Home page / Concepts

What is Alternative Tourism

Alternative Tourism

The alternative forms of tourism combine tourist products or separate tourist services, different from the mass tourism by means of supply, organization and the human resource involved. These are rural, ecotourism, adventure (biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, ski mountaineering, rafting, diving, caving, climbing), thematic tourism – connected with the cultural and historical heritage, the esoteric, religion, wine, traditional cuisine, ethnography and traditional music and handicrafts. (BAAT’s Statute)


ЕкотуризъмEcotourism was born in the mid-1980s when people started traveling to distant places with preserved nature. This is tourism in places unspoiled by civilization and it aims at protecting the natural environment and enhancing local people’s prosperity. It is based on observation and forms a new stage in the development process which requires cooperation between tour operators, tourist agencies, local communities, associations, protected areas, science communities etc. It aims at minimizing the negative tourism impacts on the environment; informing tourists about local regulations; participating in regional nature conservation programs; influencing visitor behaviour. The most diverse ecotourism programs are in countries with well-preserved biodiversity, well-managed natural parks and local communities with preserved traditions. Programs defined as ecotourism are:

- around the world: observation of animals in the natural conditions of the jungle (rhinoceros, lions, gorillas etc.), the big water bodies (whales, turtles etc.) and polar regions (bears, seals etc.) – untouched destinations;
round Bulgaria: objects for ecotourism may be the brown bear in Stara planina, Rila and Pirin mountains, the pelicans in the Srebarna lake, visiting the preserves Boatin, Parangalica and Baiuvi Dupki – Dzhindzhirica for observing the vulnerable forests.


 Приключенски туризъм

This is a combination of new tourism practices with a dominate role of relationship with nature and activity engagement of the tourist. These tours differ by season and environment and have its followers among the young and the working in stressful environment, as well as those who think about their holiday as an activity event. Recently adventure tourism is in vogue to a certain extend, but most of all it is a realized need of activity holiday in nature surroundings. It is also the most dynamically developing sector of tourism worldwide and fortunately Bulgaria has a great diversity of resources for its development. It is sold most frequently in a combination with rural tourism services and has the characteristics of sustainable tourism.
Adventure tourism activities are yachting, underwater safari and archeology, canoeing, rafting, biking, horseback-riding, certain types of safari, surviving programs, climbing with a professional guide, hiking, trekking, snowshoeing, extreme skiing, dog-sledge riding, altitude alpinism, paragliding. A combination of such activities is also very attractive to tourists.

Rural Tourism

Селски туризъм

Rural and Agro tourism are modifications of alternative tourism. Their origin is connected to the post-war rehabilitation of Western Europe and particularly France, where migration to the cities is limited and rural revitalization is achieved through facilitation of farmers’ initiatives in the field of tourism. Similarly, the biggest finance resource from the European Union budget is engaged in the agriculture sector. Rural tourism is characterized as a sojourn in rural environment (house, camping or other accommodation situated close to the village), contact with the local people, and access to the farm. It might be a part of a round-trip, a weekend holiday or longer stay. In both cases tourists expect to participate in everyday life of the local people – gathering of fruits and vegetables from the farm, cooking of traditional dishes, celebrating local holidays, watching or training in traditional handicrafts, folklore or agriculture traditions. These activities are usually combined with other tourism practices such as: hiking, biking, horseback riding, visits of monasteries, museums, archeological and other landmarks.

Sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism is a new category that emerged as a continuation of the conception for sustainable development which was launched at the conference in Rio in 1993. It is a result of the concerns for the protection of endangered regions worldwide as a whole and in particular the tropical woods. The concept of sustainable tourism development has been widely used in the last decade in the field of conservation of natural and cultural heritage. It relates to both protection of natural environments and cultural heritage for future generations as well as providing sustainable livelihoods for local communities. Sustainable tourism aims at providing quality tourist experience and bringing enough income to the local economy so that communities have the ability and will to support conservation objectives. “This is an evolution in tourism which is conformable to the interests both of the tourists and the locals.” Sustainable tourism takes into consideratioins all stakeholders involved in its development and the capacity of the local resources.