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Eco-Tourism: Vacations with Meaning

Posted on June 29, 2018 by Matt Tomasino There have been 0 comments

Taking a vacation used to include the nonchalance of spending too much and eating too much while treating yourself to stunning visual landscapes. Now that many of those landscapes are suffering, from human activity and climate change, Eco-tourism has stepped up.

Choose to responsibly embrace a natural setting rather than take what you can get leaving scorched resources in your path. It is a practice that has long been overdue for mainstream travelers as many tourist consumers are beginning to demand it.

Soft Education

If you have ever experienced a highly passionate message regarding Eco-concerns you know how overwhelming it can sometimes be. The statistics of wildlife compromise, land degradation, perverted human consumption and much more could make your head spin. This is why it is important to offer or embrace soft education. Simple ways a traveler can do their part to avoid mindless disposable usage and overconsumption without feeling like it is too little, too late.

Martha Honey, co-founder of the Center for Responsible Tourism, commented to news outlet CNBC,

“I think what we find in soft education is our mind being open and it can really have profound effects on us, sustainability can improve our vacation and then affect us when we go home,”

Some easy reminders for your travel and recreation excursions might include:

  • Hanging used towels to dry and use again
  • Shutting off hotel A/C when you leave the room
  • Eating only what you need not overdoing it
  • Respecting local ecological sites by not littering or damaging
  • Supporting local artists and workers
  • Using Eco-Friendly suntan lotion that won’t damage ocean life
  • Practicing the “carry in, carry out” policy when camping and hiking

Eco-Tourism Studies

Travel agencies, resorts, communities and even yoga and fitness retreats rely on tourism, but many have turned a blind eye to the rampant destruction and corruption caused by the industry. Now that more travelers are demanding and expecting some sort of green travel option, destinations are delivering and benefitting.

Costa Rican and U.S. researchers directed by Stanford University personnel conducted a study of 225 surveys with locals in the surrounding region. It concluded that,

“This study demonstrates the positive economic contributions of ecotourism in the Osa Peninsula, as well as its potential, if better organized, to generate even more social, economic and environmental benefits for local communities,” - Stanford University professor Dr. William H. Durham, one of the study’s authors.

There is also the concept of charging tourists for a wildlife adventure of guaranteed sightings without disrupting a natural habitat. A study by the Wildlife Conservation Society found that,

“An ecotourism strategy based on 'direct payments,' where local people are compensated for the amount of wildlife seen by tourists, has resulted in a reduction in illegal hunting and an increase in wildlife sightings.”

These and many other studies have shown the positive effects of ecotourism. As more people see the benefits of this swing of the pendulum then more Eco-friendly progress will be made.

Cycle of Conservation

When something generates money everyone takes notice. One of the top benefits of ecotourism is the behavior of locals. Knowing the importance of the natural landscape to tourists, locals are more apt to protect and conserve their environment. In many cases, locals become tour guides and begin to see the importance of maintaining their homeland if for nothing but the continuation of their job. However, more often than not the sentiment is that of pride and actual regard for tourists who respect the ecosystem.

Funding

As communities thrive from tourism so too does local and state government. Yet, unless these governments pitch in, areas will lose Eco-credibility and potentially turn into a nest of poachers and hunters.

With ecotourism, there has been an increase in government assistance to supporting the natural landscape. This is being done through the construction, repair or preservation of national parks and reserves. It also protects these lands and its wildlife from wrongdoers.

Cultural Enhancement

With more ecotourism resorts embracing the landscape rather than building on top of it, local cultures are turning from junk trinket souvenir shops to authentic artistic wares that fuel the village economy.

Ecotourism takes the traveler out of the sheltered, synthetic, man-made experience and immerses them in the reason they should probably be there in the first place, to experience firsthand how the natives live.

CNBC reported on a not-for-profit organization that has implemented an ecotourism protocol which comes out as win-win for everyone involved,

“The volunteer group Andaman Discoveries specializes in a community-based tourist model that includes facilitating experiences, volunteer services and service projects that give directly back to the locals. Andaman client relations manager Lindsey Reding commented that programs focus on nature conservation, but also human rights and sustainable development, in a way that spurs “meaningful, educational and memorable experiences for both the guest and the host,”

 

Look for ecotourism opportunities that you may want to experience or support while vacationing. It can be as simple as re-using towels to volunteering to build a home for indigent jungle locals. Either way, giving back while lying back may be the best way to relax.


This post was posted in Blog and Green Library, Eco Travel, Holidays and was tagged with camping, conservation, ecotourism, green travel, hiking, travel, yoga

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