Ecotourism has been generally defined as tourism which is ecologically sustainable. The concept began in the 1970s and according to TIES, “The International Ecotourism Society”, they define eco-tourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." By the 1990’s, travel and environmental sustainability had grown to be one of the largest sectors of travel as consumers became more conscious. Today, people are choosing to have vacations that reflect their green and socially conscious lifestyles.
The principles of ecotourism
• Builds ideology of environmental conservation
• Creates cultural consciousness, preservation and respect
• Benefits local communities
• Promotes Travel Volunteerism
• Benefits human rights
• Spreads the concept of environmentally responsible practices
• Directly impacts government funding
• Reduces poverty and improves the local economy
• Delivers highly memorable interpretative experiences to visitors
Ecotourism is inspired by the idea that we can improve the world by how we travel, counteracting the negative effect of human development. Ecotourists are more likely to meet with down to earth locals who live close to nature and thus learn to live more simply themselves when they return home. The locals in turn learn the benefit of this and seek to educate themselves about environmentalism. This cultural exchange creates a win-win effect.
For example, in Fiji there had been a collapse in the fish population. However, when ecotourism was introduced and the area became protected, jobs were created such as diving guides, and the population of fish were given a chance to recover, which in 5 years doubled the incomes of the locals. When preparation meets opportunity, everyone can benefit. Given this kind of swing in consciousness, one can see how massive a scale that ecotourism can improve the world around us.
As we travel, not only do we learn about the new surrounds and people, we also learn a great deal more about ourselves. Ecotourism gives us a totally different world view and challenges us open our minds to different ways of thinking. Ecotravel retreats are helping to provide these different views and giving the western mind a great deal of respite from the stresses of everyday life.
Now is also a time where people are seeking out of the box adventures, thus ecotravel adventure tours are a growing new segment. Yoga travel retreats are growing exponentially all over the world showing us that no longer is yoga just an exercise from the Far East, but a massive industry that is changing lives. Whether it beyoga and paragliding in Spain or horseback riding and home-stays with monks in Tibet, the sky is the limit to having conscious travel experiences.
As we look forward to the future, the one thing we can always count on is change. Ecotourism and its value has proven itself over and over again and tour operators are definitely getting extremely motivated to provide experiences that are more than just vacations, but life changing events. As people find themselves more attached to technology and working in stressful jobs, we find ourselves looking for opportunities for release and to expand our consciousness as well as having a wonderful time. Now is the best time to take advantage of the wonderful ecotravel retreats and spiritual travel experiences that are available. Carpe diem!
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