The appeal of ecotourism and how to travel in an environmentally friendly manner
Two of the true benefits of travel are the ability to experience other cultures and to visit natural wonders. Experiencing the way of life and the beauty of another place is a great way to hit the reset button while on vacation and return home refreshed and perhaps even with a new perspective. Ecotourism is a form of sustainable travel that takes travelers to exotic locales where they can get in touch with nature while supporting conservation efforts and local communities.
In addition to offering a unique experience not found anywhere else on the planet, ecotourism has numerous benefits. Many of the world’s greatest natural wonders can be found in some of the planet’s poorest countries.
The natural resources of developing countries are, in many cases, their primary source of income. Proving that parts of the wilderness that are conserved can be profitable can prevent these lands from being exploited for mining, agriculture, or other destructive purposes. Both land and wildlife can be preserved if they are shown to be viable ways of building the local economy. In a similar vein, lodging and tours provided by ecotourism companies have been developed naturally, in a way to preserve nature, as opposed to big resorts and hotels concerned mainly with the bottom line.
Another benefit of ecotourism is in the local jobs it provides. Not only do these jobs provide money to the community, they allow individuals the opportunity to learn new languages and skills that are easily transferred to other job opportunities or used to start new businesses.
The advantages of ecotourism extend beyond the immediate travel destination. Travelers booking trips through ecotourism companies such as And Beyond or Responsible Travel get to explore exotic locales and have genuine interactions with locals who are then more likely to share parts of their culture. An intimate knowledge of a new culture, combined with firsthand experience of the benefits of natural conservation, sends travelers home to all parts of the world more willing to make a dedication to sustainability, both in their native land and abroad.
Choosing the Right Ecotourism Company
As ecotourism has increased in popularity, so has the number of companies from which to choose. As a result, picking the right tour company is simply not as easy as finding one that labels itself as “ecotourism” or “eco-friendly.” Doing research is the best way to discover which companies actually support sustainability and local culture. Travel books by Lonely Planet and resources such as the International Ecotourism Society are great places to start that provide reliable and valuable information.
The first step in choosing an ecotourism company is picking a destination. Many companies are localized, so they focus on specific countries or regions. For example, Undiscovered Mountains focuses on the French Alps, offering the opportunity to explore the mountain range in an environmentally friendly way, with unique seasonal adventures throughout the year.
Other companies, such as Steppes Travel focus on bringing eco-conscious travelers on wildlife encounters around the globe, while Bouteco and other such companies market stylish yet sustainable accommodations in natural surroundings. Whatever the ultimate travel goals of the vacationer, ecotourism options can be found.
Aside from offering getaways and adventures through nature, some ecotourism companies also offer the chance to do engaging and productive work as part of the trip. International Volunteer HQ allows adventurous environmentalists the chance to travel and live in another country at reduced rates while performing noble tasks ranging from conserving the jungles of Peru to teaching environmental education in Bali.
Seeing the World
Those feeling as though they are burnt out at work or are simply losing some of the passion and momentum they had when they first started can get back on track by taking some time away and experiencing something new. Ecotourism is an excellent choice for those looking to turn their vacation into something special that benefits both the traveler and the destination. Even better, supporting sustainability in travel hotspots means that places that make for incredible travel are more likely to remain unchanged for return visits.
Plus, when spending hard-earned money and accrued vacation time traveling great distances, for many, it can seem repetitive to spend all your time at yet another hotel pool or in another dimly lit bar or club when there is so much natural beauty and wonder to witness in the world.