So What Exactly is Ecotourism?
In brief, ecotourism encourages sustainability. It protects the local environment rather than pressurizing and exploiting its resources. This kind of travel is rarely simple, however, as ecotourism is vast in theory. Small things like saving water might be obvious to us, but knowing exactly what goes on in endangered environments may not be so clear. Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”, by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). Many definitions exist, and this is just one of them. Another by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also exists, and is widely accepted: “Environmentally efficient traveling of relatively unspoiled natural spaces, in order to experience and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural peculiarities), that promotes the preservation, has moderate negative visitor impact and grants the beneficially active socioeconomic engagement of local populations”. Overall, the basis of ecotourism lies in conservation and increasing awareness through hands-on education. It requires an actively involved tourist who is conscious of their impact on the local environment and community. While being conscious is the first step, the next is to try and decrease the negative toll that travel takes on this ecosystem.
Moreover, the emphasis is on supporting the local way of life, not merely reducing harm done by the tourist. However, this doesn’t mean that the your experience becomes unpleasant — on the contrary, it’s quite the opposite. It may seem uncomfortable to adapt to the situation at first, but an appreciation and fondness tends to develop with every passing day.
Its value is rising high every year, as travel is becoming increasingly accessible. More and more people are travelling to parts of the World that were never open to tourists before. If anyone cares about nature, the environment, and local inhabitants, they must ensure that to follow steps that are sustainable while traveling.
It’s also important not to be misled by the comforting words on travel packages. A vacation isn’t “ecotourism” merely because it states so on the label, and numerous corporations will promote holidays as Eco-friendly without substantial justification. It’s necessary to exercise caution and stay away from people who try to lure clients by utilizing eco-advertising.
Why is Ecotourism so Important?
Pleasures that come with the experiences of traveling are usually associated with exciting, picture-perfect backdrops, unique food and diverse conversation with interesting locals.And all of this is true. Tourism embodies the spirit of experiencing new ways of living; empowers us to go beyond learning facts about locations. Involving ourselves in the culture around us, and building lasting memories are part and parcel of what travel is about. But more often than not, we tend to lose ourselves in the excitement of something new. Touring around the world may be fun for us, but maybe not so for the life and ecosystems we visit. Animal shows in theme parks, safaris that cross through the middle of a habitat, plastic waste that gets thrown on the beach… These are things we do not really think of while travelling. And it’s not just animal or plant life – indigenous locals are exploited daily, for their craft and lifestyle to make tourism more popular in those areas. A rise in ecotourism enables us to immerse ourselves in the culture and surroundings of a new place whilst being respectful of their origins. Some of the reasons why ecotourism is important include:
1. Ecotourism is Valuable for the People and the Planet
Some say experiences are priceless. And we believe ecotourism encourages just that. The uniqueness and the gratifying learning experiences of a journey cannot be quantified, and by partaking in ecotourism, we partake in sustainable travel so that many more people can experience this journey in the future. As an eco-tourist, you travel with the peace of mind that you are not just living your dreams, you are helping other people live theirs as well. Supporting local practices may not seem as big of a deal for us, but it does add a lot of value to the places we visit. Access and the right kind of attention go a long way in the development of an area, with minimal intrusion on the local perspective. And as stated before, the life experiences that we take back would be more authentic and gratifying than compared to non-eco-tourists.
2. Ecotourism is a Learning Experience for Everyone Involved
The more we get to know about a community/ place, our affection and respect develop and encourage us to protect it. Tour hosts and staff are knowledgeable on the workings and history of the local society, and share this information with guests. Along with the visual appeal, one also obtains a widening of perspectives. This comes with leaning about the history and the environment of the places we travel to. Meeting like-minded people as you travel sustainably is also interesting and important. It creates a mutual understanding enables that allows us to learn more about each other, and our respective cultures and lives.
3. Ecotourism promotes Economic Stability
We are a part of a society full of diverse people who live off the land and depend on whatever nature provides. Commercial vacation attractions may be placed in a particular area, but that doesn’t imply it returns back to these communities. On the contrary, it tends to be quite the reverse effect. Many tourist attractions damage the surrounding areas, polluting the air with gases, water with chemicals and taking away the land’s fertility. Huge companies tend to change local’s lifestyles depending on what will be most monetarily profitable. These things lead to people often relocating, which is a mentally and physically taxing process.
Visiting these local attractions may be a thrilling experience, and you may think that the funding you contribute to these areas goes back to the the community. However, this is not always the case. Ecotourism helps to keep locals’ livelihoods intact whilst educating the tourists on their way of life. It does not take away from the land, instead, the emphasis is on giving back. This encourages local enterprise, and adds to local employment and later, economic stability.
4. Ecotourism Reduces our Carbon Footprint
Moving from one place to the another is a significant part of our trip. We may spend days in cars, flights and trains, before we even set foot on our destination. Commuting is necessary when traveling, but there are many ways we can reduce our carbon footprint here, as well. And don’t worry! They’re not as boring as you think 😉
During your trip, choose guided areas that propose tours on foot. This is the most eco-friendly way to travel, although not that convenient. Each city has a different way of doing shared transport, such as metro lines or public carpool. Trolleys, hybrid vans and even community cycles offer convenient means of the travel for both visitors and locals.
And there you have it! 4 reasons why ecotourism is important, and what you can do to practice it. We hope you enjoyed this article, and it gave your more perspective on what to look out for when travelling. If this inspired you to pack up your bags and go, then wait! There’s one more step: the visa processing! Applying online for a visa online has never been easier; with Visa2Fly here to help. If you’d like more travel inspo, feel free to check out our other blogs on Danish Delights and the wonders of Finland. Happy travelling!