The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.”
Basically, ecotourism is regarded as a novel solution to the issues of sustainable development and environmental conservation. As the population of the planet continues to grow, the consumption of resources has inevitably increased to an unsustainable rate.
The 2002 Living Planet Report by the World Wildlife Fund indicated that Earth’s population would need to colonize two other planets by the year 2050 if resources continued to be exploited at the same rate.
Since then, has anything changed?
Well, yes and no. While the overall rate of energy consumption may have slowed slightly over the past decade, the general trend continues upward. However, in recent years, there has been an increased global effort towards finding alternative sources of energy, such as solar power and tidal energy. International governments are also taking action to conserve the environment and combat climate change.
As well as being the fastest-growing tourism region, Asia is also the largest and most rapidly developing area in the world, and requires a lot of resources to support its growth.
With its idyllic beaches, delicious food, fascinating culture, and relatively low costs, it’s no wonder why Southeast Asia is at the center of the tourism industry, with tourism constituting 12% of region’s GDP. But the popularity comes at a price.
Earlier this month, the Philippines announced plans to close the popular tourist spot, Boracay Island, which sees more than 2 million visitors every year, for a period of 6 months. In March, Thai authorities also announced a 4-month closure of Maya Bay, whose crystal waters and white sands quickly became famous after being featured in the 2000 film The Beach.
China is a country that has been fighting a battle against environmental pollution and poverty for a long time, and ecotourism could present a solution for both by providing a way of conserving the environment while also creating job opportunities and aiding development in China’s many poor, rural areas.
Tourism is gradually taking on a new meaning. Instead of simply taking photos of famous landmarks or crowding up the beaches, tourists are beginning to crave true experiences, and are appreciating, and supporting the local communities of the destinations they visit.
In an increasingly globalized world where international travel is becoming more and more popular, ecotourism could have an enormous impact on environmental protection. Traveling the world might just be one of the ways of saving it.