of Travel - This is a comprehensive listing of 8,000+ terms for the broader travel and leisure industry.


Anything Else I Should Explore?

Other Resources

The Convene Green Alliance – This is an alliance founded by several associations and trade groups.  Its mission is to encourage, promote and conduct association conventions and events in a responsible and sustainable manner.  The Alliance is associated with The Center for Association Leadership (also known as ASAE).  Although this is not a direct travel provider, the event and convention planning profession is an integral part of the broader tourism industry.

Tour Operators Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development
– This Initiative, launched in 2000, is a voluntary, non-profit association registered in Switzerland.  It is open to all tour operators, regardless of size and location.  Member tour operators commit to the concepts of sustainable development as the core of their business activity.  Membership includes the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), UNESCO and the UN World Tourism Organization.

Is There a Right Way to Travel?
– Written by Kevin Salwen, March 9, 2011, this article discusses how to spend your money wisely when traveling to eco-tour destinations, including advice from the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST).

The Global Development Research Center – GDRC is an independent non-profit think tank that carries out initiatives in education, research and practice regarding the environment and global sustainability issues.  GDRC has also established The Sustainable Tourism Gateway, which is a repository for brief “infosheets” about sustainable tourism topics.

NY Times Travel Guides on Ecotourism - The Times' travel section lists Ecotourism as one of their key activities and/or interests.  Many articles about the global issue of ecotourism, as well as specific destinations and eco-tour operators, can be found in their archives. – This online magazine was created by "four friends and avid travelers" that have decided to build a site/magazine.  It contains a searchable directory of travel organizations that share their eco-philosophy and practices; has thoughtful commentary and articles on the subject of eco-travel; and provides travel guides, itineraries and a packing list for eco-travelers. - This comprehensive Web site covers the broader travel and tourism industry and is provided by Conde' Nast Traveler Magazine.  Specific articles, destinations and tour operators can be found by entering “ecotourism” into the search box.

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