What Ecotourism Means to Us at Buckingham & Lloyds
At Buckingham & Lloyds, we believe in travelling for good. Our holidays and adventures should be wonderful, life-changing experiences not only for ourselves but for the people and places we visit. Ecotourism is a fantastic approach to travel that provides the opportunity to educate yourself about new cultures and environments, visit places that have barely been seen before and help to keep the landscape of our planet and its people protected for future generations to enjoy.
What is Ecotourism and Why Is it Important?
According to the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”. It centres around avoiding mass tourism and, instead, travelling to natural areas and tailoring the purpose of your adventures to taking part in eco-friendly projects around the area. Ecotourism is vitally important because it helps developing countries generate income whilst simultaneously protecting their fragile environment.
Eco-travel tours and conservation programmes are designed to expose travellers to the realities of the places they visit without the glamorous veil cast by mass tourism. This relates to both environmental issues, such as deforestation or declining wildlife, and social issues, like poverty.
Ecotourism destinations can be anywhere in the world and usually refer to natural areas, such as rainforests but may also apply to manmade environments like urban areas. Ecotourism holidays are organised through providers that are committed to being low-impact, non-consumptive, locally orientated and small-scale, all of which are designed to minimize your carbon footprint.
The accommodation you stay in is designed to blend in with its surroundings and its waste is usually managed on-site, a perfect description of our London aparthotels. Food tends to be locally sourced, too, and in keeping with the typical cuisines of the location. The lower number of permitted visitors ensures disturbance is kept to a minimum but can result in a more expensive trip.
Benefits of Ecotourism
Ecotourism was created to have a positive impact on the people and the environment of the destinations that are visited. Although, like anything, there are some potential downsides to ecotourism, the benefits seek to outweigh them.
Ecotourism benefits for local people
In certain parts of the world, ecotourism offers employment opportunities to the indigenous people, such as cooks, national park rangers, guides and cleaners in accommodation. Income can also be brought in through the sale of handicraft products to visitors. Ecotourism presents local people with educational opportunities, helping them train to become wildlife guides and to develop other careers within the tourism industry. This not only leads to financial benefits but may also improve their family’s lifestyle with a more in-depth understanding of the environment around them.
Ecotourism benefits for the environment
Through tourist spending in an ecotourism destination, the local economy is bolstered and value is given to initiatives such as rainforest preservation and long term sustainable development. These economic benefits result in local governments and communities becoming motivated to keep protected areas unspoiled, as preservation is attractive to tourists and will only enhance future travel experiences.
Key Principles of Ecotourism
Ecotourism as a concept is dedicated to uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. There are many considerations to factor in when determining what makes effective ecotourism and it is the responsibility of those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities to make sure they are taking the correct approach. By following these key principles, all parties involved in ecotourism can rest assured they’re getting involved in the best way possible.
Involve local communities in the development of ecotourism
It is crucial that local communities are given maximum control over the level of tourism and the kind of tourism that impacts their home. If local communities feel their natural area is under threat from over-tourism, they should have the right to influence the number of visitors permitted.
Additionally, any income generated by ecotourism projects should be invested back into the local economy to support the local communities that welcome tourists into their land and protect their cultural heritage. Infrastructure projects that are designed to encourage more ecotourism by catering for the needs of tourists, such as accommodation or roads, must also ensure the new infrastructure will benefit the indigenous people, too and the benefit must outweigh any potential negative environmental impact.
Reduce the negative impact on the environment
The majority of ecotourism projects involve exploring areas that are remote and environmentally sensitive. Visitors to these kinds of areas must ensure they do all they can to promote responsible tourism by following the rules and creating as little disturbance to the natural environment as possible.
For the hotels and restaurants that host ecotourism activities, it is imperative they do all they can to maximise their sustainable practices. This includes using maintaining low emissions through renewable energy and keeping waste to a minimum. Tourists also share this responsibility and must ensure they adopt a sustainable travel mentality whenever they visit. This may be applied to their personal resources such as making sure their water has come from a sustainable source and is stored in a sustainable bottle – not from a pack of plastic water bottles. Sustainable tourism is something we, at Buckingham & Lloyds, are immensely passionate about and you can read more about sustainable travel, here.
Respect the rights and environment of local people
For many eco-tourists, the purpose of their trip is to immerse themselves in the local culture and learn about how other people live. For hosts of ecotourism projects, it is vital they acknowledge that the people who know the most about the culture of a destination are the people who live there. They should seek to employ local people to educate using their knowledge and expertise of local cultures and traditions.
While there is plenty to be learnt by visiting a place far away, tourists must do what they can to familiarise themselves with an area’s cultures and traditions before they embark on an ecotourism adventure. This may include learning about the area’s religious beliefs and what this means for appropriate clothing and food and drink consumption.