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What is ecotourism?

Ecotourism is often defined quite simply. It is really any visit to a natural area that leaves behind some economic benefit for the local people, and, at the same time, leaves the local environment in a better state than it was before.

It is estimated that about 12% of all the world's tourists in 1994 were so-called ecotourists -- people who traveled to the national parks and nature reserves and other areas of natural importance, and somehow had a positive effect on local conditions. Given the fact that tourism is the largest industry (by far) in the world, with revenues exceeding $5 trillion yearly---and given the fact ecotourism is the fastest-growing sector of tourism worldwide---it is only reasonable that people in such natural areas as Lake Baikal are interested in ecotourism.

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