Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism

How does Colombia World participate in Sustainable tourism and Ecotourism?

First, it is important to know that sustainable tourism is not the same thing as ecotourism, and vice versa, however participating in ecotourism often means following practices that support sustainable tourism.

What is Sustainable tourism?

Though the exact definition varies by source, a great definition of sustainable tourism can be found on wikepedia as: "tourism attempting to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate future employment for local people"1.

An important aspect of sustainable tourism is responsible travel, which according to the Cape Town Declaration in 2002 is travel with a culturally sensitive philosophy and respect for local values, customs, and environment, that attempts to minimize negative environmental and social impacts, while generating economic benefits for local people2.

What is ecotourism?

As the growing industry of ecotourism is constantly expanding and changing so is its definition and interpretation. In other words, there are many definitions of ecotourism and although there are no internationally recognized hard fast rules many refer to The International Eco-tourism Society (TIES, 1990) definition of ecotourism : "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people"3.

Below are some principles of ecotourism listed by TIES3 that are widely recognized throughout the international ecotourism community, which we at Colombia Wolrd believe in.

  • Minimize impact
  • Travel to destination where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect, and a greater appreciation for our natural habitats
  • Promote personal growth and environmental responsibility
  • Promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity
  • Educate the traveler and raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate
  • Provides financial benefits for local people and nature conservation
  • Discourage mass tourism, mass constructions of hotels, tourism resorts and mass activities in fragile areas
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts

Colombia World participates in Sustainable tourism and Ecotourism in the following ways:

  • We travel in small groups, which helps us make our tours low impact because we are better able to manage the energy and waste needs of our visitors, as well as educate them on practices respectful to the local environment.
  • We do not travel to unspoiled virgin areas as we believe travel into these areas is harmful and do not want to spoil areas of the environment that are exceedingly rare and fragile. We promote low-impact tourism into well-maintained, unsaturated, protected natural and historic areas with existing tourism infrastructure in a sustainable and responsible manner.
  • We promote recycling and composting of waste on our tours, and the reuse of water bottles.
  • We travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions.
  • We stay in and visit places, and participate in activities, that foster meaningful interactions with local people, providing opportunities for cultural exchange, personal growth, and deepening of intercultural understanding and tolerance for both visitors and locals.
  • We support the integrity of local cultures by respectfully integrating our tours within the cultural fabric of the sites we visit and favoring businesses which conserve cultural heritage and traditional values.
  • Our tours are structured to encourage personal growth and environmental responsibility by visiting a multitude of natural and cultural sites that deepen the visitors understanding of ecology and Colombian culture.
  • We promote the sustainable use of biodiversity through responsible travel that generates employment and supports the local economy.
  • We limit our numbers as not to saturate the local tourism infrastructure in order to allow for its proper maintenance for future generations.
  • We educate travellers through ecological, historic, and cultural segments of our tours.
  • Our tours contribute financially toward the local economy and nature conservation, through our work with and use of local guides, local activity providers, local small businesses, local farmers, national parks, and conservation areas/projects, and through our purchase of locally made goods.
  • We discourage mass tourism by showing travellers the benefits and advantages of small-group responsible travel.
  • We aim to bring a positive experience to our guests, our employees, and to the local people in the areas we visit by being honest with customers, vendors, and partners.
  • We are currently working on making our tours accessible to people with disabilities. If you or someone you know has a disability and would like to travel on one of our tours, please inquire at info@colombiaworldtours.com

References

  1. Retrieved July 10, 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_tourism
  2. Retrieved July 10, 2011 from http://www.icrtourism.org/capetown.shtml
  3. Retrieved July 10, 2011 from http://www.ecotourism.org/site/c.orLQKXPCLmF/b.4835303/k.BEB9/What_is_Ecotourism__The_International_Ecotourism_Society.htm
 
 
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