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​Ecotourism

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Summer is upon us and the thought of travel will definitely cross our minds, for the unrelenting pace of our lives leaves us with a need to relax and unwind. Having a relaxing vacation means different things to different people; people flock to places that are known for their shopping, historical sights, museums, beaches, nature reserves, theme parks… the list is endless.

Each individual has their preferences; however, if one is truly intent on recharging one’s energy, nothing beats being close and reconnecting with nature. Living as we do in overcrowded urban spaces with limited green areas, going to a destination where nature abounds in all its glory is truly a treat, and will most definitely help people feel reconnected and recharged.

Natural areas consist of varying kinds of nature; there are beautiful deserts with endlessly shifting sand dunes, oases that offer cool pools and shady spots to rest from the dazzling heat, rainforests with infinite species of trees, animals, and insects. Alternatively, there are beautiful snow-capped mountains, clear pristine waters that gently caress beaches and delight anyone that ventures in, and much more; the amount of beauty to be found on Earth is truly limitless.

These places have always been a source of fascination for people; many try to visit them during their lifetime. With the rise of tourism as a leading industry globally, the influx of tourists visiting natural areas has dramatically changed landscapes and cultures. These changes were mainly detrimental, giving rise to ecotourism; a form of tourism that aims for sustainability and balance, rather than quick gain and destruction of the local environment.

The World Conservation Union defines ecotourism as: “environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature, and accompanying cultural features, both past and present, that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact, and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local peoples”.

It is important to keep in mind one’s impact on the place one visits; we may not pay much attention to such a thought, but it is truly essential to be aware of our actions when vacationing abroad or at home. Ecotourism encourages activities whereby local communities benefit from tourism; this can be through hiring local guides to show tourists around a forest or natural area, it can also mean hiring most of the staff from surrounding areas to work at a hotel or resort. It also ensures that the lives of the locals are not disturbed by tourists, by being culturally aware, as well as keeping the environment as one finds it.

Not only is it important to conserve the peace and way of life of the locals, but resorts, hotels, or lodges should also aim to be environmentally friendly and have sustainable designs, by using clever ways to create great indoor environments without relying heavily on damaging energy. It is also important for these places to be in tune with their surrounding areas.

Ecotourism aims to reduce the human impact of tourists on the environment, as well as benefit the local community through the creation of jobs. Next time you head out for a vacation, keep that in mind and try to have a positive impact on your selected destination.

Interested to find out more? Check out the following videos:

References
nature.org
ecotourism.org

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