I talk a lot about responsible tourism and being a conscious traveler on this blog. More often than not, I end up talking about how voluntourism or the tourism industry have a negative impact on the country’s community, economy and the environment. It’s rare that there are cases where tourism actually benefits the ecology. However, I stumbled across this video by Wildlife Alliance that made me think otherwise. I tend to focus a lot more on social issues rather than environmental because that’s where my interest lies – however watching this definitely made me think twice about tourism’s impact on the environment.
Cambodia has long been getting away with illegal logging. Although it’s ‘illegal’ it happens all the time and there are no real regulations or organizations that have been able to control it. What Wildlife Alliance has done is pretty clever. Instead of having the villagers rely on illegal logging as their means of survival, they have created a new industry within the village creating jobs, means of income and a reason to stop illegal logging altogether. They have turned Chi Phat, Southwest of Cambodia, into a Wildlife Sanctuary/travel destination so that travelers can enjoy the wilderness of Cambodia while the villagers can make money out of the tourism industry. In addition, it stops illegal logging as in order to have a successful tourism industry, they need to preserve the environment – this would definitely teach the locals to fight against the issue of cutting down trees and destroying the environment!
Of course, I don’t know what the long term effects of this would be since they are introducing an industry that may well be exploited if not controlled properly – but for now, it definitely protects the environment by reducing the amount of trees being cut don.
What do you guys think about this solution? What are your opinions on ecotourism?