Ecotourism can be an extraordinary tool for conservation. By creating a value for an ecosystem, species or landscape, ecotourism can raise much-needed funds to protect and conserve these natural resources. Ecotourism can also be a support mechanism for poverty alleviation, providing employment and income for local people and offering them an alternative means of livelihood to those that may result in the destruction or overuse of natural resources. On a broader scale, ecotourism can be a driver of sustainable development in a region or even a country, if it is carefully conceived, well-managed and strictly controlled. However, despite its potential for positive contributions, ecotourism is not always the solution to conservation challenges. There may be some areas that are just not appropriate for ecotourism development and some businesses that just won’t work in the larger tourism market. That is why it is so important to understand the basics of developing and running a successful business, to ensure that your business idea is viable and will be profitable, allowing it to most effectively benefit the surrounding environment and communities.

IUCN’s work on integrating business skills into ecotourism operations is targeted at conservation organisations that are developing ecotourism businesses, and aims to provide them with an introduction to the business skills required to manage such businesses as market viable and effective tools for conservation.