Watch your step.  Ecotourism means more than just leaving a footprint.

Watch your step. Ecotourism means more than just leaving a footprint.

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Guest Author: Brett Acker – Eco Yucatan Tours.  

Ecotourism, or Sustainable Tourism is defined by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) as “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of local people.”

Local People. Indigenous People. The name given to the original peoples of a land, or a region. They were there first. They adapted to their land, their air, their water. For example; The Native American Indian, the Adivasi of India, the Mayan in Mexico and many more. Sustainability was not a choice, it was a necessity. They had to sustain their own life. Numerous staple crops used around the world and medicines used in the West originated from Indigenous communities and have saved millions of lives. Yet Indigenous seem to be treated with the least respect, like outsiders, because they are different than us. The point is they are us! Modern societies subject Indigenous to violence, slavery, land and resource theft, all in the name of “progress.”

Today Indigeous people make up a mere 5% of the world population. Indigenous also make up 10%-30% of the worlds most poor people. Cultures crushed, Societies stolen, Civilizations vanished. So here is the situation in a nutshell. In 2000 the United Nations got together and decided to address what they thought were the most important issues affecting Our World at that time. From their collective opinions. 129 countries. 23 International organizations. The UN called them the Millennium Development Goals.

The UN decided to meet again to discuss this topic in 2014 and call that the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous People (WCIP.) They decided to have a few conferences in between to check on progress. Well progress is defined in many ways, from 129 countries and 23 organizations. That is a lot of opinions, and they have to agree on a limited number of issues. Unfortunately, because of limited resources and voices, the Indigenous are few to be heard. It really is a responsibility of us all as human beings, to at least be aware and respectful of these cultures. If you choose to travel, be conscious of the people around you, who you are interacting with. Every single person is equal to you and deserves to be treated as such, regardless of anything.

For decades, Tourists around the globe have flocked to the most beautiful, remote, pristine areas of the globe. Very generally speaking, they arrive, indulge, enjoy, take advantage of local very affordable resources and services, then leave. Little recognition, reciprocation, or respect is paid to the local Indigenous. Today with rapidly growing inclusive vacations, tourists never even have to leave their “compound.” As a result, they never interact with the Indigenous. They generally have no idea what is really going on around them. In 2012 The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) released their Principles of Ecotourism. They are 6 conscious ideas primarily conceived for the Indigenous people. The people that receive us, welcome us as conscious travelers, into their land, their culture, their homes, their paradise, their hearts.

It makes so much sense to me when I go to someones house, especially a stranger, I am on my best behavior. It is time to be sensitive, and intuitive to the needs of the communities where we decide to take our exotic trips to paradise. Every single tourist or traveler in the world has the opportunity to be a conscious tourist, a conscious human. Educate yourself about where you are going, other than how many bars there are. When you start being more conscious, thinking with your heart, things will start to happen. You will be rewarded for the good that you share. We as travelers have the resources of knowledge and money to help these Indigenous be heard, and be sustainable in our world of today. It is a moral and spiritual obligation to those of us who have more, to lend a hand to those that don´t, for the basic purpose of sustaining life.

If you would like to experience an ecotour first hand in the beautiful Riviera Maya with author Brett Acker or Eco Yucatan Tours to learn more about the Indigenous people of the area, Sustainable Eco Tourism or Eco Living CLICK HERE. This tour is done on a private Eco Living Property complete with a unique fully working Eco Home and surrounding cenotes.

Have you ever had a memorable experience with indigenous people during your travels? Share them in the comment area below, we would love to hear your take on how their cultures have effected your life.

Brett Acker

Brett Acker is a fellow Eco Traveler specializing in Susatinable Developments and Holistic Living. His pursuits have led him to guiding private Ecotours integrating Mayan Culture and Native Flora knowledge and Plant Medicines. He resides in Riviera Maya.

  1. I agree! I think as human beings we are responsible for development around the world and spreading awareness of the lessons we learn through our own journeys. Many of the popular touristy sites around the globe happen to be in poor or developing communities and we often times fail to see that when we are preoccupied with our ‘vacation time.’ It is a great idea to travel with an open mind and be aware of the communities you visit, their struggles, and their needs. A lot of countries focus on their ecotourism as a source of foreign income so they can use that to develop the country in its needed areas. Hence why we should support ecotourism and add a greater purpose to our travels! =)

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