Ecotourism destinations: the most stunning natural locationsby Elena Escudero | May 11, 2020
Getting to know and exploring other destinations or cultures of the world are the most appreciated activities by travel enthusiasts. However, mass tourism can have a negative impact on the planet without us realizing it. This is why a new alternative to mass tourism has emerged in recent years that combines travelling and respecting the environment: ecotourism.
What is the importance of Ecotourism?
Ecotourism is a type of tourism that prioritizes the preservation of nature and local culture of the destination country. The main objectives of Ecotourism are to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the planet and to guarantee the sustainability of its resources while minimizing the negative aspects caused by mass tourism.
Ecotourism is an effective way of empowering local communities around the world to fight poverty and achieve sustainable development at all levels. It is a principle that promotes a better understanding and appreciation of the world. It is also an educational tool to increase awareness of the need to preserve indigenous people's environment and local culture and the need to restore the country's resources for future generations.
What is nature tourism?
Poor or developing countries often depend on natural resources such as forests, minerals and land that are exploited by agriculture. The exploitation of these resources can pose a real threat to wildlife. Ecotourism therefore enables global communities to build and develop their nations without harming the environment.
The creation of economic opportunities is only one advantage of many. Ecotourism promotes the development of the economy by helping to create jobs amongst young people in these communities and to improve their working conditions. In addition, tourists contribute to the local economy by renting community-run accommodations, visiting and collaborating in solidarity projects that are developing in the region, and buying and consuming local products.
Ecotourism destinations are those where local communities are most in contact with nature. In this sense, tourists must be committed to participate in the preservation of the environment and the improvement of the living conditions of these populations. Some good examples of ecotourism destinations are Ethiopia or Madagascar, two spectacular African countries you absolutely need to add to your bucket list.
Where to do ecotourism?
Breathtaking history, lush landscapes and great ethnic and cultural diversity make Ethiopia one of the beautiful ecotourism destinations. It is one of the few African nations that wasn't colonized, which makes it one of the countries that preserves the most its roots and unique essence.
Nature is one of the greatest attractions of this nation. Ethiopia is full of memorable waterfalls, national parks, little-known volcanoes, huge lakes and it is also home to many local tribes who invite you to discover this African jewel with open arms.
With a population of nearly 100 million, Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa. It is a gigantic ecotourism destination in the Horn of Africa that is attracting more and more ecotourism lovers every year. The country has a total of 9 wonders classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Empire of Aksoum, Lalibela, Harar, Simien National Park and the Omo Valley.
Travelling to Ethiopia is choosing a rich and unique destination where each ethnic group and tribe has its own language, culture and tradition. Although agriculture is the fundamental driver of its economy, Ethiopia is now considered one of the fastest growing African nations in the world.
One cannot talk about Madagascar without talking about Marco Polo, the first European to arrive to this beautiful African ecotourism destination. It is a country that cannot escape the influence of Asian culture, as its first settlers arrived from Southeast Asia. With its 587,041 square kilometres, it is the fourth largest island in the world and a place popularly known for the diversity of its species and the beauty of its landscapes.
Due to its isolation, more than 80% of the plants and animals found in Madagascar cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Located in the Indian Ocean, it is a surprising island, hardly influenced by Western societies and where nature still governs the lives of its inhabitants.
Its landscape varies enormously through forests, mountains, deserts and rice fields. This immense island has one of the greatest diversity of fauna and flora on the planet. The natural wealth of this mystical country on the African coast makes it a unique ecotourism destination.
However, Madagascar suffers from an alarming rate of deforestation, a serious threat to its biodiversity. Indeed, 90% of Madagascar's endemic species live or depend heavily on the island's forests. Fortunately, ecotourism is one of the best ways to ensure that these pristine areas remain protected and can generate countless benefits for the country's economy and the livelihoods of its inhabitants.