Ecotourism is a form of tourims that involves visiting natural areas and is intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism. Its purpose may be to educate the traveler, to provide funds forecological conservation, to directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities, or to foster respect for different cultures and for humans rights. Since the 1980s ecotourism has been considered a critical endeavor by environmentalists, so that future generations may experience destinations relatively untouched by human intervention. Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the negative aspects of conventional tourism on the environment and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of ecotourism is the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation and creation of economic opportunities for local communities.
According to the definition and principles of ecotourism established by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) in 1990, ecotourism is “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people. The seven characteristics of ecotourism, are listed below:
- Involves travel to natural destinations
- Minimizes impact
- Builds environmental awareness
- Provides direct financial benefits for conservation
- Provides financial benefits and empowerment for local people
- Respects local culture
- Supports human rights and democratic movement such as:
- conservation of biological diversity and cultural diversity through ecosystem protection
- promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity, by providing jobs to local populations
- sharing of socio-economic benefits with local communities and indigenous peoples by having their informed consent and participation in the management of ecotourism enterprises
- tourism to unspoiled natural resources, with minimal impact on the environment being a primary concern.
- minimization of tourism’s own environmental impact
- affordability and lack of waste in the form of luxury
- local culture, flora and fauna being the main attractions
- local people benefit from this form of tourism economically, often more than mass tourism
Guidelines for eco-tours in Socotra
Socotra Dream employs a group of Socotra people, most of them have been trained for years by the UNDP-Socotra Conservation and Development Program in various aspects of ecotourism, particularly fauna, flora and tourism services and management. There are many tour operators, based on the mainland, who service the island, but these do not take nearly as much care of the local environment, economy and people as we do since Socotra is our home and we are doing our best to develop sustainable tourism that benefits the wider spectrum of this beautiful and unique island. Unlike the mainland operators, our overhead costs are minimal, and we guarantee that all our fees come to the benefit of the local population.
Visitors are required to respect island!
Export of any biological material from Socotra is not allowed:
The export of any biological material from the Socotra archipelago is strictly forbidden, unless with a specific export permit, for research purposes, issued by the Environment Protection Authorities (EPA) local office. Examples of the concerned biological material (dead or alive) whose export is not allowed, include wild plants, or parts of plants, i.e. seeds, bulbs, or leaves, animals, rocks, shells, corals, etc. Visitors must refuse to buy any biological material from any one while on Socotra: this is strictly forbidden, in particular the trade of live birds, live reptiles, live plants, live insects, live shells, live sea turtle, sea turtle shells.
Do not introduce alien species in Socotra:
No import of live biological material is allowed into the Socotra Archipelago. This is an important measure to protect the unique biodiversity of the islands; alien species may rapidly invade the islands and cause the disappearance of unique indigenous plants, animals, or marine creatures. Exceptions are made for useful edible agricultural crops. Any uncertain material requires permission of “entry into socotra” from EPA.
Take all your rubbish back to the waste dump in Hadibo:
When traveling on land or sea around the archipelago, please take all your rubbish back to Hadibo. The rubbish should be deposited inside the new waste dump. Avoid using non biodegradable, disposable containers, whenever possible, there is currently no recycling facility on the island, except for glass bottles, cans, etc are through out, they will remain there and not disappear for hundreds of years. Don’t drop your cigarette buts any where – dispose them properly. Please help us to keep Socotra clean and unspoiled.
Do not practice or encourge off road driving:
Please avoid off road driving at any time, off-road driving causes severe damage to the natural environment. Avoid driving on sandy beaches.
Use only dead wood found on the ground for campfires:
Please use only dead wood that you find on the ground for your evening campfire. If possible take a camp stove with you, which will cause much less disturbance to the environment.
Do not damage corals:
When swimming, snorkeling please avoid touching and damaging the corals, and make sure your boat doesn’t anchor on a coral bed. Corals are very delicate, and they grow very slowly. The seemingly little damage you cause will take years to recover.
Please do not feed the fish:
When you visit coral areas and want to go line fishing, please do it always with local fishermen, hiring a local boat. Please do not feed the fish, as this may cause changes in their behavior.
Help us protect important sea turtle & breeding sites:
Certain parts of the islands are known to be important nesting sites for sea turtles or birds, You should avoid camping in these areas during the breeding season in order not to disturb these rare animals.
Please get details information from the local EPA office on this issue. Guided visits to these areas, accompanied by a wildlife conservation specialist, can be organized upon request by EPA.
Moreover it is appreciate if you:
- Heed the advice of your guide at all times;
- Don’t swim in sea or rivers unless your guide recommends it (dangerous streams, cliffs…);
- Don’t make erratic movements as this will frighten or aggravate the wildlife;
- Don’t raise your voice or speak loudly inside caves or on wild beaches;
- Ask permission before taking photographs of locals specially women;
- Wear well covered dresses while you are in the town or in the villages or where are local people surrounding you because this offending the locals;
- If children ask you for money or sweets, consider that it is not suggested to hand money over them to avoid encourage begging and that the dental treatment is not readily available on the island. We recommend handing out pens, pieces of paper and clothes… and mediation of your guide will prevent arguments;
- Respect times of prayer and religious ceremonies in general;
- Ensure that local communities are not disturbed by unwanted / unannounced visits.
- Support local business and community initiatives by buying local items rather than imported good.