Travelling to a place that is not familiar, exploring how the sunlight hits different places, meeting new people and getting acquainted with the myriad cultures and traditions our planet inhabits, will never get old. However, as the ‘vacation mode’ takes over, we get so caught up in our holiday spirit that we forget to realize the impact of our travel and actions on the places we visit. As of 2018, tourism was predicted to be responsible for an estimated 8% of global greenhouse emissions — a percentage that’s only expected to increase with time. In light of the severe damage caused to the environment, it is imperative that we consider the ways in which ecotourism can be far-reaching.
Ecotourism has been gaining popularity because of its focus on environmentally friendly practices, cultural and natural heritage, and social and economic benefits for local communities. A suitable balance must be maintained between all three aspects to guarantee long-term sustainability. To support biodiversity and give back to the local communities, sustainable travel has often proven to minimize the negative impacts and also benefit the local economy. Opting for trains, buses or public transport in cities and avoiding planes is an excellent way to reduce our carbon footprint while travelling.
Ecotourism is an extension of environmental conservation. It is a no-brainer that the cycle of ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ is a motto that if followed judiciously can majorly impact the current state of the environment. Instead of following our traditional methods, we must accustom ourselves to a few changes that will eventually help our ecosystem breathe. Surprisingly enough, we fail to notice the impact we cause on animals when we visit wildlife sanctuaries or scribble sweet nothings on the walls of historic buildings. This disrespectful behavior allows the masses to mercilessly exploit nature.
Nature does not need us; we need it. Therefore, it is essential to give back to it. By conserving our natural heritage, we give rise to a lot of economic benefits for local communities who have constantly been overshadowed by the widespread urbanisation. One must know that an ecosystem that has the maximum amount of diversity is the richest. Protecting our ecosytemprovides an alternative source of livelihood to local communities that can further promote sustainability. These opportunities can provide jobs to several underprivileged individuals. As a result of this, an improved lifestyle can be achieved with a stable source of income.
The UN Environment Program and the UN World Tourism organization defines sustainable tourism as ‘tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.’ The aim of sustainable tourism is to amplify the benefits of travel and dial down the negative impacts caused by it. Creation of national parks, nature reserves and other protected areas to preserve the biodiversity are an example of sustainable tourism. For instance, Bhutan is called one of the happiest countries in the world because of its tourism principle of “high value, low impact.”
While travelling, our stay comprises of the maximum money spent on excessive usage of unnecessary products that promotes ample waste generation. Ecotourism also means valuing our natural resources and protecting our natural surroundings. Many hotels have started using solar energy panels, promoting recyclable products, and sourcing from local manufacturers to ensure reduction of energy consumption without hampering the overall comfort and guest experience. Instead of focusing on the glimmering fancies, we must trace back to the luscious greens for their is no gift greater than the gift of nature.
Travelling is much more than adventures, picturesque locations for photographs, unique delicacies, and communities whose way of living is very different from what we’re accustomed to. To be able to witness all of this and more, we must travel more responsibly and recognise that, while our vacation destinations may be a getaway for us, they serve as the homes and means of livelihood for the local population. When we visit a new place, we have the opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the place and people and let them know that we value their culture, traditions, and way of living as much as we value ours. The satisfaction of impacting the environment, biodiversity, and local communities in a positive way is much more than reckless travel and tourism.
Watch animals playing in their natural habitat rather than paying to see them in captivity. Plan hiking expeditions for vibrant views of nature and up-close encounters with a variety of wildlife rather than hopping in a car. Bring a cloth bag from home and avoid purchasing several plastic bags. Invest in a local handicraft instead of wildlife items. While being mindful of our natural environment, travelling can still be exciting and pleasant. Let’s have this in mind as we plan our next getaway.
Full Name: Bikrant Tiwary
Designation: CEO of Grow-Trees.com
Bikrant Tiwary – CEO – Bikrant Tiwary, an alumnus of IIM Calcutta and a Master’s in commerce from Ranchi University, has over 20 years of diverse experience in insurance, media, and the social sector. His exposure to the certificate program of Harvard Business School gave him a new vision for the business. He has been a winner of Silicon Valley Fellowship organized by AFI and has also been nominated by U.S. Consulate General Mumbai for their EcoHeroes campaign. Bikrant is the first CEO of Grow-Trees.com and the former National Head of GiveIndia, the largest philanthropic online platform. He had left his corporate career in 2010 with a passion to bring positive social changes to society.
About Grow Trees:
Grow-Trees.com which has created the concept of ‘Greet with Trees®️’, where one can plant trees to support projects like Trees for Tribals, Trees for Tigers, etc., and store them in their TreeBank®️ and/or dedicate via eTreeCertificates®️ to greet one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one.