Soft tourism, specially adopted in developing countries, is a part of alternate tourism. It gained recognition in early 1980’s in Austria and Switzerland. Soft tourism is an answer to mass tourism.
Whilst in alternate tourism the focus is on the economic and social issues, in the soft tourism the emphasis is on environmental matters. According to Commission for International Protection Regulation Alpine (CIPRA, 1984), soft tourism can be generally defined as “a form of tourism which leads to mutual understanding between the local population and their guests which does not endeavour the cultural identity of the host region and which endeavours to take care of the environment as best as possible”.
However, soft tourism activities (cross country skiing, ski touring and hiking, etc.) can also have a considerable impact on environment when evolved from an individual activity to a mass sport, finally leading to ‘Hard’ tourism.