Posts Tagged ‘ecotourism’

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By Artisha Naidu, Research and Content Fellow at Environic Foundation International

With warmer the weather here, many people are yearning for a much-needed vacation. While expenses are usually top of mind when planning a trip, environmental costs should also be a factor. Mass tourism is responsible for about five percent of global carbon pollution (UNWTO) and strains the supply of natural resource in areas dealing with resource scarcity issues.

The International Ecotourism Society’s sustainable solution to the mass tourism problem is ecotourism. They define ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.”

Some of the key principles include:

  • Minimize environmental, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
  • Bolster environmental and cultural respect.
  • Financially benefit conservation efforts.
  • Financially benefit the local economy.
  • Raise cultural and environmental awareness about communities.

Putting these principles in practice, however, can have some good and bad effects.

The Good

Ecotourism benefits the local ecology through education. Visitors learn about conservation efforts in fragile natural areas and encounter wildlife preservation efforts. They are also encouraged to use less and reuse their goods such as showering less to conserve water, turning off lights to reduce energy consumption, or eating plant-based meals.

Additionally, ecotourism benefits impoverished countries with historically low travel rates left relatively untouched by humans, sparing further destruction of more popular tourist destinations. Tourists are encouraged to immerse themselves in the local culture and tradition, attending cultural events and purchasing local goods, which creates jobs for the community.

The Bad

Without proper planning, ecotourism can have a negative impact. Ecotourism can lead to commercial developments, including the dark practices of turning naturally pristine areas into natural parks (additional info here) and displacing local communities to make room for more tourist attractions. Most importantly, additional travel and activity can further harm sensitive areas.

Meanwhile, as local economies become increasingly dependent on tourism, cultural expression can be strained, when people feel pressured to showcase the part of their culture that brings in profits.

And Better

Whether ecotourism does more good than bad depends on you. By taking some of these steps to travel more responsibly, you can be a better ecotourist:

  • Pick an ecotourist destination – listed here
  • Pack light – less laundry means less water and less weight on the plane
  • Leave your pet at home – carbon paw prints also stain our enviornment
  • Fly nonstop – a direct flight emits less carbon
  • Purchase carbon offsets – some airlines offer programs
  • Ride public transportation – better yet, walk or ride a bike
  • Buy local – reducing the carbon costs along the supply chain and avoid sweat shop labor
  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle – take shorter showers, use less hotel goods, bottles, and bags
  • Use a “do not disturb” sign so that your room is not cleaned everyday
  • Turn off lights when leaving a room
  • Return paper programs such as maps and brochures

Artisha Naidu is a Master of Public Administration at the George Washington University. She is currently a Research and Content Fellow at Environic Foundation International and Summer Associate at Deloitte Consulting. Previously, Artisha worked for a number of urban planning agencies in California, including the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. She has a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Development from the University of California, Davis. Her hobbies include yoga, working with children, traveling, and hiking.   

Photo Credits: Joyce Hong CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, F Delventhal CC BY 2.0, pmonaghan CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Artisha Naidu

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By DC EcoWomen and Recent Honeymooners Lisa Seyfried and Dawn Bickett

You did it! You planned a successful green wedding.  You composted, you recycled, you upcycled, you thrifted, you ate local.  You did everything that you could to minimize the impact of your wedding day.

But now there is another hurdle.  You want to plan a trip away from everything (and everyone!) and relax.  How do you carry the green theme into your honeymoon?

Here are a few tips:

1. Go Somewhere Local.

You don’t have to go to Hawai’i or a fancy villa in Tuscany to celebrate with your new partner.  You can go to that little B&B an hour away that doesn’t get phone service.  You can go on those great little day trips that you’ve been meaning to take for years but never had the time. You can go camping in the Appalachian Mountains – and get there with public transportation, too!

2. Practice Eco-Travel Tips.

While you’re on your trip, bring your own water bottles and opt for local snacks. It can be really romantic to wander a new town’s farmer’s market with your new person.  You can also scale up the usual fare by eating at restaurants that serve local, eco-friendly food.  On our honeymoon, we found fancy restaurants that served meat from the area that was grass fed and finished – so yummy!

3. Spend Time with Each Other.

Ok, I know, this is a given.  But you don’t have to get wrapped up in new and exotic activities to make a honeymoon special.  Taking a walk down to the beach in the early evening is just as special as paying tons of money to horseback ride down the beach.  Instead of waiting in lines for planned fun, go off the beaten path and explore what’s right in front of you. Which brings me to the next point…

4. Pick a Hotel or Lodging with Care.

Do your research.  Pick a place to stay that’s close to what you are looking for.  If you like hiking, pick a place that has lots of trails that start right by the hotel.  Make sure it’s public transit accessible.  Find out what kind of place it is; are they also eco-friendly?

5. Consider Ecotourism Destinations.

Dying to go somewhere exotic?  Don’t give up on having a green honeymoon.  If staying local just isn’t your scene, try ecotourism.  Ecotourism programs provide a way for you and your new partner to enjoy fragile parts of the natural world while supporting their conservation.  From Costa Rica to Iceland, you can make memories without the impact of that luxury resort.  And if you are relying on long air trips to get you there, consider buying carbon offsets to start to balance out the cost to the climate.