What is Ecotourism?
Ecotourism has become a worldwide traveling phenomenon for those desiring nature sights and experiences, and there is a reason for the rising popularity. Ecotourism pairs global travel and exploration with environmental conservation and protecting indigenous communities, with sustainability at its heart. This article explores a more comprehensive definition of ecotourism and the benefits of its impact on communities and destinations all over the world.
According to the leading voice on the subject, the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism can be defined as, “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”.
Essentially, ecotourism isn’t simply an attempt to protect the environment but is also an effort to have a positive impact on the places you visit. One’s tourism should benefit the chosen destination’s local ecology and community. These destinations are often populated with exotic flora and fauna and are home to natural heritage sites.
A popular misconception is that ecotourism’s goal is to exclusively conserve the natural environment. In reality, the movement also seeks to make tourism advantageous for destination locals. One source says it best, “if a destination or business’ tourism development strategy does not actively provide concrete financial benefits for the indigenous people, it’s not truly ecotourism” (greenglobaltravel.com).
Why is it Important?
As made apparent by the International Ecotourism Society’s Website (ecotourism.org), ecotourism is about principle. It’s about protecting communities and practicing sustainable travel. Tourists that hope to be a part of the ecotourism movement should focus on how their visit can best benefit the indigenous economy.
Ecotourism is also an incredible tool for education. Practicing ecotourism principles can offer tourists an insight into a new environment, inspiring newfound cultural awareness and respect. It can also create new interpretational experiences which can increase an individual’s sensitivity to another culture’s customs and social climate.
For those travelers unaware of the movement, first-hand exposure to ecotourism can help them actualize the harmful impacts on communities and environments caused by negligent tourism. Educated tourists can help a great deal in mitigating mankind’s threats to the environment.
Mass Tourism’s Impact
The tourism industry’s growth is unstoppable and inevitable. Standard commercial mass tourism’s extraordinary scale can be a detriment to natural areas, as many sensitive ecosystems are easily destroyed by extreme human intervention. Without switching to ecotourism’s small scale and minimal ecological impact, there is a threat that these sights may be ruined or even completely destroyed for future generations.
Mass tourism can also wreak havoc for a smaller community’s cultural heritage. Most profits from tourism endeavors go directly to investors, rather than the few locals employed in the local economy. In some cases, a lack of economic opportunity as a result of mass tourism can force locals to engage in environmentally harmful occupations--such as illegal harvesting and poaching of wildlife. In even more extreme cases, mass tourism can cause an entire people’s displacement. One example from The Guardian reports that the Massai, an indigenous group in Tanzania, were forcibly moved after their land was taken for the purpose of creating new national parks. This left more than 3,000 people without homes.
Overall, by choosing ecotourism over mass tourism, one can contribute towards environmental protection while directly benefiting the locals visited.
How are LEDs Involved?
Because of mankind’s artificial lighting and ecotourist attractions, such as parks and resorts must have responsible lighting. Part of the natural environment is the night sky. Without conscientious lighting practices, the natural night sky is at risk.
Ecotourism starts at home! You can begin the fight to minimize mankind’s environmental impact in your own backyard. Practice safe lighting with StarFriendly lighting technology, such as LEDs.
Our LED lights allow anyone to enjoy the night sky with minimal repercussions, while still providing adequate lighting. Thanks to our specialized blue light filters, our lighting technology will effectively protect natural habitats from the harmful impacts of irresponsible lighting. Need LEDs for your business, warehouse, or other outdoor need? Browse our products, or give us a call for more information! (480)-998-1694.