Eco-Tourism

Goals

To obtain insights into the international eco-tourism, specifically eco-hotels. To identify trends and have a market overview.


Early Findings

Definition
  • According to the Oxford dictionary, ecotourism is "tourism directed towards exotic, often threatened, natural environments, intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife."
  • TIES, The International Ecotourism Society, defines ecotourism as the “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”
  • Organizations such as UNEP are behind certain programs to promote the global ecotourism market.

Ecotourism Market Overview

  • The top ecotourism destinations of 2020 include Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Colombia, Panama, Palau, Bhutan, and Morocco. The top ecotourism destinations in Africa, popularly known as eco-safaris, include South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Uganda, and Madagascar.
  • The International Ecosystem Society, TIES, was founded in 1990 and is the largest ecotourism society. This society has over 15,000 members across more than 190 countries and territories.
  • Ecotourism exploded in the past few years as awareness of the negative impacts of travels on the environment and the local communities increased.

Ecotourism Statistics

  • According to a survey run by Booking.com, travelers are increasingly concerned about the social, political, and environmental issues of their travel destinations. Consequently, these factors affect their decision-making process. According to the survey, 58% of travelers would cancel their trips if it would have a negative impact and 49% would prioritize social concerns.
  • The survey also found that there is an increased interest in experience-led travel. 54% would be willing to volunteer during their holiday trips. These include providing professional services in their field of expertise, such as doctors, and physical activities, such as building structures. This trend is prominent in Generation Z who are keener to gain life experience outside the typical classroom environment.
  • As such, companies such as Responsible Travel have tapped into this market by matching individuals with impactful opportunities globally.
  • The global plastic waste crisis has been exposed in the last couple of years. In 2017, a study found that there was 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste from 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic that was produced. Travelers are keen to assist with this crisis as it has become one of the top sustainability topics today. 86% of global travelers are willing to assist in order to reduce the environmental impact. They would be willing to participate in activities such as beach cleaning projects and booking eco-friendly stays.
  • In Africa, lodges and camps are rapidly opening, increasing accessibility to experience-led holidays, referred to as safaris. By working together with local communities and initiatives, safaris aim to observe and preserve the wildlife encounter, to ensure that the impact is positive.

Eco-hotels

  • The top eco-hotels in the world include Casa de las Olas, Mexico; Zuri Zanzibar, Tanzania; Svart Hotel, Norway; Six Senses, Fiji; The Brando, French Polynesia; Wilderness Safaris Serra Cafema, Kaokoland, Namibia, among others.
  • Eco-friendly hotels are those that take significant steps to reduce their negative impact on the environment. Hotel owners and managers aim to receive certifications for their efforts. Such a certificate is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). LEED from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Impacts of COVID-19

  • As the pandemic began to go global, several eco-tourism sites closed. Apart from the human-to-human contact, there were fears that the wildlife would also be in danger. One such area is the Great Ape tourism sites.
  • Furthermore, most sites are funded by the eco-tourism market. With the limitation in these funds, there is a real fear that activities that threaten wildlife, such as poaching, could increase.

Proposed next steps:

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