It seems a general belief that (1) sustainable tourism is supply-driven, and (2) sustainable tourists are visitors engaging in nature-based travel activities. Results reported in this paper challenge these assumptions. Findings from an online survey indicate that nature-based travel is not solely related to environmentally protective attitudes. Market-driven mechanisms could therefore be used to strengthen ecological sustainable tourism. Only 39 % of respondents classified as ‘Ecologically Caring Tourists’ stated that an intense experience of nature is a motivation for their vacation travel behaviour. The findings indicate two possible directions for the strengthening of sustainable tourism measures: (1) demand-driven mechanisms could be used in addition to supply-side measures to identify and attract groups of tourists with a smaller ecological footprint; (2) the tourism market suitable to increase ecological sustainability is likely to be much larger than assumed by focusing on nature-based tourism only. These findings could be of great benefit to any tourism destination in terms of the development of new tools and the identification of new tourism contexts for managing ecological sustainability.