WASHINGTON, DC — Effective January 1, 2015, The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) has revised its Definition and Principles, created by the founding members in 1990. Leading up to the 25 year anniversary celebration in 2015, ecotourism experts from around the world connected to re-evaluate TIES principles of ecotourism as an initiative led by Hitesh Mehta, Judy Kepher-Gona, and Dr. Kelly Bricker. TIES has implemented small changes and additions to both the principles and the definition to provide more clarity, eliminate the ambiguity, and therefore reduce the greenwashing and wrongful interpretations being practiced by in the tourism industry.
As the TIES existing definition included only two (Conservation and Local Communities) of the three pillars of ecotourism, the inclusion Interpretation now holds a place. Therefore, TIES revised definition is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education” with the specification that education is to staff and guests.
It has been 25 years since TIES was started, it was important to re-visit three principles found in the literature – that ecotourism:
- is non-consumptive / non-extractive
- creates an ecological conscience
- holds eco-centric values and ethics in relation to nature
TIES hopes this gives clarity to those activities that are considered CONSUMPTIVE / EXTRACTIVE and which cause behavioral and psychological impacts on non-human species.
TIES considers non-consumptive and non-extractive use of resources for and by tourists and minimized impact to the environment and people as major characteristics of authentic ecotourism.
With respect to the TIES Principles, since 1990, when TIES first created the principles, we now know much more about the tourism industry through scientific and design related research, and we are also better informed about environmental degradation and impacts on local cultures and non-human species. It is important that this knowledge is reflected by these principles.
Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement, participate in, and market ecotourism activities should adopt the following ecotourism principles:
- Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
- Build environmental and cultural awareness, and respect.
- Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
- Produce direct financial benefits for conservation.
- Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
- Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
- Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
- Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.