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How to Talk to Travellers about Ecotourism

With the declaration of 2017 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the UNWTO has provided an excellent opportunity to talk to travellers about the benefits of ecotourism, sustainable tourism and responsible travel.

In this article we explore some of the reasons why the tourism industry is so vitally important for sustainable development and environmental protection, while providing resources for talking with clients about the benefits of ecotourism and responsible travel.

 

How can ecotourism help protect the environment?

On the 22 of May 2017, the United Nations proclaimed the International Day of Biological Diversity and Sustainable Tourism. Talks were held around the world, stressing the contribution that sustainable tourism makes to the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems. Environmentalists and sustainability experts discussed at length the need for sustainable development in tourism to help finance national parks, nature reserves, animal sanctuaries, research and other efforts to preserve biodiversity.

Natural scenery and abundant wildlife play a significant role in attracting travellers to tourism destinations, thereby creating a substantial incentive for countries who rely on tourism to help fund development. In this way, travellers who choose to engage in nature and ecotourism are helping to pressure governments into adopting measures to protect biodiversity:

“With habitat destruction as the leading cause of species extinction, protected areas form the cornerstones of efforts to conserve biodiversity. For many national parks, tourism provides the financial means and incentives for conservation and justifies the creation of further protected areas.”  UNWTO

See the message from the Secretary-General of the UNWTO, Mr. Taleb Rifai, on how to make tourism an ally in the fight against biodiversity loss:

 

How can ecotourism help local communities?

In many developing countries, there is a dilemma between the economic development of rural communities and the preservation of natural resources. Understandably, economic growth is a priority for populations in remote regions, who see industrial development and the exploitation of natural resources as a necessary evil in the fight against poverty. Ecotourism and responsible travel offers a viable alternative to this problem.

Sustainable tourism development brings necessary infrastructure to these communities, creating jobs and providing opportunities for employment and access to education. Not only does ecotourism create jobs that provide a source of income, it also requires the training and education of highly skilled professionals such as park rangers, environmental experts and nature guides. This can provide a source of pride and identity for populations that conventional industrial development cannot. Read about the Buffalo Tours community-based sustainable development project in Laos: http://www.buffalotours.com/blog/story-seuang-river-laos/

 

How to add ecotourism and responsible travel elements to itineraries:

At Buffalo Tours we offer a selection of tours with responsible travel and ecotourism elements across all our destinations, which can be easily incorporated into any itinerary. We also have partnerships with eco-resorts and nature lodges, as well as sustainability-based social enterprises, so that we can provide completely customized journeys themed around nature and wildlife conservation. You can explore a sample of these itineraries on our website:

Thailand Eco-Adventure (14 days / 13 nights)

http://www.buffalotours.com/Thailand-Tours/Highlights/Thailand-Eco-Adventure-3544.html

Borneo Wilderness & Wildlife (14 days / 13 nights)

http://www.buffalotours.com/Malaysia-tours/Adventure-Tours/Borneo-Adventure-6502.html

Sumatra Discovery (7 days / 6 nights)

http://www.buffalotours.com/Indonesia-tours/Highlights/Sumatra-Discovery-6622.html

 

Further Reading:

What is Responsible Travel? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Marine Conservation and Community Spirit in Bali

How to Support Elephant Welfare as a Traveller

Amazing Animal Sanctuaries in Asia

 

Download our Responsible Travel Handbook Today


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