Nature tourism & ecotourism: are they the same?

Both ecotourism and natural tourism involve visiting natural sights, however there are differences in the aims and activities given by the two.

Laarman and Durst (1993 in Fennel 2015) identified a conceptual difference between ecotourism and nature tourism in their following definition. Recognizing the difficulties in defining nature tourism, they define it as having both a narrow and broad scope. They claim it refers to operators who organize nature-oriented tours in a narrow sense, but it also refers to the exploitation of natural resources in tourism, such as beaches and country settings, in a broader sense. Ecotourism can be part of nature tourism. However it is not always the other way around.

Nature tourism is defined as tourism centered primarily on natural resources such as relatively undisturbed parks and natural areas, wetlands, wildlife reserves, and other areas of protected flora, fauna, and habitats, according to the authors (1993). Given this viewpoint, there appears to be widespread agreement in the literature that ecotourism is a subset of broader nature-based tourism (NBT).

This is obvious in Goodwin’s (1996) commentary, in which he writes, Nature tourism includes all types of tourism, such as mass tourism, adventure tourism, low-impact tourism, and ecotourism, that make use of natural resources in their natural or unspoiled state, such as species, habitat, terrain, scenery, and salt and fresh water features. Travel for the aim of appreciating unspoilt natural landscapes or wildlife is known as nature tourism (Fennell, 2015).

While Ecotourism, on the other hand, is low-impact nature tourism that contributes to the conservation of species and habitats either directly through conservation or indirectly by providing sufficient revenue to the local community to value, and thus protect, their wildlife heritage area as a source of income (Goodwin et al., 1996 in Fennell 2015)