Who could say no to spending their vacation in the clean open air, surrounded by beautiful scenes of nature, away from the noise and pollution of city life? Websites advertising ecotourism tout the benefits of unplugging, recharging, and spending time learning about new cultures and traditions.
What’s not to like?
Well, depending on your personal tastes and resilience, an ecotourism trip could also mean less privacy, plenty of bugs, and only occasional showers.
Let’s dive into the topic of ecotourism and see if you’re ready to try it.
Ecotourism began as a movement in the 1980s, and the definition entered the dictionary in 1982:
According to David Fennell, the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Ecotourism, just visiting a national park doesn’t mean you’re on an ecotourism trip. It’s about a little more than just yourself as a tourist.
These days, in addition to the concept of minimal impact, the idea of reciprocity – giving back to the site you are visiting – has been added. Ecotourism also has an educational component to it. It’s meant to teach about nature, culture, and regional threats to both in the area you are visiting.
As ecotourism and sustainability have become a hot topic in the travel industry, the posers have multiplied and a new term has emerged: greenwashing. Greenwashing is a term applied to the practice of promoting environmentalism as a ploy rather than a reality.
Ecotravelers believe that ecotourism is important for taking care of one’s own health and also for protecting and caring for the natural environment.
The benefits of ecotourism are:
Some of the disadvantages of ecotourism are:
So, let’s say you want to try ecotourism. What do you need to watch out for?
As you might imagine, greenwashing is full of nuance that can trick even experienced travelers. Here’s how you can sidestep ecotourism scams:
The nice thing is you don’t have to jump off the deep end into ecotourism. There are many ways you can incorporate elements of responsible travel into your travel plans:
You can also stay at an eco-lodge—look for:
Genuine ecolodges are committed to supporting and engaging with the local community, like using local suppliers and employing local staff. They are also transparent about their eco-friendly initiatives and able to show information that confirms their efforts.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.