Trekking for Change: Supporting Conservation Efforts Through Eco-Tours

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Eco-tourism is a form of tourism that is based on natural beauty, exotic wildlife, and unique cultural enrichment aspects of a locality. It doesn’t only aim to achieve short-term income of tourists but also for the long-term well-being of the local population and enhancement of the local very rare environment. This can be regarded as an important industry to attract foreign exchange to the country. An eco-tourism is typically more costly than an average general tour, but often it involves incomparable landscape, enabling spiritual and personal emotional benefits for travelers. Many tourists and communities around the site already encourage the tourism activity, bringing overall financial benefits. However, the question whether to promote such an act is already happening in small environmentally sensitive, threatened, or un-award areas. Even for extensive tourism, focusing on the natural environment, operators are looking for new distant locations. This paper emphasizes the dominance of nearby tourist destinations, but it is useful to uncover and evaluate various related influences in free and beneficial tourism. Eco-tourism typically leads tourists to normal wealth, like rainforests, national parks, protected areas with distinctive or endangered ecosystems, and local habitats. Some others may also discover specific old urban areas. With its apparent economic benefits, it has turned out to be an important driver of changes in nature protection and conservation.

Importance of Conservation Efforts in Eco-Tourism

Some positive factors include the mode of transportation and the growth of ecotourism are state-wide or national public policies. Local conservation programs are targeted to individuals and nationalities that protect resources. Conservation and tourism go hand-in-hand. Tourism provides significant income for local families, encouraging the preservation of natural resources for generations to come. National public policies on tourism are an excellent incentive for local families to monitor the security in the natural areas they inhabit and foster economic incentives. Governments seek to attract tourists to protected areas and nature reserves, which are identified as attractive places.

And cultural imperatives. These capabilities, typically enhanced through training or educational programs, accord educated workers a higher wage. Interventions seeking to limit the link to create decent work in the region. Protecting natural resources extends to preserving air and water quality from the nation level to local communities searching for a source of clean water. Non-income benefits of ecotourism can appear simply by offering diversification opportunities. This provides some local groups much-needed additional capital available from an increased number of jobs if managers are choosing to keep wages high. Other benefits include the development of institutions responsible for environmental stewardship. Promoting environmental conservation through ecotourism involves travel to natural areas, resulting in beneficial environmental interests and attitudes among employees.

The Benefits of Trekking for Change

Trekking enables travelers to develop a close association with the diverse landscapes, communities, culture, and ecology of the trek region. Being a participatory form of tourism, trekking also serves as one of the best ways to create strong bonds between the trekker and the trek region. In this way, trekking has been suggested to broaden the spectrum of adventure tourism by advocating soft, responsible, and sustainable approaches to tourism. The next section explores the multifarious benefits of trekking.

Trekking has been suggested to have minimal impacts on a natural environment, offering a sustainable and low-volume form of tourism. While the terms trek and trekking may finally have origins from the word ‘trecken’, evolved from the Low German word ‘tracken’. Trekking became a metaphor for ‘travelling through one’s life journey’, moving away from the beaten track or mainstream. A common synonym, hiking, has its roots from the Icelandic word ‘híkr’, related to mountain climbing or ascending. Being a form of nature-based or ecotourism, trekking infers a non-motorized and non-extractive connection with a natural setting, thereby offering tangible benefits both to the trekker and the surrounding environment. Trekking has also become closely associated with personal recreational and rehabilitation activities, ranging from pilgrimages to contemplative journeys under a variety of guises.

Economic Benefits

Ecotourism has the potential to significantly contribute to the socio-economic viability of many local communities that may otherwise have to participate in environmentally damaging activities (e.g., logging, mining) as a means of earning a living. An enterprising woman initiated the first real ecotourism project in Tortaja because she decided to have lodges for tourists instead of selling all the land. Such alternative forms of business, based on rainforest resources, may encourage the conservation of land that would otherwise be sold or turned to unsustainable uses such as ranching or logging. Small workshops provide both training support and create diverse economic opportunities for local people, justifying in economic terms why local people should care about the consumption habits of key extractive project-derived tourists. The hope that a project will promote local socio-economic gains can be a key factor driving community participation.

Supporting local needs is a positive aspect of ecotourism, and it often includes providing jobs. “Employment opportunities make the lifestyle of local inhabitants less vulnerable to the impact of development projects. Employees working in an industry where the services provided to tourists are mainly from natural settings generally respect the environment or at least advocate its conservation.” Since these jobs have been realized, tourism has replaced hunting as the main economic activity at Bolsa City, offering a substitute economic activity that directly contributes to the preservation of Araguaia’s remaining wildlife. The significant income generated from ecotourism greatly outweighs any potential returns from adverse uses that conflict with an entirely protected area. There are also indirect employment opportunities that cannot easily be identified and are not adequately analyzed. For example, unintentional employment opportunities may be generated through the multiplier effect of spending money by government personnel who owe their existence to ecotourism activities. Our study has brought to light the large amount of revenue derived from the multiplier effect of tour expenditure.

Environmental Benefits

The harmful activities that tourists undertake are an unintended negative impact of eco-tourism. The uncontrolled or excessive tourist exploitation of any ecosystem would tend, eventually, to ruin that system. Clearly, the scale, intensity, and nature of the impacts of mass tourist activities are much more serious than the impacts of the activities of small numbers of well-behaved eco-tourists. The eco-tourist industry is still in its infancy. There is a large and rapid growth of research and experience that is encouraging in some instances and discouraging in others. The customer is now in a position to demand detailed, objective information about the industry and its products, so that making rational decisions about why, when, and how to engage in eco-tourism becomes possible. Only with the informed support of the users of the eco-tourist industry are the operators of eco-tourism to be effective in persuading the international travel and resort industry – including major airlines, hotel chains, tour operators, and marketing interests – to market eco-tourism products.

Trail maintenance and clearance, emergency supplies, equipment and support services for wildlife park personnel, and aircraft surveillance of remote and inaccessible areas are among the benefits to conservation projects that can be extended by responsible trekking companies. Activities that are harming nature and wildlife, such as collecting rare fossils, killing butterflies or shooting blue sheep for food, are condemned and discouraged. Eco-tourists normally enjoy the flora and fauna and support conservation activities. Mountain taxis, particularly where trekking and other mountain destination activities are experiencing rapid growth, began assuming an environmental mission. With increasing numbers of eco-tourists participating in these activities, a significant role in the protection of the environment in the mountain areas of developing countries has created jobs and directly contributed to the well-being and sustainable development of mountain residents.

Challenges and Solutions in Eco-Tourism

Potable water safety from local sources is a significant issue in many settings where eco-tourism flourishes. As in all areas, once the trek is conquered, the money really starts to flow upwards. Eco-touring trekking leaves as its primary local income and community development legacy the hurting of lodging and food service facilities along direct and indirect trekking corridors. Model trekking to change operations doesn’t merely civilize an area by economically helping it to convert into a provider of high quality and service accommodations. Such operations donate substantial shares of net profits to support local education, health, or conservation needs and projects. One percent of their sales profits are must-do minimums for members of the International Alliance of Eco-Tourism (IAET) and the comparable Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). All others should follow such example to the best of their organizational ability.

Both small- and large-scale eco-tourism activities bring eco-tourists into natural habitats that may be unsuitable to handle the foot, vehicle, and other physical impacts of humans. Designated trails can redirect this activity onslaught and shuttle eco-tourists to and fro in a controlled manner. Massive access problems in Ecuador’s Sacha Lodge and similar touring enterprises were alleviated to a degree by the construction of well-designed, elevated, permanent trail systems. Eco-tourists and other visitors need to expend bodily wastes in chemical flush or pit toilet facilities connected to septic tanks embedded on platforms supported high above the earth or with composting bulk waste systems. Resources are pricier around developing world national parks, so trekkers who are serious about their health and that of their hosts pay to minimize sanitation and water supply risks and problems irrespective of location.

Community Engagement and Local Empowerment

Additionally, these guesthouse-related expenses represent large sums of cash moving into communities, where they are often spent upstream on higher-cost goods and services. Yet, there is additional benefit from the flow in support of the coastal camping operations on which trekkers and guides rely for sustenance. Unless the coastal camping operations can receive resonant support, each substantial increase of these funds flowing directly to the communities could be seen as a positive net loss to the operational economy of the trek station and community camp/shop operator who receives these funds. A broader “community tourism” model requires additional, longer-term engagement providing more opportunity and support for more substantial, foundational change.

In addition to direct employment, with the ongoing and increasing tourist dollars flowing to the region, investment in more substantial outcomes is possible in the future. Well-recognized, true community tourism enterprises require significant investment in the communities, and certainly over more lengthy periods of time.

Through the provision of locally-built guesthouses and associated services, as well as deep engagement with resident communities, land and conservation trusts have been able to channel constructed demand via user fees to maintain fencing and anti-poaching efforts. This provides on-the-ground economics that help ensure the continued success of conservation across the region. However, the total net benefit to the community from a single visit to encounters within an individual community is strikingly low, often due to economic multipliers far exceeding the direct financial gain from a visitor.

Trekking for Change is a small venture and our experience is thus limited. However, it is our hope that the careful development of such programs will allow conservation organizations to capture a share of the large and growing “adventure” travel market, to design and market a product that not only helps them survive and thrive, but that also raises public awareness (and funds) to further the organization’s broader goals. We appreciate the support of our funder and look forward to feedback on the operations and concept from interested parties in the future.

Trekking for Change offers a model for conservation non-profits that have access to ecologically important areas but find it difficult to access funds through traditional channels. However, getting such organizations to commit time and resources to entering the increasingly popular world of ecotourism offerings will remain a challenge. The operations of a non-profit are typically designed to avoid providing commercial services, while the operations of a tourism venture are designed solely to provide commercial services. The skill-sets cast for each are often considerably different. Given this and the potentially large negative externalities of tourism operations on local and global resources, we don’t want to encourage all conservation organizations to explore trips as a way of funding their important work. However, these sorts of ventures can and do make sense, can and do work, and deserve consideration by other organizations with similar missions, goals, and objectives for the resources held.

Future Directions in Eco-Tourism and Conservation Efforts

Promotion of Nature and Hallmark Destinations. There is demand for eco-tourism that benefits those destination regions and communities which possess unique natural and cultural resources. These resources, whether at public or private ownership, can be accessible and marketed directly. These sites may have substantial existing, intrinsic, or preserved values but are threatened by pollution, habitat loss, degradation, or other inability to serve as a viable eco-tourism asset if not managed correctly. Unlike other regions viewed as holding substantial eco-tourism potential, these world-renowned regions are difficult to significantly increase your turnout by educators and promoters. These locations are non-exhaustible, don’t rely on small open economies to finance their residents, they help to relieve some poorer eco-tourism areas of the current environmental strain, and they market themselves because the destination is the product. These are the “nature destinations” or “landmarks” where visitors would come, in growing numbers, because of the product.

Promotion of Eco-Tourism and Alternative Community Project Development in Touristed Areas. An alternative to commercial mega-resorts and other destructive tourism infrastructure could be nature tourism, based on controlled numbers, low impact, and revenue sharing among the local communities. The nature tourism alternatives range from wildlife park tourism to traditional village involvement. Nature parks can concentrate on specific activities such as wildlife viewing, photography, camping, and bird watching. The village involvement ranges from the villagers managing the tourism facilities to the villagers managing the tourism, to the villagers being granted property rights over regenerated natural habitats and deriving part of their livelihood from tourism by maintaining an attractive natural environment. Another approach to the indefensible pressure of tourism growth in paradise with its coast might be to bypass them with other eco-tourist solutions. The solutions are looking for alternative locations that nature tourists haven’t yet intruded upon.