Often confused with the notions of responsible tourism or sustainable tourism, ecotourism refers more specifically to visiting protected natural areas, as well as understanding the social and environmental issues of the places.
In this article we will go into the ecotourism definition and the principles of this form of responsible travel that appeared forty years ago, which puts nature at the heart of the journey
The definition of ecotourism
The concept of ecotourism, combining both tourism and the environment, emerged in the 1970s, at a time when a general awareness was beginning to emerge concerning the negative impacts of humankind on nature.
The official definition was given in the 1990s by TIES (The International Ecotourism Society):
Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education
Immersion in protected natural areas
This form of eco-friendly travel is for everyone. But environmentally conscious travelers who wish to visit places where the ecosystem is still intact will be the most likely to do this form of green travel.
Ecotourism is an opportunity to discover magnificent landscapes in regions that you might think unexplored because of the calm and authenticity that prevails.
This form of sustainable tourism is an invitation to immerse in nature, its fauna and meet local populations.
The philosophy that emerges from ecotravel is respect for the culture and traditions of the inhabitants, as well as the preservation of the plants and animals that live there.
It is a question of not disturbing biodiversity and being a mere spectator. A little like in a museum, you touch with your eyes, and it’s just as well!
How to practice ecotourism?
Ecotourism is generally for small groups of travelers who are aware of the issues surrounding them and who are sympathetic to these issues.
Groups sizes are limited to prevent too many people from disturbing the natural balance of the places they visit; always from an eco-friendly perspective.
An accompanying guide explains the political, social and cultural issues that characterize each place so that travelers understand their importance.
Sometimes, during their trip, they meet local populations and interact with them to understand their lifestyles, beliefs, and traditions.
Ecotourism is not only about nature.
To preserve the ecotourism destinations, territories that promote it take measures to preserve all ecosystems
Here are some examples:
- Not fishing in protected waters contributes to the preservation of marine wildlife in ecotourism destinations.
- Set up picnic areas, waste bins, and sanitary facilities to encourage the non-pollution of threatened natural areas.
- Design green infrastructure to protect species, without exploiting natural resources.
- Contribute to the autonomy of local communities while respecting their beliefs,
- Establish organic vegetable gardens (responsible cultivation) for local communities so as not to draw on the natural reserves of their ecosystem. Thus, local wildlife would not be threatened by the disappearance of valuable food resources; at the same time, nature would be able to recover on its own.
- Promote the use of renewable energies to empower local populations, without installing industrial systems that would have a negative impact on the environment.
Most popular ecotourism destinations
Some regions, islands or countries with abundant natural and cultural heritage are still intact.
These preserved destinations offer magnificent landscapes, animal species living in the wild in their natural environment, exotic plants, populations with diverse and varied traditions.
Here are the most popular destinations for a trip that combines tourism and the environment
- Costa Rica.
- The Galapagos Islands.
- Palau in Oceania.
- The island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean.
- The island of Madagascar.
Some of them were in our selections of eco-friendly destinations to visit in 2019. our selection of best eco-friendly destinations to visit in 2019
Does ecotourism tempt you? Which destination would you choose first for an ecotourism experience? Tell us in the comments.