what is eco tourism

I am having trouble with the whole issue of sustainable travel, especially when it comes to travel to parts of the earth that are in grave danger.  We give it fancy buzz words such as eco tourism.  We use marketing strategies that tell people you must see it before it disappears.  We make these trips very expensive and luxurious and to far away parts of the world that give people bragging rights.  But, I see it as, hey, let’s go there and help destroy the environment.

Is Eco Tourism Doing Good or Causing Harm

I hear a lot of my friends talk about wanting to do bucket list travel, get off the beaten path, and do more adventure-type travel.  They want experiences!  I understand that people want to see natural wonders and they want to see it before they’re gone.  And, I fully understand that tourism sustains many of these economies.  But, I am disturbed that we are still traveling to certain parts of the world with fragile ecosystems and upset for what we, as travelers and tourists, do to these ecosystems.

Eco Tourism - The Stuff we Need to Talk about
Is There a Better Way?
I’ve always wondered why this travel is allowed.  So many people think, “Oh, it’s just me.  How much harm can I do?”  Well, you and all of your other closest tourist friends add up to a lot of potential damage.  As for countries that depend on tourism for their economic stability, I have to ask if there’s a better way.  There will be an end to the tourism when we destroy the land, the animals are gone, and there is nothing left of that natural wonder.  Do we really need to have that “once in a lifetime” experience or pictures at the expense of destroying the world?  And, what we destroy in Antartica will eventually affect the rest of the world.

Eco Tourism and how it causes harm

I am in no way an expert on the environment nor am I schooled on the numbers.  These thoughts are solely mine based on what I have read, seen, heard, researched, and find so upsetting.  I have a lot of questions and not a lot of definitive answers, but these questions have gotten me to look at how our travel impacts our environment and it’s wildlife and how we can act more responsibly.
How Can We Do Good?
I would love to jump into a sea lion colony and get a selfie, but the idea of invading their ground and creating an environment that disrupts their natural habitat causes me great anxiety.  How could I want my actions to cause them to become reliant on us or worse, get them so scared they don’t come back to their home?  When I am in Santorini, I walk up and down the steps.  I do not ride an already overworked and overburdened donkey.  As such, I know how I will behave as a traveler and I hope that by voicing my opinions, it opens up a dialogue for you.

There are many ways to engage and view animals in their natural environments while doing no harm.  I know there are many of you that disagree with me and that’s okay, really; it’s what the world is made of.  I once believed that a child who interacted with an animal would gain a better understanding of the issues and gain respect for the world and the ecosystems.  But, honestly, I don’t see that happening professionally or personally.

What do you think of eco tourism?

I have three top pet peeves about “see before they are gone” destinations:  Antarctica, The Dead Sea, and Animal Encounters that I will be discussing in upcoming posts.  In my perfect world, we would not be sending big cruise ships to Antartica; we would not be rubbing Dead Sea mud all over our bodies; we wouldn’t be taking selfies with sea lions and penguins; we would let elephants and camels do their work and not parade them around carrying tourists on their backs.  I hope you stay tuned and get in the dialogue…