Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial (mass) tourism. Its purpose may be to educate the traveler, to provide funds for ecological conservation, to directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities, or to foster respect for different cultures and for human rights. Since the 1980s ecotourism has been considered a critical endeavor by environmentalists, so that future generations may experience destinations relatively untouched by human intervention.
This involves saving the remaining population of gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda. Eco tours in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania deals with living parts of the natural environments. Ecotourism focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability. Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Ecotourism is intended to offer tourists insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greater appreciation of our natural habitats.
Eco-tourism is defined as responsible travel, which includes taking steps to conserve the environment and improve the lives of the local people. By providing financial benefits and social empowerment to the local people, tourists can be sure that they are doing everything in their power to benefit the environment and the people of the country they are visiting, instead of simply using their resources while Mass tourism refers to an overwhelming amount of people travelling to one extremely popular tourist destination.
Ecotourism aims at balancing economic development of tourism, and conservation as well as protecting the natural resources is central to it, while mass tourism is like a juggernaut that pays scant heed to any lofty ideals and is instead hell bent on churning profits and thus pays little attention to sustainable development.
Ecotourism is more nature based, low impact as well as small scale, promotes conservation, supports local communities, helps maintain natural and cultural integrity, and makes use of environmentally friendly methods as also technologies while mass tourism is normally associated with high volumes, large scale, fast pace as well as hedonism making Eco – tourism being better.
An ecotourism journey is a package tour in the respect of fauna and flora and whose direct effects on the local population aren’t harmful but beneficial in-stead. It’s a sustainable form of tourism that minimizes the impact on the natural environment to preserve it, and that involves local people and tourists into actions to protect nature and the reverse is true with mass tourism. Ecotourism is a new way to promote developing countries. On the one hand it attracts tourists; on the other hand it contributes to protect nature, culture and wildlife.
Dain Fossey envisioned that introduction of gorilla tourism as the only way to help save gorillas. With the foreign exchange earned from gorilla safaris, funding conservation projects would be easy to manage. It should be noted that, gorilla tours are a major income earner for the countries where gorillas are located. For example in 2006 – 2013, mountain gorillas found in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo hosted more than a million tourists generating $75m (£44m) and about 90% of the countries’ annual foreign income earning.
In 2005, the Rwanda government introduced an annual profit sharing scheme, where 5% of income earning from gorilla tourism is ploughed back into the disadvantaged local communities surrounding the national parks to help in local project development programs so as to improve their living standards like construction of roads, water and sanitation, health unites and low treatment costs. It should be noted that communities living around national parks are densely populated with high poverty levels and poor sanitation. With such profit sharing schemes, the community develops 100% interest in gorilla conservation, as it’s a benefit to everyone.
Introduction of strict rules which must be observed by all tourists going to visit gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo. These rules were set to protect the endangered mountain gorilla species from threats like diseases from human beings like tuberculosis, diarrhea and influenza which a very deadly if they catch gorillas as gorillas have low immunity to human diseases.