Discovering the world without harming it. Getting to know new cultures, but not exploiting the local population. Truly authentic travel. More and more people want exactly that on their travels. Terms like slow travel, soft tourism or ecotourism are booming and are on everyone’s lips. But what is ecotourism? We’ll give you a brief overview of this increasingly important form of travel, how and where you can implement it, and what exactly you’re causing with it.
What exactly is ecotourism?
A tourism that is compatible with nature and society. Ecotourism means traveling in a sustainable and responsible way. It is about being environmentally friendly as well as having as little negative impact as possible on the local population. So, in the best case, the income of the trip does not go to huge, international companies, but to the inhabitants of the destination. In addition, ecological tourism is intended to finance the protection of nature.
Thus, ecotourism should ideally contribute to providing destinations with a stable source of income in the long term, safeguarding or even improving the quality of life of local people, and at the same time preserving natural and cultural heritage.
Where to find ecotourism
In principle, ecotourism can be practiced anywhere. The number of countries offering ecotourism or soft tourism as a form of travel has increased significantly in recent years and continues to grow. However, there are destinations such as Costa Rica that stand out due to their special focus on ecotourism. The huge national park system, the development of several protected areas, and the strong pursuit of sustainable practices there promote it significantly.
Chumbe Island, a small, private coral island in the Indian Ocean, is another prime example of ecotourism. The ecotourism there finances marine and forest conservation. From the very beginning, the goal of the investment was ecologically, economically and socially sustainable management. The basis of Chumbe Island are the seven bungalows that were built on the island in a climate-neutral manner and are now being rented out. These eco-lodges provide employment opportunities for locals while securing funding for the non-governmental organization.
Does ecotourism really make a difference?
Definitely. Let’s look at the Ankarafantsika National Park in Madagascar, for example. The turtles that live there are threatened with extinction and have almost been driven out. Impoverished rice farmers use the savannah and forest areas as a source of their water and firewood, slowly destroying the turtles’ habitat. However, thanks to the introduction of ecotourism and travelers paying entrance fees for the nature park and its wonderful flora and fauna, the population has recovered. The rice farmers are now employed as tourist guides and the income is used for nature conservation and other social projects.
Which providers are ecotourism-oriented?
Quite a lot. Tour operators such as Wikingerreisen or renatur offer hiking, nature or even adventure tours with an ecological and nature-oriented focus. But socialbnb also follows exactly this concept: a trip that is not only socially, economically and ecologically sustainable, but also offers an authentic travel experience for the travelers. When booking, you can explicitly choose a project where you support environmental, nature or animal protection with your overnight stay. If you want to learn more about the goals and the concept of socialbnb, click here!
For example, if you feel like traveling to Peru, you can support the protection of the forests (through education and conservation programs) by staying at this accommodation near Puerto Maldanado. Kawsay biological station is an organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of the rainforest. They want to make this possible through research, education and ecotourism; so tourists, interns, volunteers or researchers get the opportunity to experience science up close.
If you are more drawn to Vietnam, an overnight stay in the premises of the Nui Tong Education Project would be an idea. This would explicitly support local ecotourism and sustainable agriculture. With the help of the organization, local children learn to farm sustainably and organically, to speak English or to cook. They are also trained as tourist guides, for example, which guarantee a secure future.
Or maybe you prefer Europe? Then book your stay in Tinos Eco Lodge in Greece. The goal of the project is environmentally friendly tourism, i.e. ecotourism. For this purpose, the organization not only uses renewable energies such as sun and wind, but also filters rainwater for the water supply, for example. Local products and materials are used for the construction of the accommodations; in addition, great care is taken to minimize waste.
If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug and you’re ready for an ecotourism trip, here are many more accommodations where you can add value to your booking and have the most authentic travel experience of your life!