CULTURE

Campers not always environmentally friendly

Tourists sometimes complain about the deterioration of a landscape without realizing that the cumulative effects of too many visitors, even the well-intentioned, result in waste production, overuse of resources and often intrusive behavior that can contribute to the damage. Travelers who take a camper van, packed with food from home, for a week’s holiday at an isolated beach and who then use the nearby sand dunes as a toilet, are not practicing eco-tourism, even though they are «out in nature.» The International Eco-tourism Society’s guidelines for «the independent traveler,» say that conserving the environment means making sure one’s economic impact directly benefits the local people, such as buying food in local shops or eating in local restaurants. Disposable products should be left at home and garbage properly disposed of. Those sand dunes are wildlife habitats – garbage is hazardous to both humans and wildlife. The National Audubon Society, in its «Ethic for Environmentally Responsible Travel,» warns wildlife watchers not to get too close to animals in the wild nor get between them and their young. Walkers should also stick to trails if they can, and leave plants alone. Earlier this week, the Development Ministry held a press conference to announce a massive investment (37 million euros) for promoting eco-tourism this year.