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What is ecotourism?
To answer that question we should look at the meaning of the word ecotourism first. Eco derives from the Greek word oikos, loosely translating as habitat, and is an abbreviation of the term ecology. The word tourism developed from the Hebrew word Tora, which means to study, learn or search.
According to the International Ecotourism Society ecotourism is: 'responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains or even improves the well-being and welfare of local people'.
BAOBAB Travel defines ecotourism as a form of tourism containing as many of the following ingredients as possible:
- Nature-based, with the main motivation for travelling the observation and appreciation of nature as well as the traditional cultures prevailing in natural areas,
- supporting the protection of natural areas by generating economic benefits for host communities, providing alternative employment and income opportunities for local communities and increasing awareness towards the conservation of natural and cultural assets,
- minimising the negative impacts upon the natural and socio-cultural environment,
- including educational and interpretation features enhancing environmental awareness,
- organised for small groups of interested people.
How does Baobab support ecotourism?
Baobab holidays provide a form of sustainable tourism, based on our Responsible Tourism Policy and Our Philosophy. We avoid at all cost resorts manufactured for mass tourism. We will introduce you to real places - not the images designed for tourists.
However, what does our Responsible Tourism Policy mean in practise? And do we put our money where our mouth is? Please find below some examples of how we put our sustainable tourism ethos into practice.
Why the shift to ecotourism?
According to the World Tourism Organisation, tourism is one of the top five export categories for 83% of countries and the main source of foreign currency for at least 38% of these. However, not all forms of tourism have a positive impact on natural resources and communities of the destinations visited, and there is a need for more ethical tourism options. An Ecotourism excursion, however, is not just a simple tour to natural areas, but a tour bearing social responsibilities. A common goal in ecotourism is the generation of economic benefits for the host country in terms of e.g. profits for companies, jobs for communities, and revenues for parks. This economic impact can in turn increase political and financial support for the conservation of natural resources.
What can you do?
Travel and tourism is a natural right of all people and is a crucial ingredient of world peace and understanding. With that right comes responsibilities, whenever you travel, on business, pleasure or a bit of both, please always bear in mind our responsible travel tips and the 10 commandments of eco-friendly ethics for tourists and travellers.
Ten Commandments of Eco-Friendly Ethics for Tourists and Travellers
- Respect the fragile earth - Always follow designated trails. Do not disturb animals, plants or their natural habitat. Remember, we have not inherited the earth from our ancestors, we just borrow it from our children.
- Leave only footprints - Take only photographs and memories. Leave no litter or graffiti.
- Respect the privacy and dignity of others - Enquire before photographing and/or video-recording people.
- Cultivate the habit of listening and observing, rather than merely hearing and seeing.
- Cultivate the habit of asking questions rather than knowing all the answers.
- Discover the enrichment of seeing a different way of life through other eyes.
- Travel in a spirit of humility and with a genuine desire to learn more about the people of your host country, their customs, history, culture, language and the natural environment.
- Do not make promises to people in your host country unless you can carry them through.
- Spend time reflecting on your daily experience in an attempt to deepen your understanding. It has been said that what enriches you may rob and violate others.
- If you are looking for an experience of 'home away from home' it is foolish to waste your money on travelling.