Some people consider the terms ‘ecotourism’ and ‘sustainable tourism’ to be an oxymoron altogether — that you can’t travel in a way that helps the environment. First of all, you have to get from one place to another which almost always means a plane, which burns fossil fuels. Secondly, no matter how much you try, your impact will still be negative. But while that is at least worth considering, it’s taking away from the point. If you’ve decided to travel, you can still do a lot to reduce your impact and at least in some aspects, even make a positive difference. There is always room for improvement. Here’s how.
● Build environmental and cultural awareness. The first step to doing something is by understanding what you should be doing.
● Minimize impact. If you must, travel by plane. If you can avoid it, try a train instead. Walk or bike instead of driving or at the very least, use public transportation. Respect local resources and don’t waste.
● Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts. The first one is a given, but the second one is often neglected. Respect the locals, their community and support them and their values.
● Provide direct financial benefits for conservation. If it’s real ecotourism, much of the money you’re paying will go to conservation.
● Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people. Buy local, authentic products – they’re higher quality, genuine, and they support the locals. This way, they get much more financial benefits than from mass tourism – even if the number of tourists is much lower.
● Raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate. This is the trickiest and hardest to accomplish goal. It’s never easy to do, and sometimes it can be even hard to understand what it means.