Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Types of Eco Tourism --- What things can you do to be a true ecotourist?

Types of eco tourism gone wrong
Boracay produces 7 to 10 tons of garbage each day…

Some 5 kilos of cigarette butts are collected from Boracay's White Beach everyday…

In the last 5 years, a dramatic rise in water levels was noted in Boracay and coasts are thinning…

Mount Data National Park used to be a 5,512 mossy forest. However, the mossy forest is now a mere 89 hectares…

Mount Pulag, the second highest peak in the Philippines (2,954 masl), one of the nation’s most critical watersheds and one of the most beautiful tourist sights, known even outside the country, is dying… 

Similar stories can be found in various natural attractions all over the world and since travel and tourism continue to rise especially in Asia, once pristine spots are now being milked for cash at the expense of the environment.

How can I be a responsible ecotourist?
As travelers, we all can do something to help lessen the negative impact of travel to the environment.  If you are an ecotourist or if you plan to be one, check out 10 of my favorite tips on what we can do to plan your trip responsibly and make responsible choices while on vacation:

1. Unplug before you leave, unplug while you are there: Turn off lights and unplug household appliances that can be left unplugged while you are away. Turn off all the lights and air conditioner/heater when you leave your room, and unplug unnecessary appliances.

2. Travel light: Pack only what you need, and don't bring things that will become waste. 

3. Avoid litter: Bring garbage bags and bring home whatever garbage you brought with you. Ask and learn about proper garbage disposal at your destination. 

4. Fly responsibly: Opt for more environmentally friendly transport such as trains, buses, and passenger boats. Plan your trip so that you minimize air travel, and choose, whenever possible, to stay longer in a destination instead of making many short trips.

5. Choose greener ways to get around: Utilize public transportation (bus, train, city car, etc.) and alternative modes of transportation (walking, bicycle, non-motorized vehicles, horse, camel) as much as possible. It's a more sustainable way to get around, and also a healthier and more enjoyable way to get to know the place you are visiting.

6. Portable water: As much as possible, bring your own portable water and reusable water bottle to avoid buying bottled water.

7. Save Water: Use the minimum amount of water needed for a shower/bath, don't let water run while shaving, brushing or washing, and check if the hotel has a linen reuse program - if so, reuse your towels and bed sheets by placing the card to indicate you don't wish to have them washed every day, if not, request hospitality staff not to change them every day.

8. Respect the environment: Never touch or harass animals. Always follow designated trails. Support conservation by paying entrance fees to parks and protected sites.

9. Buy local: Choose local lodges, use local buses, eat in local restaurants, shop in local markets. Never buy crafts or products made from protected or endangered animals.

10. Give back: Contribute to and participate in the community projects, and support those companies that are making positive impacts on the lives of local hosts. Like others, you'll find you enrich your travel experience when you help contribute to the well-being of the communities that you're visiting.

Where can I go?
In my last previous post on the different types of eco tourism, we said that ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should follow these ecotourism principles:
  • Minimize impact.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate.

The International ecotourism Society (TIES) is the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association that seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, and sustainable travel. Its website provides an Ecotourism Explorer tool that will help you find different types of eco tourism sites, organizations, tour operators, and programs around the globe.

David Bach’s book ‘Go Green, Live Rich’ is also a rich source of references for green vacations and responsible travel.  Check out his book to know more about green vacations and how going green can also make you wealthy.  

If you are planning your next vacation, have fun while being responsible and explore the different types of eco tourism.

http://www. ecotourism.org/
http://contrailsshareasyougo. blogspot.com/

Photo thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/ bigberto/

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