//What should you consider if you want to travel in a more sustainable way? As an eco tourist it is important to be critical of facades so that you do not buy a pig in a poke. Some companies want the word “eco” to attract people though it has nothing to do with reality. It is important to read before you book. (For example an ecolodge.)
How do you then recognize ecotourism? Well, it is very much about spreading knowledge and awareness among tourists about the place you go to and its locals. It is also awareness of the area’s challenges with nature and animals. Ecotourism is thus the opposite of exploitation. Instead, it relies on sustainability and humility to people, animals and the environment.
Harmony simply. It is thus a tool to fight poverty when money flows in to the locals. But there is a delicate balance to maintain small-scale ecotourism projects and supervise so that it does not become mass tourism. Likewise it is important for the tourists that there is a grading scale and quality measurements such as how climate-friendly ecotourism activities are.
As a tourist, one can ask questions like how much purchased local goods and services there are to offer. During periods it can be useful if the activities do not interfere with locals and animals. Also to be restrictive with the type of transport used. Elephant riding for example sounds in theory, environmentally friendly, but are often a poor alternative for the animals. It is of course better to go on foot, choose rail over air travel, dog sledding in front of the snowmobile etc.
But it is not easy all the times. Let us say that a village benefits from ecotourism and their wildlife markedly increasing in number. Then it can happen accidents such as tigers and elephants can get too far into the settlements and people may be injured. It really applies to disseminate knowledge about the value of coexistence with the animals and the sustainability of the natural and social development and to find sustainable solutions for a good balance.
It’s the small things that make a difference. To say no to plastic bags and environmentally damaging food on the plate, the choice of accommodation for the holiday, read the ingredients on the ingredients lists and consider whether you really need that souvenir to take home or whether it is sufficient with a photo.
As a consumer you can influence and it is important to trust that and make demands. You vote with your wallet simply. This affects businesses in turn with their packages. But of course it feels hopeless sometimes. Especially when you see all the garbage in the sea and on the beaches, but we must dare to have hope. I believe that eco-tourism is here to stay. There are good examples of how it has offset poaching and received societies to flourish. Perhaps ecotourism one day norm for the entire tourism industry. But really it’s more about quality over quantity, as each area has a certain carrying capacity for what it is able to endure.
Learn more about ecotourism and quality of ecotourism association’s website.