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Jessica Bueler Organizes Community Effort to Welcome Refugees to St. Louis

Jessica Bueler Organizes Community Effort to Welcome Refugees to St. Louis

On November 1, 2016, four Syrian refugees were beaten outside of their home in the north side of St. Louis. The boys, who ranged from 13-15 years of age, were punched and kicked by a group of unknown suspects. Jessica Bueler, a St. Louis business […]

5 Reasons Verona is a Perfect Destination for Families

5 Reasons Verona is a Perfect Destination for Families

Verona is often overlooked by the charming canals of its more famous neighbor, but it’s a great destination for families. The city is easily walkable, with all its major attractions within its compact historic center. Here are five spots that are sure to enchant even […]

Summer 2018: Going in Different Directions

Summer 2018: Going in Different Directions

We rang in the New Year in Paris and spent the first eight days of 2018 in Italy, so we got a good start to the 2018 year, but it’s the summer trips that I’m most excited about. Emma had expressed wanting to go on […]

How to Make Sense of Travel Advisories for U.S. Citizens

How to Make Sense of Travel Advisories for U.S. Citizens

In January, the Department of State revamped its travel advisory page and how it provides information about other countries. Before the list only included countries that had a travel advisory, but now the list includes all countries with the following classifications: Level 1 – Exercise […]

Jeff Seale: An Anti-Poverty Activist Working in Sustainable Agriculture

Jeff Seale: An Anti-Poverty Activist Working in Sustainable Agriculture

Jeff Seale discovered the ONE Campaign like so many of us did–by clicking on something that caught his attention on Facebook. His interest in poverty dates back to the Ethiopian famine of 1984, though at that time, he didn’t know how to get involved. He […]

Even With the Crowds, Italy Still Inspires

Even With the Crowds, Italy Still Inspires

Italy: the land of pasta and immense beauty–the people, the language, and the landscape.  It’s no wonder the country is overrun by tourists. From the shimmering canals of Venice and the rolling amber hills of Tuscany, to the rugged cliffs of Positano and the picturesque […]

Reflections on Traveling Solo

Reflections on Traveling Solo

I’ve been on so many solo trips that I forget it’s not something that everyone feels comfortable doing. I find comfort in being on my own, allowed to experience a new place in any way that makes sense to me. It’s invigorating and freeing. But […]

Ecuador Travel Guide

Ecuador Travel Guide

Ecuador was the biggest surprise of our South American trip. We didn’t have any expectations for the country because we didn’t know that much about it, but my daughter and I both agree that it was our favorite country from the trip. There’s much to […]

South America Packing List

South America Packing List

From the Amazon Rainforest and coastal beach towns to the Andean Mountains, South America has much to offer, but this diversity in geography and climate make packing a challenge. Hot and humid days on the coast can be followed by bone-chilling nights in the mountains. […]

Colombia Travel Guide

Colombia Travel Guide

Bustling cities, Andean adventures, Amazon jungle, and Caribbean coasts. Colombia packs all of South America’s treasures within its boarders. The country that was once riddled with drug cartels and violence is now one of the most popular up-and-coming destinations. In the past 10 years, international […]


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Understanding the Differences Between Sustainable Tourism and Eco Tourism

Understanding the Differences Between Sustainable Tourism and Eco Tourism

The travel industry is one of the largest in the world and is expected to continue growing in the upcoming years. In 2016, international tourist arrivals grew by 3.9%.  With this growth comes the realization that tourism has the potential to benefit communities through conservation and financial assistance or harm communities through irresponsible actions.

There has been a concerted effort to bring more attention to the potentially positive effects tourism can have on a given community. Sustainable tourism and eco tourism are two terms that are often used interchangeably, though they mean different things. Both sustainable tourism and eco tourism are environmentally friendly and socially conscious, but their key principles are different. Below is a look at their unique characteristics.

Eco Tourism

Eco tourism is interested in conservation, specifically as it pertains to the environment and improving the welfare of local people.

The International Ecotourism Society defines eco tourism as:

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

Eco tourism focuses on destinations that have special geographical or biological features (rural, natural, wilderness, etc.) and is mostly interested in flora, fauna, and cultural heritage.

Some of the key principles are:

  • Minimizing impact
  • Protecting biodiversity
  • Building environmental awareness
  • Respecting local culture and environment
  • Providing financial benefits for conservation projects

Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism is interested in travel that has a minimal impact on local and environment communities. It takes eco tourism a step further by also addressing the development and economic aspect of travel.

The World Tourism Organization provides the following definition for sustainable tourism:

“Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development. A suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long term sustainability.”

The three pillars of sustainability, which provide a foundation for sustainable tourism are:

  • Social
  • Environmental
  • Economic

Sustainable tourism supports local conservation projects and businesses that hire local staff. It’s broader than eco tourism in that sustainability can be applied to all forms of tourism. It’s also not location dependent; sustainable tourism is just as prevalent in cities as it is in natural environments.

Our Role as Travelers

I think what is most important is thinking about how we travel and making sure we are doing our part in making the world a better place.

Do you support hotels and tour companies that employ locals?

Are the souvenirs you purchase locally made?

If you are interacting with animals, are they treated ethically?

Are you making sure that you leave environments as you found them?