The current buzzwords in the tourism sector include “Eco”, “Eco-friendly” and “Eco-tourism.” But what do they mean? Eco-tourism can be defined as the act of responsible travelling to natural environment protection area that conserves the natural environment while increasing the living standards of the local people.
This means you can go out into the natural world and enjoy yourself with your travel companion while at the same time practising responsible tourism practices hence minimising negative environmental impact. As you are reading this article now, one – fifth of the travel industry is contributed by nature-friendly tourism. However, UNESCO released an alarming report showing that there is an increase in the climate change in the major world tourist attraction sites which are likely to affect tourism negatively.
Climate change is mostly contributed by increased release of carbon monoxide into the environment either from our chimneys, cars or aeroplanes while travelling or vacating. If you practice eco-tourism travelling, you will help to sustain the environment for future generations to travel and appreciate nature too.
Environmental pollution is mainly caused by irresponsible travelling, unlimited tourist access such as frequent travel either by car or aircraft. But as a responsible eco-tourist, you can help preserve the ecosystem by avoiding many short breaks/tours during the year and taking long holidays once a year hence reducing the amount of carbon monoxide emitted to the environment.
Benefits of Environment-Friendly Tourism
As a real eco-friendly traveller, you will be playing a significant role in saving the natural resources while at the same time providing employment to the local communities. A Research that was conducted indicated that for every eleven formal jobs worldwide, one job is created by the tourism industry.
According to a statistical report that was published by the Center for Responsible Tourism, in 2016 alone, the tourism sector contributed 9.8% ($7.2 trillion) of the world’s gross domestic product. The money generated this way can be used to fund education problems, support environmental conservation programmes or help improve the carbon reduction technologies.
As we speak, we do not have any internationally recognised organisation that is responsible for eco-tourism. However, several non-governmental organisations in conjunctions with different governments have come up with comprehensive eco-friendly tourism guidelines. One such organisation is the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources which is the world’s most influential environment conservation organisation. Through its members and environmental experts, it has established a link that overlooks all aspects of nature protection. During its largest conference on eco-tourism which was held in Hawaii this year, the following recommendations were made:
- Supporting and promoting equitable protection of natural resources
- Nature Conservation
- Using nature based solutions to address present social challenges such as drought, food insecurity and natural disasters for the good of communities, species and ecosystems.
- In conjunction with the World Bank, they aim to improve sustainable living standards and protection of natural resources
These guidelines are meant to help you explore the world’s natural geographic features without leaving a huge carbon footprint. From now on, you do not have an excuse as to why you should not apply these environmental friendly guidelines on eco-friendly travelling for all of your future eco-tourism travels.
Currently, IUCN has 1,400 members worldwide, which include government agencies, both national and international NGOs, and local organisations and they are hopeful that if these guidelines are implemented, they will go a long way in ensuring eco-friendly eco-tourism in the member countries and beyond.
How to Ensure Sustainable Travel
The list below shows some of the eco-friendly sustainable tourism practices.
- Choose hotels that practice green living techniques
- Travel light to reduce greenhouse gas emission
- Once you reach your travel destination, plan eco-friendly outdoor activities.
- Practice green living while on tour by recycling all recyclable products, conserving water and eating fresh farm produce.
- Practice greenwashing.
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