Ecotourism is need of the hour. In the times gone, it was associated with and comprised of experiences focused on volunteering, personal experiences of visiting places that were rich in flora and fauna and comprised of scenic beauty rather than modernized beautification. This definition of Eco Tourism is broadened today. It includes making choices to destinations that promote sustainable practices and care for the environment. A number of eco-tourism who are nature lovers have come to board in the traveling sphere today. The best way to attract them towards different tourist sites is having environment preservation as the USP of that particular tourist destination. This not only ensures an increase in the number of tourists to a particular site but also brings a good global image to the travel industry of that spot driving more and more travelers leading to successful marketing of the destination.
Different parts of the world are rich in different natural resources. On one hand, you will see the best of wildlife in India or Africa and on the other hand, the Caribbean’s will exhibit an exemplary coastal setup that will take your breath away. The Eco Tourism generally enjoy traveling to more serene undiscovered destinations, which are not very outstanding in infrastructure but provides with the true culture of the place. Switzerland as on date has a wide number of visitors from the Asian Countries, but it will never be a destination for nature lovers or passionate travelers. The whole essence of Swiss culture has been lost with more and more tourists visiting it and at one point, the only people we see are not the countrymen but tourists. Slowly and gradually, the original culture of a tourist destination is getting buried with more and more tourist visitors and that is where Ecotourism becomes prominent and in fact, necessary.
Another important benefit of Ecotourism is that it can help raise environmental awareness. The environment today is degrading and this is no hidden truth. Each day we see a wave of natural calamities taking away many lives and destroying various parts of the world. That is how our environment is responding to the atrocities it is undergoing and the ill treatment it is given by the human race. With Ecotourism, widespread education can be spread amongst a number of travelers regarding the importance of our surroundings and how necessary is it to preserve them. People will also come to know of the variety of flora and fauna that exists and a wave of consciousness will be given rise to owing to the necessity of conserving such magnificence created by God.
Eco-friendly tourism is now gaining popularity amidst the popular tourist destinations around the world thanks to environmentalists and responsible citizens.
Eco-Friendly tourism means using products and services which do not harm the nature in tourist spots. Eco-tourism also means traveling to the less famous and less developed tourist destinations in order to help the locals over there and to provide funds for the development of the tourist spots. Eco-tourism entertains an avid tourist in such a way that it is minimally intrusive to the environment and only helps in the betterment of the environment. Not only the tourists but also the service providers should genuinely take part in this initiative and work together for the sustainability of the environment.
Let’s take a peek at what activity is prevalent and how it can be curbed:
- Popular tourist attractions like boating, cruising, sea-plane cause a lot of air and water pollution contaminating the natural water bodies and causing loss of precious flora and fauna. People should instead promote the use of coracles to savor the scenic beauty of the place. These are eco-friendly and can hold up to 4 people. Traveling in the water bodies in coracles would give a rustic experience without burning a hole in their pockets. These do not cause any kind of pollution too.
- Holidaying in costly hotels and resorts also indirectly affects the natural tourist destinations as these properties misuse the water bodies by releasing their waste into them. Such large properties require lots of resources to run well which disturb the natural habitats nearby. Tourists should instead opt for guest houses run by the locals. These will be economical for them too and the locals who are dependent on tourism would earn their bread and butter.
- Private taxi cars instead of carpooling or tourist buses also lead to increased air pollution. Try exploring the place in a tourist bus than hiring a private taxi every time.
- Say no to plastic. Carry your own water bottles everywhere and refill whenever required. Plastic takes millions of years to degrade and is the major cause of pollution and contamination of tourist destinations. Eat in earthen vessels and degradable paper plates wherever possible.
- Do not throw your solid waste or garbage on the streets. Use dustbins instead.
- Eco-tourism is basically traveling to places which are rich in flora and fauna, natural resources and places which are less traveled. Doing so, would make one a responsible tourist and encourage him/her to preserve and conserve the natural heritage of the country.
- Promote the use of bicycles in eco-friendly places in order to reduce pollution.
- Promote the use of renewable sources of energy in such places.
- Promoting water conservation.
- Promoting the use of sustainable seafood.
- Promoting the use of recycled products.
These and many more steps can be taken to promote eco-friendly tourism. Each individual should be educated about this concept and should be made aware of their role in sustaining an eco-friendly tourism.
Tourism improves bilateral relationship. International tourism has grown leaps and bounds over the years after the advent of globalization and liberalization. Tourists those who live in eastern countries love to travel to western frontiers and vice versa. Tourism is slowly becoming billion dollar industry and has seen unprecedented growth in the recent years. Thanks to the efforts taken by tourism departments which are functioning efficiently and effectively. World tourism council also supports all the countries and provides maximum protection and safety to the tourists those who enter different parts of the world. Barriers between the countries are narrowing now and it this beautiful planet is becoming a global village. These days even commoners and middle-income group people showcase interest to visit several countries to improve their wisdom and knowledge.
United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) through their joint efforts launched 2002 as ecotourism year was the only response to the critics of tourism development having the capability to minimize the adverse impacts of tourism on the environment. Statistics on worldwide are unreliable. Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of the local people. There are a number of forms of nature tourism. Thus all type of nature tourism cannot be measured as ecotourism. Ecotourism is possible only in such nature-based locations where there are possibilities of low impact on the surrounding environment of natural resources. Once ecotourism starts to damage the natural attractions then it is not ecotourism as conservation of attractions is an essential of ecotourism promotion attribute. Ecuador, a Latin American-based country is one of the most exciting countries in the world for working on ecotourism for community development. The Annapurna Conservation Area in Nepal is famous for socio-cultural biodiversity and receives over 50000 trekkers annually.
Ecotourists are deeply concern about the environment and because of this, some tourists came under the category of light green and dark green categories. Light green behaves in an environmentally responsible manner and puts comfort over conservation whereas dark green ecotourism put conservation before comfort. Promoting ecotourism was the compulsion for most of the countries. In Philippines and Maldives, dynamiting and mining of corals for building material were common practice. Similar was the situation in Brazil wherein inadequate sewage treatment along the coastline of Brazil was donating the quality of water of its sea beaches and lagoons. In Nepal, extensive trekking expedition has caused serious destruction of mountain treks and trails. Mushroom growth of safaris activities in Kenya decreased wildlife activities and thus supported the emergence of ecotourism. Ecotourism if promoted systematically is capable of making dramatic changes in the local economy.
Ecotourism should be developed systematically as it may cause damage to the attractions if ecotourists and ecotourism business operators don’t follow prescribed guidelines.
In today’s scenario, every human has started realizing the ill effects of the activities of modernization on the natural surroundings. Each and every one of us is looking to adapt to techniques and follow a life path where such harm incurred on the environment is less and our further generations can make use of all the resources that are available to us in the present times. We are lured towards making a deal with the companies, which offer us a green policy, and ‘Go Green’ has formed the basis of advertising of each such company.
As with every other industry, a similar trend has been flowing in the tourism sector and each and every travel agency is promoting their brand through their eco-friendly policies giving it the name of Eco Tourism. Branding their activities under the Go Green policy, such companies are charging the consumers more and the consumers, in turn, are paying to comply with the environmentalist wave the world is encompassing.
In this context, a very important question has been left unanswered. Are the companies really able to live up to the fundamentals of Eco Tourism or is it a myth that the world is going green. Are the branding and advertising only to lure the customers or is it is for real that they are in its full capacity following the environmentally friendly methods? I would say that most companies here are just acting in a circle of lies trying to sell the service. The trending tact to sell the same is advertising your go green policy. Also, many companies who are trying to live up to the expectations and the desired standards fail due to their infrastructure and all small steps taken by them seem very little in the larger picture. For e.g. Hotels in the tourism industry such as Marriot or Holiday Inn have formulated a policy and showed commitment towards the reduction of waste and recycling of paper. But being a huge hotel and its number ever increasing in the charts of all tourist destinations, what real difference is such a policy making to their overall obligation of Eco-Tourism?
One major reason behind not following such commitment is that the capital required for it is really high. One needs to really invest a lot of money to upgrade the quality of their infrastructure for it to comply with the environmental needs which are missing in the case of such multinationals as the consumer contribution to the funds is very meager.
At ‘“Tourism Trust”’, we intend to show full commitment towards Eco Tourism by modifying our policies and bringing them in line with the objectives that form a part of the Go Green Policy. Eco Tourism essentially means – ‘Connecting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel’. This means that those who implement and participate in responsible tourism activities should follow the following ecotourism principles: minimize impact, build environmental and cultural awareness and respect, provide positive activities for both guests & proprietors, provide direct economic benefits for maintenance, provide monetary benefits & empowerment for local people and raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate.
As an organization, we aim to achieve the above by incorporating our funds in a responsible way towards it rather than using them as a profit-making device. For us, tourism is a very important industry and we understand, that in upgrading it, we do not lose what really forms the essence of tourism that is the ‘ Environment’.
Promotion of Eco-friendly tourism is becoming the hot topic since people flock hills, mountains, rivers, and forests. The government that monitors the tourism activities should protect the environment from social and global threats and make them sustainable. There are countries which totally depend on tourism and these countries can remain at the top only when they protect the greenish pastures from massive destructions and catastrophes. Adventurers those who have professional experience in trekking and climbing will choose only thick and dense mountains for their adventure activities. So, the forestry and tourism department should be accommodative and make the forests tidy and clean.
Ecotourism has helped nations in several positive ways in the past and in the present. It has generated an inflow of millions of dollars, improves the relationship with other countries, teaches the importance of protecting the environment in several ways and provides info about the rapidly dwindling population of dangerous species. Ecotourism improves the social, cultural, political and economic well-being of several countries. It also has improved the lifestyles of the tribal and backward community since tourism has created jobs, alleviated poverty, improves income and satisfied the needs of the ailing community. Even hundreds of educational institutions which are functioning efficiently teach the importance of ecotourism to the students and take them to ecologically friendly countries that preserve the land wonderfully.
The environment belongs to us all and it is our responsibility to protect it. Such an emotion can be installed through the weapon of Ecotourism since that is a step towards raising awareness and changing mindsets of the people. Eco tours will be a helpful step on part of the travel industry towards ensuring a better future for the Mother Earth.