What is Ecotourism?
ECOTOURISM is environmentally responsible travel to natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and accompanying cultural features, both past and present) that promote conservation, have a low visitor impact and provide for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local people.*For further information read Ecotourism & Ecolodges in the article section.
Who are Eco-Tourists?
Eco tourists are visitors who are interested in responsible or sustainable ways of tourism. The eco-tourist are people who are aware of their carbon footprint and follow ways that reduces their carbon footprint and keep it low. They also enjoy nature and keep in mind to educate themselves wherever they go, be it on learning about the community, their way of life, culture, tradition, etc. When buying goods they keep in mind to buy local, be it food, clothes or souvenir as it would be cheaper for them and would also benefit the community and its indigenous and traditional ways. Doing so also generates employment and economy to the community thus maintaining healthy socio-economic status of the community and society of the place while also reducing the carbon footprint of the people and the tourist.
How does one reduce one’s carbon footprint?
Reducing one’s carbon footprint means to indulge in anything while keeping the impact to the environment minimal or low. It can start from your own house, where you use CFL bulbs rather than the power consuming bulb, eating or buying local products and food. Using the public transport rather than your car would benefit you and the environment as the car consuming fuel and thus emitting carbon would be expensive to you as well as the environment. Opting to use the bike or cycle, walking to the place can also be an alternative way.
What is a Home stay?
Homestay is a form of tourism that allows a visitor to rent a room from a local family in a homelike setting. It is an accommodation that serves tourists in their own house/home. Homestay’s are hotel’s which usually have few number of rooms, thus increasing the service value to the tourist. It is sometimes used for improving language skills and getting familiar with the local lifestyle. Homestay's can occur anywhere in the world, but some countries do more to encourage homestay than others as a means of developing their tourism industry. Hosting a homestay participant also allows the local family to earn income. Students tend to arrange a homestay with their school or educational institution, but can also informally arrange to stay with a family through social connections, and through a variety of private agencies.
Homestays don’t necessarily have to be located in villages only but can be located in cities and towns alike.
What are Eco lodges?
“ECO Lodge” is a type of tourist accommodation fulfilling the following criteria:
• Protects natural and cultural components of its surrounding
• Has low impact on environment during construction
• Is in harmony with a specific environment context
• Uses alternative, sustainable means in water consumption
• Careful treats waste and wastewaters
• Has an excellent cooperation with local population
• Implements programs of ecologic education for both employees and tourist
• Benefits sustainable development of a local community through research programs
ECO Lodge is an accommodation object with low impact on environment, designed and constructed to be ecologically and socially acceptable. The objects are constructed with numerous ecologically
acceptable options like: water heating using a solar energy, systems for rainwater collection, composting toilets and renewable energy sources like wind power.
ECO Lodges are of particular interest to the sustainable development community, because they are small, medium and micro-enterprises that can generate a variety of positive economic development impacts in highly rural, bio diverse areas, where other types of development underway or under consideration are frequently damaging to the environment.*For further information read Ecotourism & Ecolodges in the article section.
Why ecotourism in Sikkim?
Sikkim is one of the major Biodiversity Hotspots of the world. The uniqueness of Sikkim is its area, being one of the smallest state’s in the country and least populated state of the country. In the space of a 100 kilometers people can start from a hot/warm place like Rangpo and land up in Gangtok which is varyingly colder, or the varying change in vegetation and landscape noticed when one travels a certain distance to a certain altitude. In other words Sikkim’s altitude to distance travelled ratio is very small, thus it has deep gorges, high mountains, waterfalls and a scenic uniqueness in its landscape, people and culture, hence asserting its biodiversity. The Government has also implemented a slew of projects and initiatives to convert Sikkim as major ecotourism hub. The Sikkim Organic Mission hopes to convert Sikkim into a fully organic State by 2015. Ecotourism policies have been created and the Government have created and funded homestays, adventure tourism, rural tourism, etc, hence creating employment through the tourism sector.