Ecotourism is a niche travel option wherein one gets to travel while giving due consideration to the ecology and natural environment of the tourist destination. As an eco-traveler, you might be expected to respect the local culture and traditions of the destination, protect the flora and fauna and cause as little impact as possible on the destination on account of your traveling. The area of visit might have a fragile ecosystem or might be a protected sanctuary. If you happen to love the idea of ecotourism, then it is essential to understand the whole concept. Listed below are common myths and facts on this topic.
Segregating Myths from Facts
Myth: Ecotourism is very expensive
Fact: Ah! This is the number one misconception about ecotourism. Majority of the travelers around the world prefer to meet locals, experience the local traditions and cultures of their tourist destination. Most tourist companies try to cash in on this expectation and promise the best opportunities to sink into the local culture and view the natural ecosystem of the place. An ignorant traveler might end up paying an exorbitant price for enjoying something that is naturally available at a tourist destination. Believe me, you can enjoy an eco-tour at a cost as low as $5 a day too.
Myth: Ecotourism hotels are not luxurious!
Fact: Quite often it is assumed that ecotourism involves jungle safaris and staying in tents in some remote corner of the globe. This is because ecotourism is advertised with pictures of tribal people, forests, animal-life and accommodation in tents or tree-houses. Fact is quite the opposite. While an eco-traveler may actually opt to travel in the cheapest possible way, backpacking or on foot, you might not be aware that ecotourism can be luxurious too. There are plenty of luxury hotels that emphasize on ecotourism by giving due respect to carbon footprint, organic food, protection of natural habitat of fauna, avoiding cultural shock to local people and so on.
Myth: Third world countries are the only ecotourism destinations.
Fact: Again a major myth of ecotourism holidays. As a prospective tourist, we believe what we see or presume. However, ecotourism holidays can take place in any part of the world from some remote place in Africa to some highly popular tourist city in Europe or United States.
Myth: Ecotourism means volunteering social work rather than fun-filled holidays
Fact: Of course, you may volunteer to take care of the ecology and culture of the places that you are visiting. Most people opting for ecotourism are nature-lovers who want to help protect the environment and help with water conservation and adaptation of energy-efficient means of traveling. But it is definitely not a mandatory criterion. You may opt for eco-friendly holidays and yet indulge in adventure sports like biking, river rafting, snow skiing, etc. You need to plan the adventures based on availability of sports facility in the country.
Myth: Ecotourism is meant exclusively for adults
Fact: It is not mentioned anywhere that ecotourism is meant for older people only. In fact, there are plenty of families that take an eco-tour together. Single parents with young or teenage children use ecotourism as an opportunity to teach their children the importance of environment conservation.
Things to Remember While on an Eco-tour
There are several books that guide you with tips for venturing on eco-vacations. I have listed five prominent tips that I think are most important.
- Respect the local culture and traditions of the places that you visit. Make sure to dress appropriately so as to avoid disrespecting the local people.
- Abide by the environment laws of the places that you are visiting. Try to protect wildlife by avoiding purchase of products such as ivory, fur, rare feathers, turtle shells etc, which are obtained by poaching endangered species. Maintain silence and avoid terrifying animals while you explore forest trails and jungle safaris.
- Try to cut the environmental impact on account of your vacation by acting responsibly. If you happen to go on a camping trip, then see to it that you clean the site of all kinds of litter and garbage before you leave.
- Try to preserve unspoiled natural environment of the places by opting to use biodegradable materials as often as you can.
- Respect the peace and privacy of local community and try to reduce noise-pollution.
Consider ecotourism as a special opportunity to live and view life the way people do in other parts of the world. Try to get a glimpse of their culture and taste their local food. Try investing some of your time in exploring and propagating these ecotourism destinations. Keep your values and ecological consciousness alive by sustaining the beautiful ecology for future generation tourists to that particular destination.