Ecotourism 101

According to Green Global Travel, “[i]n recent years, the growth of interest in responsible travel has outpaced that of traditional sun/sand tourism by an increasingly wide margin”. That’s quite impressive; I will admit! But if we take into consideration that this segment only serves for 11.4% of all consumer spending for the tourism industry in its whole, I fear it loses its “Wow!” effect.

Here are two realities of 2018:

  1. The travelling community is growing like never before: the globe dreams to travel the globe!
  2. Our Blue Planet is overused and we must do something about it: now, and NOT never!

At first glance, these two things might not appear like they are linked, but they absolutely are. The world’s largest industry is tourism and the world’s biggest preoccupation is the protection of the environment and the demographics. It goes without saying that, if ecotourism is the perfect blend of the two, it is THE solution to mass tourism and to all its negative impacts.

Characterized by The Nature Conservancy, accurate ecotourism is:

  • Conscientious, low-impact visitor behaviour;
  • Sensitivit[e] towards, and appreciat[ive] of, local cultures and biodiversity;
  • Support[ive to] local conservation efforts;
  • [Has] [s]ustainable benefits [on] local communities;
  • [Participates in] [l]ocal […] decision-making;
  • [Includes] [e]ducational components for both the traveler and local communities.

This proves the importance and urgency to push for a switch in our way of trotting the globe. Ecotourism isn’t just about caring for the welfare of the Earth; it’s also about the economics and demographics. It’s helping the residents, investing in the local businesses, and assuring the soundness of the naturaleza (nature | Spanish).

“Ecotourism, a movement that began to take shape back in the 1980s, is the oldest and most commonly used word for it. More recent industry buzzwords include green travel, nature travel, responsible travel, [sustainable travel], ethical travel, mindful travel, conscious travel, pro-poor tourism, and many others.”
— Green Global Travel

Ecotourism is simply one step towards philanthropy. It’s time we understand that there’s no need to be rich in order to lend a hand to your human neighbours. Everything you do, every day, has an impact; done the right way, this impact can change lives.

Today, I suggest we start taking pleasure it giving back. It’s no longer about good nature and purity of heart; it’s common sense. Some of us have had everything. We have gone through our fair amount of difficulties, but we have stood back up. We’d be heartless not to give the same chance to our fellows.

In short, I am asking you to empathize and adopt ways of life that are different but not impossible. Have gratitude: be a hero, not a zero!

Here are concrete ways to conform to ecotourism:

Culturally

  • Learn about cultural differences, be self-aware and respect the local customs¹

What are common travellers’ mistakes for this destination? What behaviours are absolute no-no’s? What are the traditions? Learning about where you going and the people visiting not only shows respect, but it also sets you up for more immersive, genuine experiences and relationships.

  • Teach yourself the basics of your destination’s language¹

How hard can it be to learn the courtesies of your destination’s language? You’d be surprised how a little “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, “please”, “how much does this cost” and “how are you” could go a long way for the community who’s welcoming you. Return the favour and have an even more authentic stay.

  • Volunteer or take part in social and sustainable projects

While you’re travelling, implicate yourself and get the bigger picture of what it is to be living in that community. Visit this website for more info.

Economic

To me, this is the most iconic way to learn about a destination, its culture, and its people. Make it a must to visit public markets, unique shops owned by locals, community bazaars, small-scale restaurants away from touristy spots, and so on.

Environmental

  • Tour your destination on foot²

Bring yourself a good pair of walking shoes. There’s no better way to discover a city than by foot.

  • Travel from cities to cities, or attractions to attractions, by public transportation

Europe especially is famous for its convenient and cheap public transportation: use it to your advantage, and to Earth’s.

  • Stay at hotels supporting green practices²

Visit this website to find out more about some green hotels around the world.

  • Bring with you a reusable water bottle²

Soma, a new company producing reusable bottles, released the very-first water bottle made from recycled ocean plastic residues.

  • Limit the amount of plastic you’re using¹

The lighter your luggage, the lighter the plane weight charge, the less fuel you’re singularly forcing the plane to consume.

  • Put your devices to sleep²

When you aren’t using your devices, put them to sleep. This prevents the use of phantom energy and leaves time for your batteries to cool down.


¹ SOWTER, Maria. Huffington Post UK. “Ten Ways to Travel Responsibly”. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/maria-sowter/10-ways-to-travel-responsibly_b_3332630.html (April 7th, 2018).

² ROSENBLOOM, Stephanie. New York Times. “10 Ways to Be a Greener Traveler, Even if You Love to Fly”. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/24/travel/ecotourism-green-travel-tips.html (April 7th, 2018).


Happy travels, guys!

Wie immer,

Arrivederci ragazzi, Sika ♥

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Originally published at sarahjessicab.wordpress.com on April 7, 2018.