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Returning to the Reality with Ecotourism

Returning to the Reality with Ecotourism

People  often travel to escape from the reality, however, traveling to become a part of reality and understand more about life of other people from other countries is very interesting.
Laos DestinationThe Gibbon Experience Resort in theNothern of Laos is really wish for many people who love ecotourism and discovering the beauty of nature.In here, guests sleep in the tree houses high in the forest Canopy , and move around the dense jungle by system of large zip wires connected between the tree houses together. “ This is a very unique type of travel. Enjoy the beauty of the jungle and also help protecting wild life in here” said a visitor from Vietnam.
With the permission of Lao Government, five years ago,  theGibbon Experience Resort operated and preserved  the Bokeo Natural Reserve. The proceeds from tourism business was used to pay for 40 employees included the local workers and forest protectors. A part of this proceeds was also to support people of the area in develop agriculture and protect wild animals being in danger of extinction such as Gibbons, Bears, Tigers, Musk –deers, Elephants and buffaloes.
Thanks to helping the local people do business while preserving the natural environment, The Gibbon Experience is an ideal example for ecotourism. According to The CEO of Ecotourism Australia, Mr Kym cheatham, this is form of natural tourism to discover, protect the environment and community, “make chance for descendants of visitors today could come back and enjoy, which is called the heritage we leave for our future gernerations”.
The market of 89 billion US Dollars
This form of “responsible travelling” includes ecotourism, volunteer tourism, adventure, culture and heritage, green tourism, or sustainable tourism. More and more visitors wish to experience new tourism type.This helps enlarge their knowledge, also contributes to preserve the environment and local people who live in the tourism area. According to the report of adventure tourism market of George Washington University (USA ) in 2010, this trend has been developing  into a business field worth 89 billion US Dollars for 2 decades.
The Ecotourism was actually established 30 years ago when it was  for travellers who only want to travel with nature instead of hotels, resorts, or luxury cruises. However, at that early time, many people had bad action as cutting the forest trees in order to make nice view for visitors. In the 1990s, Australia became the fist nation to establish the program of certifying ecotourism in a guide book of 165 pages and list of more than 200 tourism products certified.
Mrs Kristin Lammoureux, Director of Institue for International Tourism Studying of George Washington University, said that: “People have ignored mass tourism in which they themselves feel have no private space”. Therefore, the form of homestay, travelling combines the volunteer work to wild life reserve, rural areas  or eco –green accomodations with low cabonic produce has become enjoyable.
Ecotourism has become a main trend and activities for natural environment has become an indispensible part of any tour programes. Visitors can spend one day for personal shopping and join volunteer activities on the next day”. Said Kristin.
Asia Pacifics HighlightAsia – Pacifics Highlight
Asia Pacific area is nowadays an atractive destination for visitors who love this type of responsible traveling. Ecotourism in Philipines and Indonesia is developing very quickly. Thailand and Laos are trying to catch these two nations. Campuchia where many non – government orgernizations are actives, has a well –developed volunteer tourism. Possessioning a lot of wild and diverse natural spots, Australia is also one of top choice for the nature - love form China, Japan, and Korea. Meanwhile, most of the visitors chosing ecotourism in Southeast Asia are from Western countries, Singapore and North Asia, this means that the tourist potential from Southeast Asia has been unexplored.  
Vietnam is an example. A girl named Ngoc, who lives in Ho Chi Minh City and is an representative for first visitors of ecotourism discribed her experience to The Gibbon Experience: She and her friend spent 4 hours walking through the jungle to get the tree houses where they would stayed. “I really trembled when initially using the system of zip wires on the trees, however, that fear quickly passed over for feeling of joyfulness. You can hear the sounds of the jungle and welcomed some guests as wild animals here. This type is so unique. Instead of just sightseeing, for this you will feel like you yourself are part of the jungle” Said Ngoc.
Laos toursProtecting, exposing, and taking care of the animal is a main activity of ecotourism. 
In Asia pacific area, visitors have more chance to expose the animals than in Western countries. At the Elephant Village Sanctuaty & Resort located in suburb of Luang Prabang, Laos, visitors could bath the elephants and feed and feed them, or also learn how to train this animal. In china, visitor could work at the Bifengxia Panda Reserve in Sichuan Province, feed them and take - care the little pandas. In Tasmania, Australia, the refuge for unique wild animals, visitors could cuddle the Wombat bears, play with the Koala bears or reach the Kangaroos and feed them.
The Borneo Island in Indonesia is also a beautiful destination for ecotourism with the pioneering company named Borneo Eco Tours which was established in 1991. The company has remained the “green policy” so far, contributing to the preserving the rare animal species such as long –nosed monkeys, thick – skinned species such as elephants, rhinoceroses, turtles, and specially the Orang Utan apes  – characteristics of the Island. 

Nowadays, the company and Shangri La’s Rasa Ria hotel run a Natural Reserve for program “resettlement” for Orang Utans. At Sukau Rainforest Lodge Resort of Borneo Eco Tours, people built a more than 500 meters path helping the Pymes Elephant ( voi lùn ) easily move on during their migration season. Willie Ki, marketing staff of Borneo Eco Tours said that: “ We do not organize tour program to the zoos, or any other places where the animals are locked in cages. We try to integrate natural preservation educating activities in the tours and through publications”.
Helping the visitors raise their awareness of protecting environment and local people community is the goal of most businesses in this responsible tourism field. Bronwen Laopha, the founder of Faa Sai Resort & Spa in Chanthaburi,Thailand, said that: “preserving biodiversity and raise people’s awareness is our mission. Our resort is very beautiful and less human’s action. Beside not causing negative impact to the nature and local people, we also want to bring good things to them”.
Eye witnessing some other businesses cut the forest trees to grow rubbers, devastate the ecological environment for their immediate benefit, the Laophas tried to grow plant and grass for medical products and serve cultural activities.  They bought devastated land areas and renovated them into mashes or gardens and named them White Water Lake. All constructions were built from hand –made bricks at the local. They could plant rice and vegetables serving the visitors. Bronwen, a member of the Laophas said that they hoped their work would bring positive impact.
According to Kym, CEO of Ecotourism Australia, there are aslo many businesses so –called “environmentally friendly” like Bronwen. For example, Mr Rob Pennicottn in the South Coast of Tasmania is the founder of Bruny Island Cruises Company specializing in Whale and seal watching tours. He has used all proceeds of his company with visitor’s fund in order to expel the predator cats from the Tasman Island and protect sea birds in here for three years. The Low Isles Sail Away Resort organizes tours around the Great Barrier Reef ( or Dai Bao Tieu) by rafts. All proceeds is for buying land and growing local plants, creating sustainable forests. These private companies have helped the local government a lot because the government does not have enough budget for such work.
Volunteer Tourism in Cambodia
There is no country in Asia developing the voluntary tourism as popularly as in Cambodia. Presence of many NGOs in this country makes Cambodia become a frequent destination for visitors. The American couple Jake – Emily Fisher, for example. On Oct, 2010, they decided to enjoy their honeymoon in Siem Reap as volunteering to help orphans in Svay Savong School. Every morning, the couple took the bus to the school, played and talked to the children about life outside Cambodia. In the afternoon, they spent 3-4 hours teaching them English with topics about tourism and natural conservation.
The Fishers are not individual travelers. According to the survey of the center of tourism, hotel and restaurant managing in Virginia Tech University, USA, many visitors are willing to spend 7 – 8 hours per day for voluntary work. After finishing, they spend several days sightseeing and enjoy local food. “Cultural exchange between voluntary visitors and local people could help them understand more about each other” said Nancy McGehee, the professor in charge of that survey.
The Fishers completely agree: “America, the small joy of children there becomes our great happiness when we are back to America, this experience really changes our overview on tourism. We often travel to escape from the reality, but to become a part of reality and understand more about life of other people from other countries is very interesting”. Regarding to Ms Ngoc, the nature is so beautiful and needs to be protected. This is a worth preserving property for the future generations.
From Jenin St.Lee-John

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