Your Vacation Experience Can Last Lifetimes – Why Sustainable Ecotourism Matters

photo by john vater, ceviche tours

What are your summer plans? Are you headed to a great vacation on a sunny beach? Take a trip

that’s great for the Earth, too, with a sustainable ecotourism adventure.

Sustainable ecotourism is more than a “green” vacation: when travelers keep an eye on the environmental footprint, or impact of their vacation. This can be as simple as making sure your family uses refillable water bottles during your hiking trip. Many hotel chains are getting bitten by the eco-bug, too, asking guests to reuse towels, and touting their “green” washing detergents. There are also tours where guests can calculate the environmental footprint of their entire trip – taking into account carbon emissions from getting to the destination, etc. – in an effort to minimize the impact.

These are fun, excellent opportunities to get the most out of your vacation while helping the Earth, too. Sustainable ecotourism doesn’t only help the planet, it helps people living in a

community as well. These are truly unique opportunities to use your travel to provide sustainable means for indigenous people to maintain a way of life. For instance, the people of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, depend on fishing for their livelihood. However, theirs is a fragile reef environment that must maintain a crucial balance of marine life in order to provide a sustainable income for the community not just now, but over time.

Retraining Islanders to guide guests for catch and release sport fishing, snorkeling and swimming with the whale sharks as a way of making a living helps to preserve both their culture and

their waters for generations to come. In Isla Mujeres, these travels are exceptionally thrilling. Just 20 minutes from Cancun, the area is part of the second largest barrier reef on the planet, serving as the nursery of the Caribbean and the migratory path of sea turtles, water foul, game fishe and the largest fish in the world, the whale shark.

Swimming with whale sharks – huge, friendly creatures that eat plants and other fish – is an

exhilarating experience that can’t be beat. And in Isla Mujeres, working with the right travel

companies, you can take part in this unforgettable adventure knowing that you’re helping the

community, too. In fact, the Isla Mujeres Whale Shark Festival is happening July 1-5, 2009, a fun event for the whole family.

Scientific researchers are using this trend of sustainable ecotourism to help them with their important work. For instance, Project Domino, a marine conservation organization, works with some of the whale shark tours in Isla Mujeres to add the pictures taken by vacationers to their local database of whale sharks. Their goal is to add to a global effort, a worldwide visual database of whale shark markings, to identify every whale shark and track them. Their hope is to keep this endangered species from being wiped off of the planet. And tourists are helping them in this effort.

So, how can you get on board with a sustainable ecotourism adventure? Check with travel agencies and resources online, looking for that sustainable ecotourism experience. Visit for more information on swimming with whale sharks in Isla Mujeres, Mexico or to find out about the upcoming Whale Shark Festival.

rism adventure? Check with travel agencies

and resources online, looking for that sustainable ec

otourism experience.

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