How to Partake in Eco-Tourism
As summertime approaches, more people begin planning vacations that offer relaxation and adventure. But did you know you can do this while leaving a positive environmental impact? This is where ecotourism comes in.
This article will cover the concept of ecotourism - what it is and how to participate. We’ll also talk about popular ecotourism destinations, the advantages associated with sustainable travel, and some tips for your upcoming trip.
Ecotourism (also referred to as sustainable or responsible tourism) is a form of travel that emphasizes conserving natural environments while improving local communities' wellbeing. The goal of ecotourism is to mitigate negative impacts while simultaneously providing educational and enriching experiences for travelers.
At its core, ecotourism is about protecting and appreciating Earth's natural and cultural diversity, encouraging tourists to engage in activities that are environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. Ecotourism fosters deeper connections to nature while supporting conservation efforts and local economies.
benefits of eco-tourism
• Conservation of Biodiversity
• Empowerment of Local Communities
• Cultural Preservation
• Environmental Education
• Economic Growth
• Personal Fulfillment
What are the Benefits of Ecotourism?
Engaging in ecotourism not only benefits the environment, but it can also offer advantages to both travelers and local communities. Here are some key advantages of sustainable travel:
Conservation of Biodiversity
By supporting ecotourism, travelers play an essential part in conserving natural habitats and endangered species that will help ensure their long-term survival.
Empowerment of Local Communities
Ecotourism plays a crucial role in economic empowerment for local communities. Those who engage with local businesses, artisans, and guides help generate income and employment opportunities that benefit the people who live there, improving the livelihoods of everyone involved.
Ecotourism promotes cultural preservation by encouraging travelers to respect and appreciate local traditions and cultures, thus supporting the preservation of heritage, language, arts, and crafts while building intercultural understanding and appreciation.
Travel can offer educational experiences, raising awareness about environmental concerns while inspiring travelers to make more thoughtful choices in their daily lives.
Sustainable tourism practices help local economies diversify and reduce dependence on resource-intensive industries. This leads to more balanced and resilient economies that provide long-term benefits for their communities!
Knowing that your travel choices have an effectful positive effect on both the environment and local communities can give you a sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction, because who doesn’t feel good when doing good for others?
What Are Some Examples of Ecotourism?
Eco-tourism takes many forms and can be found all around the world. Here are just a few examples to illustrate this concept and demonstrate its popularity:
Participating in guided tours and activities that focus on observing and conserving wildlife, such as safaris, bird watching tours, or sea turtle conservation projects, is a great way to participate in ecotourism.
When booking accommodations that incorporate eco-friendly practices such as energy conservation, waste reduction and water management into their practices, you can help conserve energy consumption and reduce waste.
Engaging with local communities, learning about their traditions, supporting local artisans, and contributing to local economies through responsible shopping and dining are key components of ecotourism.
Environmental education involves participating in programs or workshops that offer insight into conservation efforts, sustainable farming techniques, or environmental restoration projects.
Ecotourism is all about engaging in low-impact outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking or snorkeling while following Leave No Trace principles and respecting wildlife habitats.
Popular International Ecotourism Destinations
Now that we understand more about ecotourism, let's talk about some popular destinations that are known for their sustainable tourism practices:
Well-known for its biodiversity and commitment to conservation, Costa Rica provides an extensive array of ecotourism activities. Rainforest exploration experiences, wildlife spotting activities, and sustainable coffee plantation tours all appeal to ecotourism enthusiasts.
Iceland is famed for its breathtaking landscapes and pioneered sustainable tourism initiatives, offering geothermal hot springs, glacier hiking, and accommodations with eco-friendly features to visitors.
These distinct archipelagos off Ecuador provide an idyllic ecotourism destination. Visitors can experience close encounters with unique wildlife species, learn more about conservation efforts, and contribute to local economies, making their vacation to the Galapagos an invaluable experience!
Renowned for its scenic natural beauty and robust environmental policies, New Zealand is one of the best destinations for ecotourism. Tourists can explore national parks, engage in environmentally sustainable outdoor activities, and experience Maori culture during their travels here.
As the first carbon-negative country in the world, there’s no doubt that Bhutan prioritizes environmental sustainability and cultural preservation. Visitors can explore the Himalayan mountains, see historic monasteries, and take part in its Gross National Happiness philosophy.
top u.s. eco-tourism states
• Cultural Preservation
US Ecotourism Ideas For Your Next Vacation
There are countless ecotourism destinations within the United States, and it can be hard to know where to start. Here are a few more notable destinations and ideas for your next vacation:
California is an excellent option to explore ecotourism. There are nine national parks to choose from, all offering diverse landscapes and opportunities for camping, water activities, hiking, shopping and much more.
California also has the state’s first ecotourism program through Half Moon Bay. One can enjoy a variety of activities such as kayaking, surfing, wineries, goat dairy products and learn more about their integral conservation practices.
Hawaii is a popular destination for ecotourism, and for good reason. The islands offer a wide variety of natural attractions, from lush rainforests to snow-capped volcanoes. There are also many opportunities to learn about Hawaiian culture and history.
Here are just a few of the several Hawaiian ecotourism activities that can be enjoyed:
- Hiking: Hawaii has some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. You can hike through rainforests, along beaches, and up mountains.
- Snorkeling and diving: Hawaii's clear waters are home to a variety of marine life, making it a great place to snorkel and dive.
- Kayaking: Kayaking is a great way to explore Hawaii's coastline and waterways.
- Stargazing: Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to stargaze. The clear skies and lack of light pollution make it easy to see the stars.
- Volcanoes: Hawaii is home to two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Visitors can take tours of the volcanoes and learn about their geology.
- Farm tours: Hawaii has a rich agricultural heritage. Visitors can take farm tours to learn about how food is grown on the islands.
- Cultural tours: Hawaii has a unique culture that is a blend of Polynesian and American influences. Visitors can take cultural tours to learn about the history and traditions of the islands.
Colorado is another popular and beautiful place for ecotourism. The state has a variety of natural attractions, including mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes. There are also many opportunities to learn about the state's unique wildlife and history. In addition to hiking and biking, one can experience all of Colorado's majestic scenery through wildlife watching, scenic driving and visiting any of their many historic sites such as ghost towns or museums.
Alaska offers a lot of different activities and places to enjoy ecotourism. The state has a variety of natural attractions, including mountains, glaciers, forests, and wildlife. There are also many opportunities to learn about the state's unique culture and history.
Here are just a few of the many ecotourism activities that can be enjoyed in Alaska:
- Hiking: Alaska is a popular hiking destination for avid hikers across the globe. You can hike through mountains, forests, and along glaciers.
- Glacier trekking: Alaska is a host to many glaciers, and there are many opportunities to trek on them.
- Wildlife viewing: Alaska is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, whales, moose, and Dall sheep. There are many opportunities to see these animals in their natural habitat.
- Fishing: Alaska has many rivers and lakes that are home to a variety of fish. Fishing is a great way to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Resources to Support Eco-friendly Travel
As part of your ecotourism adventure, there are various resources and organizations promoting eco-travel practices that may be helpful during your travels. Here are a few worth pursuing:
Sustainable Travel International
This non-profit organization offers resources and certification programs for travelers, tour operators, and accommodations dedicated to sustainability in travel practices and destinations. Their website contains valuable information regarding these practices.
Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
The GSTC establishes international sustainability travel standards and certifies destinations, accommodations, and tour operators that adhere to these guidelines. Their website features an interactive directory to make finding sustainable travel easier.
Travel Blogs and Websites
There are plenty of travel bloggers and websites dedicated to ecotourism and sustainable travel that you can use as a guide. You may be able to find destination recommendations, eco-friendly travel tips, and personal experiences that can inspire or inform your own eco-tourism travel adventures.
Eco-Friendly Travel Tips
Aside from the destination and activities you choose, ecotourism is all about adopting sustainable practices throughout your trip. Here are some suggestions that will help you make your travels even more eco-friendly:
Reduce your environmental impact by packing light. Less weight means lower fuel consumption while traveling by plane or car, plus it frees up more space to move around freely without straining local resources!
Bring Reusable Items
By bringing reusable items like water bottles, utensils, and cloth shopping bags, you can help reduce single-use plastic usage while simultaneously supporting waste reduction efforts.
Choose Responsible Transportation
Where possible, utilize public transit, cycling, and walking as modes of transport. When renting vehicles, consider electric or hybrid options. Flying is sometimes unavoidable, but when you have to travel by plane, you can try offsetting carbon emissions by supporting verified carbon offset projects.
Respect Local Cultures and Wildlife
Learn the customs and traditions of your destination before traveling there to ensure that your behavior is culturally sensitive. When encountering wildlife, always keep a safe distance and follow any guidelines provided by authorities for protecting its natural habitats.
Support Local Businesses
Make an effort to patronize locally-owned restaurants and accommodations and purchase souvenirs from artisans or small businesses. By doing this, you contribute directly to sustaining the economy and livelihoods in the local community!
Follow our blog and social channels to learn more about eco practices that you can implement in your life!
Learn More with ecoATM
Whether you’re an eco-expert or nature novice, it’s important to stay up to date with best environmental practices. ecoATM is a great solution for those old smartphones, tablets and mp3 players you have laying around at home. You can recycle them at any of our over 5,000 locations across the US, doing your part to help limit electronic waste.
For more tips and eco-conscious guides, explore our blog and stay tuned for future articles!