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The Concept Of Ecotourism

More than any other form of travel, ecotourism is knowledge-based. Ecotourism hopes to glimpse the shrinking wonders of endangered ecosystems and seek to learn from the vanishing habitats they visit. The formulation for the concept of ecotourism is grounded on the conservation of the native locales and the autochthonous cultures, along with the improvement of local socioeconomic conditions using visitors’ dollars.

Traveling to places of great natural beauty is an ancient human activity; it can be traced back to hundreds of dramatic pilgrimage sites spotted around the world. However, the idea of natural beauty has changed across cultures over time. For instance, Virgil’s natural beauty refers to bucolic, domesticated landscapes (“the land of milk and honey”), while Taoist scholars have constantly praised wild, untamed nature for being full of enjoyment and the life force that moves the universe.

Today’s conception of natural beauty is conditioned by uniquely modern considerations, among which is the desire to escape to pristine environments uncontaminated by Waster commercialism.

Preserving tropical forests brings forth the difficult moral question of who should pay for the environmental benefits that the world at large enjoys; marginalized communities abutting tropical forest habitats may rightfully feel they pay the price by giving up the potential for quick economic gain had they decided to use or sell the land for commercial purposes.

However, it was most likely the countless scientific studies on tropical flora and fauna published in academic and commercial magazines, in addition to broadcasts on nature channels, that created the initial drive for tropical tourism. Over time, interest further shifted away from overcrowded recreational destinations, such as the American National Park system, toward more exotic and pristine localities.

The majority of tropical habitats with unique environmental richness are located in the humid equatorial belt, which mainly corresponds to economically and industrially impoverished nations. Deep rural poverty has led many third-world countries to see pristine lands severely degraded by haphazard growth. Many are experiencing dwindling water supplies.

Environmentalist policies, however, are difficult to implement in third-world countries that cannot raise enough funds to protect their natural reserves. National parks and biological reserves established during the environmental furor of the 60s and 70s have often been transgressed, colonized, logged, and poached by locals themselves.

Local hostility toward parks and tourism was on the rise in third-world countries worldwide. After many trials and errors, it became evident that protected areas would survive only if the people living nearest them benefited financially from both parks and tourism. Equally important is the fact that this benefit can only be sustained if the communities involved translate preservation efforts into long-term values, an awareness that can be achieved mainly through environmental education.

The consumption of tourism is changing rapidly as people seek to label their experiences. In this manner, nature tourism involves traveling to unspoiled places and enjoying nature. Wildlife travel adds the possibility of observing animals in their native habitats. Adventure travel is similar to nature travel but also involves physical.

Ecotourism conversely links tourism with preservation and sustainability, as it developed within the womb of the environmental movement; therefore, central to its mission is the realization that the tourist presence contributes to the preservation of a small piece of the earth. If the conversation and benefits of the local community are the cornerstones of ecotourism, interpretation programs conducted by expert guides become the third element of eco-tourism’s unique structure. Indeed, interpretation programs are the chief amount of identifying characteristics that separate ecotourism from traditional tourism. Ecotourism guides usually have the double duty of educators and guardians of the visited sites.

The greatest responsibility for ecotourism management is to sponsor and support an enlightened education system accessible to the communities associated with the ecotourism’s venues or sites, not one that equates progress with destruction or another that cares only about survival at any cost, but rather one that can formulate new agreement between humanity and nature among ourselves, and between rich and poor nations.

Lastly, ecotourism also implies small-scale projects attuned to the carrying capacity of each site. Small groups of tourists can better negotiate narrow trials, are easier to guide safely and carry a smaller environmental footprint. Small scale also translates to modest capital investment with low infrastructural cost due, in part, to sustainable accommodations.



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