Many local governments include policies and programs in their comprehensive plan to support and develop the ecotourism industry within their community. Listed below is a sample of local governments whose plans reflect these type policies, and each is linked to relevant selections from their plan. Broadly speaking, the policies seek to achieve the following:

  • Allow ecotourism uses within specified designations
  • Identify ecotourism as a targeted industry
  • Describe the County's role in attracting ecotourism
  • Provide for the creation of an ecotourism strategy
  • Commit the County to building ecotourism facilities
  • Provide for ecotourism partnerships with other organizations
  • Provide for landscaping regulations supportive of ecotourism
  • Seek revenue streams through ecotourism
  • Promote the County as an ecotourism destination
  • Protect ecotourism resources
  • Encourage ecotourism uses on public lands
  • Preserve ecotourism opportunities by protecting natural resources
  • Identify sites to develop as ecotourism destinations
  • Provide for the creation of a GIS map that identifies ecotourism resources
  1. Alachua County
    • Future Land Use Objective 6.2 – Rural/Agriculture – Areas identified for Rural/Agriculture on the Future Land Use Map are for agricultural activities including… agritourism activities… heritage tourism and ecotourism activities, resource-based recreation and outdoor activity-based recreation… are also allowed.
    • Conservation and Open Space Policy 4.10.7 – The County shall work with owners of agricultural and silvicultural lands to retain the ecological integrity and ecological value of strategic ecosystems through management plans and incentives. A management plan shall be required before any activity occurs in a strategic ecosystem that has not been used for agriculture or silviculture within the last 20 years, in accordance with the following… (d) Passive recreational and ecotourism activities shall be encouraged where consistent with protection of the ecological integrity of the strategic ecosystem. 
    • Economic Policy 1.1.1 – Alachua County shall promote the recruitment and expansion of targeted industries that are either growing, high-skill, high wage areas of desired growth, or contribute to regional economic diversification. These targeted industries include… eco-tourism
    • Economic Policy 1.1.3 – Alachua County shall implement the goals of the Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau to promote North Central Florida as a tourism destination through events, advertising and accessible recreation sites. The County shall promote tourism, including eco-tourism, agritourism, heritage tourism and tourism-related businesses which complement the County’s environmental, social and economic quality.
    • Economic Policy 1.2.12 – Alachua County shall promote industries and businesses that support cultural, nature-based and/or eco-tourism activities.
  2. Baker County
    • Recreation and Open Space Objective F.1.12 – The County, in partnership with local agencies and the private sector shall create a package of facilities and opportunities for nature-based recreation to attract nature-based tourists to Baker County.
    • Recreation and Open Space Policy F.1.12.1 – The County shall assess the range of nature-based tourism activities currently underway or under-developed in Baker County and develop a strategy to encourage and enhance nature-based tourism opportunities throughout the County.
    • Recreation and Open Space Policy F.1.12.2 – The County shall design and construct nature-based tourism park facilities to increase user appreciation of the natural environment through education and to promote habitat conservation and maintenance.
    • Recreation and Open Space Policy F.1.12.3 – The County may establish recreational nature-based tourism programs to promote wildlife observation and other nature-based recreation.  The County may make agreements with non-profit organizations (e.g. Audubon) to develop and manage such programs.
    • Recreation and Open Space Policy F.1.12.4 – The County may enter into agreements with nature-based tourism businesses and non-profit organizations to allow access to Baker County natural area parks for income producing activities and for funds to enhance habitat and/or the construct nature-based tourism facilities.
    • Recreation and Open Space Policy F.1.12.5 – To better promote nature-based tourism, the County may adopt landscaping regulations to help attract certain kinds of wildlife, such as, but not limited to birds and butterflies, in those areas identified as a part of the wildlife or birding trail loops.  The landscaping regulations may provide guidance for all commercial/industrial, residential, and governmental properties.
    • Recreation and Open Space Policy F.1.10.4 – Encourage Nature-Based Tourism.  The County shall continue to seek new revenue streams through nature-based tourism, but at the same time continue to maintain a diverse customer base by providing programs and activities that are affordable and available for all.
    • Economic Development Policy I.1.2.4 – Promote Nature-Based Tourism Destination.  The County shall promote Baker County as a tourism destination with an emphasis on nature-based tourism, and tourism-related businesses that complement the County’s natural resources.
  3. Bay County
    • Economic Development Objective 2.7 – Maintain and improve the County’s tourism and “eco-tourism” industry.  Public Purpose: Provide for the continuation of the County’s natural resource-based tourism industry (s. 403.021, F.S.).  Performance Measure: Maintenance of high-quality natural resources.
  4. Charlotte County
    • Future Land Use Policy 6.3.14 – Eco-tourism Center.  The County shall consider expanding permitted uses to encourage an eco-tourism center for Charlotte County by allowing bed and breakfast establishments, small cafes, nature centers and other eco-tourism facilities, such as kayak and bicycle rental and repair shops that are sensitive to the environment yet provide mobility to visitors and residents.
  5. Citrus County
    • Conservation Objective 3.15 - Citrus County shall implement procedures through the Citrus County Ecotourism Committee to protect and assist the management of natural reservations.
    • Economic Development Policy 22.3.5 - The County will coordinate with the appropriate local, state, and federal agencies for the use of public lands in promoting all tourism, including ecotourism activities in the County.
  6. Hardee County
    • Economic Development Goal E4 – Hardee County shall continue to promote and enhance ecotourism opportunities in the County.
    • Economic Development Objective E4 – Improve and market the County’s natural outdoor recreational assets to boost ecotourism visits.  Measurement: Increase the number of tourists visiting Hardee County.
    • Economic Development Policy E4.1 – The County shall continue to market ecotourism opportunities through the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Program and the Florida Heartland Economic Development Initiative.
    • Economic Development Policy E4.2 – The Paynes Creek corridor from Hardee Lakes to the Peace River shall be designated as a primary ecotourism corridor for Hardee County. The County shall work closely with the Southwest Florida Water Management District to create ecotourism areas and opportunities within this corridor. This ecotourism corridor will encourage participation by phosphate mining companies to include reclaimed and preserved areas adjacent to Paynes Creek as elements of the corridor either through acquisition or donation. Nothing in this Element will preclude mining operations adjacent to the Paynes Creek corridor. Other ecotourism corridors shall be identified in the future as appropriate.
  7. Hillsborough County
    • Future Land Use Objective 27 – Develop programs to increase Hillsborough County’s sustainability and capitalize on its natural and man-made environments such as shorelines, marine facilities, lakes and forested areas for “ecotourism.”
    • Future Land Use Policy 27.2 – Hillsborough County has many unique land areas and waterways which are suitable for camping, fishing, canoeing as well as other outdoor activities.  The County shall develop strategies which would establish Hillsborough County as an "ecotourism" destination.
  8. Indian River County
    • Economic Development Policy 6.1 – The County shall provide revenue from the bed tax to the Tourism Division of the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce and other tourism groups designated by the Board of County Commissioners to market eco-tourism and cultural tourism in relation to the county’s environmental amenities and cultural offerings. The Tourism Division shall publish advertisements, which market the county’s environmental amenities and cultural offerings. A representative of the Chamber of Commerce shall present those advertisements and any results to the Tourist Development Council.
  9. Lake County
    • Future Land Use Goal I-5 – Lake County Rural Protection Areas.  Rural lands and rural lifestyles are intrinsic, inalienable parts of the character, history, culture, and quality of life within Lake County. The preservation of rural land, coupled with sustainable agriculture and forestry, contributes to the conservation of natural resources. Rural areas also offer opportunities for recreation and ecotourism that enrich the experience of both residents and visitors. Lake County shall recognize the preservation of four core rural areas, described herein as Rural Protection Areas, as a fundamental component of its growth management plan. Together with the statutorily recognized Wekiva River Protection Area and Green Swamp Area of Critical State Concern, it shall be the express intent of Lake County, through the designation of these Rural Protection Areas, to define a long-term vision for the future that maintains the integrity of rural land within Lake County through the planning horizon and beyond.
    • Future Land Use Policy I-5.1.3 – Rural Protection Area Principles. Rural Protection Areas shall adhere to the following principles… Promotion of passive recreation and ecotourism… Designation of scenic rural roadways and trails.
    • Economic Objective IV-3.3 – Agriculture, Equine and Tourism Industries.  In recognizing the cultural, economic, historical and recreational value of agriculture, equine, eco-tourism and tourism industries, Lake County will continue to develop and maintain programs for sustainable pursuits in these areas.
    • Economic Policy IV-3.3.3 – Tourism.  Lake County shall actively promote itself as a destination for tourism activities in Central Florida, continue to promote eco-tourism businesses and opportunities, and continue to use the Tourist Development Tax to promote tourism in Lake County.
    • Parks and Recreation Objective VII-1.5 – Trails and Greenways.  Lake County shall foster the development of a comprehensive greenway, blueway, trails, equestrian and bikeway system that provides for the protection of natural resources, scenic value, eco-tourism, and resource-oriented recreation.
    • Parks and Recreation Policy VII- – Greenway Management Plan.  The County shall develop a master management plan for the greenway network and specific plans for lands acquired, preserved, or otherwise included in the greenways network that address protection of natural resources, public access, recreation, education, and opportunities for ecotourism that are complementary to maintaining integrity of the network.
  10. Lee County
    • Future Land Use Policy 14.4.6 – In the Coastal Rural future land use category, non-residential development is limited to minor commercial development. New commercial zoning requests must utilize the Planned Development rezoning process. All commercial development in this category must be consistent with the following limitations… Uses are limited to those that reflect the Coastal Rural character and unique culture of Greater Pine Island such as animal clinics, bait and tackle shops, ecotourism, farm and feed supply stores, food stores, lawn and garden supply stores, restaurants (excluding fast food), roadside/produce stands, specialty retail, and plant nurseries.
    • Economic Policy 158.2.5 – Lee County, in coordination with the Tourist Development Council and other appropriate entities, will promote the development of ecotourism in Lee County. (Amended by Ordinance No. 00-22)
  11. Levy County
    • Economic Policy 4.8 – Promote eco-tourism through the development and improvement of public recreational opportunities and recreational initiative including, but not limited to, the Tri-County Nature Coast Greenway.
  12. Marion County
    • Conservation Policy 1.4.6 – Marion County shall encourage conservation, agritourism and eco-tourism to promote conservation, protection and economic stimulus.
    • Recreation and Open Space Policy 1.5.1 – Marion County shall collaborate with the public and private sectors in developing ecotourism opportunities using the public lands within the County and shall market those opportunities.  These collaborations shall be inventoried and included in the annual economic impact report submitted by the Marion County Parks and Recreation Department.
  13. Martin County
    • Economic Policy 15.2.C.5 – Martin County, in coordination with appropriate entities, shall promote the development of ecotourism and sports markets.
  14. Miami-Dade County
    • Land Use Policy LU-1P – While continuing to protect and promote agriculture as a viable economic activity in the County, Miami-Dade County shall explore and may authorize alternative land uses in the South Dade agricultural area which would be compatible with agricultural activities and associated rural residential uses, and which would promote ecotourism related to the area's agricultural and natural resource base including Everglades and Biscayne National Parks.
  15. Osceola County
    • Parks & Recreation Policy 1.1.19 – Coordination with other agencies.  The County shall continue to coordinate with governmental agencies, appropriate non-profit organizations, and national or locally based land trusts, as well as other groups and organizations, to identify and purchase park acreage, and to assist the County in promoting County parks and ecotourism.
    • Parks & Recreation Objective 1.5 – Land Acquisition.  The County may ensure existing and future ecotourism opportunities by protecting water resources, including the water quality of the area’s lakes and rivers, as well as all ecosystems and natural resources.  The County may use a number of protective mechanisms to protect nature based tourism.
    • Economic Development Policy 1.1.3 – Five-year tourism plan.  The County shall maintain a strong tourism industry by developing and annually updating a five-year tourism plan and coordinating with the Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote business and convention tourism, ecotourism, and sports-related tourism.
  16. Palm Beach County
    • Future Land Use Objective 5.6 – Palm Beach County shall encourage the creation of a Greenways and Linked Open Space System network linking natural areas, conservation areas, parks, and cultural, civic and educational facilities through strategies, which will… Increase recreational access opportunities that support "eco-tourism," and reduce the need to develop land for parking… Support the provision of bicycle, pedestrian and equestrian trail access linking to Greenways and Linked Open Space System network components… Support the identification and development of regional trails and scenic drives with neighboring counties and municipalities.
    • Recreation and Open Space Policy 1.5-b – The County shall develop recreational trails and/or interpretive centers in parks with unique cultural, natural, historical or archeological resources. These facilities will provide learning experiences for County residents and also support local eco-tourism efforts.
  17. Polk County
    • Brewsters Selected Area Plan Goal 2.131-S – To develop an environmentally sensitive recreation focused plan, which provides activity center based eco-tourism opportunities that incorporate a variety of outdoor sporting venues, recreation activities, and promotes the establishment of open space and preservation areas through land reclamation.
  18. Sarasota County
    • Parks Policy 1.9.1 – By 2007, assess the range of ecotourism activities currently underway in Sarasota County and develop an Ecotourism Amenities Plan as an addendum to the Parks Master Plan to provide additional ecotourism opportunities throughout the County.
    • Parks Policy 1.9.2 – Ecotourism park facilities shall be designed and constructed to increase user appreciation of the natural environment through education and to promote habitat conservation and maintenance.
    • Parks Policy 1.9.3 – Recreational ecotourism programs shall be established to promote wildlife observation and other nature based recreation. Agreements shall be made with non-profit organizations (e.g. Audubon) to provide these programs.
    • Parks Policy 1.9.4 – The County may enter into agreements with ecotourism businesses and nonprofit organizations to allow environmentally benign access to our natural area parks for income producing activities in exchange for funds for habitat enhancement and/or the construction of ecotourism facilities. (2008-01-E, Ord No. 2008-060, April 23, 2008)
    • Economic Development Policy 1.5.5 – Promote venues for citizens to fulfill their desires to support, have access to and actively patronize a significant diversity of opportunities in Sarasota County for cultural and artistic enrichment and for recreational, leisure and entertainment activities, such as eco-tourism, in coordination with the Tourist Development Council and other appropriate entities. 
  19. St. Lucie County
    • Future Land Use Policy – Consistent with Objective 1.1.16 allow for eco-tourism uses within the Agricultural area.
    • Future Land Use Objective 1.1.16 – Within a year of adoption of this Comprehensive Plan, amend the Land Development Code to allow compatible agritourism and eco-tourism facilities on or near resources preserved for public purpose according to the following policies:
      • Future Land Use Policy - Strategies to be considered in the Western Land Study include targeting agricultural industries and activities that… promote agritourism, eco-tourism…
      • Conservation Policy - St. Lucie County shall support nature based eco-tourism activities on public preserves that are primarily designed for appreciation of the County's native habitats and wildlife species that can be accomplished in a manner that does not disrupt wildlife or negatively impact their habitat. The type of recreational activity deemed appropriate for the County's public preserves will depend on the type of native vegetative community on the site. This includes, but is not limited to, hiking, wilderness camping, canoeing, swimming, and wildlife viewing. Activities centers, including, educational centers, museums, and botanical centers will be provided at suitable locations throughout the County. All eco-tourism facilities shall be operated in a manner that does not degrade or reduce the inherent natural functions and values of the natural resources utilized for the eco-tourism use. County owned or managed lands purchased through public land acquisition programs targeting the protection of the natural resources shall only provide access and recreational opportunities that can be provided without degradation of the native plant communities and listed plant and animal species values.
    • Recreation Objective 7.1.5 – Develop and implement strategies to encourage eco-tourism in St. Lucie County.
    • Recreation Policy – Identify appropriate and sustainable sites to develop as ecotourism destinations and passive recreational opportunities.
    • Recreation Policy – Provide required infrastructure to attract visitors to and protect eco-tourism destinations.
    • Recreation Policy – In conjunction with the County's Tourist Development Office; publicize the improved eco-tourism sites and St. Lucie County as an eco-tourism destination.
    • Economic Development Policy – Develop ecotourism opportunities to help extend the tourist season in St. Lucie County, help sustain large areas of open space, preserve natural habitat, discourage sprawling, low density development, and broaden the economic base.
  20. Volusia County
    • Future Land Use Policy SG 1.2.2(c)(5) – Conservation Developments shall be encouraged by the following policies: A CD may include agritourism and eco-tourism activities such as: sales of agricultural products, equestrian boarding facilities, ecotourism facilities, agritourism facilities, environmental interpretive or learning centers, boardwalks and trails.
  21. Wakulla County
    • Economic Development Objective 3 – Promote the cooperation and coordination among private and public sector organizations to expand the eco-tourism and heritage-based tourism opportunities within the County.
    • Economic Development Policy 3.2 – When deemed appropriate by the Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners, the County shall provide resolutions and letters of support for grants written by the Big Bend Scenic Byway Corridor Management Entity and other private or not-for-profit organizations to further expand the eco-tourism and heritage-based tourism opportunities within the County.
    • Future Land Use Policy 1.7 – The County shall recognize the unique nature of the unincorporated Crawfordville area, recognize Crawfordville as the central business and economic center of Wakulla County, respond to the findings from the Crawfordville Visioning exercises and the recommendations from the Wakulla County Economic Diversification Plan, and promote economic development within Crawfordville by establishing in the Land Development Code regulations, a Crawfordville Special Overlay District that addresses… Eco-tourism.
  22. Walton County
    • Future Land Use Policy L-1.4.8(B) – State Park and Recreation: Publicly owned lands that fall into the following descriptions of State parks, State recreation areas, State preserves, property owned and managed by the Northwest Florida Water Management District and ornamental gardens. Such uses shall support the economic development and ecotourism goals of the County. This is further detailed in the Recreation, Open Space and Greenways element.
    • Recreation, Open Space and Greenways Objective R-1.1 – Walton County shall provide ecotourism attractor facilities for permanent and seasonal residents.
    • Recreation, Open Space and Greenways Policy R-1.1.3 – Walton County shall seek support from citizens’, environmental and ecotourism groups in the designation, acquisition, and maintenance of county parks, recreational facilities, and state greenway systems.
    • Recreation, Open Space and Greenways Objective R-2.3 – Accessibility to key ecotourism attractors shall be expanded and reinforced to ensure public assess to identified greenways and trails, recreation sites, parks, beach accesses, Coastal Dune Lakes, karst springs, and the Choctawhatchee River and Bay System.
    • Recreation, Open Space and Greenways Objective R-3.2 – Walton County shall identify greenway systems and ecological corridors necessary to support ecotourism, environmental education, recreational opportunities, and habitat protection.
    • Recreation, Open Space and Greenways Policy R-3.2.1 - The greenway systems and ecological corridors necessary to support ecotourism, environmental education, recreational opportunities, and habitat protection shall be identified in a Geographic Information System map.
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