Eco-friendly tourism. You’re likely familiar with “tourism,” but what about “eco-friendly” used as an adjective with it? What does that even mean? That’s the line of thought many people have when seeing the term for the first time. Also, if you are a student tasked with an essay on the topic, you may even decide to simply get help from a custom essay service. But it’s okay if you have no clue what that means since we’ll be covering the topic here. Also, we’ll provide advice for those interested in joining the growing movement.
Eco-friendly tourism, sometimes called “green travel” but widely known as ecotourism, is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the locals, and involves interpretation and education.” This widely accepted official definition, given by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) in 2015, places a strong emphasis on conservation, local communities, and personal learning.
Conservation of natural and cultural heritage of locations around the globe implies that ecotourists are expected to pay close attention to how their activities can contribute to the preservation of fauna and flora in the natural environment. Issues like animal poaching, deforestation, and overfishing easily come to mind when conservation of nature is under focus. In order to promote sustainable travel, ecotourism participants are encouraged to actively contribute financially to the conservation efforts in the destinations they visit.
As it concerns local communities, the ecotourism movement centers around showing awareness and respect for the human rights, beliefs, and culture of the destination inhabitants. Another important aspect of it is empowerment: ensuring that ecotourists directly contribute to the economic welfare of the locals.
The third pillar of ecotourism is personal learning or education. That means visitors (through their individual experiences during their tours) should genuinely seek to grow their understanding and appreciation of the natural environment, the local community, and their way of life.
If you happen to find the above concept of ecotourism appealing, you might now be wondering what actions you can take to show your support and adherence to the idea. You’re in luck here. As was earlier promised, below we have prepared practical ideas for you to use.
Patronize Locally-owned and Eco-Conscious Businesses During your Travels
When traveling or vacationing, how often do you give serious consideration to the ownership of where you choose to stay? If you’re keen on participating in the ecotourism movement, you’ll want to give preference to locally-owned accommodation and lodging services. For example, using short-term rentals owned by locals or government-owned hotels and guest houses (as opposed to international hotel brands) is an excellent way to support the local community economically.
Another effective action you can take to support the local economy directly is to hire only locals as your tour guides when sightseeing.
Besides supporting the local economy, you also want to give preference to businesses that have a clear environmental sustainability policy and evidence of their efforts. In fact, companies may go as far as getting formal certification to prove they’re serious about the issue. So, if you aren’t sure about a particular enterprise you’re considering, you can ask them about their policies, certificates, and physical evidence.
For example, a hotel may have solar panel installation on their premises, have many green trees and plants, and use sensor-based lighting and heating systems for efficient energy consumption among other active measures. A hospitality business can even become carbon neutral when a concerted effort is put in place.
Eat Locally Sourced and Prepared Meals During Your Stay
When selecting what to eat, give preference to local cuisines and avoid imported food items from other countries. Also, going to the local farmers’ market or a small grocery store to buy food is an excellent way to support and connect with the locals.
Also, you should stick with eco-friendly reusable grocery bags when shopping and avoid eating in establishments serving meals containing meat from endangered animal species or using disposable cups, spoons, and plates. Instead, search for and patronize eateries having organic food on their menu.
Avoid Buying Items Sourced from Poached or Endangered Animals
A lot of people may not be aware that the souvenirs, clothes, shoes, handbags, belts, and other items they buy may have been sourced from heavily poached animals and endangered animals. On your part, during your trips, you can avoid buying jackets made from animal furs, jewelry made of corals and turtle carapace, and shoes or bags made of hides of endangered animals. If you aren’t sure about the source, you can ask or find information online from conservation groups focused on discussing items you should avoid buying in a particular location.
Use Vehicles that Have Low Carbon Footprint
This can be a tough tip to apply in a world that is full of fossil fuel-powered vehicles: trains, cars, etc. While you can’t always avoid some carbon-emitting vehicles, especially commercial airplanes, you can minimize your overall use of such vehicles during your trips.
Wherever and whenever available, choose zero-carbon alternatives such as electric cars, electric trains, electric motorcycles, and bicycles. Choose direct and shorter travel routes to cut down on your carbon footprint. Remember the idea of doing all that is to play your part in reducing the harmful impact of transport on our natural environment.
Don’t Disturb or Upset Wildlife
During safari tours or similar outings involving animal observation in their natural habitats, do not throw objects to animals or shout to get their attention to capture that perfect photo or video for your Instagram. Offering food to animals may be well intended, but doing so to lure them out for your social media account post is not an eco-friendly practice.
Become a Member of a Local Conservation Organization and Maintain Local Relationships
If you want to take your ecotourism activity another step further, you may decide to join one or more local conservation organizations in the places you visit and participate in their work actively. Even when you can’t be physically present, you can donate money and other resources. Similarly, you can maintain communication with other members and locals who care about conservation and raising the awareness of issues affecting the local environment.
All taken together, it’s easy to see that the goal of the ecotourism movement is to minimize the negative impact of human travel on Earth’s ecosystem while increasing the positive influence on both people and nature. If you appreciate those tenets and want to participate, now you have actionable ideas to practice during your next trip.