Ecotourism is any form of travel in a natural area that not only encourages the conservation of the environment but also empowers the local livelihood without compromising the quality experience for the tourists. Thus, in a nutshell, ecotourism should concern three major aspects: the well being of the environment, the well being of the local people and the high-quality experience of the tourists. The concept of ecotourism has become more and more popular these days and the tourists are interested in ecotourism.
Ecotourism is a complex concept growing very fast all around the globe. If you really care about nature and believe that you should not harm any other elements of the environment during your pleasure, then you should be sure that your travel is sustainable. Do not only let nature quest the thirst of your adventure but also make sure your adventure make a positive contribution to nature.
Ecotourism in Nepal
Apart from the mountaineering mantra of “Take nothing but photographs; Leave nothing but footprints”, ecotourism also embraces the intention of minimum impact on the ecology and the probable positive impacts on the trekking trail. Nepal being a country blessed with the beautiful nature, the concept of ecotourism is of special importance.
Ecotourism Programmes in Nepal is not a very old concept. Although the conservation activities in Nepal started in Nepal since the 1970s, the ecotourism activities started only after the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) launched an ecotourism project GSEP in 1992. From the beginning to till date, there are a few programs running in Nepal which can be called as ecotourism programs.
Nepal is putting the effort in the conservation of natural resources, the biological diversity, and promotion of sustainable tourism. The following are the major ecotourism programs that are conducted in the past or are in current operation in Nepal:
1.Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP)
Started in 1986 and primarily focuses on sustainable resource management and self-sustaining tourism.
2. Ghalegoun Sikles Ecotourism Project (GSEP)
Started in 1992 and emphasizes the conservation of natural resources and the promotion of responsible tourism
3. Manaslu Nature Based Ecotourism Project
Established in 1999 and works for the responsible tourism promotion and support the local economy and infrastructure development.
4. Kanchenjunga Community based Ecotourism project
Started since 1998 and focuses on managing wastes, conserving natural environment with maximum local involvement
5. Tourism for Rural Poverty Alleviation Program (TRPAP)
The project aims to promote activities for sustainable tourism like home-stay, tour guide, etc.
6. Upper Mustang Biodiversity Conservation project
Established in 2000 and aims to preserve the biological diversity and cultural heritage along with capacity building and local lifestyle enhancement.
7. Simikot Humla Development Package
Aims to preserve the Buddhist cultural and religious heritage and natural resources as well as skill development of locals and support the local economy.
Your role in Ecotourism as a Traveler
Your travel to any place must not be only limited to exploring the place. It is more than that. You are not enough being a traveler. What is more important is how responsible you are while you are traveling. Here are some of the ways you can consider that can lead you a step closer to ecotourism in the place you are going to:
Tourism is the backbone to uplift the local economy. Purchasing products from the local people who themselves make them is a good way to support their economy directly. The local handicrafts can be of greater interest for the tourists.
In many parts, bargaining is a major part of shopping locally. As a traveler, it is obvious to feel that the locals are marking more price for any product and thus you stand up for yourself and bargain so that you won’t make your money go waste. It is more like a game and offers an extra opportunity to interact with the local and make friends. It is always good to negotiate the price before buying any goods. However, if you are trapped in a negotiation for a dollar or two, take some time to think how much that dollar can contribute to the person.
Minimize your waste
As they say, leave nothing other than footprints; make your maximum effort that you litter the environment very minimum. Waste management can be a challenge in most of the developing countries and tourists might be a part of the issue knowingly or unknowingly. Small steps can contribute to minimizing waste such as avoiding plastic bags during shopping. Likewise, you can carry your own water bottle that reduces the necessity to buy extra bottles in your tour. While dining, eating or drinking anything, make sure that you finish it in the cafe or hotels so that it will not be a trouble to manage it afterward.
Lowering your carbon footprints can greatly contribute towards the sustainable tourism in the area. The most beautiful part is that you are contributing to the environment and tourism without any extra efforts. Using public transport instead of taxis can be another great idea that not only lessens your carbon footprints but also is economical. Walking around the nearby destination is the best idea.
Choose Sustainable Accommodation
When it comes about finding a place to rest, you will find a number of options. Your choice to spend your money during your stay can make a great impact on local livelihood. If you choose to spend your money in a multinational corporation, only a few people or the shareholders would be benefited. But thinking behind the wall, spending your money on food and accommodation locally is a great idea.
Options like homestays are being popular to empower the women in any community. The concept also links agriculture with tourism since you will be eating fresh vegetables grown in the local village. Staying in local restaurants will help to gain more experience through close interactions and more understanding of the place.
Think before Interacting with the Wild
Traveling into the wild to experience the real adventure has now become an important part of the tourism industry. Wilderness activities like nature walk or jungle walk are considered eco-friendly as long as they do not disturb the animals in the region. You can always choose to witness the wildlife in a natural way through a gentle natural walk rather than captivity. For the sake of your fun, it is not good to disturb the wild animals and plants.
Choosing a Sustainable Tour Operator
If any travel companies claim towards providing tourism facilities in a sustained way and in a manner that promotes ecology, then make sure whether it is true or not. Well use your awareness and make your questions. For example, if the trip involves a jungle walk, in what way the walk will benefit the nature or the locals. Or, if they talk about the money being denoted, then how much? What percentage of the money and for what specific purpose? Also, you may look for the principles and objectives of ecotourism the operator adapts. This will help you make a decision to choose an operator really working for sustainable and ecotourism.
Educate others to be a Responsible Traveler
Lastly comes the most important one. Many travelers may be still unknown about the negative impacts their activities can cause. You can simply encourage your friends to adopt various conservation habits. If you notice someone unintentionally doing any activity that might be destructive to the environment, giving them some tips is never a bad idea.
Why Dolma Tours?
Unlike many other tour operators who take tourism as a key aspect of income generation and business, Dolma Tours is concerned with the expansion of the tourism industry and nature conservation in parallel. We highly encourage our clients to adopt various means to promote the ecotourism in the destined places of tour or trek.
Dolma tours are concerned not only about satisfying the tourists but also put efforts to benefit the local people through various programs. We aim to use commercially sustainable methods to empower the locals and alleviate poverty in remote areas.
Dolma Tours is providing finance and advice to local projects which carry a motto to make a positive impact in the environment and society. Also, the investment is made in education and is recycled and used multiple times for a good purpose.