When and where did Eco-Friendly travel begin? For clarification, Eco-friendly and ecotourism are used interchangeably along with the idea of green travel. Ecotourism is a travel concept that may be confusing. The Encarta Dictionary definition is “a form of tourism that strives to decrease ecological or other damage to areas visited for their natural or cultural interest.” And the idea of Eco-friendly is older than you think. Yes, the concept of green travel goes back as far back as Cesar and up through history to our current idea of Ecotourism that started in 1980 and increased to become one of the largest tourism segment.
Examples of Ecotourism show up in western civilization with Cesar’s travelogues from Britain and Gaul.
Then Marco Polo’s explorations documented in “The Travels of Marco Polo.” Ecotourism at that time meant conquest, trade, and pursuit of knowledge.
Charles Darwin the father of ecotourism:
In 1835, Britain’s naturalist, Charles Darwin, sometimes referred to as the first ecotourist when he traveled aboard the HMS Beagle. Spending six weeks on the Galapagos Islands resulted in his landmark book on evolution, the Origin of the Species.
Today’s ecotourism roots:
The roots of today’s ecotourism started in the 1970s. In Africa animal populations weren’t protected and poaching wasn’t put to a stop. This realization that certain animals faced extinction brought subsequent changes in how safaris and hunting trips were conducted in Eastern Africa. This was a landmark in ecotourism history. Poaching and hunting ivory became illegal. This idea to protect those animals and the environment from the unnecessary pressure caused tourists provided a kernel for ideas for today’s ecotourism.
Growth in the travel segment:
Green travel, once a trend, is now part of mainstream consumer and corporate culture. Starting in 1980, a fast pace of growth in ecotourism burst into a major travel segment for two reasons:
Our growing awareness of the need that we should not destroy the precious natural resources. More and;
More people wanted to explore more natural environments rather than visit places served by mass tourism.
Initially, Ecotourism appealed to people who are concerned about ecology and enjoy travels that focus on local culture as well as adventures in the wilderness, with a goal of personal growth and learning to live in a new way that benefits the planet and its peoples. For years the idea of ecotourism travel partnered with trekking through the wilderness or diving with sea turtles in exotic locations. Now, the concept of Eco-friendly adds a hotel in Time Square as just as likely to call itself green as a lodge in the Costa Rican rain forest.
Benefits of Ecotourism:
Ecotourism may add sophistication in the lives of peoples living in areas of ecotourism because of the influx of more disposable income from tourisst. For example, places like the Amazon rainforests and also the Caribbean reef are good examples of the growing influence of ecotourism. In later blogs, we look at the environmental impact of increased ecotourism on these and other areas.
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), founded in 1990 is in the forefront of ecotourism by providing guidelines and standards, training assistance, research, and publications. Please visit: www.ecotourism.org .