We say it often. In fact, we claim to be the pioneer ecotourism proponent in the Philippines, but what exactly do we mean by it?
Ecotourism or ecological tourism is responsible travel to fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas. In Cultureight Travel lingo, it's our un-touristy thrust.
Trips are made to be low impact and small scale as much as possible. This way, each traveler is given much exposure and education about the community visited. Carbon footprint is also minimized, if at all removed. Essentially, ecotourism also provides funds for conservation if not directly benefiting the development and empowerment of local communities and fosters respect for different cultures and for human rights.
Importance of Ecotourism
The state of our environment is fast becoming unbearable to our detriment. Ecotourism is a way of ensuring future generations can experience the wonderful environment we have today. With the greater goal that our habits and lifestyle can change until we become careful guardians of the resources around us. Or, that last part is just us.
Who is it for
Ecotourism appeals to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. Generally speaking, it focuses on volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on the planet. It typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Ecotourism is a conceptual experience, enriching those who delve into researching and understanding the environment around them. It gives us insight into our impacts as human beings and also a greater appreciation of our own natural habitats. So in a sense, it gives traveling a whole new dimension - putting a bigger heart and soul into it.
Effects of Ecotourism
Responsible ecotourism has these impact:
With programs that minimize negative effects of conventional tourism on the environment, ecotourism has the environment - which characteristically involves the community, animals and plant world - at the center. It promotes recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation as well as creation of economic opportunities for the local communities. That's why we at Cultureight Travel support local guides and establishments, because we believe that doing so would create less environmental damage and would further promote self-sufficiency to the communities we visit.
Ecotourism enhances cultural integrity of local people. We believe that tourism is based primarily on culture, all else takes second place - peace and order, natural wonders or if people know how to speak English. When people are proud of their culture, others are attracted to where the pride comes from. So they check out the place.
Ecotourism vs. Sports Tourism vs. Adventure Tourism
These three categories, being specialized types of tourism share common characteristics though they are distinct from each other. Sports tourism involves sports, either through direct or indirect participation of it. Adventure tourism covers activities that are adrenaline pumping. Sometimes though, these three could be all in one trip.
Voluntourism – Sometimes controversial, voluntourism is defined by voluntourism.org as: the conscious, seamlessly integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination and the best, traditional elements of travel — arts, culture, geography, history and recreation — in that destination.
Responsible tourism – Often used interchangeably with sustainable or socially conscious tourism, responsible tourism does not have a firm definition and can therefore be used for many types of travel that may or may not be comprehensive in their efforts at “responsibility.”
How Filipinos can benefit from Ecotourism
With a rich cultural heritage and more than 7,100 islands, the Philippines stands a great profit from ecotourism. Being a tropical country, it is home to a great number of endemic flora and fauna species. Plus, the classification of being in a third world country means sustainable tourism is imperative.
It is our greatest hopes that this year, the Philippines may grow more in promoting and practicing ecotourism. We at Cultureight Travel will be at the forefront. Travel with us wisely.
This article draws much input from an article written by Carolyn Wild, an ecotourism consultant based in Canada. She is a member of TIES (The International Ecotourism Society) board of directors. She is currently working on an ecotourism project with Aboriginal Elders in Manitoba.