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What is EcoTourism? A Guide to Sustainable Travel

Did you know in 2018 1.4 billion people traveled internationally? What an incredible boost for international tourism! While it’s exciting to know that actual billions of travelers are voyaging to unfamiliar lands and soaking up the beauty of the world, it’s also a frightening thought for the impact that tourism has on the planet, its land and communities.

With such great boosts in international tourism, it’s important to reconsider the way we travel and put sustainable and ecotourism in the forefront. But wait…

What is ecotourism all about? Why is it important? How can we as travelers put these principles into action while traveling?

What is ecotourism?

As stated by The International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.”

One common misconception is that ecotourism is only about preserving nature, but it’s not truly ecotourism if the trip does not also benefit the locals of the community.

Ecotourism is essentially all about bringing together communities, nature and wildlife conservationists, and the responsible travel industry to ensure development that is focused–not on short-term profit–but on long-term sustainability for both the locals and the natural areas.

What are the principles of ecotourism?

The International Ecotourism Society has a set of principles to follow for ecotourism-focused travel:

  • Minimize Impacts

  • Build Awareness

  • Provide Positivity

  • Generate and provide Financial Benefits

  • Deliver Memorable Experiences

  • Design & construct low-impact facilities and tours

  • Recognize the rights of the local communities

How can you put ecotourism into action?

Applying the principles of ecotourism, you can support financial growth in developing nations, strengthen the economy, and help preserve its precious nature and wildlife.

A few tips for being a better ecotourist:

  • Reduce your waste such as using less plastic and returning maps after you’ve used them.

  • Shop local in order to put the money in the hands of the locals instead of major corporations.

  • Use local guides instead of booking trips through major tour organizations.

  • Be a traveler rather than a tourist. Immerse yourself in a destination, treat it kindly, and get to know the locals.

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