Ecotourism Socially Responsible Travel

As the devastating effects of global warming and non-sustainable use of natural resources becomes more evident, the search for ways to make a difference escalates, however small. A new and unique path is developing for those who wish to contribute to a healthy life for our planet. It's called EcoTourism.

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) suggests the focus of ecotravel needs to include uniting communities, conservation and sustainable travel. TIES promotes responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.
Most sources today agree that ecotourism encompasses four primary ecological criteria:

• ecosystem protection (conserving biological and cultural diversity);

• promoting sustainable and biodiverse economies by providing employment and socio-economic benefit to indigenous peoples (including informed consent and participation in ecotourism by locals);

• travel to places having unspoiled natural resources (local culture, flora and fauna) with minimal impact on the environment;

• affordable travel and lack of waste in both travel and destination choices.

As globalization makes our world increasingly smaller, travelers’ destinations have a different flavor. Choices are framed by educational opportunity and social consciousness. Ecotourists want to learn something new about Planet Earth while making an economical contribution, with an ecological focus, to indigenous people in their locale. Ecotourism focuses on volunteer activity, learning about how our planet can recover from the crisis humans have created, and personal growth.

A perusal of Sunday Travel sections of major newspapers, both print and online, reveals more about this new opportunity for world travelers.

One cruise line offers ‘Amazon River’ cruises… a popular travel site offers ‘Rainforest Explorations’ guided by locals… numerous websites appeal to ecotourists with offers of ‘Real Life Adventures’ in exotic places such as Madagascar and Costa Rica.

Rainforests and ‘Ecotours’ are common descriptors on all major travel sites. Those sites also feature “Top Eco-Friendly Destinations”. This new angle in the travel industry carries a highly contagious form of excitement. Ecotourism is travel with emphasis on Eco