The United Nations has designated 2002 as the "International Year of Ecotourism" and rightly so. Today only highly responsible tourism will help the world preserve and sustain its environmental and cultural heritage.
Fundamentally, ecotourisim means making as little environmental impact as possible and helping to sustain the indigenous populace, thereby encouraging the preservation of wildlife and habitats when visiting a place. This is responsible form of tourism and tourism development, which encourages going back to natural products in every aspect of life. It is also the key to sustainable ecological development.
Today the "Green Laws" of conservation are making people aware of how man and the environment can live symbiotically for more time to come and ecotourisim is the only way maximize the economic, environmental and social benefits of tourism. Everyone is a stakeholder in the process and we clearly need to avoid our past shortcomings and negative impact that they have had.
In India too the movement is gathering momentum with more and more travel and travel related organisation's are addressing the needs of the eco-tourists and promoting eco-tourism in the country. Some basic do's and don'ts of eco-tourism that we promote in the country are listed below:
. Carry back all non-degradable litter such as empty bottles, tins, plastic bags etc. These must not litter the environment or be buried. They must be disposed in municipal dustbins only.
. Observe the sanctity of holy sites, temples and local cultures.
. Cut noise pollution. Do not blare aloud radios, tape recorders or other electronic entertainment equipment in nature resorts, sanctuaries and wildlife parks.
. In case temporary toilets are set-up near campsites, after defecation, cover with mud or sand. Make sure that the spot is at least 30 meters away from the water source.
. Respect people's privacy while taking photographs. Ask for prior permission before taking a photograph.
. Do not take away flora and fauna in the forms of cuttings, seeds or roots. It is illegal, especially in the Himalayas. The environment is really delicate in this region and the bio-diversity of the region has to be protected at all costs.
. Do not use pollutants such as detergent, in streams or springs while washing and bathing.
. Do not use wood as fuel to cook food at the campsite.
. Do not leave cigarettes butts or make open fires in the forests.
. Do not consume aerated drinks, alcohol, drugs or any other intoxicant and throw bottles in the wild.
. Do not tempt the locals, especially children by offering them foodstuff or sweets. Respect local traditions.
. Polythene and plastics are non bio-degradable and unhealthy for the environment and must not be used and littered.