In reading this article about the decline in tourism to Hawaii and the continuing dialogue about how tourism and environmental concerns can converge, I came across the concept of eco-tourism.
More specifically, the article refers to the Big Island Sustainable Travel microsite. The site centers around programs that encourage environmentally-conscious travelers to discover alternate ways of touring the islands. The goal is to minimize the impact on delicate eco-systems unique to that part of the world, and to encourage tourism dollars at the same time.
Often when on holiday, part of the experience is escaping from the troubles of the world. And where I don’t think that this is a bad thing, it’s important to consider that when you’re in a place, you have impact upon it. Sometimes , it’s a lasting impact. This has been the concern in many popular destinations, particularly for those who live and work there all year around.
On the other hand, taking on a po-faced attitude when traveling isn’t necessarily the most constructive way to go either. And neither is avoiding travel altogether, which has impact of another kind on local economies. The takeaway for me is that learning about the local eco-system and the delicate balance that defines it in the places we visit while on our holidays adds dimension to the experience of being there. And sometimes the best way to gain greater respect for the natural world is to see as much of it as you can.