It essentially means ecological tourism; where ecological has both environmental and social connotations. Eco-tourism is a combination of tourism and the environment such as planning before development; sustainability of resources; economic viability of a tourism product; no negative impact on either the environment or local communities; responsibility for the environment from developers, the tourism industry and tourists; environmentally-friendly practices by all parties concerned and economic benefits flowing to local communities.
Local communities, understanding the economic benefits of eco-tourism and are often motivated to protect resources and adopt conservationist attitudes. The activities of ORTPN (the body that governs the tourism sector) that are geared toward eco-tourism have impacted on the various tourist sites, in a manner that has in turn, favoured responsible tourism. A case in point is Banda, a small village in Nyungwe forest that is frequently visited by the tourists. The residents of this village have been able to tap directly from the tourists owing to their crafts that they sale to the tourist.
ORTPN has managed to contribute to communities living around these tourist attractions, in revenue sharing schemes all around the country, for their various self development projects that have no bearing at all on tourism and which is a growing trend. Just like tourism elsewhere, the trends in Rwanda are changing and embracing eco-tourism since it targets long term profits in a sustainable tourist environment.