The Best of Eco-Tourism
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, travel and tourism accounts for more than 230 million jobs worldwide, and it is the principle export for the world’s developing countries. Eco-tourism seeks to turn tourism into a win-win situation for travelers and developing countries by giving indigenous people an incentive to preserve their wildlife. At its best, eco-tourism maintains the wildlife and pumps money into the local economy. There are some organizations, however, that exploits or displaces the indigenous people and does not compensate them financially. Tribal Truth, an online community interested in art, humanitarian issues, and social change has taken a look at some of the most popular eco-tourism groups that are providing a list of reputable eco-tourism activities. Check out their tours all over the world, and choose eco-tourism for your next vacation!
Basecamp Foundation: Basecamp goes beyond the typical wildlife tours and gets people directly involved in helping the wildlife thrive. With locations in Kenya, Norway, India, and the United States, their five program areas are Conservation, Climate, Culture, Capacity, and Care. In addition, Basecamp has implemented green practices into the local culture’s day to day life including solar energy and organic fair trade food from local gardens.
RUDEC: RUDEC is probably best-known for its orphan education and farming programs, but they also have an eco-adventure tourism program in Cameroon and West Africa. Visitors get to see the region’s beautiful lakes, waterfalls, and mountains, and they get the chance to meet and interact with the local people. Best of all, all the profits from their eco-tourism program go back into RUDEC’s programs in the region, directly benefiting the indigenous people.
Nomadic Journeys: Nomadic Journeys offers visitors a unique look at Mongolia. Instead of traveling to many different hot spots, Nomadic Journeys take slower, meandering routes to give visitors a taste of life for nomadic Mongolians. Tourists can choose to travel by camel cart, yak cart, pack-camel, and horseback.
Earthwatch Expeditions: With Earthwatch Expeditions, eco-tourists get the chance to work with research and conservation teams all over the world. There are tours aimed at teens as well as specialized tours focused on archaeology, climate change, mammal life, and ocean life. Some tours promise that tour costs will go back to the community, but with Earthwatch Expeditions, visitors are working alongside research teams and seeing the impact in the community with their own eyes.
Seacology: Every year, Seacology takes groups of eco-tourists to see the world’s most beautiful seas. In 2010, groups visited India and Polynesia, and in 2011, they will be hosting expeditions to the Philippines, Azores, and Tonga to swim with the humpback whales. Visitors will hike, kayak, snorkel, and go scuba diving depending upon the tour itinerary, and they will see regions that Seacology has worked to preserve their beauty.
Blue Ventures: Blue Ventures focuses their conservation work and expeditions on ocean life in Belize, Madagascar, and Malaysia. Visitors can learn how to scuba dive and see some of the world’s most incredible reefs, and for those who want to connect to the local community, visitors can teach English classes in nearby schools. They balance volunteer work with recreation to give visitors a rewarding experience. Costs are kept as low as possible, and undergraduate and graduate student researchers can also knock fifty-percent off of their expedition costs.
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