Ecotourism: How to Be a Green Traveler
by Vanessa Pham
As an avid traveler, you want to go and experience the world. As an environment-conscious person, you want to leave nothing but your footprints behind wherever you go. Following eco-friendly practice, however, seems much harder when you are away from home. How do you make informed choices when everything seems so foreign?
The truth is, the trend of ecotourism is gaining popularity. In 2007, the ecotourism industry generates $77 billion in revenue. This is one of the positive facts that show an increasing level of awareness among travelers all over the world. Want to stay eco-friendly and become a green traveler yourself? The choice can be much simpler than you would expect.
The idea of ecotourism is to minimize the impact of visiting tourists on the local environment, and even to improve the well-being of the local people. Your choice as a visitor can leave the place in a better or worse condition, and it starts before your arrival. First, make sure you are educated about the destination you are heading to. What is the story of the place, the people, and the culture? What are some of the pressing issues regarding to local wild life and environment? Is the local tourism industry doing a good job of minimizing environmental impacts? Just by being aware of these factors, you can become an informed traveler and have a better travelling experience.
After arriving at the destination, try to follow the same eco-friendly practices that you usually do at home. This includes the conservation of resources such as power and water, and choosing eco-friendly products and services. There will be new resources that you may not often use at home, such as firewood for campfire, for example. So be aware and be conservative with natural resources available to you. Your previous research can also provide some insight for your practice of ecotourism. For example, you may encounter exotic cuisine treats or products that are actually made with endangered species. Doing research on the destination can help you make the right choices when travelling.
Besides practicing environmental conservation, you should also choose businesses and vendors with the same value and practices. Your preliminary research can help you decide which tour companies offer ecotourism packages. Choose a family run inn can help improving local economy, while an ultra-luxurious resort may be consuming much more resources than you expect.
Just by making the right choice, you already help minimizing negative impacts on your destination. You can always take a further step to help improve the condition, however. This is where the concept of volunteering tourism is introduced. As a traveler, you can volunteer at a local animal rehabilitation project, teach English at a local orphanage, or take part in a local community development effort. As a volunteer, you can be rewarded with free housing or food. In the end, however, the biggest rewards are the hands-on experience with the local culture and the knowledge that you have contributed your effort to make the world a better place.
With these practices, traveling the world does not have to be exhaustive on you and on the local environment. Therefore, pack up your bag, make wise choices, and enjoy your eco-friendly trip!
About the Author
Vanessa is a professional blogger and copywriter, who is passionate about education, lifestyles and travelling topics.