I have many trips on the agenda and for these I really wanted to look into my eco tourism options. I realized that there are many many companies that claim to offer an eco- friendly experience but when I looked into the experience further, I could not really find what the eco-friendly aspect was exactly. And so I started thinking, What is eco- tourism? I have spent a lot of time researching. In this article I have written down all my findings.
In this article you will read the following:
I hope that this article will give you a good insight into what eco- tourism is.
Why choose for eco- tourism
Tourism is a billion dollar industry. It is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Tourism over the years has had a massive negative impact on the environment. Tourism often puts pressure on the local resources and community. (1) Tourists often overlook the local environmental impact of their visits. Littering, hiking in forbidden areas, visiting animal parks that encourage abusive practices and the use of air polluting vehicles like old buses or boats on tours. Tourism is responsible for 5% of the global emission of greenhouse gasses. (2)
Eco- tourism is a sustainable form of tourism that focuses on providing educational experiences for visitors while actively supporting local communities, protecting the environment and its wildlife, all with the goal of raising awareness about the importance of conservation. This form of tourism takes the consequences of tourism on the local environment and communities into account.
The 3 core principles of eco- tourism
When it comes to eco- tourism, there are 3 core principles:
Conservation is the preservation of our cultural heritage, including Earth’s nature and biodiversity. This is an essential aspect of eco- tourism. The conventional tourist sector often has tourists visit vulnerable places with no eye for the consequences of their visit. Conservation is all about protecting nature and its wildlife. Eco- tourism is about creating a sustainable experience that will ensure the natural environment will keep intact.
Eco- tourism encourages the locals to be a part of the sustainable experience offered to tourists. It creates jobs for a reasonable salary, helping in the fight against poverty. Eco- tourism recognizes the rights of the local people, including their spiritual beliefs and practices. Eco- tourism strives to put all financial benefits directly into empowering the local community and the conservation of the environment.
Education and awareness
Eco- tourism has an educational purpose. It is essential that visitors understand why it is important to protect and conserve a certain place or community. Conservationist Jane Goodall has a famous quote: ‘’ Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall all be saved.” Education is a vital aspect of eco- tourism.
Benefits of eco- tourism
Eco tourism has many benefits. Eco tourism provides local communities with job opportunities. The revenue of the eco- tourism sector directly improves the community and It helps conserve the biodiversity of an area. Eco- tourism can help combat climate change by focusing on using recycled materials and only selling clean and green products. Eco- tourism creates awareness and educates people on the importance of the environment.
Drawbacks of Eco- tourism
Eco- tourism shows great opportunities for the conservation of vulnerable areas. However, as a content creator, I feel it is important to always show the pros as well as the cons. There are a few aspects of eco- tourism that require some attention.
The first one is Greenwashing. The phenomenon of labeling an experience or activity falsely as ‘eco- friendly’’. Although there are no global certifications to check for when looking for a true eco- tourism attraction, I do encourage you to research the following: Look out for transparency. What is their mission? How are they working towards achieving their goals? Look for the 3 main principles when going through their information.
Another negative aspect of eco- tourism is how some local wildlife sanctuaries handle their animals. Wild animals are meant to live in the wild. By letting tourists interact with them, their natural behavior might change.
Lastly, it is important to note that eco- friendly tourism often goes hand in hand with the use of airplanes. Airplanes are a very non- eco-friendly way of traveling.
What to do next?
Now that you know what eco- tourism is, I hope I encourage you to plan your next trip in a more sustainable way. Eco tourism is a great alternative to the more conventional tourist attraction. When booking your next trip, please look into the eco-friendly options offered at your destination. Look for clean countries and clean accommodations when if comes to eco- friendliness.