While ecotourism began to gain popularity in the 1980s, it has more recently received significant attention. For many, ecological issues have become some of the most significant concerns in modern times.
In 2010, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) declared that the tourism industry is responsible for more than 5% of all global carbon emissions. The same organization estimated that the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry are increasing by 20% to 34% every year. The World Economic Forum and Booz & Company conducted research and estimated that carbon emissions will double by 2035 if nothing is done to mitigate the problem. On the positive side, sustainable tourism has greatly increased as more travelers have become concerned about climate change.
So it is quite reasonable to try ecotourism in order to preserve our planet.
But what does ecotourism mean?
In short, it’s about responsible traveling that helps to preserve the natural areas and environment of your destination. Basically, your impact should be minimal while providing a positive experience for you as well as your hosts.
In recent decades the popularity of leisure tourism has had a significant impact on sensitive natural areas, which are highly influenced by large numbers of tourists visiting for their holidays. Some of these natural areas are so sensitive that without the right trip management they can be damaged with little chance to recover. If the amount of tourists coming to these areas continues to grow, it could result in significant environmental degradation. Recently preserved, closed and little-known areas are becoming well-known and popular. Experienced tourists often want to visit remote and inhabited areas to get away from crowded tourist sites and long lines to the top destinations, or beaches with no space to spread out.
The popularity of ecotourism shows an increased awareness in people of their impact on the environment and their ability to support more sustainable approaches. Additionally, ecotourism can provide an alternative economic development opportunity for local communities with few other income-generating options. Moreover, ecotourism can also be educational and raise activism among travelers, making them more conscious of conservation issues.
The positive impact of ecotourism is evident and it is highly important that it is gaining more fans among travelers worldwide. According to a survey conducted by TripAdvisor, 71% of its members stated that they would choose more environmentally friendly trips during the next 12 months. The challenge for numerous organizations and tour agencies is to attract as many tourists as possible to participate in eco-travel in order to help preserve the planet.
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