It's one of the new catchphrases in the travel industry with Hollywood celebs frolicking to ecolodges and elephant sanctuaries across the globe. But what is it?
In a nutshell, ecotourism is any type of responsible travel to natural areas that helps preserve the environment and the indigenous people. Too complicated? Try this: travel that helps protect both locals and their surroundings.
With ecotourism on the rise, questions and myths surround this traveling trend. If you want to try out an ecotrip but aren't sure what to believe, then check out our busted ecotourism myths below!
Myth: Ecotourism only exists in the jungle
Perhaps this myth originated because of the myriad of ecotourism opportunities in Central and South America? I'm not entirely sure, but when I put feelers out for the most popular ecotourism myths, a handful of people responded with "Costa Rica" in some capacity!
Fortunately, ecotourism options now exist worldwide, and not just in steamy, tropical locales. Europeans are making a huge leap into the ecotourism industry, and one of the most beautiful lodges is Whitepod in Switzerland. Basically, if there is a natural area that needs preservation, you can likely find an ecolodge nearby.
Myth: Ecotourism is only for dirty backpackers
This is a fallacy that originated in the 1970s and still exists today. However, it's just not true! Ecolodges and tours exist in a variety of prices and can accommodate the majority of budgets-you don't always have to sleep on a dirt floor with prayer flags stretched over your head!
I recently returned from the Kingdom of Jordan where we spent an evening at the Feynan Ecolodge. Feynan is entirely solar-powered and its employees are 100% local from nearby communities. Even better? They eliminated plastic by using hand-crafted clay jars to store the liquid. They also dump a portion of their income back into the surrounding communities. In 2012, over 50% of guests' revenue was returned to the locals, providing support for 400 people in the community.
What's my point? Feynan is clearly an ecolodge, but it is a beautiful establishment! Rooms are romantic and quaint and the rooftop deck is a true stunner for star gazing. We were not "roughing it" in any capacity!
Myth: Ecotourism is always a good thing
Done properly, ecotourism is always a good thing. Unfortunately, not everyone operates an honest business and some entrepreneurs simply want to capitalize on the niche that will dominate 25% of the travel market within the next five years.
Research any tours, trips or hotels before you go. In doing so, you will only financially support legitimate eco businesses, and in return, will experience a wonderful adventure!
Editor's Note: Heather Balogh is a regular contributor to the Sierra Social Hub as part of #TeamSierra. Check out more from Heather here: Just a Colorado Gal.