Ecological tourism

Ecological tourism

Ecological tourism (ecotourism, green tourism) is a form of sustainable tourism focused on visits to relatively untouched natural areas by anthropogenic impact [1].


Ecotourism concept [edit]

The term "Ecotourism" in the West was officially used at one of the conferences by the Mexican ecologist Hector Ceballos-Lascurain in the first half of the 1980s. It reflected the idea of ​​harmony between recreation and ecology and gained great popularity. One of the variants of this definition is ecotourism as an active form of recreation based on the rational use of natural benefits. It involves the rejection of the cult of comfort, mass communications, accessibility and consumption of more and more numerous tourist goods (as opposed to, for example, tour-realism, which implies immersion in nature and culture while maintaining a high level of comfort). And in return, it instills a different system of values, which become contemplation of nature, spiritual enrichment from communication with it, participation in the protection of natural heritage and support of the traditional culture of local communities [2].

In Russia, at about the same time, it came into circulation during the development and operation of the pedestrian route "Circum-Baikal Railway" of the Bureau of International Youth Tourism "Sputnik" of the Irkutsk Regional Committee of the Komsomol (evolution of the term: "ecological route" - " ecotours around the Circum-Baikal Railway "and, finally," ecotourism on Baikal ").

In the professional (as well as in the academic) environment, there are several idealistic definitions of ecotourism, similar in meaning:

  • “Ecological tourism or ecotourism - a journey with responsibility towards the environment in relation to undisturbed natural areas in order to explore and enjoy nature and cultural attractions, which contributes to the protection of nature, has a“ soft ” impact on the environment, ensures the active socio-economic participation of local residents and their benefits from this activity ”. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  • "Ecotourism is a responsible trip to natural areas that promotes nature conservation and improves the well-being of the local population." International Society of Ecotourism (The International Ecotourism Society [3]).
  • “Ecotourism - tourism, which includes travel to places with relatively unspoiled nature, in order to get an idea of ​​the natural, cultural and ethnographic features of the area, which does not violate the integrity of ecosystems and creates such economic conditions in which the protection nature and natural resources are becoming beneficial for the local population. " World Wildlife Fund.

Based on the definitions, the distinctive features of ecotourism are highlighted, formulated as a set of principles [4].

  • "The distinguishing features of ecotourism are that it can prevent negative impacts on nature and encourage tour operators and tourists to contribute to nature conservation and socio-economic development."

For a quarter of a century, experts have not come to a consensus - what is ecological tourism, calling the same phenomenon either ecotourism, then natural, then green, then soft, etc., and even referring its sometimes to one of the manifestations of adventure travel. But it is obvious that it is not the thoughts and wishes of tour operators, and even the tourists themselves that make it "ecological", but the fact that using nature for their own purposes, they somehow affect it, on the ecological state of those places where this tourist product is sold ...

Ecotourism is the only direction in the tourism industry that is vitally interested in preserving its main resource - the natural environment or its individual components (natural monuments, certain species of animals or plants, etc.). When the local population is involved in the process of ecotourism, they also become interested in using these resources on the basis of farming, rather than withdrawal [5].

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