The world is vast and full of treasures. On the other hand, life is too short to witness everything there is. Naturally, we all want to make smart decisions about which landscapes we’ll allow to take our breath away.
Ever since people realized that traveling is what makes life worth living, tourism developed into a large, profitable industry. This has led to attempts to satisfy the needs of the tourist to every extent possible, without consideration for the wellbeing of the environment and the local population.
Now more than ever, we need to talk about responsible travel and ecotourism. Global climate changes leave no room for any more reckless choices if we want to maintain a safer, healthier planet.
What follows next is a brief interpretation of the importance of ecotourism, useful advice for travelers, and some great examples of ecotourism destinations. So, buckle up and keep reading.
What Is Ecotourism?
Ecotourism refers to the aspiration to lower the negative impact of human presence on the environment and, at the same time, to retain the pleasure of traveling and interacting with our natural surroundings. It’s an idea that has been in development for almost half a century but gained significant traction only in the past decade.
When you google the term “ecotourism,” the first thing you’ll come upon is its definition, which reads: Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the wellbeing of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” (International Ecotourism Society, 2015).
This definition comes fortified with images of amazing natural sites that compel and indulge the senses. However, what the term represents is much more than words and photos.
As a responsible traveler who wants to truly experience a destination with all its spirit and splendor, you need to embrace the practices of “ecotourism” on a deeper level.
Why Is Ecotourism Important?
The burden of the consequences that the modern way of living brings is heavy, while the need for protecting the environment is even bigger. The importance of ecotourism is closely tied to the idea of meeting our needs without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to continue enjoying the natural splendors of our planet. This practice is known as “sustainability,” and it’s a huge trend these days.
Ecotourism, as a branch of one of the most important industries for the world’s economic growth, focuses on raising awareness for maintaining nature. It also emphasizes the importance of preserving the environment and restoring damaged areas.
Responsible traveling to areas with natural attractions entails educating travelers to learn about the customs of the local population and the environment with its unique flora and fauna. With proper education, the need for preservation and protection comes as a natural reaction that helps build stronger bonds between humans and nature.
When it comes to ecotourism and preserving areas that have turned into popular tourist destinations, helping the local population is crucial. Supporting the local economy without interfering with the normal way of living aligns with sustaining the genuine flow of natural evolution.
With all of its advantages for the wellbeing of the environment and the local population, ecotourism is important both for tourists and all the beautiful locations that face the threat of destruction.
Guide for Responsible Ecotourists
As an aspiring ecotourist, you need to follow some directions to truly live up to the purpose behind the term. Let’s look into some key points that you can rely on to ensure your support for ecotourism.
- Pick a destination that’s known for its biodiversity or other natural landmarks. Ensure that there are options that encourage ecotourism.
- When it comes to transportation, always choose means of transport with low carbon emissions. The idea is to make as low an environmental impact as possible. Electric vehicles or public transport are always a good choice. Using electric golf carts is another great way to encourage greener transport. Resorts and hotels can utilize these eco-friendly vehicles for transporting guests, luggage, and supplies throughout their premises.
- Look for the most eco-friendly accommodations. Depending on the chosen destination, tents, eco-lodges, green hotels, eco-resorts, and similar establishments are the types of accommodations to look for. Resting areas and facilities encourage eco practices by using sources of renewable energy, energy-efficient lights, organic soaps, biodegradable cleaning supplies, recycling utilities, etc.
- Always enjoy nature with respect for the environment and the local communities by leaving no trace behind except your warm gratitude.
Great Examples of Ecotourism Destinations
Located in Central America, Costa Rica is a republic where 99% of the electricity comes from renewable sources. With its natural attractions, such as Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Rio Celeste, and many more, this small nation does an amazing job when it comes to sustainable ways of living. Costa Rica makes for an attractive destination that offers unforgettable ecotourism.
The Galapagos Islands
Another place where nature admirers will enjoy the perks of ecotourism is the Galapagos Islands. This is a destination located in the Pacific Ocean near Ecuador where, besides the beautiful landscapes and sandy beaches, you’ll get a glimpse of diverse wildlife such as the Galapagos Giant Tortoise, the Blue-footed Bobby, the Marine Iguana, the Galapagos Penguin, etc.
Since 1978, the Galapagos Islands have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, becoming a biosphere reserve with strict environmental regulations and tourism guidelines.
Tourism is the main driver of the economy in the Republic of Palau. Visitors will get to enjoy world-famous natural attractions such as the forest-tufted Rock Island, Jellyfish lake, Kayangel’s untouched beaches, and the coral atoll.
As a precaution for the protection of the environment, the government in Palau introduced a mandatory “eco-pledge” for all tourists upon arrival. This entails respect for the environment during their stay there and enforcing a positive attitude toward preserving the natural habitat of Palau’s wildlife and sea ecosystem.
Our planet, with its undeniable greatness and mesmerizing beauty, hosts places that have the power to inspire and move us.
To truly immerse yourself into the traveling experience and feel the environment a destination offers, you don’t need massive resorts, which are built by reshaping nature with excavators. You need passion, self-consciousness, and responsibility.
To be an ecotourist means much more than being a regular tourist. We hope that this article will ignite a spark within you to become one and experience nature with the respect it deserves.