Tag Active Tourism

Active Tourism is a new travelling philosophy that combines adventure, ecotourism and cultural aspects of a discovery tour. Active Tourism is low-impact, ecological, socially compatible and high quality. Active Tourism aims to combine recreation, education and bring benefits to both the tourist as well to the visited land. Active Tourism has many aspects in common with ecotourism and nature tourism and it also integrates some activities of action and adventure tourism. Additionally it also includes some aspects of cultural tours and academic and scientific expeditions.
There are many aspects in common between all this forms of travelling, but there are also important differences which need detailed explanation (see below).

Official Definition

Active Tourism is responsible travel to foreign areas requiring physical and mental participation from the tourist and following the maximes of sustainability, protection of Biodiversity and conservation of culture. Important elements are recreation and education, respect and contemplation, action, exercise and active involvement in company of an expert local friend, an academically competent tour guide.

The non-profit organisation issues an official certification if the requisites are meet and also publishes a list of positively and negatively (Red List) certified tour operators.

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Tag What is Ecotourism?

In 1991 The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) provided one definition: "Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well being of local people."
The World Conservation Union stated in 1996 that Ecotourism "is environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompaning cultural features - both past and present) that promotes conservation has low negative visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations."

The above definitions and also newer ones all make clear that Ecotourism is primarily defined by the location, the destination of travelling: "undisturbed natural areas". It follows the aims of "responsible travel", "conservation of nature" and "benefits for locals" but all within a defined landscape or natural environment.

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Active Tourism shares similar aims as Ecotourism but is not defined by the destination or location, but rather is defined by the "way of visiting", the attitude of the tourist and the activities that are carried out during visitation. Active Tourism requires active physical and intellectual participation regardless of the destination. Thus, while Ecotourism is only possible in undisturbed "natural jungle", Active Tourism is both possible in natural areas as well as in the middle of an "urban jungle" like a city. While Ecotourism requires as many green plants, as little constructions and as few humans as possible, Active Tourism is not limited by trees, houses, streets and many people around. And especially not if these persons belong to another, very interesting culture and speak another language. This is an essential part of what the tourist wants to get to know. The local arquitecture, arqueological ruins, urban features and civilization products can all be object of visiting for Active Tourism. Also, to discover the diverse results of human creativity, like local traditions, language, music, dancing or cooking can be the most interesting ingredients of the Active Tourism experience.

Tag Comparison of Ecotourism and Active Tourism

Common Aims:

Both Ecotourism and Active Tourism share a high respect for Nature and Biodiversity. They both follow the belief that even global concerns need local solutions. Nature is beautiful and the best way to protect it is to enjoy it by discovering and knowing it. They both include an interpretation and learning effect as a important aspect of the visit. Both Ecotourists and Active Tourists pursue "life enhancement" and share a common desire for authenticity and a complete immersion in the environment. A desire to experience novelty and uniqueness as part of the travel experience.

Both Ecotourism and Active Tourism aim to have as little impact as possible on the ecosystem and the visited country. They both seek longterm and sustainable benefices. Within the context of touristic development, sustainability is then defined as the ability to use present resources without consuming them faster as regeneration makes possible. Their services are delivered primarily to small groups by small-scale businesses requiring the lowest possible consumption of non-renewable resources.
Opposed to the consequences of traditional Mass Tourism, both phylosophies are committed to conserve the environment as well as local culture, traditions and values. To offer work to local people and help to the development of the region.

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The differences between Ecotourism and Active Tourism are subtle but nevertheless important: 1) location of travelling, 2) objects and subjects of visiting and 3) in the attitude during visiting.
Firstly, Active Tourism is possible in almost any location, in intact nature, in rural as well as in urban environments. In industrial as well as in developing countries. In tropical as well as in template climates. For Active Tourism, human activity is not a foreign or undesired component of the environment, but it is an integral part of it. Humans are part of nature, even if they destroy some features of landscape and reshape the environment to meet their needs.
Secondly, the products of human activity and creativity, like culture, language, cuisine, music, dance, handcrafts, arquitecture and also social reality and history are all focus of Active Tourism. For example, dancing or cooking lessons are perfect examples of Active Tourism that hardly fit into the scope of Ecotourism. These activities fit into the concept of Cultural Tourism which is indeed an important aspect of Active Tourism.
Thirdly, Active Tourism requires active physical and mental involvement of the tourist, including more adventure and action than traditional Ecotourism or Cultural Tourism. You not only go to a natural and beautiful site, but you practise exercise, activate your body energy and enrich your mind. Your body and mind in harmony with nature but tied to human civilization. At the same time as you will wander through the rainforest, you should listen to your guide who will tell you most interesting facts about animal and plant species, about the ecosystem, conservation issues and explain you history and legends.

Tag Adventure Tourism

Active Tourism should not be confused with Action Tourism, which envolves many sports activities like mountain bike, cross country rally, speed boat riding, bungee jumping and extreme sports. Indeed, many these activities are already offered as part of Mass Tourism infrastructure. The main motivation is excitement and amusement. The production and delivery of adrenalin to the body is the desired result. Often, some of the activities involve high personal risks and dangers. Action Tourism does not necesarily require a close or authentic interaction with intact nature and it can be delivered in amusement and recreation parks and in artificially reconstructed environments. The main clientele is formed by predominantly male teenagers and young people in the early 20's.

Adventure Tourism offers also exciting experiences that are physical demanding. Adventure travel is personal accomplishment through the thrills of dominating dangerous environments. White-water rafting, ocean canoeing, horse riding, free climbing, hicking and trekking through natural areas are some examples. Adventure Tourism is linked to an intact nature with a minimum of civilization influences. The search is for personal redemption through challenge and sacrifice, and nature is the backdrop to an intensely personal experience. Nature dictates the rules and provides a stage for the human play. Typically, it is carried out in remote places renowned for their natural beauty and physical attributies.
Most pure adventure activities appeal to the animal instinct by trespassing the limits of muscular strength and survival. Active tourism, has a much more intellectual focus, since it follows the idea that we are not primitive animals that strive to compete only, but that our intelligence is what makes us so special in nature.

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Active Tourism does offer some activities of Action and Adventure Tourism but it excludes activities and practises that are harmful to the environment and pose a threath to biodiversity and local culture. Most important is the attitude and the practices and guidelines by which an activity is carried out. Mountain bike, free climbing, river rafting and hicking can be done in a responsible way, but it can also be very harmful for the natural environment if not done properly. Thus, is not so much of what it is done, but how it is done.

Active Tourism adds a intellectual component to the travel experience. It takes into account that there is a fundamental attitude difference between nature conquering and nature study. Recreation is a legitimate use for nature, yet subordinate to the goal of education and environmental preservation. Active Tourism parts from the conviction that natural Biodiversity is the most precious value on earth, and we as Homo sapiens sapiens should be fully commited to protect this legacy.

To guarantee protection of the environment, Active Tourism activities are carried out by local professional personel and under strict scientific supervision. The tour guides of Active Tourism have an academic degree in ecology, biology, ethnology, arquitecture, arqueology, history or sociology. This also guarantees the quality of the learning experience, and the validity of the biological or cultural information based on scientific knowledge and transmitted by academic standards. Active Tourism works in close cooperation with universities, and helps to finance scientific expeditions and promotes biological research.
The activities offered by Active Tourism are more motivated from the learning experience point of view, and are less motivated by pure adrenaline production. They require muscular as well as greyish mass neural activity. The main clientele is formed by couples between 25-54 years old of high educational background.

Tag Certification

Unfortunately, there is no international certification and consensus guideline of what is Ecotourism. Therefore, the miss-use of the concept of "Ecotourism" is common since there is great temptation of "greenwashing". National certification procedures are just beginning to be implemented in some countries, and hopefully they will expand soon. However, for Active Tourism there are already very specific rules and evaluation points. The official guidelines and requirements are stated publicy on the internet. The certification is issued solely by, a non-profit organization that promotes this travelling philosophy and coordinates the services of travel operators around the world. Email or Contact us if you are interested in actively contributing to this cause or if you wish to become a certified member.

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Active Tourism is not only a superficial change of image (greenwashing) but is fully committed to its principles of operation. The Active Tourism certification is a tool to guarantee the quality of the tours and that these guidelines are followed in practise by tour operators. To guard that practise and theory do not fall apart.

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