What does Eco-Tourism mean for Laos in general and to us?
We believe that Eco-tourism is a difficult term because it encompasses more than ecological travel. For instance, travelers create substantial CO2 emissions through long-haul travel.
Eco-tourism should therefore span all levels of tourism, including not only environmental impacts of one's journey, but also cultural and economic aspects. We believe that the term 'eco-tourism' has been over-used in the past, in that it may not always reflect reality of a truly sustainable business. The term has too often been used as a marketing tool instead of meaning truly responsible sustainable tourism practice.
Therefore, we would like to emphasize that when we use the word eco-tourism we are aware of the ambiguities associated, and point out that we are in a position to offer a from of tourism that truly benefits the community at all levels.
Our company mainly has a focus on community-based tourism that integrated sustainable practises to generate income for some of the poorest communities in Laos.
Responsible tourism, Eco-tourism is not a segment of the tourism "industry" but a movement to change all tourism into better practices. In particular Ecotourism is defined as a Tourism that:
1. tries to minimize its own environmental impact
2. funds local environmental & community projects
3. increases environmental & cultural knowledge
4. is affordable & open to all *
"As a Fair Trek tour provider for Laos we proved already our work as a process rather than just a product. We follow the guidelines of sustainable tourism as defined from organizations and the government to offer tours which affect local communities and development in a positive way. In order to help we invest in selected regions and communities which are visited by our guests. Through this we make sure that money or help goes directly to where it is needed and offers opportunities for development. Creating jobs, using local products, train staff and our engagement for the Asian Elephants are just some examples.
With our operations we do not only serve with an eco-tourism based product but with a whole process that is based on our visitors and guests. With their visit we can create positive effects, short time results and a long lasting socio-economic progression"
Tiger Trail Outdoor Adventures Laos
A Vision for Laos
Laos will become a world renowned destination specializing in forms of sustainable tourism that, through partnership and cooperation, benefit natural and cultural heritage conservation, local socio-economic development and spread knowledge of Lao unique cultural heritage around the world.
Defining the Ecotourism Sector
Ecotourism is related to nature and culture-based tourism in so far as natural and cultural resources provide the setting within which these activities take place. Nature and culture-based tourism, however, merely use these resources as backdrop, whereas ecotourism is more focused upon actions to conserve and develop them.
Ecotourism is often referred to as the fastest growing sector of the international tourism industry. This assertion is somewhat controversial since there is no internationally accepted definition of the term.Academics and organizations dedicated to ecotourism and the environment have set out formal definitions of the concept."
Definitions of Ecotourism
Two examples are:
"Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people."
(The International Ecotourism Society)
"Environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features - both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low visitor impact, and provides for the beneficially active socio-economic involvement of the local populations."
(IUCN - The World Conservation Union)
In LAOS, ecotourism will be defined as:
"Tourism activity in rural and protected areas that minimises negative impacts and is directed towards the conservation of natural and cultural resources, rural socio-economic development and visitor understanding of, and appreciation for, the places they are visiting."
(see Eco-Tourism Strategy 2004-2010 of National Tourist Authority of Laos)
*as defined by "International Eco Tourism Club"