Ecotourism is defined by the Ecotourism Society Board of Directors as ‘Responsible travel to natural and cultural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well being of local people’, and it is proving to be a very popular activity worldwide.
Statistics show that this nature based speciality travel makes up 7% of international travel, which proves it is significantly popular to a large portion of the population. The World Tourist Organisation also forecasts the ecotourism market segment to be the fastest growing segment of the tourist industry up until the year 2020, which helps to future proof it as a business opportunity.
The importance of ecotourism has even been noted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) by their Executive Director Klaus Topfer, who said:
Putting tourism on a sustainable path is a major challenge, but one that also presents a significant opportunity.
In short this therefore becomes a future proofed opportunity that exists for any ecotourism business, including those that involves camping and glamping.
So we decided to explore why ecotourism and ‘glamping with soul’ are a perfect fit, and how together they meet the needs of tourists wanting their leisure time to be as natural and as low impact as possible on the environment.
Key Principles Of Ecotourism
- Minimise the negative impact on nature and culture,
- Help educate on the importance of conservation,
- Interact with responsible businesses, which work to meet the needs of local environmental and conservation efforts,
- Rely on infrastructure which has been developed in harmony with the local environment,
Currently all of these elements make up the foundations of the niche glamping, luxury and cool camping industry, which is possibly why it has continued to grow during times of financial difficulty.
Over time we have seen a growing desire for authenticity and genuineness amongst consumers and the business they interact with. This is demonstrated by the growing popularity of local produce markets, farmers markets, organic food, local crafts, Fair Trade, and people generally becoming more earth friendly and considerate of their surroundings, and the people and businesses they interact with.
Key Reasons Why Glamping Is A Low Impact Green Activity
- It allows glampers to stay close to the outside environment and interact with nature around them.
- In the case of offering vintage or retro services, many of the company assets (campervans, etc.) are an excellent example of recycling or upcycling for business.
- Accommodation is often using sustainable materials and with little or no heating of any significant environmental consequence.
- It often reduces the need for vacationers to take a flight to their destination, therefore helping to cut ozone-damaging pollution being pumped into the environment.
- Being in the middle of nature brings everyone closer to understanding and loving it… and if we love it, we’ll work extra hard to protect it.
- Depending on the type of glamping business, it can help consumers avoid pre-packaged and processed food products cutting down on the rubbish they generate, by allowing access to farm shops, small local shops, etc.
- When out in the environment all the time litter looks even more out of place than normal, therefore encouraging people to move anything they see to a bin and encouraging them to never litter themselves.
- Depending on the type of glamping business, camping gear will be reused time and time again. This means that carefully chosen items will have multiple uses and therefore fewer materials will be used to produce them. This can include avoiding disposable containers and instead opting for re-usable ones instead.
- A glamping business can easily utilise products that promote environmental awareness into its daily services, such as environmentally friendly cleaning products, solar and wind power, etc.
- Businesses involved in camping and glamping seem to be more inclined to get involved in environmental activities because of the nature of their business.
It stands to reason that if a camping or glamping business is able to meet the needs and key principles of ecotourism, then they will be able to benefit from this strong segment of the tourism industry, which is set to continue to grow until 2020.
For more information about ecotourism, the market profile, how it has a natural synergy with glamping products and services, and for an environmental improvement checklist and publicity approach for glamping businesses to use to attract this segment of the outdoor market, please visit our online glamping business course.