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Ecotourism is generally defined as a nature-related tourist activity, such as trekking, camping, rafting, or vacationing in natural resorts that are associated with nature. The tendency of these activities would have a negative impact on the environment if the awareness of tourism actors on environmental sustainability is still low. However, environmentally friendly tourism activities are not automatically categorized as ecotourism.
So, what exactly is ecotourism activity?
The first ecotourism definition was introduced by the organization The Ecotourism Society (1990) as follows: "Ecotourism is a form of travel to a natural area undertaken with the aim of conserving the environment and preserving the lives and welfare of the local population".
From this definition, ecotourism activities focus more on small-scale enterprises and emphasize the importance of environmental and social conservation of local communities.
Some aspects that need to be considered in the management of ecotourism are:
-The number of visitors is limited or arranged to fit the environmental and socio-cultural carrying capacity of the community
– Implement environmentally friendly travel patterns
– Implement local cultural and traditional tourism patterns
-Provide direct impacts on improving the economy of local communities
– Does not require substantial capital for the construction of supporting infrastructure
Principles applied in ecotourism development1.Sustainability of Ecotourism from Economic, Social and Environmental Aspects
The sustainability of ecotourism is supported by three interrelated aspects of economic, social, and environmental aspects. In accordance with Law no. 10, 2009 on Tourism, the performance of tourism development should not only be evaluated based on its contribution to economic growth, but also on its contribution to the improvement of people's welfare, the reduction of unemployment and poverty, conservation of natural resources and environment, cultural development, improvement of the nation image, , national identity and international unity and friendship.
2. Development of local community institutions and partnerships
The organizational and community organizational aspects of ecotourism management are also a key issue: the importance of professional support in continuously strengthening local organizations, promoting self-sustaining and creating a fair partnership in ecotourism development
3. Community-based economy
One application of a community-based economy is the Homestay accommodation system. Homeowners can feel directly the economic benefits of tourist visits, and the distribution of benefits in the community is more secure. The homestay system has a high value as an ecotourism product in which a tourist gets an opportunity to learn about nature, community culture and daily life at the site. Tourist and host parties can get to know each other and learn from each other, and thereby foster better tolerance and understanding. Homestay in accordance with the tradition of Indonesian hospitality.
Education in ecotourism activities is done by introducing tourists to the importance of nature protection and respect for local culture. The Tourist Information Center is important and can also be a center of activity with the aim of enhancing the value of a tourist experience who can get complete information about the location or region in terms of culture, history, nature, and watching art performances, crafts and other cultural products.
5.Development and implementation of site plans and management of ecotourism sites
Carrying capacity (carrying capacity) of tourist sites need to be considered before the development of ecotourism negatively impact on nature and local culture. Aspects of carrying capacity to consider are: number of tourists / year; the length of tourist visits and how often ecologically vulnerable locations may be visited. Zoning tourism area and its management is one approach that can maintain the value of conservation and sustainability of ecotourism area.
The five principles of ecotourism development will be applicable, if there is synergy between stakeholders involved, both from the government, the managers of ecotourism, tourists and of course the local community around the ecotourism area.