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Tourism is a commodity supporting a vast industry and its associated activities are important for many world economies including Malaysia.  Some economists claim tourism is the biggest industry in the world, employing more people than any other economic activity. 

As such, tourism consumes valuable resources and many tourism activities have to potential to destroy and pollute the environment if not managed appropriately.  Sound tourism management practices makes good sense for the protecting the environment and maintaining the very resources that tourists are so eager to visit and experience. 

The term ecotourism, which means ecological tourism, was coined to describe sustainable tourism activities in natural areas. 

Ecotourism includes niche travel products that mostly cater to a small but growing number of travelers.  Increasingly, more travelers want to learn about specific cultures and the environments in which these people live.  It includes seeing natural and cultural features first hand in as natural a state as possible.  Ecotourism involves travel ling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the objective of admiring, studying and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as the cultural features found there.  It should, therefore, involve activities in the natural environment, that are ecologically and culturally sustainable, that involves education as well as making a provision for local and regional benefits. 

While ecotourism best involves small groups, it could be argued that some large group activities may be included under its banner.  Whale watching from large boats is one such example.  In addition, ecotourism programmes don’t necessarily have to be in pristine environments far removed from urban areas. 


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