Green tourism, a form of ecotourism, is low-impact tourism with an eye toward protecting the environment and culture of an area. The United Nations has set up certain criteria for ecotourism, but green tourism can cover a wide range of standards and conditions, from fully compliant to less stressful on the environment than standard tourism. There are many opportunities for green travel available worldwide.
The number of tourists traveling the world has been increasing, which makes green tourism not only preferable but a necessity in some areas. It might seem wiser to some people to protect natural habitats and pristine, fragile environments by banning visitors completely to these areas, but many areas depend on the income from tourism to support the local economy. Green, sustainable tourism is considered offer the best of both worlds, protecting the ecology of an area while keeping local schools and businesses thriving.
Green tourism doesn't necessarily mean a vacation spent roughing it with little or no comforts. On the contrary, many people believe that it can be a wonderful adventure. Ecotourism resorts and ecolodges exist in almost every style and taste. From recycling and gray water systems to tents on tree house-like platforms with a rain forest canopy, there are numerous vacationing options. Simple efforts, such as keeping to designated pathways, eating where locally grown cuisine is served and visiting cultural areas instead of typical tourist attractions, can go a long way toward "greening up" a standard vacation.
A very green holiday can be spent studying the local flora, fauna and cultural heritage of the area, as well as learning ways to protect and preserve it. Guides, tours and wildlife-viewing platforms help tourists experience all that an area has to offer while making little or no impact on the environment. There also are trips available in which vacationers take an active part in improving the local area by working to preserve the natural habitat, helping to build a school or performing other services that benefit the area. These vacations can be a lot of work, but many people find them to be very rewarding and interesting learning experiences.
As green tourism becomes more popular, there are likely to be more vacationing options available. More resort areas likely will take steps to have less of an impact on the surrounding environment, and sustainable tourism could easily become the standard. Local economies might be able to take full advantage of the booming tourist trade without compromising the local environment, allowing tourists to enjoy the beauty that these areas have to offer for many years to come.