For those of you who don’t know, the definition of ecotourism according to the International Ecotourism Society is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” As a sub-sector, ecotourism is one of the fastest growing sub-sectors worldwide, reporting growth of between 10 – 15% annually.
I strongly believe that ecotourism is more important now than it has ever been before, we are living in a world where animals are going extinct and a world where the richest 1% owns half of the world’s wealth yet countries in Africa are still living in the 3rd world. Does this make any sense to anyone because it certainly does not make any sense to me??? It’s 2019 and there are people out there living in absolute poverty. However, Ecotourism could help change all of this, although it is a little more expensive the money is going towards helping to improve local communities and the economies of countries across Africa so that they too can hopefully one day evolve to be stronger and improve the overall quality of life for its people. It is generally known that for every 8 to 10 tourists in South Africa one job is created through eco-tourism. Can you believe that that is the impact ecotourism has in comparison to normal tourism? This subsector could literally change the world for the better!
Myths About Ecotourism
One of the common misconceptions about ecotourism is the fact that people assume ecotourism means “roughing” it and living out of a backpack. That is the complete opposite of what ecotourism is, it is just as comfortable or if not more comfortable than a normal vacation. Ecotourism doesn’t mean having to sacrifice quality or luxury – these places remain aware of your needs while still bringing nature and culture within your reach, which is the entire point of the trip.
This doesn’t mean that all ecotourism experiences have to be expensive. Accommodations and other services are available for a wide variety of budgets, especially if you are in a developing country. Some of the most inexpensive options may end up giving you the best exposure to the natural and cultural heritage of the area.