Chapter 16: Developing ecotourists’ environmentally sustainable behaviour
As noted by Buckley and other authors in this volume, most definitions of ecotourism include some kind of environmental education or interpretation component. In Australia, ecotourism accreditation requires that the experience ‘fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation’ (Ecotourism Australia, 2012). Some form of environmental education has thus become a key component of most ecotourism experiences. It is often argued that increasing visitors’ environmental understanding and awareness will lead to their voluntary compliance with environmentally sustainable practices and thus help to reduce the negative impacts of ecotourism. Not only does the ecotourism industry have the responsibility to minimize its own negative impacts, it also has the opportunity to play a positive role in helping to solve global environmental problems by providing environmental learning experiences that promote positive change in people’s everyday behaviour and lifestyles. Adopting a proactive role, in which environmental responsibility is not only embedded in ecotourism products and services but also actively communicated to tourists and other visitors might be considered a moral and ethical responsibility (Ballantyne & Packer, 2011; Miller & Twining-Ward, 2005).
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