Next time you travel, choose an eco-tour
Eco-tours are travel experiences in which people visit natural areas, support the well-being of the locals, learn more about the destination and do all they can to minimise their impact on it.
In ecotourism, efforts are made to keep negative physical and social impacts to a minimum.
Ecotourism is all about travelling in a more environmentally-friendly manner that supports local communities. It is also known as sustainable travel and green travel.
Engaging with local communities
Ecotourism focuses on ensuring local communities are helped rather than hindered. It’s important to read up on ecotourism and find out what you can do to assist local communities if you wish to be a responsible traveller.
During your excursion, it’s helpful to engage rather than ignore.
Though a trip to an overseas destination can help us forget about the stresses of daily life, you can help local communities by speaking to people you meet about their day-to-day lives, their cultural practices and any challenges they face.
By taking this step, you can show you care about the destination you are visiting and get a fresh perspective on your own problems back home.
A valuable chance to learn
Each travel experience you embark on can provide you with vast opportunities for learning. Whilst you are on your trip, you can get to grips with the local language, find out more about the cuisine, learn more about the region’s arts scene and much more.
Our itineraries let your experience unfold organically. Valuable opportunities to engage with new people and learn new skills may arise at moments when you have nothing planned.
Preparing for your ecotour
Before you begin your adventure eco-tour, it’s wise to read up on the local cultural norms and customs to avoid inadvertently causing offence. Some people also bring gifts for the locals to show their gratitude.
Using local services including markets, shops and guides will help you support the economy.
Think twice about displaying expensive items when visiting developing countries as these could harm your relations with the locals. Never remove plants from their natural environment as you could disturb the ecosystem.
Maintain a set distance from the local wildlife, aim to use renewable resources and conserve non-renewable ones.
Giving something back
Over recent decades, there have been growing concerns about the sense of entitlement felt by some travellers.
By taking what we want from destinations and giving little or nothing back, we can cause harm to local people and the environments they reside in.
Ecotourism aims to transform the way we travel, how we interact with others and how we live not only whilst exploring the world but back at home too.
One of the most important parts of the ecotourism philosophy is to make travellers more conscious of the decisions they make and the impact they have.
Protecting the local environment
Ecotourism encourages travellers to reduce their carbon footprint before, during and after their vacation. In the past, irresponsible tourism has harmed many previously idyllic environments noted for their natural beauty.
As part of the ecotourism movement, local communities are being consulted in-depth so their needs can be understood and addressed.
Improvements in infrastructure should be of benefit not only to tourists but residents too and should not threaten the natural character of the environment.
Travellers can become responsible ecotourists by keeping to designated footpaths, not dropping litter or interfering with wildlife.
It’s also important to consume local food and drink, to behave in a respectful, mature manner and show a genuine interest in the local culture.
More and more people are heading to remote locations, but there is always a chance these destinations could become overdeveloped if their popularity reaches a certain level. This can cause the locals’ way of life to be greatly compromised.
Other ways to tour responsibly
The profile of ecotourism has been raised considerably over recent years, causing millions of people to rethink the way they travel for the better.
Particularly popular amongst younger travellers, ecotourism has seen people exchange noisy, crowded high-profile destinations for lesser-known, naturally beautiful villages and towns.
It’s common for eco travellers to use electric vehicles during their excursions and to book ecolodges powered by solar energy.
With tourism making up around 5% of global emissions, it’s incredibly important that we take steps to reduce our carbon footprint when exploring the world around us.
40% of these emissions come from air travel, which is why increasing numbers of travellers are heading to destinations closer to home or travelling via the sea.
Make a valuable contribution
A key advantage of using small, independently-owned accommodation over high-profile hotels is that they tend to have much smaller carbon footprints. They are also often more eager to reduce their impact on the environment further.
Eco-tourism can also alleviate “travellers’ guilt” whilst helping you create sustainable income for local communities. Many ecotourism operators are using the revenue they generate to fund projects that support these communities.
These funds can be used to provide healthcare, improve educational standards, boost the local economy and uphold human rights and equality. By following the advice outlined above, you can ensure your wildlife eco-tour has no negative impact on the area and people around you.
Next time you travel, engage a local guide. Speak to your tour operator and find out if they are following sustainability policies.
Is the travel company focussing on responsible tourism and participating in community based projects? Look at carbon offsetting and their respect for national parks and world heritage sites.
Small changes will have great long term impacts for all.