With the sunshine of summer on the horizon, many Americans are anticipating relief from the cold temperatures and harsh weather of winter. Around this time of year, it's not uncommon for this anticipation to result in an influx of vacation bookings. In recent years, more and more travelers have been jumping onboard with a new, green way to travel called ecotourism.
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines this form of vacationing as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." The TIES website says that ecotourists should plan trips that have minimal impact on their surroundings, offer opportunities to learn about and respect other cultures, create a positive experience for everyone involved, invest in conservation somehow and empower natives of the destination.
"Ecotourism tries not only to minimize the negative impact of travel but to maximize the positive impact," Ayako Ezaki of TIES told Forbes Magazine. "We all know travel experiences are rewarding for people who take the trips. At the same time we try to give back to the destinations and the people who make these experiences possible."
TIES anticipates that an increasing number of tourists that are going green in the near future. The organization predicted that ecotourism could grow to the point where it makes up for 25 percent of the global travel market in the next six years, according to Forbes. If the industry does reach that growth potential, that would mean it's raking in $470 billion per year in revenues.
And while the trend has a lot of potential for profitability, the U.N. World Tourism Organization says it's actually saving Americans money, according to Forbes. The publication said that U.S. ecotourists spend $66 a day when traveling internationally, while those who book traditional vacations outside of the country spend about $88 per day.