Can Eco-Tourism Benefit Nature and Wildlife?
Tourism is usually thought of as being destructive and damaging to local areas. Some areas have even ended tourism because of the damage done. However, tourism can provide benefits to nature and wildlife in an area, along with the people who live there. The key is to opt for eco-friendly tourism and to be careful when visiting any location. Some of the top benefits that can be seen from sustainable travel and eco-tourism include the following.
Seeing makes a Difference
People want to protect animals they’ve seen. They might not care as much about animals they’ve never seen before. For the polar bear, for example, being able to see them in their natural habitat and learning more about the destruction of habitats, interruptions to hibernation, and more, can encourage more people to get involved in conservation efforts and to donate time or money to help save the animals and the place they live.
Prevents Destruction of Habitats
Simply put, if people are visiting an area for nature and wildlife, it’s not likely going to be destroyed by local governments. Visiting areas where wildlife thrives will help encourage the preservation of various habitats, helping keep the wildlife safe. As tourism in an area grows, if it is done sustainably, it can help encourage more preservation, which can minimize the destruction of wildlife habitats as cities grow and expand. By providing more income without having to destroy natural areas, tourists can help make sure these areas and creatures are still there for the next generation to visit.
Offers Better Security for Wildlife
Despite the hunting of some animals being illegal, people will still kill them for the thrill or for what they believe they can get from the animal. Poaching is a huge problem in some areas, and money is needed to hire guards to help protect them from becoming extinct. Eco-tourism helps to provide those funds, as the money spent in the local area can be used in part to hire more guards for the animals. This helps protect them more from poaching, reducing the potential for the animals to become extinct.
Improvements in Local Infrastructure
Local infrastructure is designed with tourism in mind for many places. Though the infrastructure may be lacking in some capacity at first, when tourism increases, there are more funds to help improve the area. This goes even further than just creating new roads or adding new buildings and hotels. It also provides jobs for those who live there, helps to bring in more people, so they’re interested in helping the local area, and a lot more. More infrastructure doesn’t need to be destructive, either. It can be done in a sustainable way, improving the roads and buildings already in place, to bring in the benefits without the negatives.
When there is tourism to an area with plenty of wildlife, sanctuaries may be created. These are areas where wildlife can live while being taken care of to ensure they have the best life possible. Sanctuaries, unlike zoos, have wide-open spaces for the animals to live in, do not breed, buy or sell the animals, and are created as a conservation effort in many instances. Often, sanctuaries will take in injured or sick animals, nursing them back to health so they can go back to the wild again. Visits to sanctuaries help bring in more money, enabling the sanctuary to keep helping the animals, as well.
Throughout the world, tourism can be used to benefit wildlife instead of causing further destruction. It does take a little extra planning to make sure the travel is sustainable and done with the desired location in mind. However, by traveling sustainably and being careful with where money is spent, activities done in the local area, and more, it’s possible to provide benefits to destinations that they might not have had before. When planning a vacation, keep these things in mind and look for more ways to help.