Ecotourism, Sustainable way of Environment Protection
Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism. Since the 1980s ecotourism has been considered a critical endeavor by environmentalists, so that future generations may experience destinations relatively untouched by human intervention.
Generally, ecotourism deals with living parts of the natural environments. Ecotourism focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Ecotourism is intended to offer tourists an insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greater appreciation of our natural habitats.
Responsible ecotourism programs include those that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and a creation of economic opportunities for local communities. For these reasons, ecotourism often appeals to advocates of environmental and social responsibility.
Characteristics of Ecotourism?
Increased tourism to sensitive natural areas without appropriate planning and management can threaten the integrity of ecosystems and local cultures. The increase of visitors to ecologically sensitive areas can lead to significant environmental degradation. Likewise, local communities and indigenous cultures can be harmed in numerous ways by an influx of foreign visitors and wealth. Additionally, fluctuations in climate, currency exchange rates, and political and social conditions can make over-dependence upon tourism a risky business.
However, this same growth creates significant opportunities for both conservation and local communities. Ecotourism can provide much-needed revenues for the protection of national parks and other natural areas, revenues that might not be available from other sources.
Additionally, ecotourism can provide a viable economic development alternative for local communities with few other income-generating options. Moreover, ecotourism can increase the level of education and activism among travelers, making them more enthusiastic and effective agents of conservation. Ecotourism possesses the following characteristics:
- Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
- Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
- Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
- Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
- Appreciation and respect for the local people and their culture.
- Raise sensitivity to environmental, and social climate.
- Support international human rights and labour agreements.
Why is it getting popular?
With the advancement in the means of transportation and communication, travel enthusiasts have discovered many unexplored areas for travel. An especially young generation born after 1980 is quite passionate about travelling and adventure activities. Travelling to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries is the best options to destress you from a hectic lifestyle.
The policy of environmental conservation is strictly followed by all the nations. The emergence of new environmental problems such as global warming and climate change has necessitated the systematic conservation and preservation of natural environment. So ecotourism is one of the tools to achieve the environmental conservation goals without affecting the tourism and economic requirements of the indigenous people.
Naturally and culturally diverse regions have great potential for ecotourism. That potential can be harvested to provide the economic opportunities to the local population without displacing them from their traditional habitats. At the same time, these people are very much familiar with the wildlife of the region so they can help in the preservation of it from poachers and other threats.
Many countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America such as India, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Kenya, Congo, Brazil, Ecuador and Tanzania have great potential of ecotourism. These countries have realized the economic potential of ecotourism and they have developed it into a professional industry.