The proposal for fusing conservation and tourism was first contrived by Budowski in 1976, and the term ‘ecotourism’ emerged shortly after in the late 1980’s (Orams 1995). The negative impacts of mass tourism on the environment was just being realized, and in order to sustain their livelihood tourist companies were beginning to explore tourism management options and the concept of “eco-friendly” tourism (Jamal et al 2006). The idea was largely supported by the public, who expressed significant interest in experiencing pristine natural habitats that were continually protected from exploitation and degradation (Orams 1995). The sequential development can be seen below in Figure 1.
Several major factors led to the rise of ecotourism. As seen in Figure 2, the desire to forge relationships between several major ideas and concepts resulted in the conception of ecotourism (Jamal et al 2006). Sustainable funding for conservation was primary motive for ecotourism, however ecotourism planners and researchers quickly realized the diversity and number of stakeholders affected by ecotourism (Jamal et al 2006). Thus, a more comprehensive definition of ecotourism was formed, the components of which can be seen in Figure 2 (Jamal et al 2006).
The World Ecotourism Summit in 2002 narrowed ecotourism down to 8 postulates that are currently utilized today. Crabtree et al (2002) noted that outcome of the summit conference were the views that ecotourism should:
- have a natural area focus that ensures visitors have the opportunity to personally and directly experience nature;
- provide interpretation or educational services that give visitors the opportunity to experience nature in ways that lead to greater understanding, appreciation and enjoyment;
- represent best practice in ecological sustainability practices;
- contribute to conservation of natural areas and cultural heritage;
- provide ongoing contributions to the local community;
- respect and be sensitive to the culture/s existing in the area;
- consistently meet consumer expectations; and
- be marketed and promoted honestly and accurately so that realistic expectations are formed.
The formation of these fundamentals was a significant advancement within ecotoursim, as it eventually produced the International Ecotourism Standard, a standardized definition of ecotourism that was distributed and recognized world wide (Crabtree et al 2002).