Reflections on ecotourism issues

However, Hertz was the first person to coin the term ecotourism in 1965, using a number of key criteria such as least impact on the environment, least impact on indigenous cultures, respect for local people, favorable economic benefits for host people, and tourist satisfaction. However, almost 25 years after the beginning of the work of the World Ecotourism Association (TIES), by examining the principles of ecotourism, we see that three main principles are evident and prominent in its literature:

  1. It is not erosive or extractive. Extraction and consumption are those activities that cause behavioral and physical damage to non-human species in nature.
  2. Creates adherence to environmental ethics.
  3. In relation to nature, it prioritizes environmentally friendly and ethical values.

In short, ecotourism is nothing but the preservation of the environment, indigenous communities and responsible travel with the aim of creating sustainability in the ecosystem. Those who want to participate and work in the field of ecotourism should accept the following principles as the basic principles of this particular type of tourism:

  • Creating cultural and environmental awareness and promoting a culture of respect for nature and indigenous peoples
  • Minimize physical, social, behavioral and psychological harm during travel
  • Provide a positive and enjoyable travel experience for both travelers and locals
  • Create direct financial benefits to preserve and protect the ecosystem
  • Provide and strive to create a memorable experience for travelers in a way that makes them compassionate and sensitive to the host region and cares about the social, climatic, environmental and political situation of that region.
  • Design and construction of facilities compatible with the nature and culture of the region with the least possible damage to the native ecosystem

Teaching the laws and spiritual beliefs of local people to tourists and creating cooperation and partnership between tourists and locals with the aim of empowering individuals and groups

Ecotourism by following the philosophy of life and relying on internal values, through the protection of natural areas, the transfer of local communities, strengthening the characteristics of subcultures, providing educational and learning opportunities, strengthening employment and preventing migration, commitment to consumption Fewer non-renewable resources, opportunities for local participation, environmental education, and in other words, the right combination of development and protection of the environment and cultural heritage, enable sustainable growth. By earning income through the ecosystem, the rate of job creation for local people will increase, and their level of health and education will also improve.

The difference between ecotourism and nature tourism

So the question is, what is the difference between ecotourism and nature tourism? Is someone who travels to nature an ecotourist and an ecotourist?

To answer this question, we must first define ecotourism.

The World Ecotourism Association in 1991 defines it as: a trip to pristine and natural areas, while maintaining individual responsibility for environmental values ​​that will ultimately protect the environment and promote culture and improve the lives of local people. .

A few years later, in 1996, the World Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources expanded the definition of the World Ecotourism Association, adding: “Ecotourism is a responsible journey to pristine natural areas and in addition to the pleasure of understanding the cultural features of the region.” And this promotes the protection of the environment and due to the concerns of individuals, tries not to leave negative effects on the environment and also creates conditions for employment and economic and social benefits of its indigenous (local) people. Provides area.

Therefore, a person who travels in nature is not necessarily an ecotourist.

And traveling to nature, without considering the responsibilities and environmental concerns, can be considered only in the context of nature tourism (nature tourism).

Therefore, it can be said that their target locations are the same and national parks, wildlife reserves and pristine and untouched natural areas are among these areas, but ecotourism will move towards the sustainability of species and natural habitats. And directly in conservation programs and indirectly in generating revenue for local communities, helping to preserve valuable natural heritage.

As defined by the International Ecotourism Society in 2015, ecotourism is “a journey responsibly to natural attractions to enjoy, appreciate and appreciate nature (and to accompany cultural features of the past and present) in a way that Hafez “It is an ecology that has sustained the quality of life of the people of the region, including education, in which the tourist participates in the profitable socio-economic activities of the local people.” In ecotourism, the word education is highly emphasized, which includes travelers and locals

The International Ecotourism Association (TIES) writes in its definition of ecotourism: “Ecotourism” is a responsible journey to natural areas where the environment is preserved and the well-being of local people is emphasized.

Ecotourism is a type of travel that is done to study, admire, praise and enjoy the appearance of nature and observe plants and animals and get acquainted with the cultural characteristics of different local communities in the past and present.

A look at the ecotourism industry in Iran

One of the sectors that has been considered by tourists in the tourism industry is the ecotourism industry. Green tourism, sustainable tourism and biotourism are various terms used for nature tourism or ecotourism. Ecotourism in Persian means nature tourism. The dramatic effects of tourism in reducing unemployment, increasing income levels, providing energy resources and boosting the handicraft market, which according to available statistics provide 10 million people.

One of the sectors that has been considered by tourists in the tourism industry is the ecotourism industry. Green tourism, sustainable tourism and biotourism are various terms used for nature tourism or ecotourism. Ecotourism in Persian means nature tourism.

In the meantime, it should be noted that natural tourist attractions are never repeated, because going on trips with the intention of visiting nature is mainly in line with the goals, the most important of which are climate change, recreation, relaxation, fatigue , Gaining peace of mind and rejuvenation is to work again and we should not forget that work and leisure are always together and their performance is related to each other, so we can say with certainty and confidence that this feature of the ecosystem, the special advantage of this It shows the form of tourism in other forms, and this has led to an increase in the number of visitors to natural attractions, national parks and other protected areas, given the above, which in this type of tourism is very It matters, it is a matter of sustainability. Sustainable development emphasizes meeting the needs at the level of minimum benefits in society (intergenerational justice).

An issue that has always been considered in this field is the distinction that exists between nature-based tourism as a spatial model and ecotourism as a type of tourism. However, in most cases, these two are synonymous and sometimes even considered one. Nature tourism is a spatial model of tourism and forms a spatial text that is read around the trip to natural places with different motives by tourists.

Also in the global tourism market, nature tourism is a general sector, of which ecotourism is a part in addition to adventure tourism. In fact, ecotourism is an expanding part of the nature-based tourism market. In this regard, travel to nature can not be called ecotourism without considering its features; while such trips can be considered in the context of nature tourism. In addition, by definition, nature-based tourism is never the only equivalent of ecotourism. Here we can see the difference that we have between the motives of the two. In other words, any nature tourism is not considered ecotourism and ecotourism is a subset of nature tourism.

The dramatic effects of tourism in reducing unemployment, increasing income levels, providing energy resources and boosting the handicraft market, which according to available statistics provide 10 million people, are just some of the special benefits of addressing this industry. For every tourist, two to six jobs are created directly and with the inclusion of jobs in the production and service sectors, 9 to 15 jobs are created for each tourist. In recent years, the tourism industry has accounted for 1.5% of the world’s national income.

For each tourist to enter the country, components such as security, optimal services, rich cultural and historical heritage, natural attractions, sea and lakes, climate diversity, easy visa is required, with the absence of any of these items tourist entry Is in trouble.

Desert climbing, hydrotherapy, caving, mountaineering, hunting, fishing, sand skiing, rural tourism, water sports, seeing natural landscapes such as waterfalls, rivers are some of the ecotourism sectors.

Eco tourists are often environmentally oriented and can play an effective role in refining and protecting the environment, spreading environmental culture among the people of the communities.

Iran is among the top ten countries in the world in terms of historical and cultural monuments and is one of the top five countries in the world in terms of ecotourism attractions and climatic diversity.

Iran with its natural, beautiful and pristine landscapes and the existence of different climates and diverse plant and animal species can play a significant role in attracting nature tourists and in this area in the Middle East can be considered one of the ecotourism hubs. And increase the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

Ecotourism is the only branch of tourism that requires the participation of local communities, because the best and most capable guides for natural tourism tours are none other than the natives living in these areas who can easily lead such specialized tours and this issue in reducing migration. The indifference of the villagers to the metropolises also plays a key role, and in this regard, the wheel of many accommodation centers will move in the most remote parts of the country and will create jobs and improve the living standards of the rural people.

Iran with two high mountains of Alborz and Zagros and beautiful and pristine natural landscapes in the west and north of the country and a variety of climatic and cultural traditions such as customs and traditions, language and music, clothing, handicrafts and the way of life of people in these areas, The existence of the largest lake in the world in the north of the country, the existence of 50 lakes in the country and also Lake Urmia as one of the 59 biological reserves of the earth can be the main mother of nature tourists in the world.

On the other hand, there are large forests in the northern regions of the country, deserts and deserts of Iran, international wetlands, caves, waterfalls, mineral springs and villages with special attractions such as Kandovan, Masouleh are all attractions. There are unique ecotourism opportunities in Iran and some of them are among the international hubs of ecotourism in the world.

Creating culture and informing domestic tourists to establish healthy communication and interaction with local people and trying to preserve the environment of the visited areas, planning to attract nature lovers from other countries through appropriate advertisements and informing tour supervisors about creating foreign tours. Possible to visit different parts of Iran, which will be effective in cultural interaction and transfer of original Iranian culture to other parts of the world. But the unsuitable roads, the difficulty of providing services such as accommodation, food and hospitality, lack of public facilities and facilities Government, such as camps and relief posts in remote mountainous areas, are obstacles and problems in the field of ecotourism.

In the meantime, holding responsible nature tours can have a two-way effect. In other words, on the one hand, it creates a sense of responsibility and respect in the tourist and natural and cultural values ​​and attractions of the destination and indigenous culture, and on the other hand, encourages the people of the host community to preserve their natural resources and cultural and historical attractions.

Ecotourism is one of the most sustainable types of nature tourism and the most compatible types of tourism with the environment, and Iran is one of the most important countries in the world due to its remarkable capabilities and attractions. Therefore, paying attention to the principles and laws of ecotourism, as well as creating interest in nature and preserving the environment around us can lead to the continuation and survival of treasures and natural heritage and humans, and this leads to sustainable development. Iran has a special place in terms of ecotourism. The reason for this can be considered the unique climatic diversity of our country. Iran is a country of four seasons; while it can have winter attractions such as skiing at one point, it also has unique summer attractions at another time. Fortunately, in recent years there has been a special interest in ecotourism among travelers.

Special trips such as a bird watching tour in Miankaleh Lagoon, a visit to the beech forest, which is a remnant of the ancient  Hyrcanian forests, and many other things, such as a visit to the Rageh Valley, which is one of the three registered geoparks in Iran. Ecotourism in Iran has many branches and various activities. Branches such as rural tourism, nomadic tourism, adventure tourism and agriculture, and activities that each depend on their own geographical location.

Who is called an eco-tourist?

Ecotourists include a wide range of travelers of all ages. Travelers who choose ecotourism are those who are interested in social, economic and environmental sustainability. In fact, ecotourists seek to do no harm to the environment and leave no trace of them in nature. Today, most tourists in natural areas are not ecotourism and harm the environment and nature with abnormal behaviors. Ecotourism plays a role by emphasizing environmental protection, education, travel responsibility and active participation in society.

Benefits of ecotourism

Creating friendships between cultures and communities

Educating and creating cultural awareness with the people of this region is one of the most fundamental issues that is emphasized in ecotourism. In ecotourism, tourists get acquainted with the culture and way of life of the people of the region and participate in their daily activities; In this connection that has been established between the hosts and the tourists, the people of the region get acquainted with the culture of the people of other regions and countries of the world, and these two groups gradually find a kind of relative interest in each other. Goes to the destination city.

Preservation of natural resources and heritage

One of the slogans of ecotourism is that when you go to nature, only your footprints will remain and you will not take anything home with you except your memories. This kind of view of nature tourism, along with the emphasis on preserving natural resources, education and minimizing the damage to nature during the trip, reveals the importance of respecting nature and prevents damage to it. It should also be noted that ecotourism can be a good alternative to other sources of income for the people of the region by creating suitable opportunities for economic development and development, and earning money by turning locals to other ways, such as selling agricultural land. And prevent the improper exploitation of natural resources.

The purpose of ecotourism

The goal of the ecotourist is to increase recreational facilities, activities and tourist attractions for the benefit of all those involved in it. The environment and man emerge. In fact, it can be said that the goal of ecotourism is friendship with nature, which will ultimately benefit both humans and wildlife, and the two can easily live together.

We know that in the past many civilizations were created in adaptation to nature and eventually modern cities were formed, but with the advancement of technology and the capture of nature, the adaptation of nature and man disappeared and now ecotourism has been created with the aim of creating this adaptation. In addition to benefiting from nature, humans can use it to their advantage and to generate income for certain areas. It can be said that in the end, ecotourism will protect the earth and human beings and will prevent the destruction of nature and the environment.

Sustainability and preservation of the culture of the people of the region

Another benefit that ecotourism can have for the tourism industry of any region is helping to sustain and preserve the culture of the people of that region, as the local people show their customs to tourists, sell handicrafts and livestock products, as well as contribute. Tourists will realize the value of their cultural heritage in their daily activities and will do their best to preserve it.

 Contribute to sustainable development

Another goal of ecotourism is to expand the facilities, improve the conditions and quality of life of human beings, and this is considered not only for the current generation but also for future generations. This means that this act not only helps to protect the environment and natural resources, but also brings a new perspective on economic development and growth, with the difference that this growth has no degradation and negative effects on nature and causes It does not upset the ecological balance either. Achieving sustainable development depends on paying attention to the economic, social, cultural and environmental pillars of a society, and tourism, as an effective activity on all pillars of development, needs to be studied more than before.