What is sustainable development? Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Moreover, sustainable development is a program for changing the process of economic development so that it ensures a basic quality of life for all people and at the same time protects the ecosystems and community systems that make life possible and worthwhile. Sustainability and sustainable tourism are becoming more and more common. But they can be opaque to the average person. Thankfully, the concept of sustainability is straight to the point. In short, it's all about conserving resources or preventing resource depletion, be it environmental, economic or cultural. Sustainable tourism is a way of traveling and exploring a destination while respecting its culture, environment, and people.
My essay focuses on environmental sustainability in tourism, namely ecotourism, its economic aspects, ethics and opportunities. Ecotourism is now defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015). Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt these ecotourism principles, minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts. Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect. Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts. Provide direct financial benefits for conservation. Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
The main idea behind ecotourism is to educate tourists about conservation efforts and research developments in fragile natural areas, while also offering travelers a chance to experience those areas first hand. Ideally, the efforts work for both the travelers and the environments they visit. Eco tourists gain knowledge of ecosystems, biology and geology of specific natural locations, which in turn informs their conservation efforts. Some of the money that goes into ecotourism also goes to conservation efforts, such as repopulating endangered species and reforestation.
Ecotourism aims to teach as well as to entertain and relax. This objective applies to environmental as well as cultural matters. Visitors who participate in ecotourism projects should receive information on the ecology and conservation issues pertinent to the local area. Guides and other staff should be able to effectively communicate with the tourists, helping them to interpret the natural environment and pointing out the sensitive areas and fragile ecosystems. The cultural exchange important to ecotourism through which visitors learn about local customs and social mores should, ideally, involve sensitivity and balance. In many situations, traditions function as exotic backdrop for tourists, with locals compelled toward primitive and folksy affectation for the benefit of tourists seeking authenticity.
Scientific research is crucial to locals as ecotourism will gain and develop a sounder understanding of how the environment effects the habitats of wildlife, hence fundamental changes can be made to preserve and protect their environment.
Ecotourism predominantly involves travel excursions to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the main source of attractions. Ecotourism is aimed at introducing tourist’s valuable information and insight into the impact of how human beings can affect the environment, and to promote a more valuable understanding and appreciation of our world’s natural habitats.
Ecotourism helps protect natural habitats and pristine environments. The wealth of poorer countries is often tied up in natural resources like forests, minerals and land that could be used for agriculture. Exploiting these resources often means altering or destroying wildlife habitats and beautiful natural landscapes. Ecotourism allows countries and communities to build their economies without harming the environment, which means that local wildlife can thrive and visitors can enjoy untouched destinations.
Good ecotourism consists of relevant programs promoting the use of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, air pollution and soil erosion Conservation or preservation projects are an essential part of Ecotourism and such programs are offered to travelers in order to give them the opportunity to participate and get involved more. One of the most important aspects of this sort of project is education. The intended outcome is that participation will not only enhance the awareness of eco travelers.
The role of ecotourism operators is to introduce relevant and also up to date information to travelers on how they can minimize prospective and unnecessary negative effects on the ecosystem, including – how they can contribute to protecting and preserving fragile ecosystems at the same time. Ecotourism operators encourage and teach eco travelers how to travel with an environmentally friendly attitude and to take responsibility for their actions as visitors.
Ecotourism is a sub-component of the field of sustainable tourism. Ecotourism’s perceived potential as an effective tool for sustainable development is the main reason why developing countries are now embracing it and including it in their economic development and conservation strategies. Ecotourism, as an alternative tourism, involves visiting natural areas in order to learn, to study, or to carry out activities environmentally friendly, that is, a tourism based on the nature experience, which enables the economic and social development of local communities. It focuses primarily on experiencing and learning about nature, its landscape, flora, fauna and their habitats, as well as cultural artifacts from the locality.
Ecotourism tries to raise environmental consciousness by exploring ecology and ecosystems and by providing environmental type experiences. Taking part in ecology actively and getting first hand impressions of how ecosystems work influence people’s ways of thinking, which finally raises awareness of conservation and protection.
Ecotourism can offer a viable combination of ecological and cultural protection, increase local awareness of the value of preserving the natural and cultural environments, and aid in economic development. However, many sources suggest that most ecotourism efforts have focused towards advancing the economic objectives rather than protecting the very resources that attract visitors.
The advantages that ecotourism offer travelers are personal, but their effects are widespread. Through visiting areas of stunning natural beauty, seeing animals in their native habitats and meeting members of local communities, travelers can increase their awareness of the importance of conserving resources and avoiding waste. They're encouraged to live more sustainably at home, and they can also increase their understanding of and sensitivity toward other cultures. Additionally, travelers learn how to help support other communities, not by handing out free gifts like toys and stationery, but by buying local produce and goods. When ecotourists return home, they spread the message to their families, friends and co-workers.
Ecotourism, a unique subset of the tourism industry is focused on the enhancement or maintenance of natural systems through tourism. Ecotourism means different things to different people. To some, it is the general term that encompasses nature‐based, adventure, soft adventure, and cultural tourism. In 1983 Mexican environmentalist Hector Ceballos Lascurain describe nature-based travel to relatively undisturbed areas with an emphasis on education.
Environments provide the resources base essential for many forms of tourism, particularly nature-based tourism, adventure tourism and ecotourism. On the other hand, the environment can be positively or negatively impacted by tourism. Tourism development and tourists’ activities can positively impact environments by facilitating nature conservation and ecological restoration efforts.
Furthermore, ecotourism helps in community development by providing the alternate source of livelihood to local community which is more sustainable. Its aim is to conserve resources, especially biological diversity, and maintain sustainable use of resources, which can bring ecological experience to travelers, conserve the ecological environment and gain economic benefit. However, achieving the aims in ecotourism depends on whether they are environmentally and ecologically sustainable and economically applicable. Ecotourism can increase the level of education and activism amongst travelers, making them more enthusiastic and effective agents of conservation (The Nature Conservancy, 2016).
Ecological tourism can provide much-needed revenues for the protection of national parks and other natural areas (The Nature Conservancy, 2016). It creates jobs and income without destroying and degrading the natural and cultural assets of the environment, as well as increasing the funding for protected areas and local communities. Ecotourism is also an effective vehicle for empowering local communities around the world to fight against poverty and to achieve sustainable development. This is because it can provide a viable economic development alternative for local communities with few other income-generating options (The Nature Conservancy, 2016).
Undesirable effects on ecological components diminished ecological integrity or degraded natural processes may also result from tourism development and operations. Tourism impacts may take a variety of forms including habitat demoralization and loss due to infrastructure development, travel related air pollution, facility related water and land pollution, and activity related soil and vegetation damage including wildlife harassment.
Moreover, education can play an important role to reduce the environmental impacts from tourism. Tourism developers, tour operators and tourists are the three-target group that need to be given extra educational exposure towards sustainable ecological tourism, so that tourists will know what the positive and negative impacts of not protecting the environment.
Ecotourism, helps in involving local community for the conservation of the ecology and biodiversity of the area that biodiversity in return provides the economic incentives to the local community. Ecotourism contributes to conservation of biodiversity, sustains the well-being of local people, involves responsible action on the part of tourist and the tourism industry, promotes small and medium tourism enterprises, requires lowest possible consumption of natural resources, stresses local participation, ownership, and business opportunities, particularly for rural people, and above all includes the learning experiences.
Local jobs are only one of the economic benefits of ecotourism. As well as providing an income for staff who works at ecotourism sites, ecotourism allows them the opportunity to receive training in skills that can transfer to other areas of employment and even nutrition when they receive meals at work. Surplus income allows workers or their family members to start up small businesses or to pass on the money to other community members by buying local goods and paying for child care and other services. Ecotourism companies can also help give back to the community by offering training in useful skills.
Developing countries have benefited immensely on their Wildlife and natural habitats. They have become more appealing and popular among international tourists. Ecotourism is particularly flourishing in developing countries as a result of their natural environments and ecotourists are selecting such countries as their favorite destinations.
Ecotourism aims to reduce environmental impact that comes with mass tourism and its vast, often resource-heavy, infrastructure. This impact reduction includes using locally available, often traditional and, at other times, recycled materials and supporting designs of infrastructure that are environmentally friendly and that fit within traditions and sensibilities of local culture. Minimizing impact also means controlling numbers and acceptable behavior of tourists. These efforts can range from limiting traffic on national park trails to controlling the numbers of game shot during community-run hunting expeditions.
Another way to lessen the impact of tourism is to use renewable energy and to carefully dispose of waste. Culturally, ecotourism aims to respect the local communities and traditions, to alleviate the exploitive aspects of leisure travel and to benefit, rather than damage the communities.
In the ecotourism plans, diversifying economic and ecologic activities by starting and developing organized ecotourism practice, enhancing the life quality of the locals with the economic gains provided by ecotourism, increasing the participation of habitat conservation, improving environmental conscious, conserving natural, cultural and historical landscape values and passing them onto the next generation and popularizing ecotourism planning with the support and participation of responsible and related organizations should be aimed. Good planning of natural and cultural elements that create resources for eco-tourism activities and their management will make important contributions to the local public (Gültekin, 2010).
Undesirable effects on ecological components diminished ecological integrity or degraded natural processes may also result from ecotourism development and operations as well. Tourism impacts may take a variety of forms including habitat demoralization and loss due to infrastructure development, travel related air pollution, facility related water and land pollution, and activity related soil and vegetation damage including wildlife harassment.
Finally, it may be concluded that ecotourism is a form of sustainable travel that supports the local environment instead of putting more pressure on it and exploiting its resources. With ecotourism, people will have the opportunity to further their research efforts and learn better practices for management, as more people will be able to experience nature up close. Furthermore, ecotourism is regarded as a sustainable solution to preserve ecosystems around the world, all the while offering a good source of income for locals living in the communities in and around them. If people involved are able to properly manage activities, ecotourism will be able to offer sustainable local communities and even provide incentives for environmental protection.
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