How to Practice Ecotourism

How to Practice Ecotourism
Ecotourism is more than just a buzzword used by travel companies to get people with green principles to spend money. The Nature Conservancy defines ecotourism as travel that emphasizes "conservation, education, traveler responsibility and active community participation." If this travel ethic appeals to you, you can practice ecotourism in virtually any corner of the globe.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Choose a place to visit. Think of a place whose natural beauty enthralls you or whose culture has always intrigued you. Alternatively, if funds and/or time are limited, choose a place you can visit without spending a month's salary or using half your vacation time getting to and from your destination.
Step 2
Find an ecotour operator or ecolodge. Look for a business which seems to have genuine roots in the local community and a deep level of respect for the natural environment. If you are travelling on a budget, investigate volunteer vacation opportunities. In some cases, you can save money by contributing your labor toward helping repair the environment or assisting the people who live there. Remember, though, in the world of ecotourism, "volunteer" doesn't always mean inexpensive. See the list in Resources for some options for eco-tours, no matter which end of the price spectrum you prefer.
Step 3
Prepare for your trip. If you plan to participate in a new activity, or visit an area with a vastly different climate from your own, get a list of suggested equipment or clothing from the lodge or tour operator. If leaving the country, make sure your passport is in order. In order to avoid cultural misunderstandings, you may also want to research the customs and language of the local people.
Step 4
Visit your destination with respect. As one ecotravel company, Incredible India, explains, a responsible ecotourist seeks to "minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people."

Tips & Warnings

 
Remember that you are a guest in the locale you choose to visit. Show your appreciation for your vacation experience by supporting businesses run by people who live in the area. Ask permission before taking anyone's photograph.
 
Remember that you are a guest in the locale you choose to visit. Show your appreciation for your vacation experience by supporting businesses run by people who live in the area. Ask permission before taking anyone's photograph.
 
Ecotourism requires heightened alertness to the consequences of your behavior. Avoid harming the natural environment through litter or use of harsh chemical products which can adversely affect the ecosystem. Do not remove any flora or fauna. Let go of cultural preconceptions about how things should be done, both to respect your hosts and to more fully enjoy your vacation.
 
Ecotourism requires heightened alertness to the consequences of your behavior. Avoid harming the natural environment through litter or use of harsh chemical products which can adversely affect the ecosystem. Do not remove any flora or fauna. Let go of cultural preconceptions about how things should be done, both to respect your hosts and to more fully enjoy your vacation.

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