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Vol. 2, No. 1

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GOMCME LogoGulf of Maine Council on the Marine

Gulf of Maine Times

Spring 1998 - Volume 2, Number 1

Ecotourism: treading lightly in the Gulf

Image: Travelers are increasingly seeking outdoor vacations tha combine recreation with environmental education. On this trip, kayakers skimmed the Bay of Fundy near Saint John, New Brunswick, getting a close look at the marine environment.Gulf of Maine - Not everyone dreams of spending their precious vacation days combing an ankle-deep mud flat for sand worms and paying for the privilege. But organizers of trips that send people to work alongside environmental researchers and scientists say volunteer travel and other forms of "ecotourism" are increasingly popular worldwide, including in the Gulf of Maine.

Ecotourism, also called ecotravel, describes outdoor-oriented travel incorporating environmental education, conservation, or natural history components, and that benefits or at least does no harm to the destination's natural, cultural, or economic environment.

Depending on who you ask, ecotravel can cover everything from a wilderness camping experience to a bus trip to a bird sanctuary. "Ecotrips" can constitute a week and a half spent on a remote Maine lake monitoring loons with field scientists, an afternoon nature walk, or an extended canoe trip with chef-staffed campsites set up for weary travelers by the outfitter's advance teams.