May 2010Ecotourism - responsible travel on local conditions Aivar Ruukel Ecotourism or ecotravel has many different meanings for different people. I do understand itas way of thinking and acting rather than a travel segment or product, a philosophy ratherthan a market nich. From the ecotraveler's perspective it does not matter so much
activities you participate in or what you experience. What matters is
you travel and what is the impact of your trip. Every kind of trip has an impact. Ecotravel is the kind of travel that aims to minimize thenegative impact and maximize the positive impact. It is a complex issue involving socio-cultural, socio-economical and environmental aspects. The International Ecotourism Societydefines ecotourism as "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environmentand improves the well-being of local people." Ecotourism is about uniting conservation,communities, and sustainable travel. It is a holistic concept and needs a holistic approach.But, how can you as a traveller become part of this concept? Probably the most important single principle is that, wherever you travel, you should
leaveyour stereotypes and prejudices at home
! Ecotourism in practice can only be successfulwhen the local conditions form the playground and people living in the area set rules of thegame. It is
that is visited. Local conditions are different everywhere and thisshould be respected by tourists. Only childish, ignorant or totalitarian minds can believe andhope for local conditions to be the same everywhere. Ecotourism is an global philosophyand theory but practical outcome is always location-specific, and the implementation of common principles is based on the local logic.The Internet opens great direct communication channels for smallest ecotour operators inthe remotest corners of Earth. The Web has changed and continues to change traveller'sconsumption patterns. The consumer's adoption of social networks is increasing with a rapidpace, and the future consumers will have more and more power to design travel offers –experiences based on their dreams.10 tips on how to be an ecotourist
Prepare well; learn about the place where you are going to travel!
Read what other travellers are saying in blogs and travel websites, be smart toforesee greenwashing!
Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport!
Book locally owned and enviromentaly friendly accommodation!
Avoid big international tour companies and holiday resorts!
When you arrive at the destination behave as if you were visiting friends. Respect thelocal way of living, learn some words of the local language!
Ask for local services, fresh food, avoid buying imported stuff!
Prefer authentic experiences and natural attractions; avoid artificial theme parkscreated for tourists!
Learn how to support conservation and do it!
After travel share your findings, thoughts, experiences online, and help to expandscollective knowledge. We are what we share!