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How Green is your Trip?
Lots of tours say they're environmentally correct. Not all of them are
The term "ecotour" is about as widely abused as the term "fat-free." Yet the ecotourism industry is exploding as citizens of the world become more environmentally conscious. Indeed, a 1994 Condé Nast Traveler survey found that more than 35 million Americans said they were likely to take an ecotour within the next three years. So how do responsible travelers ensure that their tour is environmentally friendly? The following tips are an amalgamation of the advice of environmental travel journalists who have sought to answer just that question.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
WHAT TOUR OPERATORS CAN DO
- Seek a tour that educates: Guides should be knowledgeable about the destination's wildlife and history, and lectures, slide shows, and videos should be an inherent part of the trip.
- Don't disturb the wildlife: "Take only pictures, and leave only footprints." Remain on marked pathways and be particularly cautious around fragile systems such as coral reefs, mosses, and lichens.
- Practice low-impact travel: Avoid littering of any kind, and make sure your tour operator has made provisions to carry back garbage generated by the trip.
HOME AND AWAY, BOYCOTT THESE
- Support indigenous peoples: Especially in disadvantaged areas, they should utilize local businesses, employ indigenous peoples, and make financial contributions to local conservation activities.
- Build in harmony with the land: Hotels and lodges should use local materials to blend with the land around them.
SOURCE: Endangered products are from The Audubon Society Travel Ethic For Environmentally Responsible Travel, National Audubon Society, New York.
- Coral and Sea turtle products: Including jewelry, eggs, and skin cream.
- Most reptile skins: Particularly those from Latin America, the Caribbean, China, and Egypt.
- Products made of pangolin: Pangolin is another word for anteater.
- Ivory: Especially worked ivory from elephants and from marine mammals, such as whales, walruses, and narwhals.
- Birds: All live birds, as well as any wild bird feathers and skins used in or as artwork (including mounted birds).
- Fur: Particularly that of spotted cats such as the snow leopard or jaguar.
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