Sunday 1 February 2009

( 6 ) Reflections on "Eco-tourism"


  "To be seen to be green" is a marketing tool that tour operators use to lure in clients....true ecologically sustainable tours are far and few between. At best most tours  are only nature appreciation tours and no more.

 The expression "eco-tour" was used by us back in 1981 when the need for  
ecol logically sustainable industries of all kinds was being widely recognised
and discussed. In its infancy, the eco-tour combined the common sense
practises of numerous tour operators, scientific field researchers, campers
and the like who had long been aware of the potential damage their presence
in sensitive areas could cause.
                  However, the expression has also been used loosely in some
instances to describe operations whose focus was simply upon exposing
 tourists to natural and undisturbed habitats. The principles of the eco-tour
 extend well beyond heightening our appreciation of natural beauty!
                 Tourism in natural areas can never be zero-impact. By our very 
presence we disturb the plants and animals we come to see, but we can
aim to have as little impact as possible when visiting these places. Major
advances are being made in our ability to achieve this. The behaviour of 
legitimate eco-tour operators today is certainly a far cry from the Rambos
of yesteryear.
                 Hand in glove with this new direction in low impact sightseeing, 
camping and trekking has come the new breed of traveller- eager to 
experience areas of genuine ecological integrity, ready to meet the physical 
challenge this may entail, and mindful of the duty of care they bear in these 
often  delicate habitats. 


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