What is Εcotourism and Why Ιt’s Ιmportant?
Ecotourism. Not just a travel trend but a new reality. Are you ready for it?
Ecotourism, Geotourism or Sustainable tourism is becoming a new way of traveling. And one that might bring the whole tourism industry upside down.
Let’s first take a look at the definition. Given by the International Ecotourism Society, Ecotourism or Sustainable tourism is “the responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”.
In other words, it means traveling to a destination and respecting the local community and ecosystem.
Minimizing any impacts usually imposed by traditional tourism.
Generating financial benefits for both local people and travel professionals.
While at the same time offering an authentic, local experience to the traveler which helps promote greater understanding and appreciation for nature, local society, and culture.
So why is ecotourism important for professionals working in the tourism industry?
Global warming, deforestation, and mass pollution have appeared on the headlines for years now. But most of us didn’t pay too much attention to the warnings. Since we couldn’t actually see the direct impact on us, we didn’t pay much attention to the words of scientists and environmentalists.
But that’s changing, or rather has already changed.
Our actions have started taking their toll and that’s shifting the face of the world as we know it.
Because we are starting to see the harmful impact of our actions on the planet, travelers are shifting their tastes, favoring experiences and hotels that are aligned to Sustainable tourism. Eco-friendly amenities that were once considered optional or a “plus” are now at the base of a guest’s demands.
This radical change in the travelers’ preferences is bound to stir up the tourism industry and probably change it forever.
So let’s dig deeper into some of the ways you can incorporate the aspects of ecotourism into your travel business and reap the benefits of your efforts.
Eco-consciousness & zero-impact
Many travelers have already started paying considerable attention to which accommodation providers incorporate green practices in their services.
From recycling to energy-efficient lighting and the usage of eco-friendly products, many hoteliers are starting to pay attention to these once-described as little details, making them a central part of their services and marketing efforts.
Some resorts have even gone as far as offering their guests experiences like tree planting and growing organic products. Other hotels are already offering fully vegan options. A stark example is the luxurious Saorsa 1875, whose duvets are made without the use of wool, silk or feathers and its restaurant is purely plant-based.
Getting a positive-luxury Butterfly Mark is a great way to stand out from the competition and attract eco-conscious high-end travelers.
A great example where technology and tourism work for the greater good is Ecosia. A search engine and hotel booking platform that uses the profit from the searches to plant trees.
Recycling, using environmentally-friendly materials, using renewable energy sources are just a few examples you can implement. There are countless more ways to make your business “greener”.
For some professionals, these might sound like amenities that offer no immediate results. While the ROI from such improvements might not be as immediate as others, it can be equally important. It does not only help attract eco-conscious travelers but it can also reduce costs.
Eco-consciousness has started to become a new way of thinking. Travelers start to pay more and more attention to the ecological consciousness of the hotel or activity provider they choose and reward them with better reviews.
As a result, it is becoming a necessary aspect of how a business operates and a valuable element for its marketing strategy.
Respect the locals
Local communities are one of the most valuable resources a travel professional can have at his/her disposal.
For instance, they can offer valuable insights into a community’s / country’s culture, cuisine, and places of interest. This is invaluable for creating memorable, genuine experiences that stir the soul of your guests.
While many communities have thrived with the arrival of tourism in their regions, others have been plagued by problems such as pollution and unemployment.
To take things one step further, many Indigenous communities have suffered throughout history by the arrival of foreigners. From the beginning of colonialism to the immense blight of plastic caused by over-touristed places, local people are usually the ones who pay the toll. But this doesn’t have to be the way.
As stated beautifully by Avner Ofer, a famous travel photographer “travel is about connecting with people and cultures — not about seeing a famous spot and leaving“.
Help local communities thrive and they will help you back. Show the positive impact your business has on its community.
Care for the wild
We know that time spent immersed in nature is good for us. The soft sound of birds chirping. The warm touch of sunlight embracing our skin while it softly through the forest canopy. Not to mention seeing nature’s majestic creations, animals wild and free, in all of their glory.
All these can have immense benefits for the human soul. They allow us to connect with our deeper self and enter a meditative state of peace and tranquility.
Ecotourism acknowledges that and incorporates the magical experience of being immersed in nature. And doing all that while aiding in the preservation of the local fauna and flora.
That’s especially true for wildlife-related ecotourism. As stated by the Wildlife Conservation Network, sustainable ecotourism is proving to be a powerful tool for stimulating local economies and empowering local people to protect wildlife, rather than resorting to short-sighted exploitations such as poaching and deforestation.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone. In other words, travelers have the opportunity to experience the unique feeling of seeing animals in the wild, locals benefit from employment opportunities and you get to see your business flourish with more bookings and top reviews.
For instance, hotels like the El Pedral in Argentina, the Prince of Wale’s Guesthouse in Romania or the Sapmi Nature glamping site in Finland are doing an exceptional job in infusing the surrounding nature in the experiences they offer to their guests.
Forestbathing, hiking into unbeaten paths, sailing in pristine waters or stargazing at marvelous night skies are just a few ideas of experiences you can offer to your guests to make their stay unforgettable.
The world is changing and it’s changing fast.
With the rise of the Internet, Social Media and the huge technological advantages in image-making equipment it is now easier than ever before to see, capture and share footage of environmental disasters.
The world has been shocked by videos like the plastic straw stuck on a turtle’s nose and the rivers of plastic. Numerous other photographs have traveled across the world, showing the future in a world of rising temperatures, while others have shown us the impact of over-tourism in local communities and the dark side of captive wild animals encounters.
As a result, travelers, especially millennial travelers, are starting to pay attention and reward travel professionals with ecological consciousness and respect to local communities.
The tourism industry is being democratized and the traveler is shaping it according to their needs and wishes.
Hence it is paramount for modern travel professionals to adapt their business model accordingly and embrace sustainability.
So you’ve managed to incorporate green practices into your travel business. You now offer blissful experiences that mesmerize and educate your guests about the local culture and ecosystem. What’s next?
Well, you wouldn’t want to mitigate your guests’ experience by making their booking a hustle, right?
Triparound allows you to offer a wholesome experience to your guests from the beginning of an activity, its booking. Increase your guest’s satisfaction and get top ratings by making the booking of your activities feel like a breeze.
Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you be not just good, but the best at what you do.