Chapter 31: Ecotourism standards: international accreditation and local certification and indicators
Ecotourism could be considered as a ‘well-meaning’ term, which was devised with the best of intentions (Hetzer, 1965). However, it is one that has provoked much research, discussion, debate and critique. An analysis of 15 definitions of ecotourism by Fennell (2003) demonstrated that the versions reviewed encompassed aspects of nature, relationships with local people, conservation and preservation. Nevertheless, there is a fundamental challenge in establishing what ecotourism is, and what it is not. Discriminating between them permits recognizing exemplary performance (providing market advantage to those who achieve it), while avoiding false claims (or ‘green-washing’) by those who do not qualify as operating ecotourism. The Mohonk Agreement (2000; see Bien, 2009) established for the first time a general agreement among tourism certification programmes to differentiate between the verifiable characteristics of ecotourism as a specialized tourism sector and those of sustainable tourism that apply to all tourism activities.
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