Ecotourism holidays: How to attract environmentally conscious travelers

Travelling has never been easier or cheaper – thanks to open borders, long-distance buses and budget airlines. At the same time, popular tourist destinations are suffering from the masses of people. But the interest of travellers is sustainability as grown and so has the demand for ecotourism holidays. Today’s guests prefer destinations that take initiatives to protect and preserve environment, culture and wildlife.

But what does ecotourism mean? And how can you attract environmentally conscious travellers as guests? Our article shares the most important insights.

What is the definition of ecotourism?

“Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”

This is the definition of ecotourism by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES).

The interests of the local population and the protection of nature and wildlife are the top priorities of ecotourism holidays. The interference with nature, the local traditions and ways of life are kept to a minimum while providing positive experiences to visitors and hosts.

One of the big advantages of ecotourism is that the majority of the revenue flows into the regional economy – and therefore into the protection and expansion of the local infrastructure and environment.

Why are ecotourism holidays so relevant?

The awareness for a sustainable lifestyle has increased significantly over the last few years. This awareness has now hit the mainstream – just like environmentally-conscious ecotourism. The changes aren’t just visible in niche tourism. In the luxury sector as well as, accommodations that operate in a transparent and ecological manner are becoming more and more popular.

70% of global travelers state that they would be more likely to book an accommodation knowing it was eco-friendly (1).

55% of global travelers say that they are more determined to make sustainable travel choices compared to last year (1).

The number of worldwide tourists in 2019 increased by 4% compared to the previous year. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a staggering 1.5 billion travellers went abroad last year – and the tendency is upwards. Cities like Barcelona and Venice are thinking about introducing a limit on the number of visitors, while many other metropolises are taking up arms against Airbnb – and the resulting shortage in affordable living space. At the beginning of 2018, Ecuador further tightened the already strict regulations for visiting the Galapagos Islands in order to protect the archipelago’s flora and fauna. Other nature reserves are following suit.

The transition from mass tourism to sustainable ecotourism holidays is therefore not simply a temporary fad, but an unavoidable step to combine our responsibility towards nature, the needs of the guests and the economic interests of the hotels.

How to enhance the guest experience of environmentally conscious guests?

You’re using regional products in your kitchen? You support the local nature conservation organisation? Or your housekeeping only uses eco-friendly cleaning products? Wonderful!

This is not the time for modesty. Your good deeds and the eco-conscious investments not only benefit nature and your social environment, but they also enhance the guest experience.

Here some ideas:

  • Are there hidden hiking trails, a wildlife park or attractive bicycle routes in your area? Provide your guests with information about environmentally friendly activities in your region. Sell an experience, not just a room.
  • Which product is symbolic for your region? From local species of fish on your menu to homemade jam that your guests can take home as a present.
  • Which partnerships are possible in your region? Reach out to other companies and profit from the collaboration – for instance through an association with other hoteliers, joint events and promotions or partnerships with local farmers.
  • Let your guests participate in the social and ecological life in your region. Organize events, for instance sponsorship of animals or plants or support for the annual toad migration, where your guests can participate and collect the animals to carry them to the other side of the road.


Ecotourism certificates and awards

There are countless certification programs and eco-labels, some global, some regional, to officially certify your hotel’s green focus. From Green Globe and Green Key to Blue Flag and Viabono.

A certified label will increase your guests’ trust in the eco-friendly focus of your hotel. And it makes you more attractive than competitors without an ecotourism concept.

At the same time, you will profit from the marketing and additional reach provided by the certificate. For example, the homepage and member directories provide additional distribution channels.

Utilise Social Media

Social media channels are an important communication channel for the tourism industry. You should use these platforms as marketing channels to position you as ecotourism holidays provider. Use atmospheric and convincing images and post them on your Facebook and Instagram accounts (feel free to add an individual hashtag). Encourage your guests to do the same. Your satisfied customers are thereby becoming influencers that will acquire new customers for you with their positive and authentic reviews.

It’s not just the significance of pictures, videos are becoming more relevant as well. Give your employees a voice and let them talk about their daily work – obviously always with a connection to your focus on ecotourism. This doesn’t require any professional equipment nor any special know-how: a smartphone and the hotel’s Instagram account are all you need to attract future guests through personal videos.

To sum up

Ecotourism holidays are not just a trend. Travellers around the world are recognizing the importance of environmental preservation. They are increasingly demanding accommodations to support sustainable tourism practices.

To protect environment, wildlife and local society, guests and hoteliers have to act responsibly. Offering eco-friendly alternatives is not a matter of huge investments. Instead, there are several affordable ways to boost your sustainable efforts while enhancing the experience of your guests.