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Going green: Ecotourism

By: Sara Allen

The Galapagos Islands are one of many popular ecotourism vacation destinations. Photo courtesy of Google images

          When going green, there are many different ways to accomplish the feat. A popular way to go green is to take “green” vacations. These trips are classified as ecotourism. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) found that in six years, green vacations can grow to account for 25 percent of the global travel market. They also found that the 25 percent will add up to $470 billion a year.

            What exactly is ecotourism? TIES has defined ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of local people.” Destinations that focus on the outdoors with minimal impact to the natural environment, respect local wildlife and hire local staff are considered to be the choice ecotourism locations.

            “Ecotourism tries not only to minimize the negative impact but to maximize the positive impact. We all know travel experiences are rewarding for people who take the trips. At the same time, we try to give back to the destinations and the people who make these experiences possible,” Ayako Ezaki, a member of TIES, said about the eco-friendly trips.

            The Early Show named some of the top green vacation destinations. Among these were the Galapagos Islands, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Car-free Islands and Burlington, Vermont. For about $1500 a week, you can stay on the Galapagos Islands. While you are there, you can take a trip around the islands to see the wildlife in their natural environment. In Chattanooga, there are local organic markets. The city itself is very “walkable” and bike-friendly. Biking instead of getting around by car is an eco-friendly way to help the planet while on vacation.

            Car-free Islands are a great example of this. One of these islands is Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles west of Key West, there are seven islands made of coral reefs and sand. The islands are known for their marine life and birds, the legends of pirates and sunken treasure, as well as their military past. The last destination on The Early Show’s list is Burlington, Vermont. The city has been named the most sustainable city in the U.S. More than one-third of the energy used in the city is from renewable resources. The city laws don’t allow pesticides to be used at all, keeping them from entering the waterways or damaging the plants and crops.

            Having a green vacation is one way you can help the planet. Even if you don’t take an eco-trip, there are ways in hotels that you can help. Most hotels have little plastic cards on the beds when you enter the room. Putting these cards on the beds when you leave the room for the day lets the maid service know the sheets do not need to be washed. Also, hanging the towels in the bathroom back on the racks mean they can be reused and don’t have to be washed. Doing these things saves both water and energy. Being green on vacation is a simple thing to do; just because you are not heading to a green destination doesn’t mean you can’t have a eco-friendly vacation.

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