Suffice to say that ecotourism as a philosophy is a success, and ecotourism as an industry has evolved to become a viable field as well. Since the 1980s, ecotourism supporters have found a way to take the package holiday from a trip of pure enjoyment and exploitation to one of a bit of work, a bit of education and a lot of satisfaction from a job well done. An increasing number of travelers are foregoing their favorite destinations to take part in a new concept that involves conservation of natural resources, preservation of the environment and restoration/preservation of threatened cultures.
In remote locations around the world, tourists are bringing together the best of social and ecological efforts. We were able to witness this first hand during a trip to Torrevieja, Spain. Who, or what, benefits from this change? Local plant life, local wildlife and traditional ways of making a living are all being preserved by ecotourism. All because modern day travelers choose to make their way to less populated regions of the globe, visiting and working at the same time. In doing so these travelers learn about local customs and traditions and help preserve natural resources. One concrete example of this is the prohibition in a growing number of countries to removing found treasures.
For example, items that might have been transported from Greece, Egypt or Ital to a foreign museum or private collection in the past are now staying in their "home" environment. This same prohibition is being applied to such natural habitats as coral reefs that have been extensively damaged in the past by collectors. In some places it is now illegal to remove coral from these underwater reefs.
Another example would be Prince Edward Island, which encourages ecotourism generally and works to preserve its natural heritage in particular. This change of focus, this new state of mind alone, may help keep the legacy of the island alive for centuries. Such places can be preserved and protected with just a basic effort to conserve the natural resources and beauty. Ecotourism can contribute to this effort by inviting travelers who will respect and protect while they enjoy the unique cultural and natural aspects of the location.
First developed as an idea or a philosophy in the 1980s, ecotourism has now become an industry and a major influence in the tourism field. Many supporters of this new trend note the progress being made as residents around the globe become aware of the negative impact traditional mass/recreational tourism has had on sensitive habitats and local cultures. For those unfamiliar with the ecotourism philosophy, proponents have developed a working definition. Ecotourism involves visiting significant, often remote environments, such as those known for bird watching, outdoor adventure and scientific exploration. In making these trips, travelers learn about the natural habitats and unique social structures in the region. It is important to remember that ecotourism as a new concept is far different from traditional tourism and world travel.
There are some goals common to both, but ecotourism has the added vision of seeing locations that have little or no man-made, artificial environments. What is there to enjoy is usually not created for the tourist, but is an integral part of life in that region. Another key factor in ecotourism is education, as travelers study and learn as part of the itinerary. The knowledge gained can help preserve resources but it can also help protect other travelers from the dangers occurring naturally in the environment.
But unlike traditional tourism, these dangers are not removed or dealt with. They remain a part of the ecotourism experience.
Kurt Schefken routinely creates web pages on subjects dealing with tips on the city of torrevieja in spain. You can learn about his contributions on torrevieja spain and costa blanca salt lakes here.