|Tourism Industry and its Environmental Implications|
The ECO-tourism industry needs a seal of excellence program (ecolabels) to certify what is really an "eco," sustainable, organic eco-tour verses one that uses the term "eco" as a greenwashing technique to give a non-eco-commercial venture an "environmental" spin. Green energy is certified by CRS. Similarly, SCS and Green Seal certify Green products. Energy Star certifies Green appliances. Yet there is no standard for certifying eco-tourism.
Most ECO-tours promotes themselves as eco-this or eco-that; but what is really meant is that it's an eco-adventure for the tourist, but eco-bad for the wilderness and wildlife.
Choose wisely. Review the kinds of ECO-Tours available. Environmentally, it would be better if you didn't take that plane trip or cruise to a rainforest in Belize.
If you're determined to vacation by taking a plane trip or cruise someplace, and you have a choice, choose something like a Reality Tour.
Link between ECO-Tourism and Agriculture:
From FAO Corporation Document Repository
Excerpted from the Title: The Scope of Organic Agriculture, Sustainable Forest Management and Ecoforestry
The symbiotic relationship between tourism and agriculture that can be found in agrotourism (i.e. holidays on farmland) is a key element of an environmentally and socially responsible tourism in rural areas. Rural hospitality offers new employment and income generating opportunities for rural populations, including agrotourism as expression and cultural exchange of agricultural practices, artistic heritage and craftsmanship and culinary traditions. Agrotourism may take several forms: holiday farms, farmhouse bed-and-breakfast, farm camping, mountain resorts, equestrian centres and other forms of rural accommodations. Such facilities are an innovative payment system for environmental services generated on and around agricultural lands. --FAO Corporation Document Repository -The Scope of Organic Agriculture, Sustainable Forest Management and Ecoforestry.Top
While ecotourism is nature-based and agrotourism is farm-based, agro-ecotourism is a combination of both. The rural landscape, usually a combination of wild and agro-ecosystems, is the most important resource for tourism development. It is obvious that a diversified agricultural landscape, with semi-natural habitats, has a greater aesthetic and recreational potential over uniform, degraded and/or polluted agricultural areas. In Europe, agri-environmental policies often promoted organic agricultural activities as a most effective means for landscape conservation: for example, the European Union Life Environment project run by the French Federation of Parks and Reserves adopted extensive animal husbandry to prevent the negative impacts of unmanaged forests on some botanical meadow species and to promote a landscape quality attractive to tourists. Examples from the Alpine Region showed that agriculture (e.g. in Carinthia, Austria) maintained an ecological value much more attractive to tourists than areas where agriculture activities were extremely reduced. Tropical countries that harbour extraordinary biodiversity have an untapped potential for generating tourism business around biodiversity-rich farms. For example, shade cacao and coffee farms have a higher biodiversity than forest habitats: families could receive money for visitors access to their land for bird-watching or could be actively involved in the agro-ecotour (see Examples 3 and 4 in Annex). Agro-ecotourism in certain locations provides a strong economic incentive to small farmers to commit to biodiversity-friendly agriculture management. --FAO Corporation Document Repository -The Scope of Organic Agriculture, Sustainable Forest Management and Ecoforestry.Top
When agro-ecotourism evolves around an organic farm, it is referred to as eco-organic tourism. The valorization of specific elements of the agro-ecosystem landscape offers an additional economic resource for environmental protection. Conversion to organic management in agricultural areas and the development of connected activities such as tourism are increasing. When farms are organically-managed, they increase the motivation for tourists' visits. New tourist expectations have enhanced the quality of the supply such as diversified farm landscape, environmentally-sound farm-house architecture and local/typical gastronomy.
In many industrial countries, protected area landscapes including farmland experience land abandonment. In this context, small-scale agriculture can become economically viable if quality products could be marketed and income is supplemented by tourism activities, especially in areas rich of biodiversity and history (see Example 7 in Annex). While the establishment, by local authorities, of land protection systems was historically opposed by farmers unions, there is a recent growing awareness that a reserve/park increases "green" tourism opportunities and that visitors are increasingly sensitive to quality, both in ecological and gastronomic terms. This trend favours organic farmers because they can easily meet these new tourists' demands.
Different studies in the European Union demonstrated the ability of organic agriculture to create attractive landscapes. Eco-organic farm practices and activities which benefit the environment while rewarding farmers include: accommodation in buildings renovated/built according to ecological architecture (natural materials, bioclimatic criteria, landscape planning); on-farm consumption or selling of organic foods and beverages; educational programmes and training (e.g. organic gardening, compost making, wild herbs collection and drying, traditional food and beverage processing), and sensitising guests on rational use of natural resources (e.g. in-house solar energy but also in greenhouses or for processing, wood for heating, water re-use and re-cycling). A 1999 survey in Italy reported that eco-organic holiday farms performed the following activities: 35 percent arrange visits to nearby protected areas; 30 percent plan naturalistic didactical activities; 24 percent set up didactical and demonstrative laboratories on organic agriculture and the environment; and 11 percent offer visitors instruments and equipment for the observation of fauna and flora (AIAB, 2001).
Ecolabels are important marketing instruments for agro-ecotourism in general, because price premiums encourage farmers' commitment to the conservation and maintenance of biodiversity. The most well-known forms of certification include organic farming operations, organic and specialty foods (i.e. geographical denomination of origin) and forest stewardship products. Organic certification of farmhouse structure and facilities is less known but where implemented (e.g. Austria, Italy), it attracts more environmentally-conscious tourists. Requirements for such farms include: organic agriculture production; naturalistic and didactic activities; natural resources tutorship (e.g. at least 5 percent of the farm must be devoted to ecological infrastructure and at least 40 botanical local species must be present in the infrastructure); recreational green areas; ecological buildings (with respect to construction materials and cleaning agents used, energy saving and waste management, and prevention of air pollution); tourist offers (both on-farm and in neighbouring natural reserves); gastronomic offers (organic, seasonal and local); and sustainable transportation facilities.
The dependence of organic farmers on neighbouring protected areas to attract tourists to their farming enterprise and rural hospitality qualify them as best allies for the sustainable management of protected areas and buffer zones. Furthermore, eco-organic tourism offers opportunities for rural economies and sustainable tourism. --FAO Corporation Document Repository -The Scope of Organic Agriculture, Sustainable Forest Management and Ecoforestry.Top
Organic Agrotourism: An example of a Cretan (Greece) Organic Agrotour:
Students stay on an organic farm operated by agronomists of the Mediterranean Association for Soil Health, on the northern coast near the ancient port of Rethymnon. Classes are limited to eight students and presented by local chefs, farmers and experts in related subjects. In rural Crete, people are still responsible for growing, producing, raising or collecting the food, wine and even the tea or salt on their tables. Nothing eaten is made in a laboratory. Students study with great farmers and chefs, walk in the footsteps of the ancients, pick wild herbs, listen to traditional music, and just breathe the mountain air.Top
In 1998, the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture (AIAB) developed a national programme on sustainable tourism, based on the concept of eco-organic holiday farms. The main objective is to convert rural tourism activities to environmentally-friendly tourism through the involvement of organic farmers. While organic farms that undertake agrotourism or restaurant/catering activities are the main targets for such conversion, particular attention is given to organic farms operating within or near protected areas. Adherence to eco-organic holiday farms includes:
and optional requirements, including:
Farms are inspected and granted a number of daisies on the label, from 1 to 5. The number of optional requirements fulfilled determines the farm classification: five daisies indicate adherence to all requirements. This system of classification indicates to tourists the level of commitment to the quality of the environment and of agrotourism services. In 2003, the AIAB directory included 143 eco-organic holidays farms but many more are being assessed for inclusion.
Several Italian Regions (e.g. Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio) have adopted organic agriculture as a best agricultural practice in parks and protected areas in order to support tourism activities: financial support is granted to convert to organic management, information desks are established for farmers within parks and demonstration activities are undertaken. In order to monitor implementation (and assist conflict resolution between agriculturalists and environmentalists), the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture (AIAB), the Italian Federation of Protected Areas (Federparchi) and the Environment Protection Association (Legambiente) have established in 2003 a virtual "Parks Observatory" in order to collect experiences and answer questions on how organic agriculture is managed in protected areas.Top
The idea that travel can be educational and positively influence international affairs motivated the first Reality Tour in 1989. Reality Tours was founded on the principles of experiential education and are intended to educate people about how we, both individually and collectively, contribute to global problems. Global Exchange then suggest ways in which we can contribute to and facilitate positive change. Global Exchange's Reality Tours are not designed to provide immediate solutions or remedy the world's most intractable problems, nor are they simply a brand of voyeurism.
Reality Tours offer participants an opportunity to journey to other countries to examine a situation firsthand. This gives the individual the chance to understand the issues beyond what is communicated by the mass media. By joining Global Exchange on one of these delegations, a participant will have the chance to learn about unfamiliar cultures, meet with people from various walks of life, and establish meaningful relationships with people from other countries. Most significantly, Reality Tours endow participants with a new vantage point from which to view and affect US foreign policy. Reality Tours hope to also prompt participants to examine related issues in their own community and society.
Click here to link to Reality Tours at Global ExchangeTop
ECOTour and Nature Guide Guidelines :
Suggestions from Orchids and Egrets Nature Tours and ecofloridamag.com
There are certain guidelines ecotour operators and nature guides go by to develop and maintain a sustainable ecotourism business.
Provide money and other tangible support for developing parks' services and managing natural resources.
Other guidelines would add to promote the desire in ecotourists to learn about the natural area, to engage the tour guide in direct interaction with ecotourists and to reduce pollution and recycle within the company (even in offices).
When traveling through Florida's natural areas, you can help preserve them by following a few guidelines yourself:
Stay on trails. Don't wander into the brush or onto the prairie; the trails are there for a reason. Leaving the pathway, you might unknowingly disturb wildlife habitat, or endangered or threatened plant communities. Besides, if you stay on the trail, you won't get lost!
Reduce, reuse and recycle. The same idea that works at home, work and school works when you're in natural areas. Think of ways you can cut down on waste. For example, instead of taking all those plastic forks and paper plates when you go camping or picnicking, use items that you can wash and reuse. Also, don't use up more of anything than you need, especially water.
Put waste where it belongs: in a trash can. Because you followed tip #2, you don't have much waste left, but what you do have should go in a trash can. Wherever there's also a recyclables can, use it. And don't leave food out for animals, like raccoons, to eat.
Learn about the flora and fauna of the area you're visiting. Your knowledge will lead to a greater appreciation and respect for what Florida has. Learning about the world around us is fun, and it can be as easy as taking along a field guide.
Leave plants, animals, rocks, logs, etc. alone. That flower may be the most unusual you've ever seen, and that little critter may look really cute, but they're not there for you to pick or to pet. You're in their home. Wild animals are wild, and they need their space. Give animals plenty of room when viewing them. As for the plants, the animals and insects need them. And that log or rock you come across may be someone's home.
Whenever you can, walk, skate or bike and leave your vehicle turned off. Park your car, save some gas and spare everyone the emissions. Enjoy the beauty of the park up close.
Follow directions given by signs and rangers. Both kinds of directions are for your protection and for the protection of the natural area you visit.
Try to visit parks in their off season, when possible. You'll not only avoid the crowds on your visit; you'll make the in-season crowds in the natural areas that much smaller, reducing negative impact. Plus, you'll see things you might not normally see, like juvenile birds, for example.
Support parks, forests and preserves. As a visitor, your entrance fee helps pay to maintain and improve the area. But you also can become a park member or join the many “Friends Of” groups. For example, there's the Friends of Florida State Parks (call 904-878-6177) and many individual state and county parks that would appreciate your membership.
Be a good example for others; spread the word about responsible ecotourism. When your family, friends and neighbors hear about your trips to natural areas, they might want to go, too. Point them to areas of special interest to you, and be sure to tell them these great tipsTop
Links for more information about organic farming worldwide:
Click here for a useful web site that offers organic food and farming news for Europe, as well as a guide to the best associated sites on the Web.
Click here for many environmental volunteer opportunities all over the world as well as some paid internships in the same field.
Click here for a free list of farms in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Click here for lists of organic volunteer opportunities, mostly at farms in the US, although the list does include other countries, such as Costa Rica.
Click here for a site that charges a fee to provide a huge list of countries all over the world that have organic farms. Some countries such, as Canada, have their own separate organizations, but you will be directed to these from this web site.
Recommendations from a Veteran Organic Farm Volunteer:
I can recommend this experience to anyone who is fit and capable and doesn’t mind getting a bit muddy. Volunteering on an organic farm is about giving and receiving, not about trying to get a free ride. Farm and project hosts often give up their time and space to welcome volunteers, so respect and care must always be reciprocated. However, this is rarely a problem as the community vibe produced by such projects usually makes people pull together wonderfully.
Agrotourism has become the more environmentally-conscious answer to seeing the world from a slightly different viewpoint, from the ground up, and offers accessibility to the world to those of us who desire an unpretentious eco-experience. But beware: it can be addictive. I left a job in Britain to manage an organic farm in Costa Rica, and I am still here.
CAROLINE NYE worked on an organic farm in Costa Rica in 2003.
Tourism Industry and its Environmental Implications
Tourism is the third largest retail industry in the US, behind only automobile dealers and food stores. In 1998, travel and tourism contributed $91 billion to the US economy, supporting 16.2 million jobs directly and indirectly. While extensive research has documented the significant economic impact of such service industries as tourism, little has been written about their effects on environmental quality.