What is Eco-Tourism? There is much debate over whether there really is such a thing as eco-tourism
There is much debate over whether there really is such a thing as eco-tourism. Many argue that something like travel, with air-miles burning fossil fuel and widespread lack of carbon neutrality, could never be truly ecologically friendly. Some say that we would be better off staying home entirely and sticking to home-based environmentally friendly measures. There is a growing movement to eat local, drink local, stay local – but that is missing one of the main points of travel. Travel is about education, about drinking in all the knowledge and understanding of others that experiencing the world can give you. It is, of course, also about having fun. On all these counts, eco-tourism is slowly but surely coming into its own.
Eco-tourism is all about nature in its purest and most unspoiled form. It is about viewing and preserving that nature for future generations and ensuring continued bio-diversity for the overall health of our planet. It is about access and freedom and the pure joys of observing nature in the raw. Eco-tourism is first and foremost about sustainability.
What is sustainability? Well, it is ensuring that things can endure over time. Fossil fuels, for example, are not sustainable. One day, in the not too distant future, they will run out. Renewable energies, advanced biofuels and so on are an attempt to reach a point where our energy is sustainable. Air travel, of course, is not sustainable in its current form. It will have to evolve or it will cease to exist. This creates a firm limit for eco-tourism – however sustainable the rest of the vacation, air travel is not something that international eco-tourism can do much about. That change must be driven by multinational corporations and governments. That is not to say, however, that growing pressure from consumers could not speed that along. It could be argued that eco-conscious travellers should not eschew air travel entirely but should rather put pressure on companies to change. After all, sustainability is not about retrograde steps – it is about maintaining, continuing to improve. It is about the future.
Taking how we get there out of the equation for now then, how to do know that something is eco-tourism? Well, all proper eco-tourism will not just be about being in nature, it will also take into account sustainability on a number of levels. These levels will include but not be limited to energy production and use, carbon neutrality of operations, preservation of natural landscapes and last but not least, human sustainability. An eco-tourism operation should be sustainable for the local people and they should always be taken into account. If an eco-tourism venture annoys, disrupts or could in future impact negatively on the human lives nearby, then it is not truly sustainable.
So, what is eco-tourism? In short, it is holidays that are sustainable for the planet and for humankind. It is a vague definition, leaving space for all the debate and disagreement on the issue that inevitably comes. Eco-tourism is a medium of change in the travel industry, change that is coming no matter what individuals may feel on the matter.
Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climates.
Design, construct and operate low-impac
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