What is Ecotourism? Is Ecotourism the tourism industry’s new buzzword?

Muriel Strode said, “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” She definitely didn’t mean to leave a trail of PET bottles and potato chip packets in the pristine hills!!

Well that’s what has been happening in the world. In our desire to explore the unexplored and travel the world, we didn’t realize the trails of high impact unsustainable ways of mass tourism were getting laid.

But back in 1980’s a young architect saw the destruction the world was gearing towards. The destruction aided by unfettered desire for tour and travels. With this foresight Héctor Ceballos-Lascuráin envisioned an alternative tourism form. One which included trips to relatively undisturbed natural areas and provided strong socio-economic benefits to the host communities. Soon after that, he coined the term “Ecotourism” and its definition. This definition was officially adopted by IUCN – The World Conservation Union – in 1996.

Today, carrying forward the torch, The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) gave the most acceptable definition as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people and involves interpretation and education”. Here education encompasses both staff and the guests.

For travellers and hosts interested in pursuing Ecotourism, the definition might seem a bit daunting at first. To make it more comprehensible and easier for the practitioners some principles are also proposed. These principles encourage authentic ecotourism. They are:

  • Minimize physical, social, behavioural, and psychological impacts.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness, and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Produce direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
  • Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
  • Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
  • Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.

No, not just a buzzword!

Currently, with all the talk of sustainability there is a new breed of ecologically conscious travellers cropping up.

Then there are tourists who are not as environmetally inclined. They are seeking destinations off the beaten track to just get away from the crowds.

Also not to forget the backpackers who are into travelling not just for sightseeing. They want to experience the culture of a place.

Lastly, there are some responsible holidaymakers who believe in doing their bit of good while enjoying time away from their busy schedules.

All these new demands from the vacationers has brought the tourism industry onto its feet. From this an alternative form called Ecotourism has emerged.

Although the whole industry is buzzing with the word, Ecotourism is not just a buzzword or a catchphrase. It has decades of history rooted in the principles of ecological preservation and economic development.

Ecotourism is non-consumptive. It creates an ecological conscience. It holds eco-centric values and ethics in relation to nature. Also simultaneously ensures the sustainability of local people.

Rural Tales is proudly bringing this holistic approach to the global tourism industry.  We have founded the true “Incredible India” experience in rural Uttar Pradesh on the values of Ecotourism. We have made a symphony of nature and local culture. It fosters fantastic experiences for the travellers and ensures development of the local community. From here you take not just the sights but an engaging mix of thoughts, feelings and an eco-conscience. And the best part, you leave behind a trail of happy, self-sustained villagers instead of PET bottles and potato chip packets!

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