Ecotourism Papers and Articles

Over the last 10 years, the majority of academic papers and publications have retreated behind academic publishing firewalls or are available as PDF downloads only, while commercial sources are more likely to be exercises in "greenwashing" or "overtourism" horror stories. 

Here are a few sources with full texts or abstracts with PDF links, which may provide still useful insights, or snapshots into conditions and issues of the day.  See also Tourism Research Resources.


  • National Library of Australia - Trove. “Find and get over 385,217,890 Australian and online resources: books, images, historic newspapers, maps, music, archives and more.”   If there's an outdated, 404'd url, or link reference to an academic publication, chances are you'll now find it archived here.
  • TwoWay Track: Biodiversity Conservation and Ecotourism Noel Preece, Penny van Oosterzee and David James did a very thorough job with this seminal paper. An oldie but a goodie.  STILL a must read and solid benchmark for anyone serious about being involved in nature based tourism and ecotourism in Australia.
  • See also Department of the Environment Publications archive A treasure trove of papers and publications.
  • The tour operator's dilemma: Keeping the customer happy while not disturbing the wildlife. Originally presented at the 2002 EAA International Ecotourism Conference in Cairns, Ronda Green asks "... as a tour operator, I really want to know what effect we have on the wildlife. Are our activities gradually affecting the wildlife in ways that will either improve visitor experience or might they ultimately destroy the very things we are trying to show them? Are the animals going to start avoiding the areas we use? Are they going to behave less naturally? Are we likely to cause, however gradually, any changes to their habitat?"  See also Here's why you need to keep your voice down when on a wildlife tour.
  • Animal Ethics Infolink (Australia), Animal Research Review Panel and NSW Agriculture's Animal Welfare Unit Animal Ethics Committees (AECs) Wildlife surveys guidelines  If you're going to watch wildlife as part of your academic qualifications, you'll need to know this.
  • A Multicultural Landscape: National Parks and the Macedonian Experience "Ethnic diversity of contemporary Australia is reflected in the wide range of people who use our parks. While this sometimes causes tension between park visitors and staff, it also points to the diverse ways in which park landscapes are being used and valued. Their role in consolidating ideas of community – their value as social spaces – must be recognised."  An study from 2000, with still relevant observations about how social heritage impacts on how a landscape is perceived and used by various cultural communities.  Also very old html page style, but very readable.
  • See also the Migration Heritage Centre. "This website has been archived and is no longer updated. The content featured is no longer current and is being made available to the general public for research and historical information purposes only."  While it's no longer "live", there are still valuable articles and papers available.
  • Successful Tourism at Heritage Places: a guide for tourism operators, heritage managers and communities "The Australian Heritage Commission and the Department of Industry, Science and Resources with the asssistance of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism have over the years explored issues of common concern about the responsible use of Australia's heritage places for tourism.  This guide provides information to help people more clearly understand the issues involved and includes practical pointers for those aiming at successful and responsible tourism at heritage places." Link goes to an archive index page where you can download the guide in PDF.
  • Australian Heritage Council publications Index page to all archived publications.
  • 2005 [Wildlife Tourism Australia] WTA Second Annual Workshop"Wildlife Tourism and Conservation: The Perfect Marriage?" APRIL 17-19, 2005.  Most papers and presentations from the conference are available, all in PDF, and while focused on Australian conditions, they will be useful to anyone operating or interested in wildlife tourism. Wildlife Tourism Research Literature  "A bibliography of wildlife tourism related references from Australia and internationally."


  • Mongabay "News and inspiration from nature's frontline.  Mongabay is a non-profit provider of conservation and environmental science news.  A nonprofit environmental science and conservation news platform that produces original reporting in English, Indonesian, and Spanish by leveraging over 450 correspondents in some 50 countries. We are dedicated to evidence-driven objective journalism.  Our main beats are forests, wildlife, oceans, and the conservation sector. We also undertake special reporting projects, which are deep dives on specific topics and geographies."  Brilliant reporting and coverage of issues that directly impact ecotourism and nature based tourism.  If the depressing news gets you down, check out their solutions topic stream for inspiration and hope.
  • BBC Travel A search for stories and features tagged "Eco-tourism", includes the usual gamet of travelogue style stories.
  • Coastal and maritime tourism "As part of EU's Blue Growth strategy, the coastal and maritime tourism sector has been identified as an area with special potential to foster a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe."  Given the recent furore over cruise tourism impacts, both environmental and cultural, this EC policy is worth reading. 
  • Community Based Tourism Development" (A Case Study of Sikkim) for doctoral level enquiry and thesis by Rinzing Lama. "Sikkim is the only state of India that has been selected and supported by International UNESCO project for Community Based Tourism."  Researchgate entry with abstract, cites, references and full text PDF download.  A very thorough thesis with a number of interesting observations regarding outcomes.
  • The Conversation : Articles on Ecotourism Most of the articles here are penned by university researchers, so expect to read and learn about curernt research and papers themes, written in "everyday" language, sometimes with links back to their academic papers (which may require a login to access more than abstracts.)
  • David Barkin: Ecotourism: A Tool for Sustainable Development in an Era of International Integration? "The study of ecotourism offers many opportunities to reflect on the importance of sustainability, and the possibilities of implementing approaches which move us in a new direction. But it also suggests that there are significant obstacles. Overcoming these obstacles requires more than well-intentioned policies..."
  • AN EVALUATION OF ECOLODGES IN THE BRAZILIAN AMAZON, by Luciana Coelho Marques, presented at the Cuarta Feria Ecoturistica y de Produccion 15 – 23 Julio, 2000 Buena Noche de Hato Nuevo, Manoguayabo, Santo Domingo, D.N., Republica Dominicana.  "This paper discusses ecotourism and identifies ecolodge criteria. ... Based on the criteria developed, twelve lodges situated in Amazonas’ Ecotourism Hub were evaluated and compared." An excellent paper, which should now serve as an historical bench mark.  Hosted by KISKEYA ALTERNATIVA, see also their extensive publications list of ecotourism/sustainable tourism Publicaciones | Publications in Spanish and English.
  • Ecotourism - Sold out Has much changed in the 17 years since this story was published?  The Guardian Travel Section Special Report by Sue Wheat. Originally published in May 2002, it shone a spotlight on the nasty downside of ecotourism exploitation, when financial and development interests corrupt the concepts of ecotourism, usually at the expense of the environment, local communities and their cultures.
  •   Updated Full list of papers and publications from 2003 to current.  “EplerWood International (EWI) provides market-based approaches to sustainable tourism development in response to the rising global demand for sustainable tourism projects that meet economic development needs while respecting and preserving social and environmental capital. The firm provides innovative systems for business, NGOs, and governments to build competitive resource efficient economies that benefit all members of society."
  • The Green Hotels and Responsible Tourism Initiative "is an educational resource designed to help travelers, hoteliers, and local communities develop and promote environmental, social, and cultural sustainability by increasing awareness of issues affecting tourism and showcasing best green practices for hoteliers."
  • The Global Development Research Center (GDRC) distills the essence of "sustainable" and "eco" tourism, and provides a list of resources which may now be outdated, but should still be useful as entry level cites.  Students and operators will find the Sustainable Tourism Info Sheets useful. "Sustainable tourism in its purest sense, is an industry which attempts to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate income, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems. It is responsible tourism which is both ecologically and culturally sensitive."
  • Paradise Lost.  How Tourists Are Destroying the Places They Love  "Travel is no longer a luxury good. Airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet have contributed to a form of mass tourism that has made local residents feel like foreigners in cities like Barcelona and Rome. The infrastructure is buckling under the pressure.  By DER SPIEGEL Staff Originally appeared in German in issue 33/2018 (August 11th, 2018) of DER SPIEGEL."  Not to mention the impact of AirBnB and other online reservation platforms.  An interesting article with striking examples of how local businesses are adapting in the face of changing visitor wants and patterns.
  • Recommended: Ecotourism and Sustainable Development, Who Owns Paradise? By: Martha Honey. Second Edition. Booktopia affiliate link.  Australia and New Zealand online bookshop.
  • Rural Tourism : USDA National Agricultural Library. "Rural America has a lot to offer when it comes to discovering cultural heritage and exploring the great outdoors. This provides resource information to help rural communities with tourism development."  Useful article and program links.
  • The sublime attraction of active volcanoes: An exploration of tourists’ experiences during a long-distance hiking route in Iceland New   "This article attempts to understand the value and meaning of a hazardous natural environment for tourists. It focuses on the attraction of volcanic sites in the eyes of sensation-seeking hikers. The research is based on a participatory observation study and in-depth interviews with 11 hikers on the Laugavegur hiking trail, in the Highlands of Iceland. The research questions addressed in this article are, do hikers experience a threat from the natural environment, and does a hazardous environment contribute to a feeling of the sublime?"  First Published March 8, 2019.  With the eyes of the world currently on the Whakaari/White Island volcanic eruption in New Zealand, and the tragic outcome of this 9th December 2019 event, investigations are yet to get underway that can offer any answers and recommendations for the future.  This paper offers insights into motivations of participants in such adventure activities, and a sobering, now prescient conclusion about the risks and rewards, especially in regards to disaster risk reduction.
  • Sustainable Development of Environmental Tourism  A case study offering insights into what was leading edge, and 25 years later, can be viewed through the lense of experience and hindsight.  Students today can ask what worked, what didn't, what has changed?
  • Skift Research I include Skift here because over the last three years it's become an important industry source despite little or no previous coverage of ecotourism, sustainable tourism issues and developments, and recent almost "greenwashing" inclusions.  (I'll update my opinion when I see someone I actually know who's been an industry authority or advocate for at least 20 years, appearing on a Skift event "speakers" line up.)    However, it does cover the gamet of mainstream tourism, travel and hospitality trends and issues, even if sometimes articles do have an editorialised viewpoint, and authors opinions appear to be superficially rehashed PR, rather than getting deeper industry perspectives, especially in travel IT and web developements.  Even so, it is worth signing up to newsletters to stay in touch with industry goings on.
  • Travindy tells the stories of sustainable tourism.  Growing out of Tourism Concern, Travindy allows "anyone [to] post stories that subject to approval will be published, and likewise the calendar is open for anyone to list and promote their sustainable tourism events."
  • The UNWTO eLibrary "... is an online service from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) with a broad coverage of tourism and related subject areas. The UNWTO Elibrary is an information source offering an unparalleled coverage of research and information in the area of tourism and available to our Member States, Affiliate Members, subscribers and general public. The subject areas reflect all important themes moving the tourism sector and include, among others, ecotourism and sustainable development, tourism statistics, market research, innovation and new technologies and tourism policies. The UNWTO Elibrary contains books, journals and statistical reports by country and by indicator.".

See also "What is Ecotourism?", Outdoor Recreation and Adventure Activities, Sustainability, Tourism Research Resources and Other Tourism Resources

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