Eco-Tourism: First a Movement, then a Trend, now a Thriving Industry
Travel with conscience
By Renee Fortune
While it may not have topped the charts when it comes to the most visited locations in the world, Rwanda is fast becoming an eco-tourism hotspot. Thanks to the work of conservationists like the late primatologist, Dian Fossey, an increasing number of conscious tourists are developing an affinity for critically endangered mountain gorillas. In Rwanda, you can visit the mountain gorillas of Volcanoes National Park – 10 gorilla families reside in this lush, green paradise which is a protected environment.
Eco-tourism plays a vital role in the socioeconomic condition of the island of Madagascar, home to the indigenous Malagasy people and an abundance of wildlife that needs to be protected and conserved. As one of the world’s poorest countries, the island relies on support from international visitors to stimulate the local economy and incentivise the government to protect natural areas and ensure that their most-loved species, lemurs, have a protected habitat where they can thrive. Eco-tourism is also a powerful vehicle for job creation, opening up opportunities for Malagasy people to become tour guides, restaurant owners and staff, and tour company administrators. For many Malagasy people, the money they make during the island’s busiest periods, sustains them and their families for the entire year.
The Utria National Park in the department of Chocó is home to some of the rarest birds on the planet, and is one of Colombia’s eco-tourism must-sees. The Park also has immense social and cultural significance, with its residents still living according to ancient customs and traditional practices. Colombia has made significant strides towards promoting a greener economy. It is home to a world-renowned bicycle path system that takes tourists on a tour across the city in a way that produces the least amount of carbon emissions. In Bogota, one of Colombia’s most well-known attractions, roads are closed to cars on Sundays, allowing people to explore the streets freely, safely and with as little environmental impact as possible. There are also a number of opportunities to use your travel experience in Colombia as a chance to volunteer and support a local cause like organic farming, wildlife projects and community upliftment.
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