Once you’re safely settled into your new country, you may want to start exploring Asia and taking advantage of the breathtaking scenery, wildlife and culture that is suddenly on your doorstep. However, sometimes the consequence of lots of people travelling is damage caused to the very place they’ve been to see. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for both eco-tourism and conservation holidays within Asia that will not only reduce the environmental impact of your travels, but also give you and your family the chance to learn about local communities and methods of protecting the environment.
Give a helping hand
If you would like to actively do something to help protect some of the most beautiful and interesting environments in the world, there is a wide range of holidays that allow you to get your hands dirty and see the fruits of your labours. Ecoteer offers a number of opportunities for volunteering in Asia to help protect local habitats and environments, such as the Marine Conservation project in Cambodia. The project allows travellers to help out with conservation efforts by assisting in research of the coral reef, as well as teaching English at a local school. There is no need to have prior experience of diving, as it is all taught as part of the program. Other such opportunities with Ecoteer include volunteering at a wildlife rescue centre in Thailand and assisting the Starling conservation project in Bali. The holidays vary in length, and there is a wide range from which to choose to ensure that you find one that suits you. If you would like to combine environmental work with helping a local community, there are many holiday packages that can provide both. Volunteer Holidays, for example, run an Encourage program that combines luxury with volunteering in the local communities. Operating in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, the program allows you to stay in top class resorts and hotels while volunteering on projects such as delivering livestock, building a water well, teaching English and helping with farming. The program is the perfect holiday for those who want to help, but don’t want to sacrifice a little luxury on their time off.
Reducing your carbon footprint
While you may not want an active holiday, it is still important to consider the environmental impact of your travel. Many tourism companies are making changes to their operations to reduce their impact on the environment. The Nihiwatu Resort on the Indonesian island of Sumba, for example, has been designed and made using local materials and the company plays a key role the Responsible Tourism movement, actively supporting the Sumba Foundation and its efforts to reduce the consequences of poverty on the island of Sumba. The resort boasts being able to provide visitors with an opportunity to lose themselves in the serenity of the tropical forests and beaches of Sumba. Alternatively, the more adventurous traveller might be more interested in Topas Ecolodge in Vietnam. The lodge is committed to sourcing its resources locally and gives tourists an experience of total isolation from the world in which they usually live. The lodges and bungalows have no swimming pool or spa facilities, nor TV, and are prone to power cuts. However, they give tourists the chance to explore a remote area of Vietnam and to learn about traditional village life. The Ecolodge has been built to blend into the local environment and to bring the financial benefits of tourism to the villages of Sapa without bringing the negative aspects too.
Explore Asia by sea
There was once a time when cruises were not the favoured choice of the environmentally conscious traveller. Recently, however, cruise lines have been investing in research and development to ensure that they can continue to provide tourists with wonderful experiences without having too negative an impact on the environment. Cruises offer a unique way to explore Asia, providing you with some stunning views and beautiful weather. Whether you want a short cruise taking you from Singapore to Malaysia, or a long cruise that takes you to see Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, there are plenty of options to choose from. However, there are some key things to consider before booking to ensure that the cruise line offers environmentally friendly cruises. Iglu cruise reports that Royal Caribbean, for example have started to use biodiesel on board, while Celebrity Cruises have installed photovoltaic panels to use the energy of the sun to light their Solstice class ships. New cruise ships are also being designed to be more efficient so that they use less fuel to travel. Once you’ve booked, you can continue to consider the environment in your preparations, such as investing in some eco-friendly swimwear in which you can enjoy a dip in the on board pools, or buying some biodegradable sun cream. Biodegradable sun cream is made without using harmful chemicals, as these chemicals are destroying the world’s coral reefs when you go swimming in the warm waters that surround Asia’s coastlines.
It is essential that we continue to protect the environments in which we live, but sometimes it is easy to forget the environmental impact that we have when we visit another community. The boom in ecotourism has fortunately provided more opportunities to explore new parts of the world while ensuring that the only impact we leave is a positive one.