Ecotourism, sometimes called eco-conscious travel or eco-friendly travel, is tourism aimed at exotic and/or endangered destinations while fostering an environmental understanding and conservation. Directed more towards nature, ecotourism often includes activities such as kayaking, bird watching, and hiking through rainforests.
Though often interchangeable, being “eco-conscious” literally means that one is simply aware of their environmental impact, while being “eco-friendly” usually goes a step further by implying that the traveler is aware and making decisions which do not hurt the environment as they are traveling.
These terms are used to describe two different segments of your journey; not only does it refer to how “green” you are to the environment at your destination, but it also implies that your mode of transportation both there and back were at least considered. People who take an eco-conscious trip, may start a week or more before the trip by cancelling magazines and newspaper subscriptions, to cut down on paper waste.
Some travelers pack quite a bit more lightly, as the heavier their luggage, the more fuel required by an aircraft, and thus more pollution. Most travel agencies have by now partnered with an organization to which you can pay a small fee to offset your carbon footprint (they plant trees to counter the damage done by the plane’s carbon emissions). At the destination, low-impact accommodations are a staple, while many often take public transportation to get around.
Similar to voluntourists, ecotourists are eco-conscious and eco-friendly individuals who travel primarily to observe or preserve; they may go to observe wildlife as a study aid or preserve an endangered species actively.