Recent Milestones in the History of Ecotourism

Ecotourism - 1990s

Ecotourism, also known as nature-based travel, begins to grow in popularity on nearly every continent, including Antarctica.

Ecotourism - 1998

Recognizing the increasing public profile of nature-based travel, the United Nations Economic and Social Council asks members of the U.N. General Assembly to approve a measure that will result in a yearlong effort to promote ecotourism.

Ecotourism - 2001

After decades' worth of tourism-related land degradation in Spain's Balearic Islands, the local government proposes an "eco-tax" on travelers to fund the restoration of the islands' natural landscape. However, after local tour operators warn that such a tax would severely hamper the islands' tourism revenue, the proposal is withdrawn. The event is viewed as a significant victory for the global tourism industry, and sparks a debate about environmental protection in areas of the world frequented by tourists.

Ecotourism - 2002

The U.N. declares 2002 to be the International Year of Ecotourism. Throughout the year, conferences, panel discussions and public events take place around the world under U.N. auspices to educate people about the benefits of environmentally sustainable tourism.

In May, representatives from more than 130 countries gather in Quebec City, Canada, for a global summit on ecotourism under the auspices of the U.N. Environmental Program and the World Tourism Organization. Government officials, tourism industry executives, business developers and environmentalists collaborate on the creation of a nonbinding measure known as the Quebec Declaration on Ecotourism. The document recommends a series of steps that should be followed in the coming years to ensure that ecotourism remains environmentally sustainable and economically profitable for residents of developing countries.

Ecotourism - 2007

Growing numbers of environmental activists allege that the mounting popularity of ecotourism is resulting in widespread land degradation and pollution in many popular nature-based travel destinations in Latin America, the Pacific Ocean and Asia. They demand that quotas be placed on the annual number of travelers to such places to minimize the human impact on sensitive ecosystems.

In July, environmental officials in Ecuador's Galapagos Islands--one of the world's premier ecotourism destinations--announce that they are considering implementing restrictions on travel to the archipelago. To compensate for the resulting reduction in the number of tourists, they suggest that the price of visiting the Galapagos Islands be increased substantially.

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