If you've been thinking about leaving to go on vacation, you've probably realized just from reading travel articles that there are many different types of travel. Business travel, for instance, is different from tourism, and there is even a difference between being a traveler and a tourist. This can be a little confusing if you're not up on the traveler's lingo. One of the newest words in the travel lexicon is "Ecotourism" and today we'll be outlining what it is and how you can be an ecotourist.
As you may have guessed from the prefix "eco," ecotourism is all about being environmentally responsible while traveling. In many parts of the world, millions of visitors tramp through landmarks each year, staying in vacation rentals or big resorts, consuming rampantly, and failing to adapt to the local culture. Ecotourism aims to reduce the impact of human visitors on the environment and to help them blend into and learn from the culture they are visiting.
When you take part in an eco tour, the group will be small and led by a local guide who knows his or her way around the protected area you will be visiting. Eco tours don't concern themselves with human made landmarks like buildings, but with natural wonders such as plants, animals, and landscapes. Your guide will instill in you a respect for the land and an increased awareness of how it is being threatened by humans. Some of the money you pay for your tour will be put towards protecting the landscape.
All genuine eco tours are owned and operated by locals who live in the area you are visiting because one of the goals of ecotourism is to empower local people and expose visitors to their culture instead of letting a hotel chain come in and build a closed resort where all of the profits will go to a company based somewhere else. Ecotourism also aims to support human rights and democratic movements, so part of your fee will also help local groups achieve these aims.
Because you are not just paying for the service you get and your travel expenses but also supporting the local community and environment, ecotours are generally more expensive than regular ones. You should also be careful about choosing your tour, because there is as yet little regulation when it comes to meeting the above precepts, so some tour operators might simply be using the name to make money. Research carefully, reading reviews, inspecting itineraries, and finding out whether the airport limo will be a shared ride in a hybrid car. This is currently the only way to responsibly choose an eco tour.
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