According to the official definition laid down in 1990 by the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism means: "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people."
One of the fastest growing holiday types with a year-on-year increase of 10-15%, ecotourism has become an increasingly popular alternative to larger scale, commercial holidaying.
Ecotourism is not, however, a trendy term for a camping trip as some maintain, but rather a form of tourism that encompasses an area's natural beauty - whether it be a wilderness or quasi urban habitat - whilst embracing the local mores of a community.
Exemplifying this type of holiday is the Island of Barbados - one of the jewels in the Caribbean's crown.
Ecotourism areas in Barbados are mainly located on the Island's East Coast and inward regions. One of these areas, the Highland, is located centrally and offers a 'Highland Hike' guided tour which showcases glorious landscapes; a jaw-dropping expanse which can be viewed from some of the highest points on the Island - over 1000ft above sea level.
Sightseers on a Highland Hike tour set off from the Island's Highland Adventure Centre - comfortable clothing is recommended - for a trip through an assortment of villages and lush habitats at a steady pace throughout.
Part of the fun for travellers is in keeping an eye out for the playful Barbados Green Monkeys, long-time residents of the Island that inhabit the central and eastern parishes of St John, St Joseph, St Andrew and St Thomas.
Escorted by friendly and knowledgeable hiking guides, the Highland Hike is an unforgettable excursion through one of the world's lesser known treasures.
Similarly, the experience offered by the Barbados National Trust on one of its Hike Barbados tours - 'places most visitors never discover' - is a well-paced journey through the inherently diverse nature of the Barbados landscape - ancient woodland, quarries, gullies, tropical rainforests, off-road tracks, and sugar cane fields.
A Hike Barbados trip offers a variety of starting times with a morning hike (6am), an afternoon hike known as the Stop 'n' Stare (3:30pm), and a Moonlight Walk (5.30pm). Comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear are of course required and every trip is tailored towards the fitness and stamina of the party involved.
Holiday destinations are always keen to make potential travellers aware of its 'best kept secret,' but on Barbados this is a promise rather than a hollow claim. Fulfilling this vow on the Island is the opportunity of a hike with Trekkers Hike and Cave Adventures, a traverse through the natural environments of the Harris and Jack-in-the-Box gullies - a veritable paradise of flora and fauna surrounded by imposing rock formations.
The hike culminates with a descent into Coles Cave, a thrilling exploration of a naturally formed cavern in the company of experienced local guides - the very essence of ecotourism.
For an increasing number of travellers, a Barbados holiday and an ecotourism hiking trip in particular, is a welcome diversion from the norm and an experience rich in depth and diversity.