The sun is up and summer is fast approaching. Many of you can’t probably wait to hit the beach after being cooped up inside your homes during the long, cold and bleak winter months. Not seeing the bright and blinding light of the sun can make people feel down and depressed. So, let us all rejoice with the coming of spring because we know summer is just around the corner and you finally have an excuse to use your vacation credits for a much-needed travel time.
If you are not a fan of crowds, eco-traveling is a welcome reprieve from your busy scheds and modern life. Going the less traveled road can open up your eyes to the beauty of nature. It is likewise less expensive than going to more popular tourist attractions. However, just be prepared to enjoy the entire experience, both the good and the bad. You can’t always expect a comfy and convenient life when traveling this way but you get to immerse with the people and the local culture that can leave you with many wonderful memories you’ll cherish for your lifetime.
As the largest global service industry, tourism can—and should—play a significant role in conservation and environmental sustainability. That was the message that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon delivered on World Tourism Day in 2012. “One of the world’s largest economic sectors, tourism is especially well‐placed to promote environmental sustainability, ‘green’ growth and our struggle against climate change through its relationship with energy,” he said.
Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the world Scouting movement, was an early proponent of not only treading lightly when you travel, but also doing some good while you’re there. In his last message before his death in 1941, Baden-Powell neatly summed up his philosophy: “Leave this world a little better than you found it.” It’s a sentiment that anchored the “Leave No Trace” outdoor/camping ethos that took root in the 1960s, and it can easily serve as a motto for ecotourists and ethical travelers alike.
While we all want some well-deserved R&R for all our hard work, it doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want during our dream vacation. We leave our footprints in every place that we visit. Let us always remember to leave no trace especially when communing with nature. Leave the place as it is just like when you got there. Every piece of trash you throw messes up the natural ecosystem and significantly affects the wildlife in a bad way.
Just as the 100th birthday of the National Park Service is casting a spotlight on U.S. national parks in 2016, we can expect an enhanced emphasis on ecotourism throughout 2017—declared the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations.
To be sure, the idea of ecotourism isn’t a new one—it’s already known as one of the fastest growing segments in the tourism industry. Put that together with family travel—another of the industry’s rapidly growing segments—and the time is ripe for family vacations that include ecotourism.
At its core, the concept of ecotourism is simple. According to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.”
And, as with so many segments of tourism, the line blurs easily, with ecotourism overlapping with adventure travel, wellness travel and voluntourism, to name just a few other popular segments that often go hand-in-hand with ecotourism.
While most people think of eco-travel as a thing for solo travelers or people who don’t have added responsibilities in life like a spouse and kids, you’d be surprised to learn that eco-travel also works for families who love to travel. Family travels should not revolve around trips to theme parks, resorts or cruise ships because developments in ecotourism ensure families, especially the ones with kids in tow, can still have the time of their lives under the bright skies at night without much modern distraction.
Kids actually love nature and active play does a lot of good for their normal growth and development. No kid will ever shy away from playing in the mud or learning more about unknown animals and fauna in some of the nation’s popular national parks. It is why eco-travel should be something your family should be doing this summer because the threat of climate change, pollution, and global warming are wreaking havoc on the planet and we may never be able to see some of these species in the years to come. So, the best time to do it is now.