To understand ecotourism in the present day context is a little more complicated. An ecological system should be that unit irrespective of its size or location that can sustain and survive in its natural elements, without any undue interference that can upset the balance of its very existence.
The trend of tourist destinations and holiday spots with focus on peace and sanctity of the environment is fast catching up in today’s world, where so much of the emphasis is on accelerated lifestyles in which we strive to make time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Days, weeks and months of living in constant disharmony with our surroundings and ourselves makes one yearn for quality time in quiet, peaceful places where the sounds of everyday life do not permeate. In this context, ecotourism attains immense relevance to mankind, as a whole.
From a purely personal point of view, a tourist destination should be one that enhances your physical, mental and spiritual well being in a purely uplifting way. Plush lodges and resorts with all the trappings of 7-star or 5-star luxury in forests, jungles and bio reserves do not deserve to be classified as promoting ecotourism. It may be good for the big bucks to roll in but definitely a no-no when ecology and tourism have to co-exist. After all, you take a holiday to refresh your body and mind and seek a place that is different in many ways – why do you need the same trappings of city life to do that? Where the aim of promoting little known destinations to the world at large clashes with sustaining an environment in its unspoilt characteristics, simply promoting tourism with the sole aim of enticing people to wallow in unimaginable luxury is a lost cause altogether.
Holidaymakers and tourist wishing to visit eco tourist destinations and spots should be encouraged not to expect luxurious and immaculate surroundings when they arrive. The emphasis should be on riding the rough with the smooth, to expect the unexpected albeit in a stimulating way, and to enjoy doing things differently. Increasingly, you hear of holidays talked about along the same lines as the purchase of a new car or the latest mobile phone or any of the multitudes of electronic goods that are in the market. The essence of the holiday does not mean so much to these note exchangers as the mode of travel, the place of stay and the food you eat. It is a tremendous exercise for the techno geeks to be away from their laptops, Blackberries, iPods and whatever else constitutes, to “making communication snappier”, as they would say.
I scour the newspapers for articles on tourist destinations and nothing grabs my attention more than write-ups and pictures of little nooks and places in unheard of parts of the world. India has such a vast diversity of holiday locations but come holiday time and the entire world wants to visit the usual run of the mill places that are fast becoming overcrowded, polluted and not so enjoyable. Perhaps it is because they would like holidays also to fit into the slot of “well planned and organized” and any pretension to “expecting the unexpected” does not charm these holiday makers.