What is Tourism?
The term “tourism” is used to describe people who visit different locations for various reasons. It’s a huge industry that influences the economies of many countries throughout the world and has become an integral part of the daily lives of millions of people.
Domestic and international travel are just two examples of tourism, but there are many others as well. There are many various motivations for taking a vacation, from seeking rest and relaxation to exploring new cultures and gaining new knowledge or even bettering one’s health. Tourism allows people to escape their regular lives and see the world.
Tourism is a widespread and fast-growing industry and contributes significantly to the world GDP. According to a report published by the World Travel and Tourism Council in 2017, the industry accounted for 10.2% of the global GDP. Tourism entails various categories such as –
- Adventure tourism
- Business tourism
- Culinary tourism
- Cultural tourism
- Medical tourism
- Religious tourism
- Sports Tourism
This blog will focus on the aspect of ecotourism and why it’s important. Read on to find all about this tourism type.
What is ecotourism?
As defined by the International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism refers to “responsible travel that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people”. Also called “nature tourism”, the objective of ecotourism is to minimize the impact brought about by tourism on the environment. The idea is to focus on uniting conservation, communities and sustainable development through the means of travel.
Ecotourism is a new kind of tourism that encourages responsible travel to natural places with a focus on protecting the environment, helping local communities stay healthy, and educating visitors on conservation and protection efforts.. It is a holistic approach to tourism that tries to minimize the negative effects of travel while maximizing the benefits it can provide to the environment.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNTWO), ecotourism is defined as a form of tourism with the following characteristics:
- All nature-based forms of tourism in which the main motivation of the tourists is the observation and appreciation of nature as well as the traditional cultures prevailing in natural areas.
- It contains educational efforts.
- It is generally, but not exclusively organised by specialised tour operators for small groups. Service provider partners at the destinations tend to be small, locally owned businesses.
- It minimises negative impacts upon the natural and socio-cultural environment.
- It supports the maintenance of natural areas which are used as ecotourism attractions by:
- Generating economic benefits for host communities, organisations and authorities managing natural areas with conservation purposes;
- Providing alternative employment and income opportunities for local communities;
- Increasing awareness towards the conservation of natural and cultural assets, both among locals and tourists.
Ecotourism lies on several key principles, including the following:
- Conservation and preservation: Conservation and preservation of natural places are at the core of ecotourism. This means actively backing and taking part in projects that protect biodiversity, preserve ecosystems, and slow down the damage to the environment.
- Education: Beyond the typical tourist experience, ecotourism aims to teach people about the environment and raise awareness of the need to protect it. Ecotourists learn about local ecosystems, develop their appreciation for nature, and become advocates for conservation thanks to informative programs, guided tours, and hands-on experiences.
- Community engagement: Ecotourism aims to positively impact these communities by offering economic opportunities, promoting local businesses, valuing their cultural traditions, and fostering their involvement in decision-making processes.
Ecotourism gives people a chance to see the amazing beauty of our world while advocating for wildlife conservation and renewable practices. From discovering pristine landscapes to getting to know the local culture, these experiences are unique and enriching ways to get closer to nature. There are a variety of ecotourism activities that enable tourists to interact with the environment, such as:
- Wildlife volunteering activities
- Responsible and sustainable trips and activities with wildlife
- Responsible and sustainable lodging/camping
- Responsible wildlife interactions and conservation activities
- Community-based tourism/cultural immersion
- Nature-based activities such as hiking, walking, tours, etc.
- Educational trips and tours
Tips for Engaging in Ecotourism Activities
We can enjoy the wonders of nature in a way that is ethical and sustainable thanks to ecotourism, which places an emphasis on responsible travel and conservation. Here are some excellent suggestions for engaging in ecotourism:
- Appreciate local traditions and cultures: Consider spending some time learning about local cultures and customs before your trip. Respect local customs, present yourself appropriately, and connect with people there with courtesy.
- Be mindful of wildlife and their natural environments: Keep a respectful distance from wildlife and observe them without getting in the way. Respect protected areas and natural environments by staying on approved pathways to prevent harm to delicate ecosystems and wildlife habitats.
- Support local businesses and communities: Supporting neighbourhood businesses and communities is one of the most effective ways to engage in ecotourism. Engage with local tour companies and guides who are knowledgeable about the area and can provide genuine experiences.
- Educate yourself in your trip: Take advantage of the educational opportunities in your trip. Participate on tours given by authorized local guides who could provide information on the area’s natural and cultural heritage. Take part in educational events, nature presentations, or workshops that will help you understand the environment and conservation activities.
- Reduce waste and recycle: It’s encouraged to carry a reusable water bottle or shopping bag to reduce waste. Choose sustainable substitutes instead of single-use plastics. Recycle wherever possible and dispose of garbage properly in designated bins.
What are the benefits of Ecotourism?
Ecotourism is a type of tourism in which visitors actively take part in conservation efforts and educate themselves about the natural world they visit. The social and environmental benefits of this kind of tourism are highly significant.
- The preservation of natural areas and the protection of wildlife populations are both benefited by ecotourism. Visitors can help the environment by taking part in conservation efforts and contributing to conservation and research efforts financially.
- Creating jobs and bolstering existing enterprises are two ways in which ecotourism contributes to sustainable development in rural areas. This has the potential to boost economic growth.
- Ecotourism provides a more genuine and meaningful form of travel than simply seeing landmarks, museums, and other sites of interest. A better awareness of the natural world can be gained by tourists through ecotourism.
- Ecotourism is a great way for visitors and locals to learn about each other’s cultures and traditions. Travelers can broaden their understanding and admiration of the world by immersing themselves in the practices of the places and people they visit.
Why is ecotourism important?
People who engage in ecotourism need to abide by certain guidelines. The principles of ecotourism are beneficial for the world as a whole, given the constantly deteriorating climatic conditions. Given below are the benefits of ecotourism:
- Ecotourism focuses on unadulterated, pristine natural environments;
- It builds cultural and environmental awareness;
- It encourages positive experience for visitors as well as hosts;
- It minimizes the impact if tourism on the environment;
- It boosts employment and financial opportunities for local people;
- It encourages conservation by providing financial benefits in its favour.
Are you, more often than not, intrigued by the beauty of nature? Do you strongly feel that the nature should be protected? Well then, this is the career for you! Here are some reasons why you should take up ecotourism as a career.
- You will be a part of one of the fastest-growing industries, in terms of size and economy;
- If you are passionate about nature, you will be able to significantly contribute to its well-being;
- You will be responsible for promoting the cultural and economic significance of a tourist destination;
- You will contribute significantly to the increase in employment rate, owing to ecotourism;
- Since tourism is a global industry, you will get the opportunity of working with international counterparts and acquire global exposure.
Scope of ecotourism
Tourism, as a whole, has adversely affected the natural beauty of certain places. This is a consequence of commercializing tourist destinations in order to suit the tourism standards. The constantly deteriorating climate is a wake-up call for tourism enthusiasts. In the face of this adversity, nature tourism has come as a blessing. The impact of ecotourism is positive and beneficial for hosts, travelers as well as the world, in general. Ecotourism, as a career, presents professionals with the opportunity of looking at the world with a different perspective and working towards achieving a better environment to live in.
Ecotourism is catching pace with other forms of tourism and it is happening fast. There are varied types of jobs in ecotourism in different sections of the sector. Some of the job roles are explained below:
- Jobs related to assessment and development of locations:
The job roles that come under this category are – Tourism and Human Resources Advisor, Ecotourism Development Specialist, Sustainable Tourism Development Manager, etc. If you assume a role in this sector of ecotourism, your job responsibilities would include determining if a tourist location has the potential for sustainable tourism, impacts of tourism on the biodiversity of the location, and determining how bringing in ecotourism to the location would benefit the local people.
- Jobs related to sustainable management:
This sector of ecotourism encompasses jobs like Ecotourism Project Manager, Sustainable Tourism Operator, Nature Tourism Ranger, etc. If you plan to work in this section, you will be responsible for the day-to-day functioning of the ecotourism business. Your job role would require to supervise operations and projects, allocate budget, build partnerships with local communities and develop local capacity.
- Jobs related to communications and marketing:
Like any other sector, marketing is an essential component of the ecotourism industry. The job roles that you can take up under this category are – Protected Areas Communications Officer, Tourism Marketing Manager, Tourism Communications Manager, etc. Your job responsibilities would include promotion of the place or firm you work for, using the media platform for campaigning purposes, strategizing marketing campaigns, and attracting customers.
How to start a career in ecotourism
- Educational Qualifications: students can opt for a diploma in tourism if they have completed secondary school education, are more than 18 years of age and have an IELTS score of 4.5 or above.
- Conferences: since a major objective of ecotourism is to create cultural and socio-economic awareness, numerous ecotourism and sustainable travel conferences are conducted all over the world. Attending these conferences will give you a better insight into the functioning of ecotourism as an industry.
- Networking: networking makes up for a large part of being successful. If you want to boost your growth in the industry, you can interact with the prominent people in the industry, connect with them via formal networking sites and engage in community discussions online. This will not only help you understand other people’s perspective but also help you grow in the industry.
- Volunteer: volunteering for workshops and local community sustainability development will help you get a deeper sense of what local people experience when a wave of tourism hits a place. This will help you to build a strong career in ecotourism with a command over local people’s psyche.
- Internship: before you take up a permanent job with an ecotourism firm, opt for an internship. Internships are the best way to learn about the business and its functioning. You will also acquire the experience of working under prominent stakeholders of the ecotourism business.
Many aspects of tourism are resonant in ecotourism, with the difference of a noble cause. Various premium institutes offer travel and tourism courses that can help you understand the nitty-gritties of the industry. Toronto School of Management (TSOM) offers two tourism-related courses for students who are passionate about travel. The courses offered by TSOM are:
- Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Management and Tourism Management Co-op
- Diploma in Fundamentals of Hospitality and Tourism Co-op
If you also want to take up a tourism course and are passionate about this, sign up for a course now! To find out more about the courses offered by TSOM, click here.
- What kinds of jobs are there in ecotourism?
Tour guides, wildlife specialists, environmental instructors, park rangers, and various positions in the sustainable tourism sector are just few of the numerous careers that can be pursued in the ecotourism industry.
- How do I know if ecotourism is a growing industry?
The best way to tell if ecotourism is a growing industry is to look for tour operators and locations that put environmental sustainability first and help local communities.
- What are the biggest challenges of ecotourism?
Ecotourism poses several significant challenges, such as maintaining balance between tourism and conservation efforts, preventing over-tourism, ensuring sustainable development, and ensuring that the rights and interests of local communities are always prioritized.
- What are five good things about ecotourism?
Here are five positive effects that ecotourism provides: it helps conserve natural resources, boosts the economy, creates opportunities for travel and discovery, encourages understanding between cultures, and raises people’s environmental consciousness.
- What are the benefits of eco-tourism for the environment and local communities?
Ecotourism has been identified as a means for encouraging conservation initiatives, preserving natural areas for wildlife, as well as decreasing waste and pollution, which significantly helps the environment. It helps local communities because it encourages sustainable development, creates opportunities for economic growth, and supports initiatives that benefit the community.
- What are some popular eco-tourism destinations around the world?
Popular ecotourism destinations around the world include the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Gunung Mulu National Park in Malaysia, and the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica.