Ecotourism &Sustainable Tourism By Satish Menon
Ecosystem Ecosystem is the system in which we live - the system which include the earth, the water, the sky and of course the living and the non-living objects in all these systems. It is a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit.
Tourism ‘The practice of traveling for pleasure. Thus, a tourism which contains a visit to an Ecosystem is known as Eco- tourism. But, that is not all. Eco-tourism is not only travelling to such Ecosystems, but also conserving them.
What is Ecotourism? Perhaps the most over-used and misused word in the travel industry. But what does it mean? The International Ecotourism Society defines it as "responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local people".
What is Ecotourism? A walk through the rainforest is not eco-tourism unless that particular walk somehow benefits that environment and the people who live there. A rafting trip is only eco- tourism if it raises awareness and funds to help protect the watershed.
Defining The Experience: Eco-tourism Adventure Travel Sustainable Tourism Responsible Tourism Nature-Based Tourism Green Tourism Multi-Sport Adventures Cultural Tourism
Defining The Experience: Clearly all of these definitions are debatable. What one person or company calls "eco" another calls "sustainable" and so on. The main distinction between these terms is the motives and ethics behind them. Is the environment being cared for? Is there genuine effort to help the local economies? Are resources being left intact for future generations? Is the local culture being honored and valued and not just photographed?
What is Sustainable Tourism? Any form of tourism that does not reduce the availability of resources and does not inhibit future travelers from enjoying the same experience.
What is Sustainable Tourism? If the presence of large numbers of tourists disturbs an animals mating patterns so that there are fewer of that species in the future then that visit was not sustainable. Kayaking school on a free flowing river is an example of sustainable tourism. Big game hunting in Alaska is not.
"Ecotourism andSustainable Development" Martha Honeys definition is quickly becoming the standard. Most serious studies of ecotourism including several University programs now use this as the working definition.
Here then are Martha Honey’s 7 defining points: 1. Involves travel to natural destinations: These destinations are often remote areas, whether inhabited or uninhabited, and are usually under some kind of environmental protection at the national, international, communal or private level.
Martha Honey’s 7 defining points 2. Minimizes Impact: Tourism causes damage. Ecotourism strives to minimize the adverse affects of hotels, trails, and other infrastructure by using either recycled materials or plentifully available local building materials, renewable sources of energy, recycling and safe disposal of waste and garbage, and environmentally and culturally sensitive architectural design. Minimization of impact also requires that the numbers and mode of behavior of tourists be regulated to ensure limited damage to the ecosystem.
Martha Honey’s 7 defining points 3. Builds environmental awareness: Ecotourism means education, for both tourists and residents of nearby communities. Well before departure tour operators should supply travelers with reading material about the country, environment and local people, as well as a code of conduct for both the traveler and the industry itself. This information helps prepare the tourist as The Ecotourism Societies guidelines state “to learn about the places and peoples visited" and "to minimize their negative impacts while visiting sensitive environments and cultures".
Martha Honey’s 7 defining points Essential to good ecotourism are well-trained, multilingual naturalist guides with skills in natural and cultural history, environmental interpretation, ethical principles and effective communication. Ecotourism projects should also help educate members of the surrounding community, schoolchildren and the broader public in the host country. To do so they must offer greatly reduced entrance and lodge fees for nationals and free educational trips for local students and those living near the tourist attraction.
Martha Honey’s 7 defining points 4. Provides direct financial benefits for conservation: Ecotourism helps raise funds for environmental protection, research and education through a variety of mechanisms, including park entrance fees, tour company, hotel, airline and airport taxes and voluntary contributions.
Martha Honey’s 7 defining points 5) Provides financial benefits and empowerment for local people: National Parks and other conservation areas will only survive if there are "happy people" around their perimeters. The local community must be involved with and receive income and other tangible benefits (potable water, roads, health clinics, etc.) from the conservation area and its tourist facilities. Campsites, lodges, guide services, restaurants and other concessions should be run by or in partnership with communities surrounding a park or other tourist destination.
Martha Honey’s 7 defining points More importantly, if Ecotourism is to be viewed as a tool for rural development, it must also help shift economic and political control to the local community, village, cooperative, or entrepreneur. This is the most difficult and time- consuming principle in the economic equation.
Martha Honey’s 7 defining points 6. Respects local culture: Ecotourism is not only "greener" but also less culturally intrusive and exploitative than conventional tourism. Whereas prostitution, black markets and drugs often are by-products of mass tourism, ecotourism strives to be culturally respectful and have a minimal effect on both the natural environment and the human population of a host country. This is not easy, especially since ecotourism often involves travel to remote areas where small and isolate communities have had little experience interacting with foreigners.
Martha Honey’s 7 defining points And like conventional tourism, ecotourism involves an unequal relationship of power between the visitor and the host and a commodification of the relationship through exchange of money. Part of being a responsible ecotourist is learning beforehand about the local customs, respecting dress codes and other social norms and not intruding on the community unless either invited or as part of a well organized tour.
Martha Honey’s 7 defining points 7) Supports human rights and democratic movements: Ecotourism demands a more holistic approach to travel, one in which participants strive to respect, learn about and benefit both the local environment and local communities.
Martha Honey’s 7 defining points In many developing countries, rural populations living around national parks and other ecotourism attractions are locked in contests with the national government and multinational corporations for control of the assets and their benefits. Ecotourists therefore need to be sensitive to the host countrys political environment and social climate and need to consider the merits of international boycotts called for by those supporting democratic reforms, majority rule, and human rights.
The Ecotourism guidelines The conscious attitude, actions, participation and interactions on the part of the individual traveller directly affect the outcome for all involved. As a thoughtful and responsible traveler there are several things you can do before, during and after your journey to ensure the experience is in line with the values of "ecotourism" and minimize your impact on the host country.
10 Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travellers. 1. Prepare for your trip: Educate yourself about your destination. Be on the lookout for news and current events about the area. Learn about local history, customs and culture as well as vital ecosystems. Learn at least the basics of the local language. A simple hello, please or thank you goes a long way. Approach travel with the desire to learn rather than just observe.
10 Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travellers. 2. Respect local traditions and etiquette: Wear clothing that is accepted by the local culture. Be aware of peoples sensitivity to being photographed; always ask first. Observe local customs. Be perceptive of your own cultural values and how they affect your judgment of others. Remember that you are the visitor. There are many different concepts of time, personal space, communication etc. which are not wrong or inferior, just different. Act as an example for other travelers who are less informed than you.
10 Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travellers. 3. Avoid ostentatious display of wealth: What may not seem a display of wealth to you may be considered extravagant by another culture. For example, a camera hanging around your neck or something as simple as a wristwatch or wedding band. Tuck these items away when visiting rural communities. Leave jewelry and other unnecessary valuables at home. They only create barriers and inhibit genuine interactions. Dont hand out sweets and loose change, this only serves to corrupt and create a begging mentality where none existed before.
10 Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travellers. 4. Be flexible in your expectations: Approach your adventure with an open mind and you wont be disappointed. Sometimes plans change and an opportunity for more in-depth learning or a unique cultural experience presents itself. Adapt yourself to the situation rather than trying to adapt the situation to you.
10 Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travellers. 5. Conserve resources: Often times the resources in an area visited by tourists are under a great deal of pressure already. Be aware of the resources that are being used because of your visit. This includes your personal consumption of items like water and wood for building fires or specialty foods that had to be transported from afar. Dont allow your guide to hunt endangered or threatened species or harvest rare plants for your consumption. A large luxury hotel in the middle of nowhere takes far more resources to build and maintain than does a small family run inn.
10 Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travellers. 6. Practice environmental minimum impact: Follow the International Leave No Trace Rules. Pack out everything that you bring in including toilet paper (if there is no toilet) or plastic water bottles (use purification tablets or a filter). Go to the bathroom at least 200 feet (70 paces) from any water source. Remove litter that others left behind. Do not remove any objects, plants or animal products from nature. Be aware of local endangered or threatened species so as not to purchase souvenirs made from their skin, feathers etc. Not only is this impacting on the environment but it is also illegal.
10 Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travellers. 7. Choosing a tour operator or guide: Thoroughly research your tour operator or guide by asking them pointed questions about specifically what they do that is "eco" and how they involve the local communities and economies. The "greening of tourism" has led companies to promote themselves as "eco" simply to sell trips. The larger the company with more luxurious accommodations, the less likely it is to be true ecotourism. Be persistent in your inquiries of an international or local tour operator.
10 Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travellers. 8. Support local economies: How will your visit directly benefit the local economy or entire community? This is an integral part of true ecotourism. Use local transportation, guides, inns, restaurants and markets. This helps create a buffer zone for the environment surrounding protected natural areas by giving locals an economic alternative to potentially destructive practices. Community based ecotourism spreads the wealth and workload.
10 Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travellers. 9. Bridging cultural gaps: Take the opportunity to be a cultural ambassador. Much of the worlds image of western tourists is based on the unrealities of television and magazines. Look for situations for cultural exchange whereby learning about each others lives is mutual. Getting to know the person sitting next to you on a local bus or the person cooking your food takes some effort but is often a rewarding experience.
10 Codes of Conduct for Responsible Travellers. 10. Continued ecotourism: Ecotourism doesnt need to end with your flight home. Follow through on your commitment to conservation in your everyday life. Share your experiences with others to foster a greater understanding of our world. You will have seen and learned much from your journey. While it is still fresh in your heart and mind take action using the various agencies, grassroots organizations and resources available to you.
The Benefits of Ecotourism There are many different benefits that can be derived from Ecotourism if it is used as a tool by local communities rather than large outside interests. However, the results are a direct reflection of the motivation behind the project. Since these motivations are often mixed it follows that the results are often mixed too.
The Benefits of Ecotourism It is a promising means of advancing social, economic, and environmental objectives in developing countries. It offers countries new opportunities for small-enterprise investment and employment and increases the national stake in protecting their biological resources.
The ProblemForest and marine habitats are being destroyed and some of the wildlife they contain is being driven to extinction under the pressures of hunting, logging, agriculture, and fishing.Where areas have been officially reserved for nature conservation, many developing country governments lack sufficient funds to manage and protect them. These areas are being destroyed because they are not fully valued for their role as natures genetic reservoirs of the worlds biological resources.
The Win Win Solution A recent USAID evaluation has identified ecotourism as an enterprise with potential positive contributions to the conservation of endangered biological resources. Contributions of ecotourism include raising local awareness about the value of biological resources, increasing local participation in the benefits of biodiversity conservation (through new sources of jobs and incomes), and generating revenues toward conservation of biologically rich areas.
The Win Win Solution Wildlife and its habitats in developing countries are becoming increasingly popular attractions for international tourism. Many of the richest areas, biologically, are in the developing world. Growing numbers of ecotourists are flocking to the mountains of Nepal and Madagascar, the tropical forests of Costa Rica and Thailand, and the beaches of Belize and Sri Lanka. Nature tourists bring with them money to spend, money that creates jobs and incomes for households and communities in and around national parks and other protected areas.
The Win Win Solution Ecotourism enterprises, tour agencies, guide services, lodges and private reserves as well as such satellite activities as crafts industries, transportation and food services, also generate revenues and foreign exchange. Governments can use this income in operating and protecting natural habitats.
The Win Win Solution By recognizing the importance of protecting biological diversity, ecotourism is raising appreciation for biological resources and leading to better conservation practices by developing country populations. It must of course be properly regulated and managed to protect against adverse environmental and cultural effects that can come with overbuilding of tourist facilities and influx of populations around fragile ecosystems. Assuming such oversight, nature tourism can benefit both the environment and economic development.
The Win Win Solution These experiences suggest that ecotourism can be a constructive component of strategies to promote, at the same time, both environmental protection and development of private enterprise.
Promoting Ecotourism 1. Identify and mobilize funding for potential private nature tourism investments. Ecotourism enterprises, like most business ventures, need operating capital.
Promoting Ecotourism 2. Formulate fiscal policies to promote nature tourism and to maximize its economic and environmental benefits. Encourage public policies (such as visitor fees, regulations for tourism operations, and investment incentives and land-use zones for tourist facilities) that promote environmentally sound tourism as well as community involvement in providing services and products such as guides, lodging, transport, and crafts.
Promoting Ecotourism 3. Encourage international exchange of information and know-how about nature tourism opportunities and operations. Foster participation by developing country public agencies and private service providers in international nature tourism associations that can help them, through technical and management training, to meet the needs and interests of international and domestic nature tourists.
Promoting Ecotourism 4. Monitor and certify the performance of ecotourism activities. Support emerging international movements aimed at promoting "green tourism." Green tourism takes ecotourism a step further, promoting environmentally responsible tourist operations that conserve energy, recycle waste, and instruct staff and tourists on proper behavior in parks and protected areas.
Promoting Ecotourism 5. Fund research on ecotourisms developmental and environmental impact. Information is needed to demonstrate to decision-makers the economic contributions nature tourism can make. Better understanding of the impact of ecotourism (such as in resort development) is needed to regulate and enforce against environmentally damaging investments.
Outstanding Issues: Risk: Unregulated, nature tourism can damage the environment and corrode local cultures. Pollution from runaway resort and hotel development around fragile park areas in Costa Rica, Nepal, and Thailand exemplifies poorly managed tourism activity.
Outstanding Issues: Perceptions: Developing countries fear that their parks and protected areas will become playgrounds for international tourists, with the land reserved for conservation and no longer available for farming to feed and employ their growing populations.
Outstanding Issues: Lack of information: More and better information is need about the actual and potential economic contributions of nature tourism ventures and practices. Inclusion of visits to natural attractions as part of regular recreational tourism needs to be explored along with "purer" forms of nature tourism and travel.
Outstanding Issues: Distribution of benefits: Where international travel and resort chains or urban investors control the tourism industry, the local economic effect of ecotourism may be reduced. Early studies of ecotourism expenditures suggest that in such cases not much perhaps 20 to 30 % of the tourist money stays in the national economy; even less reaches local communities.
Ecotourism in India In India too the movement is gathering momentum with more and more travel and travel related organisations are addressing the needs of the eco-tourists and promoting eco-tourism in the country.
Ecotourism in India Though it sounds clichéd, India is one of the most unique countries in the world. The physical, economical, cultural and religious diversity of India has always been an enigma for the rest of the world. Hence, people from all over the world have been attracted to this huge and mysterious land in the east. With India rapidly emerging as a major economic stronghold, every sector in the nation is witnessing tremendous growth and development
Ecotourism in India The varied nature of destinations provides comparative advantages for tourism in India. Most of these destinations, such as hill stations, archaeological monuments, and pilgrim centers had been developed historically
Ecotourism in India In general, ecotourism is mostly confined to wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks, the mountainous regions of Himalayas and the islands. Some of the most prominent forms include Wildlife tourism, Agro tourism, Village tourism and even Religious tourism. Of these, wildlife tourism is emerging as one of the most popular forms of ecotourism in India.
Ecotourism in India Every part of the country is hoarded by heaps of eco regions full of natural sightseeing locations. The great Himalaya alone is home to many of world famous eco sites and let tourists avail eco excursion like trekking, wildlife viewing, orchid viewing, glacier viewing, birding, mountain-biking, nature walk.
Eco regions in India Eco regions of India are result of integration of different geographical structure and its varied topography. Like other regions in possession of single or less diverse geographical feature, India divides itself in many eco regions, each having their own climate and physical structure. Whether it is Western Ghats, North-Eastern regions, Western Himalayas, Gangetic plains or Eastern Himalayas, each of the eco regions are different from one other.
Eco regions in India With their significant differences in their state and characteristic of natural resources, vegetation and wildlife inhabiting, the eco regions of India conceal in its lap great wonder to be viewed and offer to eco traveller what only few regions on the earth have to show off.
Best time for Eco travel in India The best time to take your eco trip to india depends upon the places you are willing to visit during the tour. As the country is famous for its diverse topography, many eco place have their own specific time to visit. Due to diverse climate factor, it is tougher to tell what time it is best for eco travel to India
Best time for Eco travel in India The time between October and March are said to be the best time to visit India. And also for wildlife viewing, which is indeed the biggest eco delight in the country, these months are the best time to visit India. This is the time when most of the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are open for visitors. Besides, most of the celebrations and festivals like Dussehra, Deepawali, Christmas, Eid, Holi, Camel fair at Pushkar and Chariot procession at Orissa occur during this time (October-March). Traveling during this season assures you having the best possible view of popular Indian eco places along with exploring its uniqueness of its diverse culture, tradition, custom and rich history.
Why Ecotourism in India? As the fastest growing sector in the tourism industry, ecotourism is an attractive investment proposition. The World Tourism Organization predicts that: India will be hosting 6.00 million tourists in 2012.That figure will rise to 8.90 million by 2020.
Why Eco Tourism in India? Ecotourism if properly implemented can integrate conservation and rural development by helping to protect valuable natural areas, by generating income. Stimulating economic development through tourism expenditures and providing jobs and market for local goods.
Why Eco Tourism in India? • Work opportunities for local people • Indirect employment generation for people in other states • income for business and individuals • broadens economic base • inter-sectoral linkages can occur • multiplier effects • encourages entrepreneurial activity • infrastructural provision • improvement of services • promotes regional development • Increased economic benefits from intact environment will also increase community support for habitat conservation. • Enhances local understanding of the importance of Eco Tourism • Supports conservation though profits generated through ecotourism enterprises.
Constraints to Ecotourism development in India Size of the area Accessibility Underdeveloped tourist facilities Lack of capital and expertise Cultural compatibility