In the travel industry, the terms “Ecotourism”, “Sustainable Tourism”, and “Responsible Tourism is HOT! No arguing about that.
But what do these terms really mean, and how can we – as travelers – assure ourselves that these terms are used correctly by all the industry players (from Airlines, Hotels, Restaurants, Cruises, Theme Parks, Travel Agencies, Tour Operators, and all other travel-related businesses) to reflect the ideals of “the world’s largest service sector” that engage in economic activities that minimize the negative impact on the communities and environments where they operate?
Here are some useful tips from Nepalvista Blog, in using Nepal’s example of Ecotourism, and the related challenges of pursuing this type of tourism responsibly. We all know it’s easier said than done.
But as travelers, we can at least educate and equip ourselves with better information, so we can better gauge and separate the truth from mere marketing gimmick!
First and foremost, the term Eco refers to Ecology or Ecosystem and is invariably used by Travel Agents and Tour Operators in creating Travel Packages that more appear more attractive and innovative. In short, make them more marketable! Trouble is, it uses the “Eco” term incorrectly, and confuses consumers (would be travelers).
The sad reality is that these Travel Agents and Tour Operators have NO CLUE to what ecotourism really is.
The following are points on what Ecotourism SHOULD BE:
- Any travel company that provides “Ecotourism products” must be responsible to conserve natural assets, create cultural awareness, and improve the welfare of the local people financially. It is there the job of the travel company to ensure that their clients follow the strict rules.
- Most Ecotourism packages are that of wilderness experience and cultural tour.
- Ecotourism travellers must respect local cultures. An example could be a travel package that takes travelers through the forest or village trails, without damaging the environment and equally benefiting the people who live there by using resources such as their shops and hotels.
- Eco-travelers want to see conservation and improvement in the areas they visit.
- Eco-tourism is closely related to Sustainable Tourism. Eco-tourism aims at preserving resources similar to Sustainable Tourism. When you are on this package, ask yourself, Have I or my travel mates contributed to disturbing the animal habitats? Damaged the environment ? Have we polluted areas so much that the future traveler will not enjoy as much as we have ? Have we sustained the environment ? It reminds of a nice phrase placed besides the coffee machine at work, it read… “Please leave everything exactly the way you would like to find it next time!”
- EcoTourism is also termed as Responsible Tourism. Each individual involved in the tourism business has a responsibility to undertake the task; Preserve, Share and Give to the nature.
- Flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions of Ecotourism.
- In business, the shocking truth about EcoTourism is that local communities are at the bottom of the pyramid while the big foreign investors and corporations are on top. So Eco-tourism business hasn’t helped those who need it the most!
In Nepal, most Holy sites are often termed the EcoTourism Products, for they are in remote places filled with greeneries and beautiful sceneries and travelers find visiting such places enjoyable and refreshing and hence they are the popular choices.
In Nepal, lack of proper training, poor coordination and communication among organizations, Government officials and travel companies are the result of sluggish performance of Ecotourism business. One of our site visitor sent us an email saying this and thought it should be known to all… “We need a PM who has a TOURISM background” We think he might be right! Perhaps a PM who knows what this country’ backbone is, will do better than those who are into politics.
Inspiration: Nepalvista Blog