The past few years, more people are packing their bags and leaving their desks in Virginia. Global tourism is currently one of the fastest-growing industries. In 2018 alone, it outpaced the worldwide economy by more than 4.5%. It also generates plenty of jobs. Around 20% of the workforce is in this sector. If there’s one tourism segment that flourishes today, it’s ecotourism.
The Growth of Ecotourism in the United States
By definition, ecotourism refers to a system of tourism or travel that encourages ecological preservation while educating the people about how to live sustainably. One of the practices is experiential or immersion, which stimulates the senses of individuals.
Ecotourism has been on a boom over the past years. Take, for example, camping. In the 2018 report by the Kampgrounds of America (KOA), the United States had more than 2 million new camping households in 2017. Among this group, almost half of them expressed their desire to camp more frequently in 2018.
The data from the Sustainable Travel International revealed that over 105 million people would like to prioritize holidays that “give back to the environment.” Why are more people interested in ecotourism? It can be a combination of the following factors:
- Stress relief
- Better health and well-being
Americans are stressed people. In a Gallup poll participated by 150,000 people around the world, more than 54% of the Americans said that they had undergone stress many times during the day.
Multiple studies, meanwhile, revealed that nature could provide some stress relief. According to an article from the University of Minnesota, nature can decrease the risk factors associated with stress. These include heart rate, blood pressure, and unpleasant feelings.
Being with nature can also improve physical and mental health. Hiking can burn about 430 calories per hour while forest bathing can improve one’s well-being due to the immune-boosting chemicals emitted by the trees.
Beating the Challenges of Ecotourism
Ecotourism is a growing trend that can provide lucrative opportunities for a variety of businesses, especially to accommodation options. These can include cabins, bed and breakfasts, homesteads, and farms.
But it can also present some challenges, one of which is maintenance. Businesses that want to capture this market might have to invest in commercial landscaping services in Winchester. Professionals can help revive dead yards or offer sustainable measures that help preserve the environment while reducing energy costs.
The United States also lacks a centralized law that helps govern ecotourism. Fortunately, Virginia has a growing number of rules and regulations that protect air, water, and land.
There’s also a growing disconnect between knowledge and implementation. In a 2012 study involving the Virginia Beach hotelier attitudes toward sustainability, more than 70% said that some form of sustainability is part of the mission of their organization. About 50% had some definition of sustainability.
But only 27.3% were investing in sustainable products. When asked why, a quarter of them said that these products were expensive. Around 37% said they didn’t have enough knowledge to draft a policy.
Ecotourism is one of the excellent ways to create a win-win situation for businesses. Companies can boost tourism without damaging the environment. But to be successful, it needs to overcome challenges. With the help of the government and its stakeholders, it’s not impossible.