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Ecotourism is becoming an increasingly viable alternative to the commercial mass tourism that became commonplace in the 1960s, with the advent of budget airlines and package holidays. It involves visiting places that are 'off the beaten track' and, in doing so, respecting the make-up of the local environment, and the customs of the people who live there.
Costa Rica has become one of the most popular destinations for ecotourism, with environmentally-conscious people flocking from across the world, to stay in green hotels and lodges, and sample the extraordinary wildlife that the country has to offer, including monkeys, crocodiles and poison dart frogs. Kenya is also favourite for an ecotourism trip thanks to its safaris, while, for those looking for an adventure closer to home, the Norwegian fjords might just be the place. Norway is well-known for its liberal stance on environmental policies, and its government has taken steps to safeguard the unique coastline by regulating various industries, such as sealing, whaling, fishing and petroleum.
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Of course, as with regular forms of tourism, ecotourism relies primarily on air travel, which has a substantial environmental impact. This has led many people to justifiably question just how green ecotourism is. There's also an argument that ecotourism still has a negative impact on local communities, for example with people being forced to leave their homes in South Africa.
However, it's clear that ecotourism is on the rise, and forward-thinking countries such as Costa Rica and Sweden, have introduced their own ecotourism certification programmes.