Ecotourism to a faraway place such as Antarctica is a place people normally wouldn't visit. However, the stark beauty of the world's coldest continent draws cruise ships on a regular basis thanks in part to the global warming crisis. Costa Rica's dense jungle paradise has seen an uptick in explorers thanks to the diversity of life. Ecotourism should be an impetus for improving our environment instead of wrecking it.
Vacations are about renewal, rest and feeling good. When you take a vacation in an ecotourist area, you feel great, because you get to see a preserved part of the world that is outside of the mainstream traffic. You also feel good, because you are spending your dollars to support.
The effect humans have on the environment has shown greatly, over the past decades. People are realizing these effects more today, and taking responsibility for it by taking part in ecotourism. Ecotourism gives people the opportunity to experience the beauty that surrounds us in some of the world's most preserved places. In doing so, the goal is to place the least amount of impact on theses areas, unlike commercial tourism.
Vacations are about renewal, rest and feeling good. When you take a vacation in an ecotourist area, you feel great, because you get to see a preserved part of the world that is outside of the mainstream traffic. You also feel good, because you are spending your dollars to support the continued preservation of a corner of our planet, so that you can return on future trips and know that future generations will get to witness it, too.
The whole point of ecotourism is to gather support for small, protected areas by exposing more people to their beauty and significance, so I do think it encourages travelers to think outside the box, but one has to wonder if once these areas are more known they will be able to sustain their natural beauty.
I do believe ecotourism encourages many people to visit undeveloped areas that they otherwise would not. This has both positive and negative consequences. On the one hand, more people can enjoy what were once remote areas, with little sacrifice. On the other hand, ecotourism has the unfortunate effect of hurting the environment, because so many more people are in the area. It leads to more development of natural areas and, consequently, those natural areas become smaller and smaller.
The very fact that ecotourism has its own name means that people who would not normally think to visit ecologically fragile areas would, at the very least, be aware of it upon hearing about it. Those people who are curious after hearing about it would likely be willing to at least give it a shot. Therefore, on top of the environmental advocates who visit these areas, a whole new set of people could be drawn in by the possibility.
The whole concept of ecotourism is to bring people to places where the environment is threatened. Many of these places were not prior tourist meccas. However, with the added tourism, comes added education and, thus, added activism. So, even though more people are visiting, it serves the greater good, by increasing awareness of the problem.
I think that ecotourism does encourage tourists to come into certain areas. It is always nice to see new places. But, with ecotourism, it is even better to notice how measures are taken to save or improve the world. Tourists who visit these places may become inspired to practice environmentally-conscious methods upon returning home.
Ecotourism has had several effects on travelers;
First, many people who would otherwise not have traveled are traveling because they can justify their trips by calling them "ecotourism." A few clicks online and a whole new world of vacation destinations opens up.
Second, those people who have always been "armchair environmentalists" can now visit the places they have been working to protect. A wide range of groups from Earthwatch to the Scientific American are offering opportunities for those interested to take part in expeditions. These range from archaeological digs to counting butterflies in the Costa Rican rain forest to tagging black bears with radio collars in the Rocky Mountains.
So ecotourism not only provides new places to go and new things to do--it also gives ecotravelers justification for doing so--convinced they are all helping the environment by visiting these places.
There is one small problem with this increase in the number of people visiting these fragile, threatened environments--we are killing them.
From whale watching in the Pacific Ocean--which is changing the migration habits of many species of whales--to Safaris in Africa--which are eroding the eco-systems necessary to the creatures we go there to "watch"--we are killing them with our "love."
Ecotourism makes its money by limiting the number of visitors to an area. By limiting the number of visitors, firms can raise the cost charged per visitor. By limiting tourism to those who have saved for years or are already wealthy, the ecotourism industry becomes more sustainable, since it does not rely on a high volume of visitors that will fluctuate, relying instead on the top 5% of the world's population.
Ecotourism also improves profitability by keeping nature in a more pristine state that requires less infrastructure to support it. Ecotourists will accept or even expect rough roads, boat rides rather than ferries, and staying at low-tech resorts instead of well-staffed spas.
Ecotourism doesn't inspire many more tourists to visit areas that adventurers and exploratory types already have. But it provides higher profit margins than general tourism, which is why it has exploded.
The truth is that unfortunately most people don't care about their environment. They destroy is without any sense of consequences. It's difficult to believe that a large segment of the population would be interested in visiting other environmental treasures when their only interest is destroying their own. I feel this is limited to a small segment of the population.