Ecotourism: Ecotourism Brings New Demand

With the current discussions of man-made climate change and global warming, many travellers are calculating the ecological cost of their annual get-away.

Holidaymakers are becoming increasingly conscious of the need to reduce their carbon footprint and many are adopting travel strategies that aim to offset carbon emissions even before they set off. Consequently, destinations closer to home that can be reached by train or bus are becoming more popular, as are those that avoid multiple take-offs and landings by plane.

Destinations with an eco-friendly approach are also gaining cachet and conservation breaks in particular are gaining in popularity. Many foreign resorts are now making efforts to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of these eco hot spots, providing opportunities for tourists to make meaningful connections with local people and encouraging respect between tourists and local communities.

Closer to home, eco-conscious tourists are also increasingly bearing responsible tourism options in mind, with the aim of enhancing local conservation efforts, whilst reducing negative impacts on the environment and local economy of a given holiday destination. After all, what’s the point of enjoying beautiful countryside if you’re destroying the local community for others?

Hotel chains that adopt ecologically sound practices are also becoming increasingly sought after. Many advertise local trust attractions, specifically aimed to benefit the local area, whilst employing energy saving and recycling methods on site and encouraging guests to do the same by taking their rubbish with them. Many are even encouraging guests to visit local attractions close by on foot or by bicycle.

Hotels with eco-friendly policies are also finding that travellers are giving encouraging feedback when they return from a break.  What’s more, travellers are increasingly recommending ecologically sound resorts to their own circle of friends as well as a wider online audience via internet forums and blogs in the light of the rapid expansion of social media over the past five years.

As social networks, blogs and sites develop, this trend is likely to increase the profile of eco-conscious breaks and those who adopt green policies will benefit from the resulting increased demand for ethical tourism products, provided by companies who make an effort to protect the environment, particularly among young, socially active travellers.

At the moment, ethical tourism is a niche area, but it’s expected to grow and those individual hotels and chains that have employed eco-friendly policies early will be seen as the change leaders and more progressive of what is an ever increasing choice of destinations.

Following the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, such moves could also be deemed sensible from the point of view that at some stage, hotels may be required by law to cut emissions and reduce their impact on global warming with environmentally friendly strategies as standard.

All in all, it pays to jump on the green bandwagon and hoteliers at home and abroad are reaping the benefits by attracting increased tourism as well as sizeable energy savings.

By Penny Parkin

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