With more and more people becoming concerned about the impact human beings have on our biosphere, many people are no longer satisfied with taking vacations where they drive around in cars and stay in energy inefficient hotels. Instead, they're looking for a more environmentally friendly way to travel and a vacation that helps them learn about and appreciate their natural environment. This is called eco tourism, and if you're considering such a trip, this article will provide you with more information.
People who are coming from a well off country tend to assume that all tourism is good for the country they're visiting because it brings in dollars from tourists buying products and staying in hotel rooms. However, tourism can also price indigenous peoples off their own lands, damage the environment from being trampled underfoot or built on, and alter the composition and practices of the local people. Ecotourism aims to give the tourist their great experience without these negative impacts.
There are several different types of eco tours. The most popular kind focus on safety and sustainability visiting fragile environments such as jungles, deserts, waterfalls, mountains, animal sanctuaries, islands, volcanoes, and forests. Another common type of eco tour is one that involves some volunteer work. Just like you might pick up trash around your community you can do the same and help a natural environment, or help local people develop a sustainable energy infrastructure.
The goals of ecotourism are to minimize environmental impact, help develop respect for the natural environment, promote the use of green practices and products such as organic diapers, support local democracies and conservation efforts, and to inject wealth directly into the community. As such, eco tours are usually managed and led by locals, have minimal impact on the environment, and dispense with wasteful luxuries that drive up the prices of many mass tourism trips. However, don't expect an eco tour to be cheap, as the price of fair trade travel is often higher than the exploitative pricing mass tour groups use.
Though many trips will advertise themselves as being green or environmentally friendly, in order to be a true eco tourism adventure the trip provider must actually be doing things right. Do your due diligence when choosing a trip, don't just book with any B & B that claims to be green. There is no official accreditation system, but you can find responsible providers by visiting the International Ecotourism Society's webpage at www.ecotourism.org. Travel reviews and articles in travel magazines focuses on ecotourism, such as Ecoclub, can also help.
Remember: ecotourism is not just about seeing the environment, it's about respecting it and the people who live there.