A genuine ecotourism travel experience is based on a number of principles that make demands on both ecotourism operators and their guests. Visitors can expect to gain privileged insights and knowledge about the nature and culture of the region they have came to see, and they can also be assured that the people involved in providing their holiday have adopted environmentally sustainable practices.
Furthermore, ecotourism operators should be actively contributing to the conservation of their local biodiversity and cultural heritage, and ensuring that steps have been taken to minimise their operations impacts on local nature and culture.
Ecotourism is often carried out in small groups and tends to be focused on enjoying the best nature experiences available in an area, meeting local people, enjoying local food and gaining real insights into the area being visited.
“Ireland has a truly staggering array of natural treasures, as befits an island moored in the wild waters of the eastern Atlantic. It is the very threshold of Europe, and is a country crafted and shaped by the sea yet with a unique identity that has been forged by a grand and beautiful landscape. Whether it is gentle countryside or genuine wilderness, mountains or marsh, the essence of Ireland is never too hard to find. Visit to cast a fly at salmon or trout in pristine sea loughs, to trek over rugged hills, to walk on miles of white beaches, or simply to experience a welcome of legendary warmth. Whatever your reason you’ll never want to leave, and you’ll hasten to return.”
Monty Halls, presenter of BBC’s Monty Hall’s Great Irish Escape and author of accompanying book.
Ecotourism is highly suited to tourism development in unspoiled locations as it can create jobs and income without destroying or degrading the natural or cultural assets that the visitor has come to see. Like no other industry, ecotourism gives natural unspoiled areas an economic value, but this goes hand in hand with actively creating benefits for nature conservation and focusing on reducing environmental impacts.
Ecotourism experiences also tend to be at the cutting edge of creativity in the tourism industry, and can be readily marketed to the ever increasing numbers of people who wish to ensure that their holiday creates positive benefits, both for the environment and the local communities visited.
My Coastal Guiding Service offers an ‘integrated experience’ – saltwater fly fishing brings us to pristine coastal angling locations where we interact with and are challenged by the fish the environment and the conditions. During ‘downtime’ customers experience Wexford’s, and indeed Ireland’s, wonderful coastal communities, food and Irish culture on a day by day basis, it’s all kept very local when possible!
The care of the fish is always at the forefront of our minds, single barbless hooks, de-barbed hooks ‘in the water’ fish returns when possible, and a no weigh measure only catch and release policy minimises any recreational angling impact and ensures preservation of fish for other anglers. Angling groups are deliberately kept small, less than three people at any time, which allows us to move freely and quietly through the angling environment with minimal impact.
Moving within the angling environment itself we find ourselves both surrounded by and appreciating the vast natural and cultural heritage that can be found on our shores.
Coastal guiding is cognisant of the fact that it can never be entirely ‘green’ but acknowledges this by developing using and practicing practical solutions – when in the angling environment, moving through the countryside and also during the normal operating hours of the angling season.