Some people are keen greenies and try their hardest to incorporate their eco ideals into vacation choices; others believe in the concept of ecotourism so enthusiastically that they put all their efforts into conservation, education and research to ensure animals, habitats and communities not only endure but benefit from tourist interaction.
It requires some dedication to instigate and set up an ecotourism project, with many requiring considerable funding, especially if research is involved. Some projects work solely in animal conservation, ensuring populations are protected — mainly from human interference — while others involve working with local communities to help them either prolong or return to a symbiotic relationship with their surroundings and the species they share it with.
It can be an uphill struggle. It means changing people’s attitudes, which is never easy, and the way they live, which is sometimes harder, but generally ecotourism projects are embraced by communities once they understand the impact of their presence on the planet. Communities that once poached animals to the edge of extinction or over-fished local waters, not realising that someday the fish stocks would become depleted, have turned around the way they live with the help of ecotourism projects, and with the tourist buck bolstering their efforts communities that were once on the brink of collapse are again thriving.
Other projects are a collaboration of groups or businesses within the travel trade who want to encourage ecotourism and therefore form a conglomeration or society to ensure things are done the right way — the green way. These groups work hard to avoid greenwashing tactics knowing that their businesses could suffer because of it and are genuine in their approach.
Many ecotourism projects have been around for years but have only recently been classed as eco ventures due to increased demand for that type of holiday. It’s a win-win situation for many organisations as the money spent and thus generated by tourists ensures their continuation and survival.
The ultimate aim is to ensure tourism does no more than it has already done to impact on the environment whilst providing a platform for learning and one hell of an eco-holiday.
Why not research a few ecotourism projects and see if there’s any you’d like to get involved during your vacation? It may change the way you travel, and live, too.
Photo Credit: Ocean Conservancy