Ecotourism: when travel meets respect of environment and local communities

The term ecotourism was born in 1988 when Mexican architect Hector Ceballos-Lascurain defined It as “that tourism that involves travelling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specific object of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural aspects (both past and present) found in these areas”. da fiesole shutterstock_122441557 Over a decade later, in 2002, when the United Nations declared that year as “the year of ecotourism”, the World Summit of Ecotourism was held in Quebec, Canada. On this occasion, delegates from 132 nations approved the text of the “Quebec Declaration on Ecotourism”, in which the concept of ecotourism was expanded, including not only the respect for the environment, but also towards local communities, from a cultural, social and economic point of views. In this perspective, travelers’ demand for the use of different resources of the visited places must be conciliated with the need to ensure their integrity, enhancing their potentialities in the future.

Therefore ecotourism, turning around a biocentric definition, aims at a sustainable development of the tourism sector, trying to reduce the degradation of natural resources, preserving local knowledge and culture, without requiring their adaptation to tourist demand, but inviting to their discovery and welcome.

One of the mainly shared definition is that of International Ecotourism Society, which states: “Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people”.

Many characteristics of ecotourism idea are very close to the “life beyond tourism” philosophy and to our portal Vivafirenze.it: for sure we support a socio-cultural compatibility of the tourist and the territory he/she visits, as well as the focus on local communities and their economical development, but we also we like the attention to the environment.

Finally, we recommend a Tuscan cooperative called “Walden Walking Tours” www.waldenviaggiapiedi.it, which proposes walking tours all over the world, because “…walking with no hurry allows you to discover the places step by step … walking makes one feel good, invites to comparison, to make true contact between people”. For Walden It is crucial to “walk in small groups to share the travel experience and to know the culture and traditions of places even through meetings with locals”.