Travel Green 9

Eco-Tours and Responsible Travel

As travelers reach the far corners of the world, they are faced with the responsibility to preserve the fragile environments they visit. This idea of traveling responsibly is called Eco-tourism, conscientious travel to protect the environment and nourish its cultures. Here are some guidelines to help make the right decisions to positively affect the world you visit:

RESPECT OUR FRAGILE PLANET


The Earth’s ecosystem is a fragile infrastructure dependent on balanced cyclical nurturing. The more we tread on it, the messier it becomes. Unless we combine our efforts to help in its preservation, the unique and beautiful destinations we visit may not be here for future generations to enjoy.

TAKE ONLY PHOTOS, LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS


These two simple phrases sum up the heart of eco-tourism. Do not leave litter of any kind, and do not take souvenirs from historical sites and natural areas. In some instances, like taking a piece of coral from the Great Barrier Reef, it’s a crime. In the wilderness never disturb anything you can avoid disturbing. Leave the pretty rocks where they are; the “it’s only one rock” attitude goes out the window when a million people each take one rock from one forest.

THE ROAD MOST TRAVELED


Always follow designated, well-marked trails and resist the urge to explore the forest. Do not disturb animals, plants or their natural habitats, and hopefully they’ll not disturb you in return. Consider each ecological wonder a special aquarium where you should not “tap the glass”.

EDUCATION IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE


Educate yourself about the geography, customs and manners of the region you’re visiting. Get to know the culture before you arrive and know which of your actions or standards may not be accepted smoothly. Aborigines, for example, believe that taking their picture “steals their soul.” Tourism provides a positive boost to local people. Attending local events encourages indigenous pride and cultural heritage, enabling many traditions to be preserved. These traditions present a lasting, honest perspective of the destination you visit.

ECO-SOUVENIRS


Souvenirs are a vital part of every trip, special for their uniqueness and direct mental link to a fabulous vacation memory. As a concerned eco-tourist, do not buy products made from endangered plants or animals, such as ivory, tortoise shell, animal skins and feathers. Purchase souvenirs from local artists to keep cultural traditions alive. Dine in locally-owned restaurants; exploring the gastronomic scenery is just as important as visiting a destination’s main attractions.

ECO-FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS


Support conservation-oriented organizations already working to preserve the environment. Our travel agency tries to select responsible tour operators and guides whose practices are based on sound eco-conscious beliefs. Maintain an eco-friendly attitude when choosing destinations.

IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL 


Globetrotting with the world in mind is a more satisfying way to travel, challenging you to learn about the places and people you visit and help sustain their fragile environments, economies and cultures. Through increased awareness and an earnest desire to help protect natural and cultural resources for the good of the planet and for the generations yet to explore, you can trek to the four corners with a positive impact. Travel with purpose.

Article shared by Sue Shimkus, Lake Zurich Travel, a member of the American Society of Travel Advisors, representing TravelSense.org.

Unless we combine our efforts to help in its preservation, the unique and beautiful destinations we visit may not be here for future generations to enjoy.