Eco-tourism is tourism that involves travelling to natural areas with the intention of observing and learning about the environment and sustaining its natural integrity and beauty. This type of tourism is also known as green tourism or ecologically sustainable tourism.
The main goal of eco-tourism is to minimize the negative impacts of tourism on the environment, while still providing visitors with an authentic experience. This can be done in a number of ways, such as using green transportation and eco-friendly accommodation and tour operators.
Benefits of Eco-Tourism
There are many benefits of eco-tourism, both for the environment and for the tourists themselves. One of the most important benefits is that it helps to preserve natural areas. Through sustainable tourism practices, we can help to protect endangered species, conserve nature for its own sake and preserve the natural beauty for future generations.
Eco-tourism can also have a positive impact on the local economy, as ecologically friendly tourism businesses are often owned by locals. This allows money to stay within the community, instead of going to large, international corporations.
Supporting eco tourism also allows us to have a more authentic travel experience. When we patronize eco-friendly businesses, we can be sure that we're not causing harm to the environment. We also have the opportunity to learn about unsustainable practices that we should avoid in order to live in harmony with nature.
Ecologically unfriendly Tourism practices
Here are some practices that subject animals to cruelty and suffering and risks such as the emergence of zoonotic disease.
Trophy hunting - Trophy hunting treats wild animals as mere resources to be exploited for profit and entertainment, not respecting them as the sentient beings they are. This also hurts the overall population of a species which may bring a significant imbalance to the eco-system.
Elephant riding - Elephants suffer in the name of entertainment. Elephant rides are a popular and lucrative tourist activity. Still, behind the scenes, the animals are taken from their mothers, their spirit is broken, and they endure cruel and stressful ‘training’ to make them tolerate being ridden.
Swimming with dolphins - Dolphin entertainment confines these curious creatures in captivity and forces them to perform highly unusual behaviors such as "waving," "tail walking," and "speaking" by withholding food. Captive dolphins are extremely stressed due to constant physical interaction with humans, noisy crowds, blaring music, and concrete tanks that affect echolocation. Interaction with wild dolphins has the potential to spread disease. These could pose serious health risks to both dolphins and humans.
Petting lion cubs - As infants, cubs are taken from their mothers and fed from a bottle before being passed from stranger to stranger. This frequently goes on for hours at a time with no breaks. This can result in dehydration as well as psychological stress. It can also lead to illness because their immature immune systems are unprepared to deal with diseases to which they may be exposed.
Taking close-up selfies with wild animals - These animals are frequently beaten into submission before being deemed safe for selfies and are thus left out of the camera's frame. As babies, these animals are taken from their mothers and secretly kept in filthy, cramped conditions.
Commercial zoos – Zoos which are basically captive environments lead to daily stress and a lack of stimulation frequently resulting in abnormal and self-destructive behaviour, such as pacing, walking in tight circles, rocking, swaying, or self-mutilation
When planning your next trip, consider choosing a destination that is supportive of eco-friendly tourism practices and does not offer the above experiences.
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