How to differentiate Green tourism, Ecotourism, and Sustainable Tourism

The reality of green tourism

Most people automatically perceive the statement “green tourism” as friendly, however, and for unfortunate reasons, it’s regularly used incorrectly as a marketing tactic. Many hotels or activities could label themselves as environmentally friendly when they’re not really working towards any sustainability efforts, even the most simple tasks such as recycling or water-conservation programs. 

This simple phrase attracted terrible results to the travel industry over the years due to rampant greenwashing. Some hotels started claiming to be “green” only because they would let guests reuse towels optionally, for example. A big number of companies tried to falsely declare to contribute actively to the planet.

Most hotels and excursions that definitely exercise some structure of sustainability will list their practices on their website. The greatest part of this is that you can easily dig in and see precisely what they are taking part in. 

Organisations can take relevant initiatives like having recycling programs in place, support and encourage the use of environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, making room keys out of sustainable materials instead of plastic or having a water-conservation program. 

Conscious-tip Terms like “ecotourism” and “sustainable tourism” refer to practices that attempt to reduce the negative impact of visitors whilst keeping away from biodiversity and respecting neighborhood culture, so make sure to keep an eye out for them.

Most tourism businesses that avoid to generalise and greenwash, will explain their specific methods of reducing environmental impact. Other terms you might come across are “Ecotourism” and “sustainable tourism”, let’s review what makes them different.

What ecotourism is about

As defined by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) in 2015, ecotourism consists of traveling responsibly to natural areas that aim to converse the environment, sustain the well-being of the local community, and involves interpretation and education. The education previously mentioned is meant to be inclusive for both staff and guests.

This term will rarely be used to describe tourism in urban areas because it’s based on getting out and connecting in a responsible way with the natural world. There is less of an emphasis on the place you stay, instead, the activities that you do whilst you’re there are the highlights.