Eco-tourism: the sexy growing trend in travel
Traveling the world, while saving the planet – sounds too good to be true. Yet, eco-tourism – travel intended to support conservation efforts while enjoying nature – dates back to the 70s and has been growing in popularity in recent years.
The trend’s resurgence takes shape as sustainability and green living are becoming the buzzwords of the 21st century. So much so that a recent study shows that responsible travel is outpacing overall growth in the trillion-dollar-plus tourism industry.
Many are skeptical of the recent boom in eco-tourism’s popularity, questioning the motives of travelers journeying to obscure places through programs that conserve sea turtles, whales, even rhinos and chimpanzees. However, no matter the rationale behind travelers’ decisions to book an eco-driven trip, the positive outcome of these programs on the environment is undeniable, when properly organized. By simply traveling to the world’s parks and reserves, tourists are helping to protect those wilderness areas by paying park fees and contributing to a local economy that supports conservation efforts. For more adventurous travelers, however, there are charitable opportunities for scuba divers and nature explorers alike to get involved while taking a well-deserved getaway.
Expeditioners can dive into the epicenter of global marine biodiversity aboard a liveaboard ship in Raja Ampat, explore the “soft coral capital of the world” in Fiji, or travel to Kenya and gain an insider’s look at wildlife conservation in the savannas and seas of the region.
Last year alone, Oceanic Society, America’s oldest non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, saw more than 1,400 hours of conservation-related volunteering logged by its travelers.
Founded in 1969, the organization leads more than 40 trips annually, with destinations across 16 countries, to ensure there is a trip for any interested traveler to help improve ocean health by deepening their connections with nature. Oceanic Society also leads whale watching expeditions in the San Francisco Bay area nearly every weekend of the year.
By participating in an eco-tourism expedition, participants become an active member in a global effort to build a healthy future for the oceans and environment. And who wouldn’t love a vacation that has an added feel-good bonus to it?