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What is Eco Adventure Tourism all about? Basically it’s responsible travel to natural areas which helps conserve the environment or sustains the well-being of local people.
It doesn’t have a strict definition because there’s no one particular type of trip. Instead, this type of traveling is any form of tourism that involves visiting natural environments as responsibly as possible, ultimately with an intent to help local conservation efforts.
Some travelers prepare travel arrangements with eco-friendly resorts, while others go backpacking- all with the same mission. These travelers intend to leave the environment better than they found it. Find out more about how and why to travel responsibly below!
Why does it matter?
Eco adventure tourism is about uniting forces for conservation efforts and with local communities. You may be wondering why this type of travel is booming amongst a large community of responsible travelers worldwide, let us explain.
Travel and tourism are responsible for 5 percent of total carbon emissions worldwide, contributing significantly to climate change. Meanwhile, in remote areas of the world, heavy foot traffic from tourists is believed to have changed the behaviors of indigenous animals and even eliminated plant species. We can do better. We can help protect the lands we love traveling to.
With proper measures, eco adventure tourism companies follow regulations which help organizations who are helping to grow endangered species populations, restore local lands and more by following certain principles.
The Principles of Eco Adventure Tourism
Eco Adventure Tourism has grown in popularity due to an increasing number of individuals who are dissatisfied with the common and basic travel experiences provided by tour operators. Instead many travelers are looking for experiences that provide a more unique and challenging vacation that allows them to learn and experience new cultures.
Participating as a responsible traveler means your adventures have a positive impact on the people, community and environment where you’re visiting. Find some of the principles of Eco Adventure Tourism below.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
One of the easiest ways to lower your impact is by reducing your use and consumption. When traveling, pack BPA-free water bottles which can be refilled over and over. Also, return brochures and maps once you’re finished using them, allowing others to use the same material again and again.
Use a bar of soap instead of plastic bottles, and buy local, unpackaged food whenever possible. Reuse items before throwing them away, and get creative with what you have.
For the waste you do accumulate that can no longer be reused, recycle appropriate items at recycling locations. Practicing Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in your life reduces your carbon footprint!
When traveling, look for indigenous artists and educate yourself about their craft. You’ll likely wind up with a fascinating story of sincere care and attention to detail, along with a one of a kind piece!
Buying local means supporting an individual in the community you’re visiting. What a fun and meaningful way to support local artists!
Leave Nothing but Footprints
When exploring the lush lands or waters of your beautiful eco adventure destination, stick to marked routes to avoid harming native plants, insects and animals.
Bring a bag with to pick up trash along your journey, and ensure you leave nothing but footprints. By cleaning up after yourself and others, you’re protecting wildlife who may otherwise become tangled or stuck in it.
Honor the Locals and Their Traditions
Keep in mind when traveling that some cultures will have normalities and traditions different from your own. Understanding and respecting the traditions in the place you travel to is essential to prevent offending the locals whose culture you’re there to experience.
Educate yourself before your trip, and enjoy the opportunity to experience another culture in a different part of the world!
Consider giving back in some way to the community who welcomed you in your travels. You could volunteer your time, donate school supplies, and much more. Something sure to be appreciated by the locals!
When traveling, make sure to turn off lights, heat/air conditioning and the tv when you’ve stopped using them. If you’re staying in a hotel, put the ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door so the housekeeping staff won’t clean your room everyday. Simple daily changes add up over time.
Be a Responsible Traveler
Take the time to immerse yourself into the local culture, music, art scene, cuisine and more! Embrace the differences that make your experiences unique and use it as an opportunity to get to know the locals and their lifestyle.
This is a great opportunity to learn more about the world, how others view life, and may even open your mind to new ideas!
Remember to keep your showers short, and to turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, shaving, washing your face etc. Reuse towels for multiple days to save water on laundering.
Respect, Care and Empathy for Animals
Failing to travel in a sustainable manner can contribute to the suffering of animals. An awareness and respect of the impact we have on nature and wildlife is critical to becoming a more caring and empathetic traveler.
It’s very common when traveling in areas where there are major attractions to find among these attractions animals that are caged or compelled to perform for customers entertainment. Putting animals under these conditions will cause them undue stress, anxiety and discomfort. Although efforts may be made to try and treat these animals with care, it’s inhumane to think that an animal is better off in a cage or seclusion simply for the pleasure and entertainment of customers and financial benefit of a proprietor.
Rather than supporting these types of practices take the opportunity to view these animals in their natural environments. There are numerous conscientious sightseeing and tour companies that are sensitive to maintaining natural habitats while providing individuals the experience of observing animals in a natural and undisturbed environment. Additionally, there are often hiking trails designed to provide you with the opportunities to view nature and the habitat of the local wildlife.
Make Your Next Trip an Eco-Friendly Adventure!
Becoming a more responsible traveler is simply the best way to ensure your adventure has a positive impact on the local people and the environment. By following the principles of eco adventure tourism, you can be a help in stimulating the financial growth in developing nations, and supporting small business owners.
Sure, individually these green practices have a relatively small impact, but when we practice them together we can collectively make a large impact! In taking strides toward being more conscious in our choices, we can make a difference for communities around the world. Here’s How.
Related: 8 Tips For Responsible Ocean Use
Do Your Research
A quick online search will yield a plethora of results for eco-friendly travel, but without doing your homework you may not be working with organizations who honestly protect the environment and its people. “Eco”, “Green” and “Natural” have become market-popular words, and should be approached with caution.
Before booking your travel arrangements, ask your travel company about what they’re doing to protect and preserve the environment and its inhabitants. Find out if there are opportunities to learn and get involved with local community measures during the trip which can help offset your carbon footprint.
If you’re preparing your trip independently, do some research on your airline and room accommodations websites. You’ll find that many have carbon offset programs available for travelers to use, where you can calculate your carbon footprint and find ways to help offset it.
Only join adventure groups, or participate in tours which help protect the environment in some way, and let it remain in its natural element. Avoid any program which uses caged animals, collects wild specimens, or one that profits from destruction. Ensure your time is well spent with legitimate organizations making a positive impact in the community or in nature.
Benefits to the Traveler
Being a mindful and responsible traveler means taking a greater level of commitment to conscious decisions while vacationing. Eco adventure tourism requires a bit more effort, but it also offers an incredible experience truly unlike any other. It allows us to develop relationships with locals, and the opportunity to better the community or environment of which we are traveling.
Traveling in an eco-friendly way can be a life-changing experience if you take the opportunity as the gift that it is! Who knows, you may never want to travel the traditional way ever again.
Ecotourism principles that promote responsible travel to natural areas, conserving the environment, sustaining the well-being of the local people and involves gaining knowledge and understanding for all involved include the following:
- Promotes financial benefits that strengthen conservation
- Produces direct financial benefit for local people
- Experiential adventures that increase awareness and sensitivity to the political, environmental and social issues facing the local individuals
- Result in positive experiences for both host and visitor
- Strives to minimize the psychological, social and physical impact on the environment
- Recognizes and respects the individual rights and beliefs of the local people, while working in partnership with each other
- Focus is on personal experiences in nature that generates a greater appreciation and understanding
- Awareness of nature and local culture
- Active contributions that result in positive conservation outcomes
- Provides economical, social and cultural benefits for the local communities
Eco Adventure Tourism Activities
Ecotourism adventures focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability.There are a wide range of ecotourism adventure activities to consider and add to your next vacation including the following:
- Wildlife Spotting and Photography
- Bird Watching
- Botanical Excursions
- Nature and Wildlife Painting
- Hiking and Camping
- Responsible and Sustainable Adventure Tours
- Common activities such as bicycling, snorkeling, rafting etc.
When traveling, you have the opportunity to do it eco adventure tourism style, and it can be so much fun! The opportunity to immerse yourself in foreign cultures and help restore communities or lands is one that doesn’t come around often.
The intent of eco adventure tourism is to leave the place you visit better than it was when you arrived. This type of traveling creates change for people or the environment in a positive way, all while the traveler gets to experience first-hand the beauty of the local ways.
Remember the key principles of traveling in an eco-friendly way, and prepare ahead of time so that you can make the most of your adventures abroad!
Have you been on an eco adventure tourism trip recently? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.