Ecotourism, a fast-growing market for tourism MILLWOOD KANE INTERNATIONAL
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According to the World Tourism Organisation, ecotourism is one of the fastest growing sub-sectors of the tourist industry in many parts of the world. The international ecotourism society (TIES) defines it as follows;

"Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”

This type of tourism is a sustainable driver of socioeconomic growth and is one of great appeal for travellers concerned about the preservation of the environment and the welfare of local communities. It helps support areas otherwise cut off from the commercial centres by creating a niche market. Ecotourism belongs to the broader category of nature-based tourism which accounts for almost a fifth of all international travel.

Villages in Cyprus are capitalising on rural tourism, a term often used interchangeably with ecotourism, by offering an experience which encompasses rural area riches and a high-level bespoke customer service. This is achieved by a combination of elements, the most highly effective being the more conscientious and personalised approach which parts from the mass, all-inclusive hospitality model. Travellers are most likely to return if the experience is more memorable, and businesses have realised this untapped market opportunity. Being the placement of the resort in nature, the supporting activities or interaction with local culture, businesses are searching deeper for their competitive advantage, in what has turned into a highly sought out market.

On the slopes of the Troodos mountain is a complex of old-style houses permeated with modern luxuries, guests can pamper themselves in the spa centre and dine on local cuisine. When out for a walk or hike, the area has a variety of byzantine churches, hiking trails and natural springs. In Kalavasos, located in the rural district of Larnaca, there is a quaint stone mansion which boasts several suites named after world renowned writers of the 19th century- a room dedicated to Edgar Alan Poe or Constantine Kavafis, surely raises the curiosity of keen readers. Visitors to Lofu village, can experience scenic views and historic wine tasting by staying at a boutique hotel accredited with a Green Key ecolabel- a widely respected standard for environmentally friendly accommodation. A number of stringent criteria need to be satisfied in order to acquire the prestigious label, including water and energy saving measures and the use of a minimum of 35% organic catering products, Fair trade or locally sourced. There are currently 18 accommodations on the island carrying the Green Key accreditation for sustainable hospitality, by comparison, other popular destinations in Greece, such as Rhodes and Athens share the same number of establishments.

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Oinoessa in Lofu, a Green Key accommodation

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