Ecotourism (also known as ecological tourism) is responsible travel to fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas that strives to be low impact and (often) small scale. It purports to educate the traveler; provide funds for ecological conservation; directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities; and foster respect for different cultures and for human rights. Ecotourism is held as important by those who participate in it so that future generations may experience aspects of the environment relatively untouched by human intervention.
Ecotourism may appeal to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. Generally it focuses on volunteering, personal growth and environmental responsibility. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. One of the goals of ecotourism is to offer tourists insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greater appreciation of our natural habitats.
Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for local communities.
The problems associated with defining ecotourism have led to confusion among tourists and academics alike. Definitional problems are also subject of considerable public controversy and concern because of green washing, a trend towards the commercialization of tourism schemes disguised as sustainable, nature based, and environmentally friendly ecotourism.
It appears to boil down to definition.
True ‘eco tourism’, seems to be more of an ideal than a reality. At best it should be a responsible, serious and sustained attempt. Looking at this way, there are many aspects of Galapagos Islands tourism that can be adequately classified here … but sadly, a great deal that without a doubt definitely falls far outside these notions.
If you are an idealist … Galapagos Islands tourism is almost complete ‘greenwashing’
If you are a realist …… Galapagos Islands tourism is a confusing and frustrating mix of ‘greenwashing’ and true attempts at eco-tourism
That being said, there are numerous things that anyone can do to put their grain of sand into the efforts …. and it starts with responsibility.