Ecotourism is an emerging tourism market segment which appears to have significant growth potential in ireland. The eco sector is becoming more popular with consumers and eco- products are increasingly becoming associated with quality and are commanding high prices. Ecotourism provides new business opportunities for accommodation providers, caterers and leisure resorts which could capitalise on this potential. Ecotourism has been defined as:

“Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people”. (TIES, 2005)

In short, all ecotourism must have a positive impact on both natural areas and the local community. According to the international Ecotourism society (TiEs – www.ecotourism.org), this means that those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should do so in accordance with the following principles:

  • Minimise impact
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation; and
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people