Ecotourism is a smart way to combine travel and environmentalism, according to most voters on the Kids' Environmental Report Card . However, many kids feel that its value depends on how responsible tour operators and travelers are.
In addition, a large number of poll responders reported they were unfamiliar with the term "ecotourism."
Great! But What Is It?
The concept of ecotourism is fairly new. It has become increasingly popular in both conservation and travel circles over the past two decades. Ecotourism is a form environmentally friendly adventuring, centered on some, if not all, of these traits:
- Conscientious, low-impact behavior
- Sensitivity towards biodiversity and local cultures
- Support for local conservation efforts
- Sustainable benefits to local communities o Educational opportunities for both the traveler and local communities
Ambitious ecotourism programs have been created in many parts of the world, including South and Central America, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands, and Africa. Whether helping to protect endangered sea turtles or bringing much-needed medicine and supplies to residents of remote tropical villages, eco-travelers can make a huge difference to the world’s habitats and inhabitants.
Money spent by eco-travelers can also support environmental efforts. Through one program initiated by the Nature Conservancy, travelers are now paying admission fees to Bolivia’s Eduardo Avaroa Reserve — a lush natural area with hot springs and geysers, surrounded by steep mountains. The fees are generating more than three million dollars per year to pay for environmental protection.
That’s a lot of greenbacks going to a green cause!