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Green tourism, a form of ecotourism, is low-impact tourism with an eye toward protecting the environment and culture of an area. The United Nations has set up certain criteria for ecotourism, but green tourism can cover a wide range of standards and conditions, from fully compliant to less stressful on the environment than standard tourism. There are many opportunities for green travel available worldwide.
The number of tourists traveling the world has been increasing, which makes green tourism not only preferable but a necessity in some areas. It might seem wiser to some people to protect natural habitats and pristine, fragile environments by banning visitors completely to these areas, but many areas depend on the income from tourism to support the local economy. Green, sustainable tourism is considered offer the best of both worlds, protecting the ecology of an area while keeping local schools and businesses thriving.
Green tourism doesn't necessarily mean a vacation spent roughing it with little or no comforts. On the contrary, many people believe that it can be a wonderful adventure. Ecotourism resorts and ecolodges exist in almost every style and taste. From recycling and gray water systems to tents on tree house-like platforms with a rain forest canopy, there are numerous vacationing options. Simple efforts, such as keeping to designated pathways, eating where locally grown cuisine is served and visiting cultural areas instead of typical tourist attractions, can go a long way toward "greening up" a standard vacation.
A very green holiday can be spent studying the local flora, fauna and cultural heritage of the area, as well as learning ways to protect and preserve it. Guides, tours and wildlife-viewing platforms help tourists experience all that an area has to offer while making little or no impact on the environment. There also are trips available in which vacationers take an active part in improving the local area by working to preserve the natural habitat, helping to build a school or performing other services that benefit the area. These vacations can be a lot of work, but many people find them to be very rewarding and interesting learning experiences.
As green tourism becomes more popular, there are likely to be more vacationing options available. More resort areas likely will take steps to have less of an impact on the surrounding environment, and sustainable tourism could easily become the standard. Local economies might be able to take full advantage of the booming tourist trade without compromising the local environment, allowing tourists to enjoy the beauty that these areas have to offer for many years to come.
@umbra21 - See, I don't necessarily want to go and do something active like that. I'd rather just have a green living style vacation.
When I manage to get away all I want to do is relax.
But there are plenty of green hotels and things to choose from. I've even noticed that the ordinary hotels are starting to add green options, like the option to hang up your towels so they aren't washed after every use.
@Mor - That makes me think of some of the eco travel experiences you can do through the new companies that are popping up everywhere.
You pay them and they put you somewhere as a volunteer, helping to catalog endangered species and work with environmental repair. They also offer other options like working with orphans and so forth.
You get a chance to see the country as well, but you can feel like you're giving something back. I have to say that I would definitely pay for a chance to work with, say, giant pandas, but I'm not sure I would pay to work with orphans. I think that there are plenty of places that would happily accept your assistance without needing huge amounts of money.
I've even heard that some of them ask you to pay for a job like teaching English, which is something most countries will pay you to do.
To my mind, one of the most successful and wonderful examples of ecotourism, that I think everyone should support if they can, is the program that is run by the people who live near the mountain gorillas in Africa.
There are several countries which contain mountain gorillas, as some of their habitat is on the border between two countries.
On one side, the people have realized how much money they can make from tourism and that it is a sustainable resource, so the local communities protect the gorillas and the environment and welcome people to come see them. On the other, the gorillas are still commonly caught and killed by poachers.
There are only around 800 gorillas left in the
world and unfortunately, they don't know where the border is. So, people should support this travel and tourism initiative as much as they can, so that it becomes more and more obvious to everyone that protecting and promoting the gorillas is the way to go in the future.
It's definitively something I'm planning to do in the future.