There are many different reasons to travel, and whichever one motivates you, so much the better. It does us good to see the world, and it inevitably broadens the mind. You can set yourself a personal goal to see a different country on each vacation, or find one country you love and explore every corner of it – the most important thing is to get something from your journeys, and allow yourself to be moved by it.
With that said, a large and increasingly necessary form of travel has developed in recent years, with the planet ever more precariously balanced on the brink of crisis. There are many destinations around the world that depend on tourism as much to raise their profile and highlight their environmental concerns as for any financial imperative. Although, with that said, the tourist dollar can be essential in supporting their communities. So, with that in mind, what do you need to know about eco-tourism? And is it for you?
Isn’t eco-tourism a contradiction in terms?
It is easy to point the finger at people who travel and highlight them as a cause of at least a portion of the climate crisis. In truth, it would be ideal if nobody was flying anywhere. But to criticise someone for taking an occasional flight – when most of the damage is done by business travel anyway – is missing the forest for the trees, to use an apt expression. Eco-tourism is certainly possible; it’s best if you use sustainable operators, staying in eco-friendly accommodation and helping green causes as you go.
Where should you go for an eco-tourism break?
There are really as many places to go for eco-tourism as there are for any other purpose. Each country you can visit has some areas which benefit from sustainable tourist influx, including your own – which is worth looking into if you’re short on staycation ideas. There are other places which could do with your visit to help highlight their environmental situation – visitors to Brazil could, for instance, focus on a Pantanal nature tour and see the beauty of this country while helping to bring attention to its precarious ecosystem. The same can be said of volcanic landscapes in Iceland, or the Australian Outback.
Does eco-tourism mean a “working holiday”?
It doesn’t have to; there are trips you can take where you will actively contribute to green infrastructure in areas which sorely need it. If that’s what you want from a sustainable tourism holiday, it’s certainly there and it’s definitely welcomed. However, your trip can involve mostly sight-seeing and still be a sustainable break. The most important things are where you stay, the resources you use, and who ends up making money from you being there. Also, and this should go without saying, you should seek to make as little of a footprint on the ecosystem as possible; no littering, and use natural products as far as possible.
Eco-tourism is only going to grow in the years to come, and as we count down to a point where our planet could be facing a make-or-break scenario, it’s worth seeing a bit more of what we’re fighting for.