When you travel the world to see unique wildlife and diverse landscapes, you are also helping the local communities you visit! Saturday is the UN’s World Tourism Day and this year’s theme is “Tourism & Community Development”, a subject near and dear to our hearts at Nat Hab and WWF.

Ecotourism has cultural, social, economic and political value for local communities. This year we have the opportunity to acknowledge the positive impact that we as ecotourists are having on these developing communities. In honor of this year’s World Tourism Day, we have handpicked 9 fascinating stories about how ecotourism has benefited community development around the world. 

1. Helping a Community Live with Lions – WWF

Janeria Lekilelei, a Samburu warrior in Kenya, dedicates his time to protecting lions and wildlife. While his community has a history of disliking lions, their passion for lion conservation was sparked by the potential benefits of ecotourism to their community. Read this story.


2. Spotlight on Sustainability: Preserving Cultures Through Ecotourism – Good Nature Travel

Ecotourism is much more than nature travel. Ecotourism expert Court Whelan walks us through ecotourism’s role in conservation efforts and in promoting local community welfare in destinations across the globe. Read this story.


© Court Whelan / Natural Habitat Adventures

 3. Ecotourism: Traveling the World to Help Save It – The New York Times

The New York Times discusses the emerging market of ecotourism and its ability to be a tool of conservation. Ecotourism is growing three times faster than the overall tourism industry, as people seek to better the destinations that they visit while on vacation. Read this story.


© Jon Stansbury / Seacology

 4. Pride of Namibia – The Greatest Conservation Story Ever Told – WWF

Watch one of the greatest wildlife recovery stories the African continent has ever known. With Namibian independence, conservation was written into the constitution giving rural communities the ability to manage their wildlife for the benefit of the people. The economic benefits of tourism have incentivized these local communities to take the conservation of wildlife seriously. As a result the once diminishing wildlife populations of Namibia are now flourishing.

5. What Are the Benefits of Ecotourism for Local Communities? – SFGate

This article describes the various benefits that responsible tourism can bring directly to local communities. From conservation to government funding, ecotourism has a much larger positive influence on communities than travelers might realize. Read this story.


© SF Gate

 6. Bob and Judy Waterman on Travel and Education – WWF

An interview with experienced world travelers Bob and Judy Waterman illuminates how WWF is helping to find solutions that allow local communities to flourish alongside environments and wildlife. The Watermans explain that the WWF’s Education for Nature Fund is helping communities around the world become excited about conservation in an effort to find long-term solutions.  Read this story.


© Frans Lanting / National Geographic Creative

7. Zeitz Foundation and the Chimirol Biojardineras: An Example of Community Involvement – Global Sustainable Tourism Council

A story about how the presence of tourism brought positive change to a community in Costa Rica. The Chimoral community in Costa Rica benefited from the establishment of a hotel through community involvement, increased education, environmental protection and more.  Read this story.

© Zeitz Foundation / GSTC

 8. Advantages of Ecotourism – USA Today 

USA Today discusses the emergence of ecotourism and how it provides various benefits to local communities, environmental conservation, cultural preservation and human rights.  Read this story.

© Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

9.  Spotlight on Sustainability: The Importance of Ecotourism – Good Nature Travel

Court Whelan is one of the travel industry’s foremost experts on ecotourism. He discusses the multi-tiered importance of ecotourism and how the new concept of ecotourism has changed travel for the better.  Read this story.

© Court Whelan / Natural Habitat Adventures

Want to travel the world and make a positive impact on the local communities you visit?  Join one of the many conservation-focused trips offered by WWF and Natural Habitat Adventures!