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Ecotourism 101: Is an ecotour vacation more expensive?

Posted by on in Introduction to Ecotourism
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As the popularity of environmentally-friendly products has grown over the years, consumers have been conditioned to believe that green goods or eco products equate to more expensive merchandise. In the specific case of ecotourism, this is simply not the case. Indeed, it is possible to participate in ecotourism and stay well within your vacation budget. The options for ecotourism travel range from the luxurious to the rustic, so your standards do not need to be adjusted for a responsible travel experience.

For example, for about $1000 per person including meals and accommodations, you could:

  • Go deep into the Peruvian Amazon and stay at a sustainably-built lodge surrounded by nature reserves
  • Participate in an active trek through Patagonia and Glacier National Park in Argentina
  • Soak up the beaches, gorges, mineral cliffs, waterfalls and glacial lakes of Australia
  • Discover Bali or the Lombak and Gili Islands of Indonesia
  • Go on a yoga retreat and take in the beaches and wildlife of southern India
  • See Costa Rica's beaches, forests, national parks, volcanoes and hot springs

Recently, I had the opportunity to prove that ecotourism is not more expensive than a standard vacation. My husband and I were provided with a surprise gift in that our son's grandparents were going to take him on a vacation for Spring Break – leaving us with 9 days on our own. We were absolutely giddy with excitement! What would we do with this time? Where could we go? This was not just a weekend away, but 9 whole days.

My husband was replete with ideas. Remember that wonderful trip to Rome we had? How about that bike tour through Tuscany we always talked about? Let's go to San Francisco for a visit (we had lived there for 6 years)? Let's go back to that wonderful restaurant in Paris! Costa Rica could work!

Like I said, replete with ideas, but just as an experiment, I decided to compare prices for various vacation options to see if ecotourism was more expensive. To keep the vacation comparisons equivalent, they would include airfare, accommodations, activities and some meals. My only requirement was that the destination would need to be warmer than our hometown on the East Coast.

I expected a bit of variation, but no matter whether it was a trip to Italy, California, Florida, Arizona or France, the price was exactly the same for a comparable week long vacation. In fact, the least expensive option of Costa Rica ended up being the most environmentally responsible in terms of staying in certified lodgings, participating in unique eco-activities, and joining in informative nature and wildlife experiences.

So, the next time you find yourself with some vacation time and want to beat a path out of town, don't automatically discount ecotours as expensive. Besides traveling responsibly and discovering a new part of the world, you may even save some money!



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Irene is the founder & president of Greenloons. She is a dual EU citizen who has lived in 5 countries and visited 32 more in Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Europe. Drawing upon her professional and personal experiences to address authentic ecotourism from community, ecological and financial points of view, Irene is a frequent conference speaker, Huffington Post blogger and radio talk show guest. 


  • Guest
    Jamie Fernandez Thursday, 10 March 2011

    A long vacation to Costa Rica that's inexpensive and eco-friendly! I'm in. Definitely a misconception that ecotours are more expensive.

  • Guest
    Rebecca Rubin Monday, 07 March 2011

    Good to know! It is really a shame that "eco" has become so strongly equated with "expensive". Thanks for posting this important article, more people should know how easy and inexpensive it is to truly make a difference in the world through their daily actions!

  • Guest
    Central Park Tours Tuesday, 14 July 2015

    Central Park Walking Tours

    That is great if we get Eco tourism in budget.

  • Guest
    Eco Central Park Tours Wednesday, 02 September 2015

    Central Park Tours

    Ecotourism is becoming more popular and people are preferring it.

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Guest Saturday, 24 February 2018

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