You want a much needed holiday after your divorce but you feel guilty about the size of your carbon footprint so how do you square your conscience with having a great holiday?
What is ecotourism?
A commonly accepted definition of ecotourism is ‘responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of local people’.
Ecotourism should ideally embrace all of the following: provide a positive experience for visitors and hosts, contribute to conservation projects, educate visitors about local culture and the environment, minimise the negative impact of tourism and co-operate with local people to manage natural areas.
Eco friendly hotels
Hotels can do many things to minimise their environmental impact such as washing linen at lower temperatures, changing bed linen less frequently, using solar power or other alternative forms of energy, installing low flow showers and lavatories, using recycled products and composting food waste. Not to mention being in the middle of a forest.
Check out their eco credentials
Hotels are keen to save energy because it saves them money. Hotels that buy products produced locally and use a locally based workforce also contribute to the local economy.
With the surge in all things green many hotels are keen to jump on the eco friendly bandwagon and can be quick to make spurious claims. Take a good look at a company’s claims before you hand over you hard earned wonga for that eco friendly holiday.
It is often easy for unscrupulous holiday operators to put together a less than honest package which adheres to none of the ecotourism ideals and is about as organic as a factory farmed chicken sitting on a market stall with 'organic' written on it. For all sorts of help and information check out The International Ecotourism Society.
The terms sustainable tourism, ecotourism and responsible tourism are sometimes used interchangeably but there are subtle differences.
This focuses on the way a traveller should behave when journeying abroad. Being respectful, asking permission to take photographs, observing local dress codes all come under the heading of responsible travel.
This is any type of travel that is not mass travel. This covers backpacking, ecotourism, volunteer tourism or any type of atypical holidaying.
This is that which meets the needs of tourists and hosts while protecting and enhancing future opportunities. It shares some of the same ideals as ecotourism but is not limited to natural areas.
Whatever you decide to do being as kind to the planet and its peoples as possible whilst enjoying a holiday is a good thing. However, the distance you travel and how you travel is a big factor in the rate of climate change which ultimately will affect the whole planet. So ecotourism in Patagonia could possibly be more damaging to the planet as a whole than a week in Benidorm. Now, that's a thought.