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Many people love to travel, but when it comes to visiting nature, there is a right way and a wrong way to go. Ecotourism is the right way. Find out why!

Ecotourism

One of the world’s premier vacation hotspots is the country of Costa Rica. It’s known for its friendly locals, stunning scenery, and so much more. Costa Rica is perhaps one of the pinnacle examples of the concept of ecotourism. Ecotourism is the responsible travel of people to natural areas in such a way that it conserves the environment, sustains local communities, and educates the public.

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Not all countries follow Costa Rica’s example. Because of that, they’re missing out on some key benefits to their land and people as we’ll learn in this lesson.

Ecotourism Locations

There are many places known for ecotourism. Besides Costa Rica, they include:

  • The Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest
  • Alaska, the northern-most state in the U.S.
  • Antarctica
  • The Galapagos Islands, famous for large turtles and Charles Darwin
  • The Himalayan Mountains in Nepal
  • Botswana (an African country)

Benefits of Ecotourism

Why do these countries, states, and places bother with ecotourism? What’s in it for them? It turns out, a lot!The obvious benefit is environmental conservation.

For example, imagine a beautiful cave on a Caribbean island, one that has an internal lake and river. Your tour includes the use of a motor boat that pollutes the water and air inside the cave. That’s not ecotourism. Ecotourism is about environmental conservation, or preserving nature by interacting with it in such a way as to minimally disturb it. In the case of the cave, conservation means using a paddle boat on the lake, or not even allowing a boat on the lake inside the cave at all.

Another important aspect of ecotourism is the benefits to the local communities. Ecotourism involves local community members like tour guides and accommodation and food providers. The money goes to the locals, not some far away government’s vaults never to be seen again.Funds generated by ecotourism improve standards of living in remote areas, communities have better roads, cleaner sources of water, higher quality health care, and so on. Ecotourism not only brings jobs but also a better life in general to communities that support environmental conservation.

Ecotourism and Education

Ecotourism serves to educate tourists and hospitality providers about the economic benefits of preserving nature and importance of sustainable tourism. It can provide access to modern education in remote places in much the same way as new medical facilities. Education provides access to important knowledge for local communities. That knowledge can be used to improve human rights within a region. For instance, giving girls an education equivalent to that which boys may receive can help to educate the next generation of women about equality on all fronts.

Equal opportunity for women will mean a larger and more skilled workforce. Such a workforce can then more efficiently build and produce important technology and infrastructure. These educational advancements can improve the living standards for local communities and a region or country at large.

Preservation of Culture

Ecotourism also involves the preservation of a local people’s culture and language much like the preservation of nature. Whereas traditional tourism strives to standardize the tourist’s experience through familiar hotels and food, ecotourism strives to preserve the local culture through native cuisine, language, and music.

By providing locals with the opportunity to showcase their traditional culture and tourists the opportunity for home-stays as opposed to hotel-stays, entire cultures and languages can be preserved, thanks to ecotourism.

Lesson Summary

The next time you go on a tour of nature, make sure it’s an eco-tour. Ecotourism can provide key benefits to you, local communities, and nature. These pluses include:

  • Environmental conservation, or the preservation of nature
  • Benefits to local communities such as jobs and education
  • The preservation and experience of unique cultures and languages

Remember ecotourism refers to the responsible travel of people to natural areas in a way that conserves the environment, sustains local communities, and educates the public.

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