Depending on the organization, yes it does! Ecotourism is a good way to fund conservation projects as well as bring work and money into local economies. Research before you spend any money, though; some parks displace local communities and are “greenwashed.”
If you want to be more hands-on you can take a volunteer vacation. Organizations such as Earthwatch and Global Vision International organize trips where travelers can do things like collect scientific data and teach in local communities. Research is important for these trips too, but they can be rewarding if you find a good fit for your abilities and interests. They’re a good way to experience a beautiful place and do something worthwhile at the same time.
Most certainly. Generally speaking, the smaller the organization that is providing the service of “ecotourism” the higher the percentage of the money that goes directly to conservation. For example, in Central and South America there are thousands of small NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that are dedicated in one form or another to resource conservation and community development and often generate money to fund these projects through tourism.
For example, here is a list of small organizations based in Ecuador that double as tourist/volunteer/research/ conservation organizations (http://www.ecuadorexplorer.com/html/ngo_list.html)
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