5 Reasons Why You Should Support Ecotourism
Written by Ivana on August 5th 2020
There is no better feeling than packing your bags, knowing that the following day you will be exploring new places and discovering new cultures, far from the environment that surrounds you daily. Many of us look forward to travelling to pristine and remote locations, however unfortunately, it is these environments that are the most fragile and prone to negative human influence.
To ensure that beautiful locations are preserved for the future, travellers must do their part in their protection, by actively taking part in ecotourism.
What is “ecotourism”?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, ecotourism is “the business of organizing holidays to places of natural beauty in a way that helps local people and does not damage the environment”. In other words, ecotourism is the action of deciding to travel in a way that shows respect to the environment without contributing to its degradation.
Moreover, ecotourism takes into account environmental conservation and knowledge about the local communities, people and its practices so that we, as travellers, can help improve the quality of life in these locations. Ecotourism also involves education and respect for the places you are visiting, preserving the natural, cultural, and historical landmarks that are unique to the destination.
If you would like to change your travelling practices to be more sustainable, then continue reading to find out the reasons why you should choose responsible and eco-friendly travel options!
1. You will help preserve the environment
By choosing a destination that is versed in ecotourism (instead of a destination that supports mass tourism), you are indirectly helping to protect the destination you are visiting. What’s more, by travelling sustainably and taking into consideration our natural surroundings when exploring new places, we can help preserve the environment, plants, animals and other natural resources for both locals and tourists alike.
Next time you decide to book a holiday, research ecotourism options, book eco-friendly accommodation, buy organic and fresh-grown food, pack lightly when leaving home for a holiday and be mindful of the waste you are creating (never leave it in nature). All of these small steps can have a huge effect on our environment.
2. You will have a more authentic vacation
Since eco-friendly tourism is aimed at smaller groups of tourists and shines a light on local communities, you will receive more individual attention and dedicated time. This way you will gain a deeper understanding of the local culture as you are interacting directly with the people forming the local community itself. And who is a better source of information about new destinations than the locals themselves! Don’t be scared to take part in a historical event, help out with the preparation of local cuisine or learn the basics of the local language. You will get an authentic glimpse into everyday life in these locations and may even make lifelong, rewarding connections with people who will become your friends for life.
3. You will be investing in communities that really need it
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world nowadays, and many developing countries rely on it for economic growth. Now more than ever, when the tourism industry has been widely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to use tourism in a way that can build both cultural and environmental awareness. Economically speaking, local communities can benefit largely from ecotourism since it implies using the natural assets and resources sustainably and productively.
When you take a vacation in a developed country, ironically your money may end up outside of the same country in which you spend your money. How is that possible? Think of all the international hotel chains you stayed in, worldwide tour operators you booked excursions with and the imported food you consumed and you might get a clearer picture of how much of the money you spent stays in that country. If you opt for community operations promoting ecotourism, you are significantly increasing the amount of profit that stays in your desired destination, which that country or community can then use to invest in education, health, infrastructure and other important sectors.
4. You will show respect for the local culture
Many cultures are very proud to help you discover their local customs and natural beauties, however what they expect in return is for you to respect these same customs and traditions. Many times, due to technological advances, traditions and customs are overlooked or disregarded to the extent where their uniqueness is drowned out. By turning to ecotourism and eco-practices, you are respecting the local communities and their way of life, as well as educating yourself and getting involved in unique, authentic customs. It would not be an understatement to conclude that eco-travelling can encourage positive experiences for visitors and local people.
5. You will have unique stories that will help raise awareness in others
Mass tourism offers to every one of its visitors the same food, accommodation and experiences. You, however, will not have that experience if you opt for local tourism and eco-travelling. Local people are the ones who know the undiscovered beauties or where to find food prepared in the local style, so listen to what they have to say because you might end up with some great stories. And what good is a story if you do not pass it on! Upon returning to your own country, you will want to share that knowledge with your family and friends, in turn educating them as well! Your eco-friendly travelling experience can only result in personal education and awareness, as well as in raising awareness in others to explore more sustainable practices and help the beautiful environment surrounding us.
Eco-friendly travelling is a great experience both for nature lovers and everyday tourists who just want to try something new. Interacting with nature in a more profound way and learning about new customs and traditions will be a personal eye-opener for any traveller, as well as helping local communities to become stronger economically. Next time you think about planning your usual holiday, think about how amazing it would be to go sailing in Croatia with the power of the wind, volunteer to help sea turtles in Costa Rica or go glamping in an unexplored, eco-friendly destination!
With ecotourism and eco-friendly travelling, you will have a vacation that is both personally rewarding and good for the destination you visit, without jeopardizing our environment. If you want to learn more about being a sustainable traveller, check out our infographic here.