Why Ecotravel is the next big thing in 2020

Environmentally friendly

Environmentally friendly wind Turbine

There are not many places on the planet that you can’t fly to. In the past year, there have been well over 1.4 billion international travellers touring the world and leaving behind a significant carbon footprint. Organised tours are the daily diet of the hospitality industry often with little or no regard for the routine negative impact on the areas visited. When you have such a large footprint impacting the environment on such a scale, it doesn’t take long to realise this is not sustainable. So what is the solution? For many years now environmentalists have been pushing for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way to travel and encouraging the idea of ecotourism together with eco-conservation. Essentially, ecotourism is a way to respect the environment without degrading it and helping elevate the many communities that habitat it. It involves learning about these eco-sensitive areas and preserving it. According to the International Ecotourism Society, Ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”.

Travelling often brings about joys you won’t experience anywhere else, looking for that perfect photo opportunity, learning something new in a foreign land about a new culture and having a unique culinary adventure into tastes you could never have cooked up yourself. It allows us to immerse selflessly into a new world and lifestyle that leaves a lasting impression that etches a memory for a lifetime. Now take all of that and give it purpose, give it meaning for whole communities that live of the land you visit. As an eco-tourist there is a whole new satisfaction and meaning to your journey apart from just adding another new selfie, you’re helping the planet through conservation and others lead a better life. Ecotourism offers you unspoilt landscapes showcasing nature’s enchanting beauty and a look into the lives of people who are its guardians. Responsible ecotourism, when approached correctly minimizes the negative effects of conventional tourism and enhances the cultural identity of the locals. An essential part of ecotourism is to educate around recycling, energy efficiency, water consumption and the economic well-being of local communities.

It is true that once our ignorance is washed away and replaced with knowledge and understanding, tourists grow to love and admire the places they visit and will inspire them to see that these fragile environments are protected. Adding to the new perspective that comes from learning the historical and environmental significance, tour guides and local communities also have deeper learning and appreciation for the lands they administer. For ecotourism to truly enhance its surroundings, it has to come with a spirit of curiosity and kindness. Unfortunately, many locals view tourists as rude, inconvenient and disrespectful of their local culture and norms. The increased traffic and unreasonable expectations and demands aren’t viewed kindly. When people are to travel sustainably, there has to be a mutual understanding and the ability to learn from one another. There has to be an exchange of values and that of ideas too. This creates unity and a shared identity. We have to be careful not to allow corporate greed and shareholder expectations to take over and force the direction in which locals have previously been disadvantaged. Many indigenous people and areas have been destroyed to set-up tourism. This isn’t about what is most profitable, it is about what is most sustainable. Visiting these local attractions creates new exciting experiences and provides much-needed income and jobs to boost the local economy.

Ecotourism or sustainable tourism is sometimes a phrase referred to as an oxymoron. With any form of tourism, travel is a major part of the experience from renting a car, point to point hopping to and from an aircraft. Carbon offset schemes are offered by some airlines these days and you could look at alternate tour options like guided tours on foot. There are hybrid buses and shared transport options in some countries to take advantage of. Admittedly, we still have a long way to go to get to a zero-carbon footprint which must be the goal for the future starting now. And let’s forget about the effect we have on animals where some enterprises have been set-up to save these creatures from extinction and funding is greatly needed. You can do your part by avoiding places where animals are caged, stressed and forced into performing for crowds and instead pay to go and see them in their natural environment. You’ll find a great more to explore on a hiking trail with a diversity of life up close and personal, especially with a well-informed guide. Travelling sustainably is now easier than it has ever been making tourism one of the world’s largest industries and with that comes behaviours that can destroy the planet. Large amounts of waste are left behind by crowds of people at certain attractions without the necessary means to dispose of them. With a bit of proper research and planning, you can find eco-friendly for both the solo traveller and large groups. Travel connects and attracts people and can be used as an ideal platform to foster greater concern and awareness of ecotourism. Now with the great advances in technology, it is easier to find a tour package that meets your needs.

 

You can follow these basic principles should you want to travel with sustainability in mind:

  • Reduce your physical, behavioural and psychological impact
  • Foster greater cultural awareness and respect for communities
  • Ensure the experience is positive for both local people and tourists
  • Environmental conservation should be well funded
  • Boost the local economy.
  • Create and promote awareness of the host’s ecotourism needs.
  • Operate low impact equipment and facilities.

 

The impact of ecotourism is wide and varied:

  • Ecotourism broadens your horizons and deepens your knowledge and understanding of the environments you visit.
  • Wherever you travel you are bound to have unique and intriguing experiences. Like dances with locals in an open-air performance or just meeting and sharing stories of family and friends. No matter what your experiences, they are bound to be memorable and distinctive.
  • There are many tours and adventures for a thrill-seeking tourist like zip-lining through a rainforest or scuba diving amongst rare tropical fish and coral.
  • You get to learn a foreign custom or language that will enrich your experience and try the food you would almost never cook.
  • Discover the rich history of the region and its many old buildings and enjoy its architecture. Take a tour of the cities and its ancient religious past and discover what makes their culture unique.
  • Support the local economy with a purchase of its arts and crafts and souvenirs. There’s always an opportunity for a memorable selfie.
  • Make your dreams come true with a unique eco-friendly tour and know that you are amongst a small group of people positively impacting the environment through tourism.

We at Low Price Flights have put together a list of 10 Eco-friendly tourist spots you must have on your bucket list. Once we have safely navigated the Covid-19 crisis, we hope you put ecotourism at the forefront of your hearts desires as many communities around the world would have been negatively impacted by little to no tourism without income. Make a positive impact by visiting one of these 10 regions.

 

Nicaragua

Nicaragua Volcano

Volcanic mountain in Nicaragua

It is a big surprise to many and an unexpected one to see Nicaragua as an eco-friendly destination with its rain forests, mountains and volcanoes that is biodiverse and home to much wildlife. Nicaragua’s unstable past has meant that many parts of the country have been untouched by the tourist industry leaving many areas ripe for ecotourism. Tourism is still in its infancy and making touring a little challenging for tourists. However, there are tour packages being designed that will alleviate this issue. For a reliable ‘off the beaten track’ try using Tours Nicaragua.

 

Amazon

Amazon Jungle

Amazon jungle

The Amazon remains our most biodiverse rainforest in the world but is being destroyed at a rapid pace by wildfires, deforestation and mining. And despite these issues, it does come as a surprise that ecotourism can help save the Amazon as it has been proven that ecotourism is a far more profitable long term model than all the other industries like mining, logging, cattle farming and agriculture. The spin-off from ecotourism can and will be felt by many small businesses and communities. Trekking the Amazon is a real adventure and it is recommended to use companies like Responsible Travel and Adventure Life.

 

Finland

Finnish winter with sleigh dogs

Finnish winter with sleigh dogs

Finland is one of only a handful of countries that have taken a deliberate step to sustainable living and have been doing so since 1987. Finland has shown it is possible that conscious living can be a way of life when supported by the government and all other industries. Finland has adopted a very deliberate strategy to encourage tourism companies to honour local culture, leave a very low carbon footprint and make a positive impact on nature and the economy. Efforts to buy local fresh food, slow shopping, green-designed buildings are encouraged. Not every tour operator is within the green zone operationally, but there is still an abundant choice of tours like Harriniva who operate throughout the country.

 

Slovenia

Bled island church

Bled island church

The European Commission named Slovenia with a population of only 2 million as the most sustainable destination in the world in 2017. This beautiful destination is more than 60% forest with over 40 parks and game reserves sprinkled quaint cobblestone villages throughout. Slovenia is not a well-known ecotourist spot which makes it ideal to visit and enjoy its unspoilt natural environment. With so much of the eco-friendly environment to explore, the Slovenian tourist board has put together a list of eco-friendly accommodation and places to go to.

 

Seychelles

Seychelles white sand beaches

Seychelles white sand beaches

Seychelles is one of the most beautiful island resorts with over 115 islands of white sand beaches and crystal blue waters. Due to its low lying landscape, the islands are left exposed to climate change and rising sea levels, coral bleaching and reduction in tuna fishing which is critical to its economy. The Seychelles Tourism Foundation has taken swift action to ensure that all tourist activity is sustainable and environmentally friendly working closely with the community receiving support from The Nature Conservancy and The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. This island paradise can be enjoyed by staying at Blue Safari which is a local hotel brand.

 

Morocco

Morocco Aït Benhaddou

Morocco Aït Benhaddou

Morocco has seen a complete transformation in its tourism industry which was once in a downward spiral negatively impacting the indigenous communities and the environment. A clear ecotourism strategy was adopted putting a focus on sustainability and protection of the deserts, cities, mountains, beaches and forests. International guests are now immersed in a true Moroccan way of life when they visit due to the many travel-related eco-initiatives that have been set-up. Such experiences can be had through Kasbah du Toubkal, a local tour company to give travellers a true taste of Morocco.

 

Palau

Island water resort

Island water resort

This tiny cluster of islands in the Pacific has taken ecotourism to a whole new level. When visitors enter the country you are expected to sign the immigration stamp on your passport to ‘tread lightly, act kindly and explore mindfully’. The local authorities have added to this pledge by enforcing practices like capping the number of tourists who come to visit and using only experienced divers to assist in protecting the coral reefs. There are also strict regulations on the fishing and mining industries by protecting up to 80% of its waters. If you are an eco-warrior then Palau is definitely the place you should visit where the biggest attraction is diving, bird watching and cultural events. To ensure a totally green experience, Dolphin Bay Resort is an eco-friendly accommodation you’ll enjoy.

 

Nepal

Nepalese buddhist monks

Nepalese Buddhist monks

Nepal has been named as one of the top eco-destinations in the world for 2020 and this is due largely to its rich heritage, culture and magnificent natural beauty. Tourism is a vital lifeline to Nepal and its communities and is enough motivation for the government to make ecotourism as a central theme to its tourism development plan. Nepal is home to Mount Everest thereby enjoying great tourist numbers, but there are other aspects to Nepal that makes it such a great eco-friendly destination like Her Farm Nepal which has to set-up entirely by women.

 

Western Australia

Ningaloo Reef Western Austalia

Ningaloo Reef Western Austalia

The Ningaloo coast of Western Australia is popular amongst ocean lovers for the swimming with the biggest fish in the ocean, the whale shark. Over 500 whale sharks congregate off the Ningaloo coast between March and July. This heavily protected waters is also a United Nations  Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Site. As a result, many companies like Ningaloo Discovery educates its guests like staying 3 metres from the whale shark at all times and only spending an hour with the animal. Not more than 10 people at a time are allowed. For accommodation, the Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef beachside camp is designed for min environmental impact by generating 100% of its energy through solar power.

 

New Zealand

Mount Cook New Zealand

Mount Cook New Zealand

New Zealand has more than 14 national parks and about 30% of its land is protected for its wildlife. With a population of only 4.5 million, it’s not surprising that it has one of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions in the world of only 0.2% of the worldwide total! Its motto of ‘Green, clean New Zealand’ is one of many eco-initiatives in place since becoming the first country to proclaim its vision of being a carbon-neutral country by 2050. Tourist can also participate in the initiative by renting a fully electric campervan from a company like Britz.

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