Eco-tourism: in distress


Before I delve into a serious topic, I want to take a moment and appreciate the effort of this kid whose creativity during the pandemic and subsequent lockdown inspires me - YouTube channel (Read with Nevan):

Now back to our topic where we attempt to answer the following:

What is Eco-tourism, factors that impact it in a positive & negative way, and the need of the hour during the time of crisis?

Well Eco-tourism is directed towards natural environments intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife. There are many global destinations which cater to world travelers and provide eco-friendly and traditionally rich experience to prospective travelers/ vacationers. From tropical Costa Rica, the Bahamas to the mountainous Himalayas in Nepal and India; from wildlife safaris in Africa to nature excursions in Europe & Americas.

Eco-tourism offers a sustainable source of income for wildlife causes and conservation. It offers vacationers a sustainable way of traveling and stays (eco-lodges, eco-retreats). Also, eco-tourism offers an avenue to reduce waste and reduce damage to the environment. Numerous global tourist destinations now stress on recycling waste responsibly and reducing the carbon footprint. For example - Europe stresses the waste management best practices i.e. Reduce, Reuse, Sort, Recycle within the tourism industry. Planting trees is also a widely accepted practice in many developing economies around the world which are also important ecological hubs. For example - The trees for the Eco-tourism project at Sikkim, India is one such beautiful example of how green initiative promotes the local tourism industry, flora, and environmental balance.

While eco-tourism offer its perks to the eco-traveler, few important aspects that the travelers need to be aware of and be respectful is not to interfere or disturb the delicate ecological balance of their destination. Often times local traditions and customs offer the much-needed balance to sustain the local flora and fauna. This is vital and very important to note if you are an avid eco-tourist.

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, the eco-tourism industry is in great distress. It is one of those industries (similar to airlines, transport, hospitality) which have been impacted by the pandemic in a very negative way. Millions have been lost in revenues and the eco-tourism has come to a complete halt. There are countries (such as Rwanda) which derive a major chunk of revenue from eco-tourism and sustenance but the pandemic has incurred huge losses and have been completely devastating to such world economies.

Even in Canada, the eco-tourism has been hit hard. Given the industry operates seasonally and offers tourism at remote locations, the pandemic has hit its gut and have caused many of such business ventures to shut down completely. For example - the British Columbia Bear viewing trips attract customers not just locally but internationally. But the pandemic has led to trip cancellations and fee refunds for international travelers which in turn has incurred substantial losses to the business.

Overall the industry needs support in this hour of crisis - be it in form of government grants or donations from individuals who care for conservation. If you are someone who cares for wildlife conservation and ecological sustenance then I suggest that you should find a way to support the eco-tourism industry - either locally or internationally. This effort to save eco-tourism is just not for us but for our generations to come, to cherish the gift of mother nature.