Essay by 0 October 2004

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Ecotourism is an ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation. In Australia, where ecologically sustainable development is placed high on the political agenda, a growing number of government agencies, protected area management authorities, and conservation groups are committed to promoting nature-based tourism and ecotourism.

Tourism is a major economic activity in Australia and is widely recognized as the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. The Bureau of Tourism Research estimates that tourism contributed over 10% to Australia's GDP in 1995-96, generating AU$14.1 billion in export earnings and direct employment of one million people, or 12.4% of the workforce in the same time period.

Its purpose is to raise ecological awareness while conserving the natural environment. However, in practice, its impacts are broader and often harmful. Ecotourism plays a particularly important role because it can create jobs in remote regions that historically have benefited less from economic development programs than have more popular areas.

Even a small number of jobs may be significant in communities where populations are low.

Ecotourism is important, in terms of promoting the understanding and appreciation of the environment and the ecosystem, which is one of its aims. Other aims of ecotourism include positive experiences for both visitors and hosts, to use the environment and the ecosystem as a tourist attraction but in a way that will have minimal impact on the environment so as to be able to have a sustainable natural capital.

Eco island destinations are by far the easiest ecotourism destinations because the owners can control the activities and the number of visitors on the island. A great example of ecotourism that contains all the essentials of appropriate ecotourism is South Long Island in the Whitsunday's, where they have a...