Eco-Tourism

ECOTOURISM AND ITS SCOPE; HOW I AM PROMOTING AND IMPLEMENTING IT

While we travel it is of primary importance that we travel responsibly and in harmony with the ecosystem as well as the local culture, by not littering and ensuring the income goes directly to the locals in the destination we travel too. I am a passionate traveler and an equally serious conservationist. I wish to encourage more and more people to travel for good. Here is a little bit about Ecotourism.

What is Responsible Tourism?
Responsible tourism or Eco tourism refers to traveling in a way were the ecology and biodiversity of the landscape is not affected through any tourism activity. It also means utilization of locally procured products during the travel, staying in local homestays and villages, eating locally made food. This ensures benefit to the economy of the destination directly and minimal leakage. This also entails keeping one’s carbon and plastic food print minimal.

Three Aspects of Ecotourism:
Conservation
Offering market-linked long-term solutions, ecotourism provides effective economic incentives for conserving and enhancing bio-cultural diversity and helps protect the natural and cultural heritage of our beautiful planet

Communities
By increasing local capacity building and employment opportunities, ecotourism is an effective vehicle for empowering local communities around the world to fight against poverty and to achieve sustainable development.

Interpretation
With an emphasis on enriching personal experiences and environmental awareness through interpretation, ecotourism promotes greater understanding and appreciation for nature, local society, and culture.

How are we impacting negatively?
Every destination has an ideal ecological balance that needs to be maintained so as for the micro-ecosystem to remain stable and healthy for all humans, flora and fauna biodiversity to have a sustainable healthy life there. Tourism increases footprint and contributes to depletion of the micro-ecosystem of these destinations. There are two broad ways on how we as tourist are impacting:
- Carbon footprint: The more we burn fuel or wood, we increase our carbon footprint.
- Plastic footprint: The more plastic we buy and dispose; we are increase our plastic footprint.
- Human footprint: Traveling to destination, not respecting the culture and biodiversity due to excessive human activity.

Principles of Ecotourism
Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt the following ecotourism principles:
• Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
• Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
• Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
• Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
• Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
• Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climates.
• Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.
• Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.

What it would entail:
1) Changing the way people travel: There is a segment who are responsible travellers, and some more who are willing to experiment with new experiences. But largely Indian holiday-makers are tourists, who have no idea or much interest in being responsible. What to do with them will remain a big question.
2) Pushing the Business sector to adopt RT: Tapping the local businesses and ensuring that they follow stricter norms, perhaps by being part of a Responsible Tourism Network which can eventually work well for their business and brand. This network can also help push for better policy implementation by state governments.
3) Asking state governments to play a more active role: Pushing for policies to be implemented. I think India already has signed the Responsible Tourism Charter which has been adapted quite well by Kerala. So, each state has to have a mandate for pushing responsible tourism.
4) Involve the Local Community in the decision making process: Involve the local community in the tourism business and/or decision making related to the business. They should be the key beneficiary of the business through opportunities like homestays, handicrafts, organic items, guides, culture, food etc.

My on going initiatives:
- Waste Management Drives - Parvati Valley: https://www.ketto.org/plasticfreehimalayas
- Introduction of Clean HouseHold Technology in - Spiti Valley, Tirthan Valley, Annapurna Region
- Homestay Development and Alternate Agro Initiatives for Locals: Spiti Valley
- Self Help Groups Trainings: Tirthan Valley, Parvati Valley