Trends & Global Leaders in Ecotourism
Countries and organizations that are leading the way in ecotourism and providing unforgettable experiences to the millennial generation that is seeking adventure.
By: Avery Phillips
The demographics of travelers contributing to the global economy is transitioning from baby boomers to millennials who are seeking to move out of their comfort zone and seek out unspoiled wilderness. Baby boomers have traditionally been more focused on exploring foreign lands, whereas millennials are seeking out vacations in places that may no longer be available to be visited as early as within the next decade due to climate change and environmental degradation. The millennial generation is also more interested in getting out of their comfort zone, according to Arizona State University, and gaining experiences rather than staying at home and acquiring “stuff.”
Ecotourism is described as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people.” It is creating new jobs in countries that are highly benefiting from their amount of open space and conservation efforts. The traveling global middle class is expected to grow by 3 billion people between 2011 and 2031, most coming from emerging markets such as China and India. The following countries have been working to establish themselves as a prime ecotourism destination.
For such a small country (only 19,730 square feet), there is a lot to offer to the ecotourist, particularly in the realms of adventure expeditions and surfing. The country’s motto is “pura vida,” which translates to “pure life,” and Costa Ricans are committed to their motto. The country has attempted to maintain running on 100 percent renewable energy since 2014. Its aim is to reach complete carbon emission neutrality by 2021. If you are looking to explore lush green rainforests, Costa Rica might be the right place for you. The country pledged about 26 percent of its lands to national parks, wildlife reserves and protected lands. You can rest assured that you will experience a sustainable vacation if you end up traveling to this beautiful place.
How Chile is situated makes it a very diverse landscape along the coastline of South America. If you time it correctly, you could theoretically ski and surf in the same day. Additionally, outdoor enthusiasts can choose from horse trekking, hiking in the mountains or the rainforests, climbing a volcano, whale watching, or fishing on the coast. The options for sustainable recreation are vast in Chile. If you are looking to volunteer or work in Chile, there is much-needed restoration work to be done after the clear cutting that occurred in the 1970s. It has been a focus of Chileans for the past 3 decades.
Ecotourism Kenya has been in operation for 19 years. It encourages business with a purpose by working with local tourism agencies and holding them to a high standard. Members of Ecotourism Kenya conduct energy audits of its partners’ buildings and will refuse to do business with any agency that does not meet its requirements. If your focus is on volunteerism or working to create positive change, there are many programs to choose from－including youth programs. Kenya has some of the world’s last remaining rhinos, and you can catch a glance at a lion, leopard or elephant too. In addition to the country’s 54 national parks, there is a rise in numbers of private ranches and sanctuaries for these increasingly rare animals. You can have the chance to swim with the scientists in the Indian Ocean to where they have tracked the east African whale shark. The need for protection of all these animals and others is largely due to poaching. By purchasing a tour, you are contributing to their efforts.
Some might call Antarctica the true final frontier. It has the most amount of wilderness of any land mass on planet Earth. In 1991, the Environmental Protocol of the Antarctic Treaty officially made the entire continent a natural reserve. Anyone who travels there is considered an ecotourist because there are so many guidelines you must adhere to protect the delicate ecosystem. One of the main draws is to see the 50,000 pairs of penguins on Deception Island. Also on the island, you can enjoy a nice soak in a hot spring since the island is a dormant volcano.
As of 2010, it is estimated that half of the world will live in a major city and that number is expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050. The need to travel and experience nature, wilderness and seek adventure is a higher demand than ever. Much to the benefit of the experience-seeking millennial, ecotourism is growing due to our current environmental crisis and the need for conservation and environmental protection. The services provided to tourists aid in funding conservation, restoration, and environmental education worldwide. It would be immoral to not recognize that some places in the world should be kept sacred and remain closed to tourism to protect indigenous cultures or preserve relics of the past. However, it can’t be denied that it is contributing to the global economy while helping the planet, and it may be the best choice for your next vacation.
Author Bio: Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.