Vana Belle, A Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui
Living with social awareness and environmental friendliness has become part of our daily routines. Even in travel there has been a shift in how we behave. Now more than ever, travellers are choosing ecotourism for their holidays.
The International Ecotourism Society has defined ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education."
Ecotourism generally refers to nature-based holidays - the focus is on protecting ecosystems and natural habitats. Ecotourism likely involves taking a trip to wilderness, unadulterated nature to observe wildlife. This brings people back to nature.
Responsible travel and responsible tourism, however, recognises that the local communities of more populated areas frequented by travellers can benefit from their tourism. Both practices promote ethics, preservation, conservation, and sustainability.
These days, countless touring companies specialise in responsible travel. If you can dream it, they have a tour for it - diving, spa and ayurveda, cycling, safaris, and so much more. But even 5-star quality luxury beach stays that are designed to promote responsible tourism are available around the world today. By staying at locally-owned hotels, hiring local guides as drivers and supporting local businesses, you can travel responsibly without compromising any comfort and luxury.
Responsible tourism starts with the golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated. Simple respect. When we as visitors consider the local community as our hosts, we start to become responsible tourists. We embrace, honour, and preserve the culture are visiting.
The worldwide organisation Leave No Trace advises travellers on how to actually leave no trace behind to minimise our footprint. They note that travellers should leave what they find, minimise campfire impacts by following fire-setting area rules. More universally, they advise travellers to respect host communities by asking before taking photos and using resources.
We are lucky that travel has become an easy, affordable feat. These days, we can get to every corner of the world, no matter how remote, and see how the other half lives. But as a community of travellers, we share the responsibility of keeping the countries, communities, and cuisines alive and thriving. Ecotourism and responsible travel are not just today’s trend or the cool thing to do. They are a commitment and way to show gratitude for the beautiful destinations we get to visit.
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