International Year of Ecotourism - 2002
global importance of ecotourism, its benefits as well as its
impacts, was recognized with the launching of the International
Year of Ecotourism by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General
Louise Fréchette on January 28, 2002 in New York.
The state of our planet is a cause for concern
for many environmentalists the world over and efforts to stem
the damage are gaining momentum by the day. Earlier on, scant
attention was paid to the conservation of the ecosystem, abusing
it with gay abandon, but today, we realize that unless the
ecosystem we live in is preserved, there is a slim chance
of our own existence. In other words, ecotourism stems from
a worldview that the human species is no longer necessarily
at the center of the universe. A somewhat selfish realization,
but true nevertheless.
speaking, ecotourism provides an opportunity to develop tourism
in ways that minimize the industry's negative impacts and
to actively promote the conservation of the earth's unique
biodiversity. In other words, it means 'responsible tourism'
to any destination. It can be divided into three segments:
Nature Tourism - based on the web of life or life forms,
Adventure Tourism - dealing with sports activities
in various natural environs, and Culture Tourism -
dealing with aspects of social and cultural heritage
understand the true depth of ecotourism, we need to take a
look at tourism as a whole. Tourism is known to have caused
untold harm to the environment. Look at the hotels mushrooming
in all the hill stations and beach resorts, plastic and polythene
bags choking rivers, lakes and streams, the growing mountain
of waste in the pilgrim towns and heritage sites. All of these
and more have been choking the ecology.
Ecotourism took shape to counteract this
scenario. It not only strives to protect the rapidly disappearing
ecosystems that house most of the remaining biodiversity on
earth, but is one of the few feasible economic tools to finance
conservation of sensitive ecosystems.Unlike what most of us
think, ecotourism is not about forcing oneself to live in
uncomfortable bare huts and cleaning the countryside to atone
for the pollution that we cause back in the cities. In fact,
ecotours are all about having a great time but responsibly,
causing minimum harm to the physical, cultural and social
environment. In other words, it's a holiday out in the
wild, which tells you facts that may change the way you look
at things and allows you to do small things that go a long
way in making this earth a safer and cleaner home for us all.
Today, ecotourism is the fastest growing
segment of the tourism industry the world over and is being
promoted as travel to nature destinations. It's believed to
be the world's largest industry, larger than petroleum, ammunition
and automobiles. Carefully planned and implemented tourism
development can play an important role in conservation.
Did you know that:
- Orange or banana peels that we throw
out of car windows takes almost 2 years to decompose.
- Plastic bags and aluminum cans take a
whole 100 years to become biodegradable.
- Glass bottles take a million years to
biodegrade, and we still dont know how long plastic
- Three times as much rubbish is dumped
into the oceans as the weight of fish caught.
- Discarded fishing nets and bait ties trap
and drown birds.
- Turtles swallow plastic bags, mistaking
them for jellyfish.
- Cigarette butts thrown in forests and
parks can cause forest fires; less than 20% of Indias
land is under forest cover.
Thumb rules for ecotravel:
- Learn about your destination before
you get there. Being sensitive to the local customs and
norms will increase acceptance of you and enrich your experience.
- Follow the rules. Staying on trails,
packing up your trash, and keeping specifed distances away
from wildlife are a few ways to minimize your impact in
- Patronize local businesses to ensure
maximum community and conservation benefits.
- Do nothing that will harm the social,
environmental and ecological wealth of a place
- Walk, walk and walk its
the best way to enjoy nature. Besides nothing can be more
ecofriendly. (And think of all the calories you will be
- Mix leftover food, peels, paper, etc.
with soil before burying them to ensure faster decomposition.
- Wash away from the stream and throw
the dirty water over a wide area so it gets filtered through
- Detergents and soaps are best avoided
while camping as the chemicals in them harm fish and other
- While choosing hotels, go for those
that support the green cause.
- When buying exotic plants or animals,
make sure trade in them is not banned.
- Buying animal skin, ivory products and
products made from endangered species is illegal and will
land you in prison.
To ensure that ecotourism follows a truly
sustainable path will require increased cooperationand
partnerships among the tourism industry, Governments,
local people and the tourists themselves