Read this New York Times article entitled Up Close, but Doing No Harm that discusses the importance of working with eco-certified tour operators.
“While tourism is a vital source of income for many developing countries, it can also result in pollution, deforestation, inefficient energy use and cultural exploitation,” said Ronald Sanabria, vice president of sustainable tourism at the Rainforest Alliance, an environmental group based in New York. The best sustainable tourism businesses not only recycle, conserve water and energy, and use locally produced goods, they also hire local employees, support community projects and preserve cultural heritage.
If you are in the market for a sustainable vacation, look for operators, like the ones mentioned below, that have been certified or recommended by reputable organizations like the Rainforest Alliance, Sustainable Travel International or other third-party entities. And don’t choose an outfitter based on price alone.