Ecotourism us a fairly new concept, just like carbon footprints are a relatively new aspect to consider when you are preparing for your next long-haul flight. A lot have people realise that impact that carbon footprints have on our environment and more and more people are signing up to helping reduce the amount of carbon emissions. The aim of ecotourism is to reduce the impact of tourism on naturally beautiful areas of the world.
As more and more people travel further and further away from their homeland to explore other countries, the culture and the sites, they are often travelling off the beaten tracks of the usual tourism centres and this can have an impact on the areas that are normally set up for tourism and the needs of the travellers. If these areas are not protected then they may not be available for the tourists of the future.
The aim of Ecotourism is to encourage visitors to visit but to educate them not just about their carbon footprints but also how their visit can be of benefit to the local communities and their environments. Generally travellers are appreciative of the work that has supported consultation with local communities and improving the infrastructure to benefit local people and not just tourists.
The type of places that we are talking about here is places Ayres Rock in Australia that attracts thousands of tourists every year, and to make the pilgrimage complete they climb up the rock much to the detriment of the rock. This is especially important as the Australian government has given the area back to the native Aborigines. In order to protect environments such as Ayres Rock the United Nations, supported the “International Year of Ecotourism” in 2002.
Tourists where ever they visit should be mindful of a set of rules that can support ecotourism. These rules include protection of the environment by keeping to footpaths and not leaving litter or lighting fires especially in fire risk areas and refrain from feeding or scaring the indigenous wildlife. If tourists eat local food they are reducing the amount of products that need to be imported and thereby reducing carbon footprints and supporting local food producers.
Ecotourism tourists can also help the local environments even further by staying in locally owned accommodation, use the resources such as water and air conditioning economically. It goes without saying that the Ecotourist should also wear appropriate clothes, try to learn the local language and behave with respect. This is especially important as tourists have the chance to travel to remote locations where facilities may not be as refined as they are used to at home.