Ecotourism is broadly defined as "responsible" or "ethical" travel during which tourists try their best to minimize environmental impact and ensure their spending and presence benefits the local community. This niche market has grown steadily in recent years.
Though the market in Southeast Asia is still growing, there are several countries in the region that offer ecotourism options, including Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Awareness of one's impact often helps convince travelers to explore so-called ethical measures. At the Komodo National Park in Indonesia, for instance, independent travelers contribute about $100 to the local economy, whereas those on a package tour spend half that and those who arrive via a cruise ship have a local impact of only three cents. With this knowledge, a tourist might decide against a cruise and instead book local alternatives and buy keepsakes from native artisans.
"The important thing to note," says Ezaki, "is that when you say 'ecotourism,' it's not just about one particular group of companies you can travel with. It's about doing everything possible to make your experience more sustainable and more responsible."Full article by Rebecca Ruiz
From In Depth: Top Spots For Southeast Asian Ecotourism
Gunung Rinjani National Park, Indonesia
The national park, tourism industry and local community have partnered to offer tours of this stunning landscape, which features hot springs and an active volcano. Local residents, who share village stories and legends, have been trained as guides in an effort to provide employment opportunities. Training and credit are also provided to small businesses and craftspeople through this project.
For more information, visit www.lombokrinjanitrek.org.