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Madrid, 25 February 2021

Ecotourist Report elaborated in collaboration between the Observatorio de Turismo Rural (OTR) and the Observatorio de Ecoturismo en España (OEE).

  • and Club Ecoturismo en España present a report that gathers exclusive data from their respective Observatories on the consumer trends that will consolidate after the pandemic.
  • 26% of respondents, according to OEE data, planned to take another type of trip in 2020 and ended up taking an ecotourism break.
  • According to OTR data, consumption intentions for 2021 are encouraging, with 32.6% of ecotourists planning, health permitting, to make up to three trips this year.

Ecotourism and rural tourism have a great opportunity to lead the tourism recovery after the pandemic. If the health context allows it, 2021 will provide a favourable scenario to consolidate a consumer trend that was slowly gaining momentum, but will now become more important. Nature and its conscious and responsible consumption will be essential for many travellers as mobility restrictions disappear.

This is one of the main conclusions of the report presented today by and the Ecotourism Club in Spain in the ‘Tourism trends 2021: ecotourism and rural tourism’. The data shown has been extracted from the latest study of the Rural Tourism Observatory (OTR) and the Ecotourism Observatory in Spain (OEE). The first, which is a research project led by the specialised portal together with CETT-UB, Netquest and Vivential Value, is based on a survey of 9,055 rural ecotourist tourists and 938 owners of rural ecotourist accommodation in September 2020. The Observatorio de Ecoturismo en España (OEE), funded by the Secretary of State for Tourism, gets its figures from the survey carried out in 2020 to 451 ecotourists, clients of accommodation and/or activity companies adhered to the Ecotourism Club in Spain and 86 adhered ecotourism companies.

Ana Alonso, Director of Communication and Institutional Relations at points out that “although not all rural tourists are ecotourists, there is a high 42.6% who prioritise the responsible enjoyment of nature when choosing a destination”.

Regarding the impact of Covid and how it is affecting these tourism sectors, the data reveal how Covid-19 generated a change in the choice of travel type in 202026% of OEE respondents had planned to make another type of trip and ended up taking an ecotourism break.

Looking ahead to 2021, the opportunity exists because of the high percentage of rural ecotourist tourists who say they will make rural getaways with a high frequency (32.6% who will make up to 3 getaways) according to the OTR.

“For 43% of ecotourists surveyed, the health and safety measures The choice of accommodation, which was also influenced by the company’s own facility to cancel the reservation; (40%), the choice of the type of accommodation and the possibility to avoid crowds of tourists (38%),” says Amanda Guzmán, manager of Club Ecoturismo.

Ecotourist profile: female, middle-aged and travelling as a couple

The report also delves into thebehavior,, main characteristics and profile of the ecotourist. The radiography it shows is that of a woman (68.4% OTR and 57% in the case of the OEE study), of middle age, which comes mostly from communities that bring together a larger population, such as Madrid and Cataluña which account for 22.2% and 18.3%, respectively – according to OTR data – and who travel with their partner in 50% of cases. It is worth noting that in 2020, 36% of ecotourists travelled with children under 12 years old, a percentage that has increased by 11 points compared to 2019.

“For this rural tourist who defines himself as an ecotourist, Asturias is his favourite destination for 2021. In addition, this profile of traveller tends to hire more guided nature tours than the standard tourist, especially seniors (over 64 years 30.4%) and residents in Catalonia (23%),” adds Alonso.

Ecotourism businesses facing the pandemic

The report also puts the spotlight on the offer and analyses the consequences of the pandemic for rural accommodation and ecotourism businesseswith data provided by 3,435 owners of rural accommodation of the OTR and 86 ecotourism companies adhered to the Club Ecoturismo en España in January 2021.

The study determines the particularity of each business and, therefore, its overall capacity for employment and the consequences of the pandemic. In this way, it underlines how the majority of owners of rural accommodation (47.3%) are self-employed, although 31.2% hire employees on an occasional basis.

On the other hand, in the case of ecotourism companies, 100% have permanent employees, a very significant figure that highlights the importance of ecotourism as an engine for development, generating employment and helping to fix population in the rural world. “The majority of companies (92%) have been able to keep all their employees on the payroll after Covid-19, while 8% have been forced to lay off some of their employees,” says Guzmán.

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on advocacy efforts in 2020 compared to the previous year, with a reduction of just over 51%. Furthermore, the data shows that the consequences of Covid-19 for ecotourism companies have been harsher than for rural accommodation, with 76.3% indicating that they have lost between 50 and 100% of their bookings, while in the case of rural accommodation this percentage rises to 58.2%.

Regarding prices It can also be seen that, although stability predominates in both cases, in the case of ecotourism companies there is a higher percentage, 25.6%, which has been forced to lower their prices, mainly accommodation, while in the case of rural accommodation this percentage stands at 15.5%.

X-ray of the ecotourism entrepreneur

In the case of rural tourism entrepreneurs who are committed to this market niche, there are certain particularities with respect to the general profile of standard accommodation owners. In this case it is usually a woman (56.4%), 48% of whom are between 50 and 64 years old. The study by the Rural Tourism Observatory reveals that rural accommodation in Andalusia, the Canary Islands and Galicia – with more bookings in summer – and who worked this niche market were the ones who best managed to recover from the impact of the first wave of the pandemic.

“In addition to having a complementary ecotourism offer on a regular basis, these rural accommodations show a higher interest in this type of services or activities at a much higher rate than standard rural accommodations. In fact, up to 48.4% consider ecotourists to be a type of customer on the rise, which is 13 points higher than the average we have previously observed when analysing the opinion of generic respondents,” Alonso points out.

For its part, in the case of ecotourism companies and according to information gathered by the Club Ecoturismo Covid-19 has reduced turnover in all types of companiesHowever, environmental education centres, accommodation, restaurants and travel agencies suffered the sharpest drop in turnover. In the case of accommodation, although it was not one of the most affected companies in terms of cancelled bookings and customer losses, turnover was severely affected due to the short duration of the summer tourist season and the suspension of long weekends and national holidays due to the health crisis.

Balance of the ecotourism day

The report’s data were presented yesterday in a webinar with more than 1000 registrants and almost 500 live followers. Jesús Pozuelo, president of the Ecotourism Association in Spain, recalled at the beginning of the day the definition of Ecotourism of the Daimiel Declaration (2016), and that “ecotourism is not only sustainable tourism, nor is it just visiting a natural area, but it goes beyond” and its keys were given throughout the day. Ana Muñoz, Deputy Director General for Tourism Development and Sustainability of the Secretary of State for Tourism, also gave a welcome speech, mentioning that “we are facing one of the biggest crises ever experienced by the sector, but perhaps also an unprecedented opportunity” and pointing out the funds and ways of boosting rural tourism and ecotourism in the coming years.

After the presentation of data by Ana Alonso from and Amanda Guzmán from Club Ecoturismo en España, a round table discussion began with tourism stakeholders from three different geographical areas: Sierra Espuña (Murcia), Fuentes del Narcea (Asturias) and Sierra Nevada (Andalucía).

The debate focused on issues such as the association of ecotourism with profitability, as one should not lose sight of the importance of the sustainability of the business itself. Andrés García, owner of the Hospedería Rural Bajo El Cejo in Sierra Espuña, argued that ‘betting on ecotourism as a niche market nowadays is profitable for a tourism business’.

The need to educate travellers, companies and the administration so that the concept of ecotourism is increasingly recognised and its practice can spread was also discussed. “Many travellers are ecotourists without knowing it, their way of consuming nature corresponds to that of an ecotourist profile but they are not aware of it,” said María Teresa Madrona, founder of Sierra y Sol (Sierra Nevada).

Furthermore, all participants in the debate agreed that the conscious attitude of the traveller is key when it comes to ecotourism. “The importance is in the how and not so much in the what. Ecotourists add a layer of awareness to being in the territory, they know that they have an impact, that they leave their mark on the destinations,” said Ana Llano, president of the Fuentes del Narcea Rural Tourism Association. In today’s environment, where interest in nature destinations has grown, ecotourism is a growing trend. “When the health situation improves and people can move around without restrictions, they will choose nature,” said Ana Alonso, Director of Communications and Institutional Relations at

Collaboration agreement between and Club Ecoturismo en España

The collaboration between and the Club Ecoturismo en España is part of a broader agreement that has its starting point in the presentation of these data and the celebration of a professional conference. In the future, both entities plan to support each other through their respective information and dissemination channels to strengthen the knowledge and promotion of ecotourism in our country.

The results of the conference and the full report are also available on the Club Ecoturismo en España.


It is a web platform dedicated to the promotion of rural accommodation throughout Spain. In 14 years it has become a benchmark in the rural tourism sector, supporting the owner and inspiring the traveller. It currently has the largest offer of rural accommodation in the country (more than 17,000) and more than 30,000 in the whole of Europe. It also has a large community of travellers, with more than one million registered members.

About the Club Ecoturismo en España

The Club Ecoturismo en España is one of the national tourism product clubs supported by the State Secretariat for Tourism (SETUR). It is a pioneering initiative that offers ecotourism experiences in protected natural areas, guaranteeing travellers their contribution to local development and biodiversity conservation. The destinations and companies that are part of the Club meet a series of quality and sustainability requirements. It currently groups 18 destinations and 470 companies that promote themselves under the brand and the portal

Contact us for more information

Amanda Guzmán

Ecotourism Association in Spain
Ecotourism Club in Spain

620 228 505

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