Eco Tourism has been rising at an amazing speed since the 1980s. And with more people bucking the trend of traditional holidays, this is only going to increase. When we talk about Eco Tourism, this means having a low environmental impact on the region while boosting local economies and preservation efforts. Some people tend to get this confused with Jungle Holidays or Nature trips. Visiting a retreat or Hotel in the middle of picturesque landscapes is not an Eco Holiday. Spain is a great example of how Eco Tourism should work, try and involve tourists and engage them while at the same time delivering sustainable economic and environmental benefits to the local region. Spain has been catering to Eco Tourists for over three decades and is a great example of how environmentally friendly holidays can continue to grow without having the negative impact on the local wildlife and natural beauty.
The rise in the number of people opting for an Eco Holiday is perhaps not as surprising since we are more conscious of environmental issues than we were 30 to 40 years ago. What I have found to be impressive and also a good gauge to how rewarding these trips can be is the number of people who, once they have been on one, will return for another the following year. For us travellers, Eco holidays are opening our eyes to a new way to see and explore a country and the local culture. Rather than just seeing the inside of cheap luxury hotels and maybe the local beach, we get to understand the region and its people. There are plenty of options available from an Elephant Safari in India, to staying with a tribe in South America, floating up a river in Borneo. As with any of these types of holidays, you will get to understand more about the local wildlife and natural points of interest through the increased interaction with the local people. Having been on many guided holidays and tours in my time, I believed I was really exploring whichever region I visited. But since taking up a few Eco Holidays, I realized that I have missed out on so much by following the standard tourist trail. The fact that we integrate much more on these trips means we also get further insights to local cuisines and traditions, which perhaps would have passed us by if we stayed in a big hotel or resort. My first Eco trip was a Spanish Holiday in the Sierra Nevada. It is not only the finest walking holiday I have been on, but it also started me on the road to more environmentally friendly holidays.
Helping the Locals
The idea of Eco Tourism was conceived to manage and sustain natural resources. It is now also a major factor in supporting the local region and also delivering real benefits back to the local people. Using ethical companies to book your travel itinerary with, will in turn pour money into the region’s economy at the grass roots level, rather than just to the big corporations and hotel chains. This, in turn, will ensure that these unique places will still be available for generations to come. Working with organizations such as the International Eco tourism Society, local communities are provided with long term conservation and preservation solutions. These plans help to deliver a sustainable tourist trade, which will help to ensure that the tourists return every year for many years to come. In many of the remote natural beauty spots or reserves that we visit, the local communities are living on very little money, usually in agriculture. Through these environmental initiatives, there is funding in place to give incentives to the local communities to preserve, and not over exploit the region, for short term financial gains. This has been the let down in the past, and by controlling this, you can have a massive positive impact to the environment and the local community. The cultural benefit and insight that the tourist gains from staying with the locals also further helps the indigenous people to be more culturally and environmentally aware. With Eco Tourism money being delivered on the ground in these rural areas, the overall standard of education and healthcare has been steadily increasing. This is another key component to make sure that local people feel the benefit of an eco-friendly and sustainable tourist industry.
Ariana Louis is a veteran traveler and has holidayed extensively throughout Europe, North America and Asia. She likes to share her experiences in the articles she writes to give an insight to how sustainable holidaying is a reality and can be more rewarding than a typical break. Ariana usually books all of her travelling needs through Travel Republic.