We’ve been harnessing the power of travel to support conservation since 1969.

Tourism and Ocean Health

The travel and tourism industry is booming with 1.4 billion international arrivals per year, 80 percent of which occur in coastal areas. According to industry analysts, nature-based tourism (or ecotourism) is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry, capturing up to 25 percent of the market. When done properly, tourism can be a positive force for people, wildlife, and ocean environments worldwide. However, when done unsustainably, tourism can increase pollution, damage habitats, lead to human-wildlife conflicts and trafficking, deplete resources, and cause other negative environmental impacts.

Since 1969, we have been working to harness the power of tourism to improve ocean health.

Pioneering Travel that Supports Conservation

Oceanic Society has been leading nature-based travel experiences worldwide since 1969 as one of the first groups to offer whale watching tours and international “ecotourism” and “voluntourism” experiences. Our founders knew that the best way to engage people in caring for the ocean and thereby build a more oceanic society was to connect them to the ocean through first-hand travel experiences.

Beyond engaging travelers, throughout our history we have seen how nature travel, when done properly, can drive conservation efforts and support sustainable local livelihoods. In many areas that we visit, tourism has already helped bring species back from extinction and led to permanent protection of sensitive habitats while also providing economic opportunities to local residents.

Through our California whale watching tours and international expeditions, we have helped connect tens of thousands of people to ocean wildlife and habitats worldwide and generated millions of dollars for research and conservation in the places we visit.

YouTube video

Watch Our Film About the Impact of Sustainable Travel in Baja California

Motivating Behavior Change Through Travel

Much emphasis has been placed on the beneficial role of tourism in social development, economic sustainability, and site based environmental protection, but the vast potential of tourism to impact long-lasting pro-environmental behaviors has been ignored. At the same time, social science research has shown that nature travel creates short term spikes in travelers’ environmental knowledge, interest, and motivation that create a perfect opportunity for targeting behavioral outcomes.

Since 2014, we have been working to apply the science of behavior change on our travel programs,
and to develop a scalable methodology for broader application in the nature travel industry. In collaboration with leading social scientists, we have researched, designed, and tested techniques to harness the power of nature-based travel to drive measurable human behavior change on a large scale.

We are now working to engage other nature travel operators in adopting our free, proven methodology to help enhance the conservation impact of their programs. If you are interested in collaborating with us on these efforts, please get in touch!

Support Sustainable Travel

Help us make the travel industry more sustainable with a donation to our Blue Habits program today.